Morning rides to Desborough – Saturday 25th February

James and Brian are leading two rides on Saturday morning:

Two rides – one brisk, one moderate – gathering at the same start point and meeting at the same coffee stop.

Time: 9.30 a.m.
Meeting: Moulton Co-op, Stocks Hill, NN3 7TB
Distance: 43 miles (brisk), 37 miles (moderate)
Refreshments: West Lodge Rural Centre: at 23 miles (brisk) or 17 miles (moderate)
Leaders: James (brisk), Brian (moderate)
Return: 1.15 p.m. approx

The brisk pace (14+ m.p.h. average) group starts at Moulton and heads out to Holcot, Brixworth, Naseby and Great Oxendon; then onto Desborough and the West Lodge Farm Rural Centre for coffee.  Return via Rushton, Rothwell, Broughton, and Walgrave back to Moulton.  Route here on RideWithGPS.

The moderate pace (12+ m.p.h. average) group follows part of the above route but at Brixworth heads by a slightly shorter route to Desborough via Scaldwell and Harrington to the Rural Centre to meet the brisk group.  Route here on RideWithGPS.

Questions? James is on 07841 933046, Brian is on 01604 622073 (07722 055149).

Do join us.

Ride review – Sunday 19th February

Phil J led this ride and writes:

Seven riders gathered at the start for this undulating ride to Naseby including new rider Peter B on his first group ride.

The first descent out of the blocks had a surprising headwind which seemed to be present on a few more of our subsequent drops.  Once through the eco village of Upton, St Crispin’s provided the first unlikely climb of the day as we settled into the ride.

We levelled off towards Harlestone before we all got into the small chainring and the slow grind up Church Brampton.

Sedgebrook Hall passed by during another long haul which split the group a bit and took us up to the Market Harborough road and the route to Pitsford.  A rapid descent on the busy road was then quickly followed by another testing rise to the entrance of Pitsford Water.

Through Brixworth the group went, when Phil L and I suddenly found ourselves on our own.  We’d turned left in full view of the rest of the group but they continued over. Head scratching ensued before the group appeared from another direction much to our relief and amusement.

The fast downhill on the Spratton road came next with Milton suggesting this could be one of the fastest downhills in the area.  We all took full advantage of the opportunity and headed for Spratton.  The bridge closure wasn’t on our route and we climbed uninterrupted through the village before regrouping at the top for a well earned breather and refuelling.

Over the Welford Road another opportunity to test the descending skills.  We dropped swiftly towards Teeton and as expected we soon started to climb as the road ramped up once more.

The journey to Guilsborough was perfect “active recovery” and we enjoyed the dry country roads and comfortable speeds.  The road to Cold Ashby seemed rather more caked in dried mud but it was pleasant nonetheless as we started to see the signs for Naseby.

With another couple of miles in our legs All Saints church at Naseby came into view.  We arrived at The Old Vicarage café just as some cyclists were leaving but they insisted they had left some cakes for us.

With renovations underway outside we were lead along the corridor to possibly the grandest venue we may have ever had refreshments in.  A large dining room with a table that was almost impossible to reach over due to its huge size and a chandelier over the centre.  We almost expected a butler to start serving us but various group members took that role upon themselves.  The service was equally splendid and the food exquisite.

The loop continued through the Cottesbrooke estate and probably the most hair raising descent of the day.  Plenty of gravel and uneven tarmac at the base making it a heart in mouth situation just before entering the village.  All safely down and the gated road to Brixworth lead us to the steep climb back into the centre and onto Pitsford once again.

Four of us were lured by a second stop at the Willow Tree Café whilst the remaining three continued home.

The rest of the ride back mirrored the ride out with another mix of testing ascending and fast descending.

This was a pretty difficult ride today with over 3000ft of climbing but all riders performed superbly.

Ride Report – Saturday 11th February

The plan for Saturday 11th February was to run both a brisk and a moderate ride to the Skylark Cafe in Staverton near Daventry.  Here’s how it went…

Six hardy riders were setting out to ride; Phil Letts rang in sick – and then there were five.
Five hardy riders at Hunsbury Library door; Brian had the wrong bike, and then there were four.
Four hardy riders started in the freeze; Milton wasn’t feeling brisk, and then there were three.
Three hardy riders made it through the snow; John raced off to see TV, and then there were two.
Chris and Philip found a jam(*); diverting on the Norbital, they easily made it home.
Philip went on one more loop, and then there was one.

A good morning out despite zero degrees, snow, rain and generally wintry conditions! Thanks to all for their company.

Philip (with apologies to “Anon”!)

(*) Tailback on A508 in Kingsthorpe…

Ride to Naseby – Sunday 19th February – new riders welcome

Phil J is leading this ride and writes:

Meeting time: 9.30 a.m.
Meeting place: Overslade Close, Hunsbury, NN4 0RZ
Distance & pace: 50 miles steady
Refreshments: Naseby, Pitsford Water

This ride initially heads for Pitsford Water / Brixworth Country Park before continuing on a loop towards Naseby and back to Pitsford again before the last leg of the ride home.

Harlestone and the Bramptons are en route to Pitsford giving the ride a few climbs to conquer along the way.  Once at Pitsford we’ll head out of the back of Brixworth and the long haul up to Spratton.  Teeton, Guilsborough and Cold Ashby are up next and we’ll soon arrive in Naseby and a welcome stop at the Old Vicarage Café.  Continuing the loop we head through Haselbech, the Cottesbrooke estate and back up to Brixworth with Pitsford further along.  We can stop for another break at the Willow Tree Café if required.  The route back home from there pretty much mirrors the route out so there’ll be no surprises in store.

Contact Phil J on 07927 377191 with questions or for more details.

 

Morning ride to Staverton – Saturday 11th February

Phil L is leading this ride and writes:

Start time: 9.30 a.m.
Meeting point: Overslade Close, East Hunsbury, NN4 0RZ
Length: 43 miles (brisk), 35 miles (moderate)
Refreshments: Skylark Farm Café (25 miles)

Our route takes us via Gayton, Pattishall, Litchborough and Newnham to a new coffee stop for us: the Skylark Farm Café at Staverton.

We return via Newnham, Daventry, Norton, Whilton and Flore.

Milton will be leading the moderate ride; we will all be meeting at the café for elevenses.

Questions?  Phil is on 07867 388592.

Ride Report – Sunday 5th February

Milton went on this ride led by Tim and writes:

Seven of us braved a fairly dark and chilly morning to meet up at East Hunsbury for Tim’s 52-mile steady ride around Northampton.

The half-way point saw us getting stuck into cake and coffee and sausage rolls (possibly in that order) at the cafe in Brixworth Country Park having swept round the south and west of the county through Kislingbury, East Haddon and Spratton climbing what felt like most of the Northants cols on route.before Brixworth.

The second stage included Holcot and Earls Barton before crossing the river and climbing up the day’s last mountain to the peak at Castle Ashby where we stopped for more coffee and cake.  We had dropped Phil L off by this stage but picked up another, Elspeth, at the Castle so we were still seven and then we lost Geoff who was nearer home than he would be at any other time and so we were six.

We six nipped back towards East Hunsbury via Denton and Preston Deanery at which point three more of us set off homewards and the remaining three – well, who knows – I was safely tucked up at home with coffee and a well deserved couple of slices of cake.
I heard later that the final three made it back to the start point safely, so a good day out was had by all.  A well devised route with thanks to Tim!

Helping county council staff make Travel Choices

We have to admit it – some cycling promotion events are not as well attended as, say, President Trump’s inauguration. And certainly not President Obama’s. Whether for reasons of organisaton, weather or advertising, some events just don’t draw the crowds.

Well, this week CTC Northampton, part of Cycling UK, took part in an event that was a bit different: it was well attended, lively and positive. This was the county council’s Travel Choices day for its own staff.

The event drew in over 350 people keen to research their options for when the council moves to its new HQ building in the town centre. With limited, potentially expensive car parking and growing congestion problems in the town, the council wants to encourage staff to consider other travel solutions, including car sharing, pool bikes, pool cars, buses and park and ride (combined with bus or bike).

The event was held at County Hall and buses were laid on for staff to attend from other sites included in the move to the new HQ. It showcased many of the tools the council has included in its travel plan for the new building, such as the car sharing app Faxi, Enterprise pool cars, and good old bus timetables.

One of the big hits was the opportunity for people to try out pool e-bikes from Halfords, and cycle scheme e-bikes from GTech. Everyone who did so seemed to return with a smile on their face.

Brian and Phil staffed the CTC Northampton stall, and soon found themselves busy talking to people who were mostly not current cycle commuters, but were prepared to consider it. The most frequent question was about routes, but safety, insurance, cycle training and cycle buddies all came up too, as did the local group’s rides programme. Several people coming from other towns also asked about where to “park and cycle”.

Philip, a council property environmental manager (and CTC Northampton publicity officer), was on hand to outline the cycle facilities in the new building. These include 100 secure cycle spaces and dedicated changing, shower and locker areas.

The stall featured our new Cycling UK banner, calling cards and postcards, and freebies such as spoke reflectors and frame protection. By far the most popular item was the Northampton Cycling Map.

This county council map, now in its 4th edition, was originally developed by John Cutler and other CTC Northampton members for the council and is based on the Cheltenham model, which uses colours to indicate the traffic hazard on every road. It was invaluable for discussing route options with buddng cycle commuters.

A few themes became clear. First, most newcomers to commuting want traffic-free or low traffic routes. Second, while a few fairly good routes exist in Northampton (e.g. along the river), these still don’t connect well with key destinations. So there is work for the planners to do. Third, training and support for new cyclists are essential in the meantime. Specific cycle training for staff, cycle buddies, and a bicycle user group for the new building were widely supported ideas, which hopefully the council will take forward.

This event’s success was partly due to the coordinated travel plan backed by the council’s leadership, as well as financial incentives for staff to consider new options. But it also worked for cycling precisely because it brought together a wide range of options and expertise in the same room. Yes, we can be better together…

Many thanks to Brian and Phil for giving up their time, and to the council for inviting us along to this event.