Events in March

Sunday 4th March – A ride to East Carlton Country Park

Brian Tunbridge, our Secretary, leads this ride from Moulton (outside the Post Office / Co-op Store).  It’ll be a challenging ride of 50 miles at an average speed of 12 m.p.h.  Brian can be contacted on 01604 622073.

Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th March – A weekend ride to National Forest Youth Hostel, Moira, Derbyshire

Bill Simpson, our Treasurer, leads a weekend ride for advanced riders.  About 60 miles on each of the two days at an average speed of 12 to 14 m.p.h.  Bill wanted people to book with him by 5th February; if the hostel still has spaces, you could ring him on 07736 600858.

Sunday 18th March – A ride to Buckingham

Mike Hart leads this ride, starting from the Canoe Centre on Bedford Road at 9.30 a.m.  Another challending ride of about 55 miles at an average speed of 12 m.p.h.  Stopping at Stoke Bruerne as well as refreshments at Buckingham.  Mike’s contact number is 01604 631965.

Saturday 24th March – A ride to Maidwell

Brian Tunbridge leads a leisurely ride of about twenty miles, starting from the Brampton Valley Way (near “The Windhover”) at 2.00 p.m.  His contact number is 01604 622073.


Sunday 25th March – Stevenage & South Hertfordshire CTC Member Group “Start of Summertime Special”

Not part of our programme but our friends in Stevenage offer a choice of three distances: 62, 115 and 210 kilometres starting at 8.15 a.m (210k), 10.30 a.m. (115k) and 11.00 a.m. (62k)

The 62k is an introduction to Audax riding.  The 115k is the original “Ugley Nasty Ride”.    These two events are Brevets Populaires (BP).  The 210k is a BRM event (Brevet de Randonneur Mondiaux) over the classic distance.

All the details, including entry forms and route sheets, are here.

Full details about U.K. Audax rides are here.


Report – A leisurely ride to Flore – Saturday 25th February

Iain Dawson led this ride and writes:

With the unseasonably clement weather we’ve been having, it wasn’t too much of a surprise to see a couple of new faces at Hunsbury Hill but I wasn’t expecting five non-regulars to turn up, four of whom have never ridden with us before!

We left Hunsbury Hill more or less on time and the group split on the climb up to Milton Malsor with one of our newcomers deciding that country jaunts weren’t her thing yet. As she lived not far from our start and was used to cycling round town she elected to return before she was committed, as it were. Disappointing, but she did make the effort.

Further on, we discovered the reason for another of our group’s lack of pace – the bike was stuck in granny ring. Some swift maintenance courtesy of Mike Hart (and some air in the back tyre) and pace became less of an issue.

Chris Willey left us at Bugbrooke to go off and cook dinner.

And then there were eight, although, sadly, we said goodbye to another of our group in Nether Heyford, this new rider claiming to have overestimated their abilities and wanting to ease their way back home (not far) at their own pace.  As you can imagine, spirits were not high at this point but both riders who left the group did so after consultation with some of the more experienced riders, and with the offer of an escort and assistance if they hit any problems. Thanks, guys!

The remaining seven made it on to Flore with no problems although, after Bill was discussing p*nct*re repairs over coffee, the inevitable happened on the return leg – Mike had to keep stopping to reinflate his tyre. The return route was adjusted to keep it as flat as possible for our newcomers so we ended-up passing the Cobblers’ stadium just after chucking-out time. We had to navigate our way round cars being driven up the wrong side of the road to get out the car park(!) but that just added more interest to the ride. We finally made it back to Hunsbury Hill just after 5.30 pm (I had promised we’d be back 5.30 latest) but those of us who made it seemed to enjoy it.

I did check with the two newcomers who’d left early – both got home safely and both were glad they’d tried the experience so not a total loss. Ahem. And I’m hopeful that we’ll see one, maybe two, of these riders again.

I am grateful to the regulars who made it out to Hunsbury Hill to swell the ranks and provide assistance and guidance: Chris, Mike, David and Bill all of whom did a sterling job keeping spirits up and ensuring the group felt happy and comfortable (although the sight of a girl on a mountain bike trying to keep up with Bill on a dual carriageway will live with me for a long, long time).

Footnote from your blogger:

I’m one of the few Cobblers season-ticket holders who travels to matches on a bike (a folding Brompton).  No jokes, please, about there being plenty of room in the stands for folding bikes because attendances are so low.

So it was “Chucking out time” – and you didn’t pause to commiserate with me?  Cobblers had just lost 1 – 2 to Port Vale.

Slideshow: Cycling in France

Wednesday 29 February, 8.00 p.m. – doors open 7.30 p.m. – at Park Avenue Methodist Church

Modesty almost forbids me quoting our Chairman:

Come along to an entertaining evening of pictures and stories about cycling in France!

  • Hear about Ian Macsporran’s epic ride “From Caen to Cannes: France North to South”
  • Experience the colour of “A French cycling festival: the Semaine Federale 2011” by Philip Gray & Rowan Ellis.

Entry £2 in aid of Always a Chance.  Refreshments.

The church is on the corner of Park Avenue North and Abington Avenue. The postcode is NN3 2HT.

Just turn up on the night or, for tickets and further information, telephone 01604 720522 or email

From Caen to Cannes. Each letter represents an overnight stop.

By the Chapel of St Michel in Le Puy-en-Velay - day 9

A village decorated to welcome the Semaine Federale

In the peleton at the Semaine Federale

The Times Campaign – Where Next?

Alex Stefanovic, Peter Dixon, Iain Dawson, Ian Macsporran and many other cyclists wrote to our local MPs in the lead-up to yesterday’s House of Commons debate on cycling in Westminster Hall.

John Cutler, our Right to Ride Officer, kept a record of the correspondence as far as he could.  Of our MPs:

Philip Hollobone (Kettering) gave encouraging responses to his constituents.
Chris Heaton-Harris (Daventry) responded with paper letters.
Mark Lancaster (Milton Keynes North) and Ian Stewart (Milton Keynes South) responded with very similar wording to their constituents.
Louise Mensch (Corby) responded to at least one e-mail.
Andrea Leadsome (South Northamptonshire) received several e-mails but her response is unknown.
There was nothing from Brian Binley (Northampton South) or from Peter Bone (Wellingborough).  Mr Bone, by the way, is the MP who tried to introduce a law to make it compulsory for children to wear cycle helmets.

So the prize goes to Michael Ellis (Northampton North) who attended the debate and made a short intervention.  The debate can be viewed on this site (where Mr Ellis’s intervention is at 14:40:20).

So, where next?

The CTC position is to call on the Secretary of State for Transport, Justine Greening MP, to support for an action plan for ‘more and safer cycling’ and to echo calls from MPs for the restoration of Cycling England in order to co-ordinate delivery of this plan.  The CTC also notes that MPs from all three main parties queued up to call for more 20mph speed limits, for better cycling provision, for junctions to be redesigned to improve cyclists’ safety, for action to reduce the risks which lorries pose to cyclists, and for cycle awareness to be incorporated into the driving test.

Now, the following set of proposals from the Chester Cycling blog have been described as “the best articulated, most coherent and holistic set of principles … seen in a long time”.  Have a read and see what you think!  It’s worth following the hyperlinks, particularly if, like me, you’re tall and thinking of cycling in Wolverhampton!


Since watching the debate, I’ve been thinking about where I’d personally like to see this sudden momentum directed. Obviously, our elected representatives cannot be experts on every subject, and so it is my hope that they will be looking to the right groups for guidance. There were a lot of ideas floating around the debate and I think it would be beneficial to propose a few basic principles and a few short and long-term objectives which would help get us to the point where cycling is safer for existing cyclists and safe enough for the rest of the population to want to cycle.


  1. “Cycling” should not be treated as a single entity; transport cycling should one of the core responsibilities of the Department for Transport and the equivalent local institutions, sport and leisure cycling should be overseen by the relevant government departments which oversee sports, leisure and tourism.
  2. Measures to increase the safety of cyclists should be primarily external to cycling and the cyclist. Make cycling truly safe for all and helmets, high-visibility apparel and Bikeability become an irrelevance. The single largest change needed is the design of our roads.
  3. Measures to increase the safety of cycling should not make cycling less convenient; cycle infrastructure needs to be convenient and safe for children and fast, experienced commuter cyclists alike. The dual network approach is confusing and causes more problems that it solves.
  4. Measures to increase the safety and convenience of cycling should not come at the expense of safety (including subjective safety) or convenience for pedestrians.
  5. The Netherlands model for road design should be the basis for the changes needed to our road network in order to make cycling safe and attractive for all.‡

Short-term objectives:

  1. Commit to integrating cycling into all stages of road design, planning, construction and maintenance
  2. Overhaul LTN 2/08 in order to reduce the beurocracy involved in producing reasonable-quality cycle infrastructure such as the Camden cycle tracks and to prevent it being misinterpreted and used to justify facilities such as these.
  3. Replace the current hierarchy of provision with a much more specific set of separation principles.
  4. Continue with driver awareness programmes and Bikeability whilst road designs remain in place which put cyclists in danger.

Long-term objectives:

  1. Cycling needs to be integral to the design of new roads. Existing roads are refreshed periodically based on wear & tear and their importance; this work must include bringing the road up to the new standard for safe, convenient cycling.†
  2. In urban areas, basic functional cycle networks should be built as a matter of priority. These should be along main roads and informed by existing desire lines of those using all modes of road transport.
  3. Central government needs to set a final compliance date by which time all relevant Highways Agency and local authority roads must comply with the new standards.
  4. As the cycle networks become fleshed out, phase out Bikeability in schools in favour of Dutch cycle training which will be more appropriate for the redesigned roads.
‡ The Netherlands model of road design also offers advantages pedestrians in the areas of safety (including subjective safety) and convenience.

† Whilst admittedly an incredibly blunt instrument, rolling out safe, convenient cycle infrastructure as a part of the existing process of refreshing roads should help construct basic cycle networks along existing desire lines, as these are generally the roads with the most wear & tear and importance.


It would be great if you would post your comments!

A leisurely ride to Flore – Saturday 25th February

Iain Dawson will be leading this ride.  He writes:

We start from Hunsbury Hill (Overslade Close, NN4 0RZ, by Hunsbury Library) at 2.00 p.m.  We’ll make our way over to Flore for a cup of coffee before returning via some cycle paths to Hunsbury, covering about 20 miles in total.

The route is suitable for road bikes; we will definitely stick to tarmac if it’s wet (which it won’t be if the weather forecast is to be believed).  We’re currently promised a dry and warm-ish afternoon!

Don’t forget to bring lights if you’ve got a long ride home from Hunsbury Hill – it’s not summer yet!

See you on Saturday!

Audax – Sunday 25th March

Some advance notice for the Audax organized by our friends, the Stevenage & South Hertfordshire CTC Member Group.  This is their “Start Of Summetime Special” with a choice of three distances: 62, 115, and 210 kilometres.

The 62K Audax is an introduction to Audax riding and starts at 11.00 a.m.  The 115K Audax is billed as the original “Ugley Nasty Ride”.  [Yes, there really is a village called Ugley – pronounced Oogley – but urban legend insists that Jonathan Dimbleby introduced “Any Questions” from the Ugly Women’s Institute.]  It starts at 10.30 a.m.  These two events are Brevets Populaires (BP).

The 210K Audax – starting at 8.15 a.m. – is a BRM event (Brevet de Randonneur Mondiaux) over the classic 200K+ distance.

All the details, including entry forms and route sheets, are here.

Full details about Audax rides are here.

Why pay “sportif” fees when you can enter an audax for a fraction of the cost?

Report – “Pilgrim’s Progress” Ride – Sunday 19th February

David was on this ride and writes:

Phillip Gray led our group on our first ride to Bedford to pay homage to John Bunyan, the author of the seventeenth-century classic, “The Pilgrim’s Progress”.  Born in Elstow just south of the town, he was a dissenter from the established church and, as a result, he spent a long time in Bedford Gaol.  Today a statue in the town centre commemorates his life and achievements.  After pausing at the statue we followed the River Great Ouse, along part of NCR 52, to lunch at “The Prince of Wales” in Bromham.

We should do this ride again – in warmer weather and on longer days – so that we can visit the John Bunyan Museum in the town.  But even on a short early spring day, the ride was informative and we thank Phillip.

“Pilgrim’s Progress” Ride – Sunday 19th February

Phillip Gray, who will be leading this ride, writes

This ride starts at the Canoe Centre at 9.30 a.m. and follows parts of the John Bunyan Trail into the old town of Bedford, looking for links with Bunyan’s masterpiece, “The Pilgrim’s Progress”.  After a teastop at Harrold we will travel through Pavenham, Oakley and Clapham towards the hidden jewels of Bedford including the John Bunyan Church and Museum (where we will stop briefly).  After leaving town along the riverside, we wind north again to the village of Bromham for lunch in The Prince of Wales (a Charles Wells pub).

We’ll return via Harrold, taking the same route back to Northampton, a total distance of 48 miles.  We’ll pedal at a moderate pace, aiming to return by 4.30 p.m.

On Sundays, The Prince of Wales offers either a roast dinner for £7.95 or a smaller portion for £5.95.  There are no bar-meals but the starters do include soup.

LUNCH BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL – Please let Phillip know by Friday or 01604 720522

Cities Fit For Cycling – The Times Campaign and our local MPs

The Times Cities fit for cyclingThis month The Times has started a “Cities Fit For Cycling” Campaign after one of the paper’s reporters was seriously injured in an accident.

CTC Northampton member Alex Stefanovic visited Northampton North MP Michael Ellis to discuss the issue of cycling safety.

Prior to the meeting, Alex informed Mr Ellis that the All-Parliamentary Cycling Group was – through its chair, Julian Huppert MP – tabling an Early Day Motion (EDM) in the House of Commons in support of the Campaign.  Andrew Stone, who works in Michael Ellis’s office, replied that Northampton North’s MP doesn’t sign any EDMs, considering them “a pointless absorbtion of valuable resources”.

Alex reports on the ten-minute meeting that he had a pleasant chat with Mr Ellis who admitted he wasn’t a cyclist although it was quite hard to get him to stop talking and answer questions.  Alex quoted the Conservative Party’s manifesto statements on travel, cycling and sustainability and asked him what was being done.  Alex made the point that it wasn’t all about spending money on cycle lanes but Mr Ellis said that making things more difficult for lorries wasn’t good in harsh economic times!  He was also against strict liability for motorists although unaware that this exists in the law of many countries in Europe.

Alex left our MP with a print-out of the eight initiatives highlighted by the campaign and Mr Ellis promised to try to get to the Adjournment Debate on Cycling in Westminster Hall on 23rd February prompted by the EDM.

Bridge Street Traffic – public consultation

Phillip Gray, Chairman of CTC Northampton, writes

Northamptonshire County Council’s Highways Department is currently carrying out a consultation on changes to Northampton’s town centre traffic routes. These include closing Bridge Street permanently to northbound traffic “except buses” and making “all traffic” on Gold Street one-way.

Phillip can find no evidence that cyclists and the impact on cycle routes (in particular National Cycle Route No 6) have been taken into account. No information appears to be available on the County Council website.

Closing date for the consultation is 24 February. You can submit views or questions to or telephone 01604 883400.

It would be helpful if you could inform our Right-to-Ride representative, John Cutler (, and our Chair, Phillip Gray ( if you submit any comments.