CTC Northamptonshire & Milton Keynes AGM – Sunday 4th November

For CTC Northampton, our “parent group” is CTC Northamptonshire & Milton Keynes.  This is the parent group for CTC Kettering and CTC Milton Keynes as well as ourselves.

On Sunday 4th November, our parent group holds its AGM at the A5 Rangers Club-room on Watling Street in Towcester at 10.30 a.m.  We meet for refreshments at 10.00 a.m. and, when the meeting is over at noon, we go for lunch to “The Butcher’s Arms” in Greens Norton.

Everyone is very welcome.  You will find a link to the Agenda towards the bottom of CTC Kettering’s home page.

If you would like to cycle to the meeting from Northampton, there will be a ride led by Bill Simpson starting at Hunsbury Hill Library (Overslade Close, East Hunsbury, NN4 0RZ) at 9.00 a.m.  Bill can be contacted on 07736 600858.  We will cycle from the meeting to Greens Norton and cycle home after lunch.


“Phil’s Hills” – Saturday 26th October – Report

Phil Letts led this ride and writes:

There was a healthy-looking group of seven riders who braved the start of the cold weather for yesterday’s dash round the ‘hills’ out Teeton/Creaton way. It was good to ride with some of the triathletes from Antoinette’s club – hope they come again!

Legs were beginning to ache as we hit the last bank – the short 18% but tough slope at back of Teeton but a coffee stop at Brampton gave us the real ‘hit’ we needed!

“Phil’s Hills” ride on Sat 27th Oct

Phil Letts is leading this popular ride and writes:

Come and join me on Saturday 27th October at 9.30 a.m. at the start of the Brampton Valley Way (near “The Windhover”) for a brisk (category B) club ride.

We’ll ride about 30 miles taking in the Cols de Teeton, Creaton and Haselbech with a coffee stop either at Guilsborough or at Pitsford before we return via the Cols de
Brixworth, Spratton and Teeton.  Home for lunch.

This is a deliberately brisk and hilly ride to stretch those legs for winter!

I’m on 07512 425957.

A Ride in the Chilterns – Sunday 21 October – Report

Iain Dawson went on this away-day (or car-assisted) ride and writes:

The early morning mist in Northamptonshire didn’t bode well for the day, but by the time five of us (Phil Gray, Rowan, Brian, David and I) had met up and reassembled our bikes in the free car park (limited stay Monday-Saturday) in Watlington in Oxfordshire, things had cleared-up considerably.

Never one to miss an opportunity, Phil managed to grab a few minutes with a CTC HQ staffer who was part of another group assembling their mountain bikes in the same car park. Mountain biking does seem to be quite popular in the Chilterns, based on the number of muddy cyclists we saw out on the roads.

Pleasantries concluded, it was time to head out on the route. Out of the car park, turn right and straight up 400 feet of hill. Well, we had to get up there sooner or later.

At “Dibley”

First stop was the village of Turville, or Dibley as it’s known in TV land, with views across to Caractacus Potts’ windmill before picking up signs for the Chiltern Cycleway, which I’m sure is local slang for “hills”, and crashing the route of a 10k road (running) race that appeared to be in its final stages in Frieth (Buckinghamshire). Another climb (and a vineyard) later and we were back on the top of the hills riding through fallen leaves and traditional woodland before plunging down onto a well-surfaced cycle path and into Henley. Where we got lost. I should mention, in fact, that not only were the locals in Henley very friendly and helpful in directing us to the excellent café at the River and Rowing Museum, but the local motorists seemed to be a lot more considerate than we’re used to as well!

Recaffienated, and with sense of direction restored, we set off for lunch at the Reformation in Gallowstree Common. A brief ride of a few miles to a pub where they really know their food.

After lunch it was off through more of the traditional woodland, past some suspicious-looking satellite dishes and up a “Quiet Lane” (whatever that is; it was pleasant though) to a well. A 360+ foot well, the money for which was provided by an Indian Maharajah to benefit the inhabitants of the village of Stoke Row.

The Maharajah’s Well

From there it was mainly downhill for the remaining few miles back to Watlington where we returned, a little later than expected, to our cars.

All in all, an excellent day out. I believe the mileage was a little less than we normally cover on a day ride, but with so much new stuff to see, it’s hardly surprising that we made a full day out of it and I’d like to thank Phil for putting such an interesting route together. The rest of you missed out.

David Upton took the photos

Sun 21 Oct Ride – Stonor Park, Henley and the Maharajah’s Well

Philip, our Chairman, is leading this ride and writes:

This Sunday, 21 October, CTC Northampton is offering a special, car-assisted Autumn ride through the Chiltern Hills, in an area of great natural and historic interest.

Further details to follow but the main points are:

  • meet at 10.00 a.m. in Hill Road car park, Watlington, Oxfordshire – see this link for map
  • ride of around 40-45 miles
  • Tea stop mid-morning
  • Lunch in Henley or Gallowstree Common (café or pub TBC)

This ride will take in two national Sustrans routes, the Vicar of Dibley’s village, the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang windmill, two ancient drovers’ routes and of course the Maharajah’s Well. And did I mention the hills, which give this area a special beauty – and challenge?

If you plan to come or would like further information please let me know (01604 720522; 07724 778215; chairman@ctc-northampton.org.uk. One or two car places may still be available.

Nearly Golden Beeches Sunday Ride – 14th October- a report

I had signed up for one of the Sunday rides on offer yesterday at CTC South Bucks’ “Nearly Golden Beeches Weekend” based at St Leonards near Tring.  And an adventurous day it was!

I’d thought that travel from Northampton to Tring would be straightforward on London Midland and had studied the printed timetable.  Going south would be on one train; coming north at the end would be two trains with a change at Milton Keynes.  Then I checked London Midland’s website on Saturday.  No trains out of Northampton on Sunday; a replacement coach service instead.  I decided to swap Galaxy for Brompton to make the coach journeys hassle free.

Ought I to change my choice of ride?  I’d signed up for the longest of the three rides at 47 miles.  I contemplated the medium ride – 36 miles but advertised as “hilly”.  Forty-seven miles on the Brompton it would be!  To get to the coach at Northampton Station meant leaving in the dark and so lights and a hi-viz waistcoat it was.

Then, leaving Tring Station in plenty of time to get to St Leonards, I had a puncture just one mile in.  Now changing Brompton tyres and tubes is not straightforward.  Even for the front wheel, I need to carry the manual with me as everything has to be undone in a particular order and replaced in exactly the reverse way.  Thanks goodness it wasn’t the rear wheel!  And, of course, the smaller the wheel, the more difficult to lever off a tyre.

Anyway, one of the advantages of sticking to the 47-mile route was that I’d planned to ride to St Leonard’s pretty much along the way the ride would leave (South Bucks send route cards out in advance) so that I would, if necessary, be able to meet the riders on the way.  I have to tell you that the climb west from Tring Station is an early morning wake up call!  However, when I saw the group approach, I did an about-turn and joined them. We went at quite a pace and I thought it was really hilly, especially for a Brommie.  God knows how “hilly” the 36-mile route would have been.

After a little while, the eighteen riders broke into two groups: a fast and a not-so-fast.  Six of us made up the “not-so-fast” group and, to be honest, the hill-climbing was a treat because of the vistas we viewed.  Many people will know the Chilterns escarpment at Whipsnade which gave us our best view north.  Indeed, I was convinced the route was just going up and down the escarpment all the time.  We had late elevenses at Stockgrove Country Park and I felt refreshed.  Refreshment grew to pleasure when we turned off the road to pedal for several flat miles along the Grand Union Canal towpath.  Our leader promised us a steep climb away from the canal, a descent into Tring and a steep climb to the finish.

I was dreaming of the descent into Tring and saying my farewells there.  Why should I want to put my body through a second ascent of my early morning climb?  Then the dream improved.  Just before the promised steep climb away from the canal, a sign on the towpath indicated Leighton Buzzard Station!  Why go on to Tring?  I made my farewells then and there.  Indeed, less that five minutes later I was on the platform at Leighton Buzzard!

The route is here. I did take a camera but had not the time nor energy to use it.

Resolutions: (1) to sign up for the whole of the Golden Beeches weekend next year, and (2) to take my Galaxy!

Midweek rides – any thoughts?

Our rides secretary, Iain Dawson, has had a request for the next rides planning meeting to consider offering mid-week rides.  Brian, our secretary,  and Philip, our chair, certainly remember the mid-week evening rides – to a pub venue for a social – which happened a few years ago.  When Iain mentioned the request, I had the following thoughts:

First, I’m probably in the “target group” that would enjoy mid-week rides and I should therefore put myself forward for leading one or two.

It seems to me that there could be several models of ride:

  • Copy the Sunday rides – meet at 9.30 a.m., ride through the day with stops for elevenses and lunch.
  • Copy the Saturday rides – meet at 9.30 a.m. or 2.00 p.m. for just a morning or afternoon ride
  • Copy Kettering’s Thursday Club rides – meet at the elevenses stop, ride together to the lunch stop, then ride separately home
  • Copy the 40+ Club rides – ride separately to and from a lunch stop social meeting
  • And the evening rides that Brian remembers – meet at 7.00 p.m. and ride to a pub to ride home in the dark (more a summer than winter activity for most, I should think)

Now Philip has suggested that the AGM (on Wednesday 24th October, 7.30 p.m., Park Avenue church Rooms) would be the place to gauge interest.  Iain is presenting his report as rides secretary (Item 3d) and there’s another chance to put forward ideas for the coming year’s programme at Item 9.  So here are some questions to think about – if you too are in the “target group”:

  • Should we stick to one model of ride?
  • Or mix and match?
  • Stick to a set day of the week?

I’d be happy to offer to lead one or two rides on the Thursday Club model, just sorting out a route between elevenses and lunch.

What do you think? I’m hoping for a short but interested discussion at the AGM.

Leisure ride “Tour de France Watercolours” – Saturday 13th October

Philip, our Chair, is leading this ride and writes:

This Saturday you can do more than fantasize about riding the Tour de France. Come on the CTC leisure ride and see “Twenty Stages” – prints of the Tour de France by Maxine Dodd at the J Gallery, Moulton. http://www.jgallery.org.uk/artists/artists.asp

Sadly the exhibition of her watercolours has ended early (presumably due to good sales?) but there are still her prints to see, and there is a café at the gallery.

Meet at 1.30 p.m. at the Brampton Valley Way near The Windhover pub. Both café and gallery close at 3.00 p.m. so we will go to Moulton directly. Afterwards we will try to evoke the Tour using the local hills and dales, finishing back at The Windhover by 4.30 p.m. Total distance under 20 miles.

Saturday afternoon’s forecast is currently for mixed sunshine and light showers, coolish at 10°C with a light westerly wind, so bring a waterproof.

Let me know if you have any questions (01604 720522) and I look forwward to seeing you there.

Tourist Trial – 7th October – Report

David took part in this event, run by Max Scott and based at Hannington.

David writes:

I have never done a Tourist Trial before.  It involved 3 sheets of questions and a 141 OS Map.

1. Answer ten questions from the map like “What is the highest point?”

2. Familiarise oneself with the morning route and answer eight questions while riding the route. Then return for lunch and give sheet 2 in to be marked before going out in the afternoon to do sheet 3.

3 Further points were gained by taking the right equipment and answering a general knowledge quiz on route. This was done by Peter at a stop in Old the questioning being biased to ornithology.

At the end of the day I scored 44, Brian 45, Bill 50 and Iain 57. Philip, Max and the CTC National Champion Mike Bates (on 62) were still out looking for answers.

Not sure I would do it again????