My First Dieppe Raid Weekend with London Clarion Cycling Club.
Updated: Nov 10
by – Alison Miller
My first Dieppe Raid weekend with the London Clarion, from start to finish, was an experience packed with laughs, cycling, beer, wine and lovely French nosh. I was grateful for the planning that had gone into the weekend, including the renting by Alex and Alan of an elegant five storey house perched on a hill, with lovely views across Dieppe and beyond, which became the London Clarion temporary à la maison.
Travelling to catch the ferry at Newhaven, we showed our solidarity with the RMT strike by getting there on our bikes or taking up the offers of lifts from other club members.
A smooth Ferry crossing was followed by unrelenting sheet rain on arrival in Dieppe. Undeterred once we'd made it to our gaff, a volunteer crew braved the heavy downpours to get our weekend provisions. Given the weather conditions, a sensible decision was made to transport the shopping back by taxi, while holing up with other London Clarion Cycling Club members in a bar, to wait for the deluge to subside. On their return, they discovered all the unpacking and putting away had already been done, as well food and drink prepared, laid out and waiting for them. This was indicative of the mucking in, sharing and comradely nature of Clarion club members on this trip, which contributed to it being for me such an enjoyable event.
Woke up next morning to grey clouds, but not accompanied by the curtains of rain that had besieged us on arrival. So we were hopeful of the weather holding out for a planned cycle and picnic in the afternoon. Off we went to the Dieppe Farmers market, which is worth a trip to Dieppe itself to experience; streets and streets of Market stalls selling colourful produce of amazing variety and quality at non-inflated prices.
However, as some of us set out along the cycle path, it started to rain. We shrugged our shoulders and agreed, what's a little rain between comrades. It'll clear we said to ourselves in time for our picnic. Several hours into the ride, we were all grown up enough to admit that the continued downpour had rendered the purpose of our trip unviable. What again impressed me, was a collective ability to arrive at an easy consensus to turn back. No needless masochism that cyclists sometimes fall victim. The trip was all about fun. Next year we concluded that we could have a relaxed communal picnic in the lovely terraces and gardens à la maison instead.
I have to mention in passing that it was no mean feat to have organised restaurant bookings for a ten plus group on both the Saturday and Sunday evenings at superb restaurants on the quayside. This was achieved by London Clarion stalwarts and much appreciated.
Back to the cycling – Sunday morning we were all up and ready to get our bikes out and set off for the HQ on Salle Paul Eluard to get registered for the ride. Most people opting for either the 60km or the 100km route though Bob Harber (Brighton Clarion) chose the 120km route.
Happily, the sun was out and there was little wind. These were the weather conditions that prevailed for a day of glorious cycling. There were stand out moments cycling through the stunning scenery of the three valleys, with hardly a car in sight. However, the tone was set early on when we had a brief pit stop at a village bakery to purchase meringues the size of melons. Throughout the ride, local people were very friendly and seemed genuinely pleased to these hordes of cyclists coming through their lanes and villages.
Those new to the Dieppe Raid, like me were warned about the large array of awards to be handed out after the ride by the worthies of Cyclo-Club Dieppe back at the HQ. I just sat back and enjoyed the good humour and enthusiasm of the event organisers, the volunteers, and the cyclists themselves. One London Clarion member, who shall remain nameless, won the top raffle prize of a brand-new cycle, but he deferred suggesting it goes to someone in need in Dieppe. Well done that man.
After the award event London Clarion returned to our HQ, to commemorate the life of John Howell a London Clarion member and regular Dieppe participant, who recently passed away at the untimely age of 46. As the sun was setting outside on the terrace beautiful words were spoken in his memory. I hope to be back next year to continue in the tradition of friendship and fun forged by London Clarion members both past and present.