“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 chairman@ctc-northampton.org.uk or 01604 720522

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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 info@mgwsp.co.uk or telephone 01604 883400.

It would be helpful if you could inform our Right-to-Ride representative, John Cutler (johncutler@ardua88.freeserve.co.uk), and our Chair, Phillip Gray (chairman@ctc-northampton.org.uk) if you submit any comments.

Always A Chance Ride – national publicity

There’s been some media coverage for the opening leg of the Always A Chance 92-Club-Relay ride which look place nine days ago from Sixfields Stadium (Northampton Town FC) to the Ricoh Arena (Coventry City FC).

Phil Letts points to an article in The Sun which mentions that,

“Many people have rallied round and taken part in activities, from baking cup cakes to skydiving, to raise money for the cause. The Duston School in Northampton, where Peter (Peter Kouzaris, father of James) teaches history, has raised more than £5,000 and a team recently started a 12-week relay event, which kicked off last week at Northampton Town football ground.

The 92 Club Relay event will see friends, family, organisations and charities run, cycle or rollerblade in a relay to all 92 football league grounds across the county. Peter hopes to run the penultimate leg from Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium to Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground, as both he and James were avid United fans.

The event will finish just after the first anniversary of the boys’ death at the end of April, back at Northampton Town’s Sixfields Stadium.

Peter explained: ‘James would have been running or cycling every leg just like his friends will be doing. He was full of energy and life. We even engraved ‘loved life’ on a bench dedicated to him at Pitsford Reservoir, close to where we live.'”

Congratulations to our friends at CTC Stevenage & North Herts

Congratulations to CTC Member Group Stevenage and North Hertfordshire which is not only CTC Voluntary Group of the Year, but has just been named as the Sport Stevenage Community Club of the Year. Stevenage organised 153 local rides last year for riders of all levels.

We joined them for a Sunday ride back in July.  Iain Dawson wrote:

An interesting change to the calendar – a ride with another CTC Group. Strange roads, cycleways, smooth tarmac, an urban lunchstop – all new experiences for us.

Brian arranged for us to join up with, or more accurately tag along with, the Stevenage CTC group, whom we met by the War Memorial in the middle of Stevenage’s Old Town. Yes, it does have one.

Two minutes after leaving, we seemed to be out in the country and the roads were, in general, very very quiet. Certainly a lot quieter than you get around Northampton on a Sunday! The leaders obviously know their stuff and know which roads are used as rat runs and which are generally avoided by motorists. They also know which bridleways can be ridden on road bikes and which can’t.

The first stop was at a café/stables/second-hand-bike-bits shop/farm in Whitwell, very popular with cyclists, approached alongside the River Mimram and its well-established watercress beds.

The lanes then got a bit lumpy but unlike Northamptonshire the hills seemed quite short so a bit of climbing and then relax before you run out of breath. Paul and Clare provided a running commentary on all the good (and bad) watering holes used by the group as we passed them, and there was the continual presence of jets overhead as we passed within a few hundred metres of Luton airport’s runway. Another thing we’re not used to.

The second stop was in the centre of Harpenden, where there seemed to be a change from our usual practice of all bundling into one café, causing a rush for the staff. After scoping out two cafés and a pub, we all ended-up in the same café anyway. Some things don’t change.

We had a few light showers during the day, the only heavy one during lunch, so – well-timed Alan!

The route back to Stevenage contained more surprises and I’d just been talking to one of the locals about their puncture rates, given the amount of gravel and flint on the roads, when we turned off the tarmac and down a bridleway.

At the other end, there was a hissing sound.

Oh well, it’d been a while since I’d had that tyre off anyway. I was overdue or something.

The final few miles brought us back into Stevenage past Knebworth Park and its deer herd and onto the Stevenage cycleway system. Think “Milton Keynes Redway” but without having to give way so often for local roads, although navigation would have been a challenge without someone who knew where they were going.

I’d like to thank Brian for organising the day out, and AlanB and the rest of the Stevenage group for making us feel so welcome and providing such an enjoyable and entertaining run (and lending me a decent pump after the incident with the flint).

Next time, let’s see if we can gather a larger group as there were only five of us who made the trip (Dave, Rowan, John Cutler, Brian and I).

Wednesday 29th February – A slideshow and social evening

Ian Macsporran presents “From Caen to Cannes: France North to South”, an account of three weeks cycling the length of France in 2011; Phillip Gray and Rowan Ellis present “The Semaine Federale 2011”, an account of a week at a French cycling festival in also in 2011.  It all takes place at Park Avenue Methodist Church Rooms, on the corner of Park Avenue and Abington Avenue, Northampton, starting at 8.00 p.m. (Doors open at 7.30 p.m.; refreshments)  Entry is £2.00 in aid of Always A Chance.