A London Ride – Saturday 1st June

Iain Dawson, our Rides Secretary, will be leading this (train-assisted) ride and writes with these joining instructions (and hints & tips):

Start Point: Zebra Crossing, Melton St, London NW1 2EB (near the Taxi entrance to Euston Station)

Start Time: 9.55 a.m.

For those of you coming through Euston station, find the station concourse and then, with the platforms behind you and the sunlight streaming in the windows ahead, make your way to the West (right side) Exit by the ticket office, past the “Lift to Underground” and “Lift to Taxis” signs. Once out of the building, keep going, down a few steps to the zebra crossing. If you haven’t seen anyone you recognise by then, check your watch and decide whether to wait there, retire for a coffee in the station, or ring the ride leader to see where everyone’s got to.

Those of you not coming through Euston Station can probably work out where we’ll be from the information above. If not, feel free to email me for directions.

We’ll be taking a combination of quiet streets, quiet main roads (and I do mean quiet), tourist routes, park paths, cycle lanes and blue paint to make our way round the capital and we’ll also negotiate what is probably Britain’s smallest traffic island. There are only a couple of spots where we’ll encounter serious traffic and it is pretty tame in those locations.

This ride is slightly different from our usual trips so a few things worth mentioning:
1. Bring a camera; there’s lots to see.
2. Bring something picnicable to munch on at lunch time.
3. NO RUNNING RED LIGHTS. I know you wouldn’t anyway but the group WILL wait for you if the light changes. Do not be tempted.
4. Don’t go up the inside (left side) of large vehicles: it never works out well. The group WILL wait for you.
5. You can opt for lycra-free dress on this ride, if you so wish, as neither the pace nor the distance makes lycra a necessity. (Please wear something in place of that lycra though – the WNBR is not ’til the following weekend) !

The weather forecast’s looking dry but cloudy. Warm though. I just need to book my train tickets now.

See you Saturday!

Iain’s contact details:
07909 992468
or comment below (automatically forwarded to Iain)


Bike Week 15th – 23rd June

Once again the CTC will be promoting Bike Rides for All as part of Bike Week, the UK’s only annual promotion of all kinds of cycling activities – a nationwide programme of rides and events.  The aim is to get more people cycling more often – to have fun, get fit and feel free!

Here are some local events:

Saturday 15th June MK Millennium Cycle Route – 12 miles from the Great Linford Festival, Milton Keynes, starting at 10.30 a.m. (organised by Phil Ashbourn)

Sunday 16th June (1) The Sustrans Kingsthorpe Festival

Sunday 16th June (2) A 25-mile Mystery Ride from the Newport Pagnell Medical Centre, starting at 10.00 a.m. (organised by Phil Ashbourn)

Thursday 20th June Bike Week Breakfast at the Salcey Forest Café.  Two CTC rides both at7.30 a.m. (1) from the Canoe Centre, Bedford Road, Northampton – led by Philip Gray (2) from Wolverton Railway Station, Milton Keynes – organised by Phil Ashbourn

Saturday 22nd June Morning Leisure Ride  – 10.30 a.m. from Midsummer Meadow, Bedford Road, Northampton (led by Brian Tunbridge)

Sunday 23rd June All-day Challenging Ride – 9.30 a.m. from Hunsbury Hill Library, Overslade Close, Northampton to Stowe Park and return.  Lunch at Sulgrave Manor.  Led again by Brian Tunbridge.

Contact details

Phil Ashbourn 01908 698063
Philip Gray 01604 720522
Brian Tunbridge 01604 622073
Sustrans @SustransUoN

Cycling in the Northampton Carnival Parade – Saturday 8th June

I’ve just been tweeted a reminder from @CycleNorthants that the Carnival is looking for riders for the Bike Parade in the Northampton Carnival on Saturday 8th June.
All riders are welcome and the organisers are trying to get as many as possible for an impressive display.  You can either bring your own bike or ride one of their “silly” bikes.
The Parade lasts from 2.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m. and there will be more activity afterwards at Far Cotton Recreation Ground.
Details from @CycleNorthants  / Northamptonshire Highways / northamptonshire.gov.uk/Cycling.

Leisure Ride on Saturday 18th May – 2.00 p.m.

Philip Gray leads this ride and writes:

Join us at 2.00 p.m. this Saturday.  We meet at the Canoe Centre, Bedford Road, for a leisurely ride of about 20 – 25 miles. The route will meander along the (slightly hilly) Nene Valley / Castle Ashby area before crossing to Earls Barton. The teastop will be at the Jeyes Apothocoffee shop, where you can also visit its small museum of local life and learn about the enterprising Jeyes family. 

Please let Philip know if you have any questions – on 01604 720522 or 07557 670831.

Advance information for our London Ride – Saturday 1st June

Iain Dawson, our Rides Secretary, shares some information about the London ride and transport arrangements:

Transport / Getting There

We are planning to be rolling from Euston Station – from the exit onto Melton Street – by 10.00 a.m., so the best trains – assuming you want to take the train – from Northampton would be the 0825 and the 0850. Please remember that ticket queues can be enormous at Northampton so don’t roll up at 8.20 a.m. expecting to make the train if you haven’t already bought your ticket(s).

Currently, London Midland is offering GroupSave tickets, allowing 4 people to travel for the price of 2, but the group that travels on the ticket has to stick together. I’m sure that can all be arranged between individuals.

There are no such joys to be had on East Midlands trains.

We can’t guarantee a finish time because if riders find one of the stops particularly interesting, we’ll hang around a little longer. We built stoppage time into our reconnaissance and made it back to Euston just before 5.00 p.m. so I’d advise either buying an open (day) return – off-peak – or leaving an hour longer than we did, unless you want to hang around a little longer in London, of course.

You don’t have to take the train if you don’t want to; there are other means of getting to London. 


TfL*1 and LCC*2, have produced some excellent cycling maps covering London; I use them for walking as well.

You don’t need to bring a map for this ride as your ride leaders know where we’re going but if you want to follow the route, they’re available FREE OF CHARGE from: https://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/11682.aspx. Our route is contained entirely in Sheet 7, also entirely in Sheet 14 (they overlap) and the bulk of it is in large scale on Sheet 1.

Food and Drink

For logistical reasons, we’ve opted for a riverside picnic. It is near a pub though. Very near. But bring something picnicable to munch on.

We’ll also be making a café stop later in the day at a place known to be friendly to cyclists. (And which was offering a Guest Coffee, in the manner of pubs’ Guest Beers, when we recce’d it. That ride was such hard work!)


The route stays almost entirely away from the major through-routes and their associated traffic. On the couple of occasions where we have to deal with traffic, it’s at traffic-light-controlled junctions or in low-speed zones so traffic speeds are low. Cycling is never a no-risk activity but there’s no reason why being in London on a Saturday should be any more dangerous than being in Long Buckby on a Saturday if you pay attention to your surroundings and try to stay safe.

Our biggest problem is likely to be pedestrians wandering around in the road.

Ride Distance/Pace

Distance and pace are similar to a Leisure Ride, in addition to which we’ll be stopping to see the sights en route (and having reviewed some of the photos from the recce, even a London Tour guide would have trouble finding all the sights we’re going to see).

Boris Bike Hire

Possible: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/14811.aspx but it’s expensive for the whole day.

Better than that: bring your own bike! Even one of those fold-up jobs will cope with this ride!

*1 Transport for London
*2 London Cycling Campaign

Ride on Saturday 11th May is CANCELLED

Iain Dawson, our Rides Secretary, writes:

Please note that the ride listed for this Saturday, 11th May, has been cancelled.
We apologise. We don’t like cancelling rides (and we’ve had to cancel a couple due the weather so far this year) but it’s not possible for us to run this ride this week.
I’m sure it will be making another appearance on the calendar later in the year.

Ride Report – Sunday 5th May

Iain Dawson led this ride – “A Ride of Two Rivers” – and writes:

There were five of us ready, outside the Canoe Centre, for this trip on Sunday morning and the weather was looking promising as well. Better than it did last time I tried to lead this ride anyway.

After a short deviation into the industrial estate, we picked-up National Cycle Route 6 in Great Houghton, rode on past Salcey Forest, and down through Haversham on the north side of Milton Keynes. Then we turned onto a gated road that brought us out by Stantonbury Wharf and the Grand Union Canal. We followed this, more or less, half way to Willen Lake, the only snag being that whoever drew the Buckinghamshire street map didn’t know where the bridges over the canal were! Redway navigation is tricky at the best of times, because you never see the street signs, but to have bridges spring up out of nowhere? That’s a new one on me! Anyway, after a couple more pauses to check the map and the signs on nearby streets (thanks Karen and Dave), we found a sign, an actual sign, for “Willen Lake” and were duly delivered to the café there.

Refreshed, we took to the Redways once again to cut through a corner of the original Milton Keynes, with its 12th-century church, and past the Open University, which wasn’t quite as exciting as I’d hoped. We did, however, get to see a lot of the greenery that Milton Keynes has to offer before we cut through the car parks at the west end of the shopping centre and headed up past Linford Wood to the old railway line that now serves as a pedestrian/cycle link between northern MK and Newport Pagnell. A short ride from there – up through Sherington and Emberton Country Park – saw us installed in our favourite Olney café for lunch, sitting out in the sun. I have to say, each time we crossed the Ouse I was getting more and more tempted to drop down to it and take a dip. The weather was magnificent for May.

With only the few miles separating Olney (on the Ouse) from the Canoe Centre (on the Nene), we set off with just Cogenhoe hill left requiring any real work ahead of us and we had an uneventful final leg back to Northampton to finish around 4pm. Not bad for a 52 mile ride taking in some very congested Redways with a couple of navigation errors thrown in to temper the pace.

All-day Ride on Sunday 5th May

Iain Dawson, our Rides Secretary, will be leading this ride and writes:

This Sunday we meet at 9.30 a.m. at the Canoe Centre in the Bedford Road.

We will be traversing the land between the Nene and the Ouse as we make a 50 mile-ish loop down to Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire, with a stop at Willen Lake, some Redway cycling and a stop in Olney thrown in for good measure.

The ride is not too arduous (I’m still tweaking the route though, so be nice to me), and it’s still too far out for a decent weather forecast (although currently it looks warm and dry). I’m using a mix of old favourites and new routes so it will hopefully hold something of interest for everyone.

A short part of the route is on broken tarmac, so go steady if you’re on skinny tyres, but MTBs will not be needed!

Visit to Aachen – Day 7 Ride Report

Tuesday 23rd April – Dunkirk to Northampton – words by Iain Dawson

Ian was away early to meet up with Alex and make the 10.00 a.m. boat out of Dunkerque. As a result, those two may have been the only part of the group to have ridden in rain all week. It had finished by time Dave and I had had breakfast.

We wandered across to the supermarché to grab a few food goodies (no beer or fags on this trip) then packed the bikes and headed for the port. Rather annoyingly, the French had decided to dig up the road that we’d come in on the previous evening but we remembered the alternative from our nocturnal food run so we were soon battling the wind on the route back through Dunkerque’s industrial hinterland. We did actually see the 10.00 a.m. boat departing but it took us a further fifteen minutes to get to the port ourselves.

Dunkerque is easier to navigate than Dover – no need for red lines here – and other passengers more talkative, both dockside and on the boat itself, so we had plenty of conversation on the way back.

We should have been last off the boat in (a cold and foggy) Dover, but someone upset the deckhand by not being ready to move when instructed so we enjoyed a leisurely stroll down the ramp, picked up the red line again and a few minutes later found ourselves outside the Travel Centre where it had all begun not one week earlier.

When we got to the top of the hill, where I’d left the car, all was sunny and warm. We did break the journey home by stopping at South Mimms services which I thought was the only Motorway Services signed from a National Cycle Route. Appropriate, I thought. I’ve since discovered that Severn View is also on an NCN route.

I’m still wondering how to work this idea into one of our routes.

Only one thing left to ask: Where are we going next year?