Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club  



Reports from Summer 2004

Brian Hutton's reporting of cycle racing was mentioned in the Spring reports section. Brian can no longer drive because of eyesight problems and I have acted as his 'chauffeur' a couple of times. On Sunday 6 June, we watched the national 25 mile Time Trial championship.

presentation ceremony

The photo shows the presentation ceremony after the race. The winner, Stuart Dangerfield, completed the course on the A24 in under 49 minutes and beat Chris Boardman's previous record. He later got a ride in the British Olympic team in Athens

Sunday 13 June
Berwick – Firle – Glynde

I had a great time – and it was I – Ian was climbing up the Pennines, Sheila is in Portugal, Ed organising the KT festival etc etc... so I was lone representative of the Clarion rides. But don't feel too sorry for me, cycling is a bit like meditation for me so I was perfectly happy. I allowed myself a leisurely pace and, since my counter gave up at 12 miles, I don't know how much I did – I reckon about 22 miles.

First bit of laze was at the Arlington Reservoir – a beautiful place just to sit and gaze at the water. And – no – one can't cycle round it, but you can walk, which I did some of the way. I managed to leave my gloves so had to double back two miles... Then past Abbot's Wood, with a bow to the Long Man of Wilmington and a stop for the wonderful view.

The gate for the "bridleway" turned out to be locked and the bridleway had become a footpath. Nearly did my back in heaving the bike over the stile, but it was worth it for the wonderful view of the Cuckmere, the meadow and the church. That was the place for lunch, sitting by the river.

The next bit got more complicated because I was fleeing the ubiquitous A27. To Selmeston and finally found a way in to Firle Park for the Cycle Fair (not the best place to have it I would have thought,) despite the many notices from ESCC reminding drivers to watch for cyclists, the A27 which I had to do a bit of was horrendous.

Fortunately easy to return to Glynde station where I got my train.

Also on Sunday 13 June
The Clarion Café Ride (a retrospective report)

This was a 'national' event organised by Charles Jepson's Oakhill Section. The idea was to ride the 35 miles or so from the People's History Museum near the Manchester/Salford border whose refreshment area is a 'Clarion Café' to the Clarion House at Roughlee which is owned by the ILP Land Society. Before we started the Brighton and Hove section I'd been a – very distant – member of Oakhill for a few weeks, so I was specially anxious to take part. Charles offered to put me up for the weekend so I drove up to Blackburn with my bike in the back of the car. There's a good account of the ride by Peter Roscoe in the Autumn 2004 issue of Boots and Spurs. From my point of view it was an enjoyable if challenging day. Cycling from the centre of town to the Pennines was bound to be largely uphill all the way and all the other riders were much fitter than me. I was 'off the back' much of the way – but nobody minded and they waited for me.

We stopped for a break at Rawtenstall which is the terminus of a 'Bluebell-railway-style' line. The figure standing up with the cycle helmet in the photo is Charles Jepson – the national (and of course Oakhill) secretary.


The only thing that temporarily slightly marred the day was passing a large National Party poster as we whizzed down a rare downhill bit into Burnley. Apart from that it was a great day. Peter Roscoe says in the Boots and Spurs piece that I was 'weary, but smiling' when we arrived at Roughlee but I think he's being kind – 'knackered and grimacing' would probably be more accurate. The others looked much fitter!

Clarion House at Roughlee

Still after a couple of pints of Clarion tea – at 40p a pint! – I felt a lot better and up for our return to Blackburn.

Sunday 27 June
Downs Link to Partridge Green

Hello Clarion riders: On Sunday there were 5 of us: Sheila, Chris, Richard, Sharen and y.t.ruly. The weather, despite warnings of rain, was perfect: sunny with a breeze. It got a bit blowy near the end but we werevery grateful the rain kept off.

Three hardy souls cycled to Shoreham, Sheila and I took the train then along the, always delightful, Downs Link, and it was a pleasure to discover the bit after the Bramber by-pass – a quite different topography with the river and rolling hills. Into Henfield where we diverted to Squirrel's Farm to visit Linda Tarvey and her hens (plus some absolutely delightfully friendly turkeys...). The hens were wonderfully tame and Linda does great work rescuing battery hens and various other poultry. If you want to support her, buy her eggs (they can be got from Pulses in the Open Market, The George Pub and various other places around Brighton –and if you want to know more you can call her on 0775 455 0193). We lingered for some time, and bought some eggs (mine did survive the journey back, I hope everyone's did). Then off to Partridge Green to have a very nice lunch for some and packed box for others in the lovely garden of the very high class Green Man pub (although more of a restaurant than pub).

The route back was eventful – featuring a "lost" rider, a puncture and a rescue operation. Richard got a puncture soon after leaving Partridge Green, which seemed to be a slow one, so decided to "pump" and get as much mileage in as possible to "limp home". That meant he put the speed in and was way ahead of us and "hey ho " shot straight down the A283 and out of sight before we had rounded the corner... We were in fact turning off – going through Steyning and then down Coombes Road, and that's where the advantage of having different levels of ability comes in useful. Chris – now dubbed the "Guardian Angel" of Clarion riders chased after him, whilst Sheila, Sharen and I ambled on down the Coombes Road.

By the time Chris met up with Richard his tube was completely kaput, but, never fear, Chris had a spare. So after much hard riding they eventually caught us up whilst we were gazing sadly at a badger slaughtered by one of the cars that go much too fast down there. The one sad element of the ride was the number of creatures killed on that road, including a viper...

The next bit was easy and Chris, Richard and Sharen went off to Shoreham Airport for a much deserved tea and cake, whilst Sheila and I rushed for the train (we had tickets for the Hugh Maskela gig, it was great). My counter said 28 miles but Chris and Richard probably did twice that !!!!

Friday 2 July
Pedal Power

Seven of us – Joyce, Ed, Chris, Sheila, Bob, Sue and Ian – made it to Fernhurst to see... We all found the Mikron production entertaining, moving and inspiring. I've even forgiven them for getting the SDF and the SDP the wrong way round!

And this is what we saw.

Pedal Power
The continuing journey of the National Clarion Cycling Club In the 1890s, the bicycle was king of the road. The affordability of the new Safety Bicycle meant that, for at least one day a week, thousands could quit their work-a-day lives and enjoy the freedom of the open country. The 'magic wheel'” was seen by many as a way of spreading a new political gospel, and the Clarion Cyclist was born: a Socialist utilising his cycle for the combined purposes of pleasure and propaganda. Soon the NCCC became a national phenomenon, which continues to this day. Pedal Power follows these very British radicals, with their saddlebags full of leaflets, along the road from politics to time trials, cloth caps to helmets, worsted to lycra. It tells the inspiring and entertaining story of the NCCC: fun, fellowship and the idea of sport as a means to an end. With a rousing song and the wind at its back, Mikron freewheels down the years with a hundred saddle-sore but laughing Clarionettes. This club ain't great at distances. What this club wants is not a speedometer but a boozometer!
Tom Groom

Sunday 11 July
Lewes – Piltdown – Barcombe

Chris, Joyce, Sharen and Richard and me set out from Lewes station on Sunday under a rather leaden sky with occasional drizzle. Sharen had a very bad cold and she and Richard decided to do a shorter ride by heading straight down to the Anchor Inn after going through Barcombe. The rain came down in earnest soon after we split up, but it was dry enough when we reached Piltdown Pond for the remaining three of us to eat our sandwiches in reasonable comfort. I caused some hilarity by falling spectacularly into a sea of mud on the bridleway out of Isfield but failed to capitalise on the situation by singing a chorus of 'Mud, mud, glorious mud'. Tea at the Anchor restored us, and in spite of the dodgy weather we didn't get too wet and had an enjoyable day.

Sunday 25 July
Berwick to Blackboys… and back

Eeeeeeeeeeeee... Joyce sed I had to pen this one... so I apologise for bad language now. Firstly ta v.much for fab company on Sun. Joyce, and Sheila, glad you are improving girl. Hon. mens to Furey Waitrose. And sorry Ian... we both failed to don proper club caps and distribute leaflets accordingly... some parts of Sussex will just never know! Sunday was fab... started out a bit hot, thought we would melt, which would've been better than the drenching we got the week before. I cycled out to meet the train at Berwick, and I could've set me watch by Joyce being on it. No-one else (which is a shame – c'mon guys), but, dunno about Joyce, but I had really pleasant day. It was a ded varied trip that took us through, oh, I have got a pants memory, Muddles Green might have been one of the places, and... some hilly bits, and some bits that went over small brooks, and bits that were probably the quietest roads we have cycled on, and all you could hear was the swishing of the trees... and the mysterious tarmac'd road that turned out to be a very rutted grass walk... anyway, we were heading for Blackboys. There were some hills cos we approaching the Weald... we made noises like a train, not for pleasure... was just one of those body reactions... just sharing our wheezing lungs with the rest of the world in an audible style – seems a shame to keep discomfort and effort all to ya-self... but the down bits were lovely – rewarding and gratefully enjoyed. The Weald is ded nice, I havent been out that way before, and as Joyce sed, we (that is a big WE) prob. tend to fink more about the S.Down – wot wiv it being local an' all, but it was great – the Weald is ded nice. Spookily, Joyce had met someone on the station platform who had sed, or asked... are we going to some woodland grotto up near Hadlow Down (not their exact words, and I cant remember the name of the wood... might have been 'wonderful' or 'wishing well'... I'm sure there was a bit of alliteration thrown in there somewhere)... but it was just the bestest cake emporium we have endured/ luxuriated (choose according to diet preferences) as a Clarion group – elderflower iced sponge – get that! They had other cakes too... Sussex fruit cake, brownies, flapjack... forget what Joyce had, but it was brown, so I guess big clue there means it was some sort of chocolate concotion – she ate it quietly but quickly – tea was sound too. 'Course, the woodlands bit was very nice as well... well layed out, bug hunts, woodland scultures, all sorts of natural growths and wood reclamation going on... the tea house cum shop even had wooden tiles, I've only seen that in Norway before... and a good range of things going on as event, native indian story telling, torchlight search for moths etc (we obviously didnt do those Sunday, but could've considered it)... a diamond find really, one of those places that you probably only find out about through word of mouth, and it was just the biscuit. We sat around there for about... well, I guess nearly 2 hours... talking about gardens and a possible 'club-overnighter' and how best to motivate those of ya that are shy to put ya butts onto the saddle. I kinda thought... offer everyone elderflower iced sponge... but that may not be everyone's cup of darjeeling! It was a fab day though, you've only gotta try it once! We are finking of doing an overnighter at Blackboys... would/could be good! Must confess, and dont be put off, cycling back was a bit more weary, but we were laden down with digestive tracts ful of cake... but it was still pleasant. We had been through some lovely countryside – that big fill ya chest priveleged feeling... we hadnt got lost, or argued or had tantrums – bought some free range eggs out of a road side 'stop and buy me' egg selling box, and then had pangs of doubt as we cycled past industrial looking coops – perhaps they had pasted feathers onto the eggs for that 'free-range' look. They tasted fine tho' (er... that was a later, 'omlette' exercise). Joyce, adopting a finacial institutional role, even sub'd me 2 quid for the train ticket machine at a very reasonable APR, so I wouldn't be banged up for ticket evasion (the hicksville ticket machine wouldn't take notes... how 1970s). We caught the 6.50-ish back into civilisation, and I dunno bout Joyce, but I felt I had earnt me soak in the tub...

Sunday 1 August
'Back of the Downs' from Hassocks

The section had a full house of 'officers' – Secretary, Chair and Treasurer (aka Ian, Ed and Joyce) which sounds a bit better than saying there were only three of us. We stopped for a drink at the Jolly Sportsman and had a very enjoyable ride; it was a very hot day and the distance/time on the bike was just right. Another half hour and we might have started to feel a bit 'baked'.

Sunday 15 August
Glynde – Framfield – Glynde

Quite lucky with the weather again – though not too much sun. Apart from Ed and Ian, we had two first-time Clarion-runners – Sarah and Tim. Sue, one of our (currently) 'non-cycling' members met us in the pub at Framfield. Altogether it was a bit like a Brighton Jazz Club outing – but without the music. We did see the llamas though.

Sunday 29 August
Arundel – Pulborough Brooks – Parham

Fortunately, perhaps, only Joyce and I made this one. I say 'fortunately' because the train from Ford was delayed by half an hour (Joyce cycled it to Arundel after waiting some time and nearly beat the train). Then what looked like cycleable brideways on the map turned out to be narrow footpaths complete with stiles and barbed wire. Consequently we had to tackle more hills on our return leg than anticipated. That said, we got to the Pulborough Brooks RSPB centre and had a look round and found some nice lanes around (and through) the Parham estate. Ian

Meanwhile… in the French Alps
Report from Bob Harber

Since our meeting at the Bridge Inn at Upper Beeding, I have been on one or two bike rides.

In June I went on my first Alpine tour. We did all the major ones as we traversed the Route des Grande Alpes – Iseran, Roselend, Galibier, Izoard, Bonette – just awesome!

A couple of Audax rides followed, a 200km and a 400km and I got this crazy idea of doing the National Championship 24hr Time Trial. So I warmed up with my first 100 mile TT for a decade (only my second ever)managing a PB of 4hr 50min, went to Cheshire for the '24' and covered 346 miles to the winner's 480. I've got the taste for this now and am trying to get my Vets' standards at all the time trial distances. This weekend is the Kent CA 12hr event, to be followed soon by a '50', a '30', a '25' and a '10'.

Well, I don’t know about you, but just reading about Bob's exploits make me feel shattered! Seriously though, I’ve been over all the cols he mentions – in a car, and that seemed quite an effort on occasions. La Bonnette – the highest of all is said to be the highest pass in Europe at 2,802 metres. That's 9,192 feet. For comparison Ditchling Beacon is 812 feet, Snowden 3,560 feet and Ben Nevis 4,406. As for riding for 24 hours…! Well, 'hats off' to Bob, I say – 'one or two bike rides' he says! Ian

Sunday 12 September
East Worthing

Thank god it was sunny... I sat at East Worthing till 10.45am on Sunday... no show from the socialist posey of Brighton... I guess that Brighton is just not cut out for the group dynamic thing... didnt get to see me little boy either, cos I had 'Clarion' in me diary. Shame... I didnt do the ride on Sunday... on account that I had done it on Friday as a reccy... I went and did some shopping and watched the footie instead. But the Friday bash was dead good, past where Belloc is buried, and Knebb Castle, and Shipley windmill which is a commemorative restoration in respect to the aforementioned Belloc (I must read his stuff again). Saw loads of wild life... does, white squirrel, rabbits, pheasants and other similar but brown looking birds... and some of the lanes were so peaceful, and some old old builings beautifully preserved by those with enough finance to create the idyll of their own mind's eye... it was, however, really nice. Didnt appreciate the puncture particulary, but I had bought 2lbs of vic. plums on route so ate them while I sorted it, and it was sunny... so... Dunno whether it worth continuing the Clarion thing... it is struggling to survive... there have been a couple of lone rides and several two/three people rides... and although it is a right pleasure to do as a group enterprise... well, it's not really happening. Thoughts on a postcard perhaps. Come on you Bees!

Sunday 26 September
'The "fields" round the Heath' Wivelsfield/Cuckfield and Lindfield

Three of us – Sue (Pringle), Tessa and me – met as arranged at Wivelsfield station. [Not a good choice of starting point – we'll avoid it in future.] None of us felt in top form or very energetic, so we decided to leave the hillier bits around Barcombe and Ardingly for another day. We got off to a good start by stopping for lunch in Cuckfield after only about five miles. Poring over the map, Sue – a bit of a demon for bridleways and 'tracks' – spotted two good ones that got us via the back way into Borde Hill and slightly more challenging track further on, to Lindfield where we had tea and fed the huge carp in the pond before returning via Slugwash Lane. We did only 17 miles but I think we all felt we'd had a good and varied ride.

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