Ride Report – Lincoln – Sunday 28th July

Iain, Brian and Rowan went on this ride led by Philip.  Iain writes:

Brian and I arrived in Sleaford bright and early, with the day looking promisingly bright. 

Phil and Rowan arrived shortly afterwards and, with bikes assembled, we headed north out of the town for our first stop. Actually, we started off by heading south out of the car park, crossing the River Slea on a concrete slab, because Sleaford’s one-way system was working against us at this point. We then inserted ourselves into said one-way system, heading the right way and passing a scattered collection of parked police vehicles before taking the Connect-2 path over the A17 and up to Leasingham. This path, complete with blessedly traffic-free bridge, was opened only last September so we definitely timed our first Sleaford ride well. 

We’re still not sure why there were police vehicles scattered over northern Sleaford though. 

Following a coffee-and-cake stop at a very nice garden centre in Ruskington (we had travelled all the way up from Northamptonshire before we got started) we set out across the flattish lands of central Lincolnshire, passing the old airfield at Metheringham, discovering a tarmaced (and well-used) Bridleway in Dunston, and visiting the “Dandelion Clock” in the exquisite little village of Nocton. We also benefitted from National Rail’s policy of closing level crossings wherever possible – we had about 3 miles of tarmac with a level crossing in the middle that could be used only by pedestrians and cyclists. 3 miles with virtually no chance of anything motorised being on the road.

Having said that, the lanes from Sleaford to Lincoln were all pretty light on traffic, the only busy-ish section being a bit of B-Road that we travelled on and which wouldn’t have been considered busy in Northamptonshire.

We cut down to the Sustrans path (yet again, tarmac!) along the river Witham a few miles east of Lincoln and trundled along to the edge of the centre. Due to a strange combination of pedestrianised areas, dual-carriageways and one-way systems, Lincoln is not a simple place to find one’s way around. Beautiful, but confusing. So it took us some time to lock the bikes up and make our lunch stop – Stokes Coffee Shop on High Bridge. And it is on the bridge, right over the River Witham. I do believe Mr Gray relieved them of their sole remaining sample of local beer while we there – hope they restock before anybody else goes. 

After lunch, and more wandering around to retrieve our bikes from their various locations, we had to attempt the climb up to the cathedral, cobbles and all. Three of the group made it – I won’t say who resorted to walking. 

Having marvelled at the cathedral awhile, we made our way back down the hill, on tarmac this time, and left Lincoln on what is probably the most infuriating cycle path I’ve used in some time. Not only did it, confusingly but usefully, go across the centre of a roundabout, it stopped at every side turning into retail parks, car parks, petrol stations – some of which had slipped access from the dual carriageway so cars weren’t expecting even to slow down that much as they turned. There was plenty of space on that road for a proper cycle lane which wouldn’t have ceded priority to turning or joining traffic. Later on, the surface went from tarmac to paving slab, just to add insult to injury. 

Rowan and Phil disappeared into a large house at this point, and returned a few minutes later brandishing a set of mudguards to fix to Rowan’s bike. How fortunate we’d not needed them thus far – that would change! 

Back on the road (using a proper cycle lane and not a painted bit of sidewalk) we headed away from the urban area altogether and back out into the countryside, noticing the wind properly for the first time. We trecked along the low-lying land south of Lincoln before turning east towards the escarpment and the village of Boothby Graffoe. While heading eastwards, we took to watching a small storm over to our right, some miles away but heading towards us. We figured that if we got up the hill, made a right turn onto the main road and got going, it would probably miss us. 

The climb up the escarpment was, again, noticeably steep but we all managed to stay on the bike for this one and we had a lovely view of the approaching storm as we made our way through the village. Satisfied that we wouldn’t get wet, we were somewhat surprised when two minutes later it started raining. We bolted for the shelter of some trees in front of a gated driveway and stayed there for a good ten minutes putting on water proofs and watching our part of the world getting considerably wetter. It stopped about two minutes after we set off again and a few miles down the road it looked like they’d escaped the downpour altogether. We would have missed it had we been quicker! That was all the rain we saw during the ride. 

We tracked back towards Leasingham using a combination of very quiet lanes and a brief stint on the A15 before heading back into Sleaford on the Connect-2 path we’d left on. 

The track of the route (from the morning coffee-stop on) is here:http://www.endomondo.com/workouts/222422170/5180977. Don’t believe the numbers – the pause function doesn’t seem to be working too well and I’m sure I didn’t hit 47 mph. I think I’d remember if I did! 

Thanks to Rowan and Phil for planning this one, and I’d recommend Lincoln for a day out, or Lincolnshire for a day’s riding, to anyone. Everyone we met seemed to be cheerful and helpful to boot! 

But take a map.



Lincoln Ride – Sunday 28th July

Philip and Rowan are leading this out-of-county ride from Sleaford to Lincoln and return.  Philip writes:

This Sunday CTC Northampton rides to the beautiful city of Lincoln. The route is flat or slightly rolling – with the notable exception of Lincoln itself. The route contains a number of points of interest, from villages with historical connections  to a WW2 airfield – and the magnificence of Lincoln Cathedral!

Key points:

  • Meet in Sleaford at 10.00 a.m. – Details of exact meeting point to follow
  • Elevenses in Ruskington; lunch in Lincoln
  • Bring a lock
  • Distance approximately 50 miles
  • Gentle gradients – apart from one!
  • Current forecast is to be warm (20 – 24 C) with sunny intervals but a chance of light rain and only a light breeze from the south
  • It is important that you let Philip know if you are coming – 01604 720522 or philip.g@ctc-northampton.org.uk

Route description

After a short stretch northwards on the A15 we turn off east through Leasingham for early elevenses at Ruskington Garden Centre. Suitably strengthened for the arduous flatlands of North Kesteven, we proceed through various small villages to pass Metheringham WWII airfield. After skirting the Fens we will reach the outskirts of Lincoln through Canwick. In Lincoln there awaits the cobbled challenge of Michaelgate, which some may prefer to walk up. (Distance to Lincoln c 25 miles)

There will be a chance for a brief look in the magnificent Cathedral. Lunch will be in the Cathedral refectory or nearby.

We will take a good cycle path out of town through the Hykehams, then cross the rather flat Witham valley through Bassingham and Navenby and eventually back to Sleaford.

We hope to see you on Sunday. Final details to follow.

Competition – aka “Where Is It?” – UPDATE


you’ll remember we asked you where this photo was taken:


Well, we have a winner!

As the detail in this photo shows,:


the statue is indeed that of James Starley, inventor of the modern bicycle, and it’s located in his home city of Coventry, in Greyfriars Park between the station and the city centre.

It seems I owe Ian Macsporran a cup of tea, and I’ll have to think of something trickier for next time!

Ride Report – Saturday 20th June – Petite Etape de Northants

Brian (our Rides Secretary) went on this ride led by Alex and writes:
On the day the Tour de France covered the same route as this years Etape (successfully completed by our own member Philip Gray two weeks ago) Alex had lined up a hilly route for a brisk morning ride. The challenge was 2600ft and 35 miles. At the end Alex extended the route to just complete a total of  3000ft of ascent according to his GPS logger. A mere trifle compared with real Etape I suspect.
Six riders, including a new CTC member Terry, set out from the Brampton Valley Way / Welford Road meeting place at 9.30 a.m. in cloudy and cool conditions. This lasted throughout the ride and made for very pleasant cycling compared with the previous few days, although potentially the forecast was hot.
The route took us through Holdenby, Spratton and Brixworth in a series of undulations to Cottesbrooke where we had a brief spell on the flat before the long climb up to Haselbach.  Then we pedalled a short stretch to Nasby before turning down to Clipston and then to Kelmarsh. A slight problem was a sign that the road to Kelmarsh was closed over the weekend but we pressed on to find that the reason was a major event at Kelmarsh Hall with a one way system for traffic to its car park. Luckily we were able to walk the short stretch to the A508 and cross to Arthingworth. More hills followed in a loop to Harrington on some very pleasant narrow roads.
Whilst we were bidding farewell to Iain – he left to pedal to Kettering – an elderly gentleman cyclist passed us on his way to a wedding (not his) in Harrington. A drop into Draughton and then up to Lamport Hall before more gentle undulations through Old and Hannington and then the final few hills and a short detour to complete 3000ft of ascent before ending at Moulton.
We arrived at the J Gallery Café in the village at 12.30 p.m. for a welcome cup of tea in the gardens. Alex’s Bianchi kit was much admired by the other customers who were cycling-friendly.

(l to r) David, Alex and Brian in the J Gallery Café garden

(l to r) David, Alex and Brian in the J Gallery Café garden

Many thanks to Alex for planning and leading a very pleasant ride through quiet picturesque Northamptonshire lanes. A route definitely to be recommended.

“Guy Barber” Ride – Well done, David!

Congratulations to local CTC member David who completed his first century ride last Sunday!  (And he found the time and energy to take photos!)
David writes: I started out early – 6.20 a.m. from the Canoe Centre, Northampton – and arrived in St Neots at 8.45 a.m. for a sandwich and drink before heading on to Cambridge. There was a mist in the sky that stopped the sun warming the morning up too much and the breeze created by cycling helped to cool me.
I arrived in Cambridge at 10.35 a.m. and wandered around the centre looking at the colleges, the punting and the market stalls. I had tea and cake at Tatties Café before starting my way back home through the crowds of tourists around 1.30 p.m.IMG_0670 - Punting in Cambridge

Dave's bike outside Tatties Café

Dave’s bike outside Tatties Café

I returned to St Neots at 3.00 p.m. and chose to continue on a route which was slightly different from the way I’d come in the morning. It was one of the hottest days of the year and I eventually arrived back at 7.30pm. Although I did not have a cycle computer to measure my distance, Bill (the organiser of the “Guy Barber” Ride) has confirmed I have done my first 100-miler.

Petite Etape de Northants ride – Saturday 20th July

We start at the Brampton Valley Way – BVW or National Cycle Route 6  (Welford Road Crossing, near The Windhover) at 9.30 a.m.  Distance = 36 miles.  Pace = brisk (say, 14 m.p.h average).  Finish at The J Gallery Café, Moulton.  Alex will be leading and he has worked out a route with 2,536 ft of ascent!  His contact number is 07710 911158.  He looks forward to seeing you.

Alex notes that at the moment the BVW is signposted “closed” for 12 weeks between Mill Lane and the Welford Road Crossing but he has been using it OK from the “horse field” at Kingsthorpe.

After the ride, you could pedal on to Karen’s Coffee Day at 33 Grange Road, Stanwick, NN9 6PZ.  CTC member Karen rode from London to Paris in aid of “Against Breast Cancer” in June this year; in June next year she’s tackling the Three Cities Ride (London to Brussels to Amsterdam).  On Saturday she’s holding a Coffee Day (10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. – not just a Coffee Morning!) as part of her fund-raising for “Prostate Cancer UK”.  There’ll be cakes and other refreshments – and a tom bola / raffle.  Karen would love it if you could call in and support her!

Cycle Touring with T S Eliot

Cycle touring with T S Eliot (or a report on yesterdays‘s “Reservoir” 100k Audax)

Organised by Richard Daniells on behalf of CTC Northamptonshire & Milton Keynes – and within the rules of Audax UK – this was a 100k event starting and finishing at the Joan Strong Centre in Oundle.  I was bang on time with my preparations for the start  and so didn’t have any spare time to count the number of participants, let alone say hello!

Riders were responsible for finding their own way, following a detailed route sheet.  Naturally, everything looks better in good sunshine but the route was actually delightful.  And the instructions were very accurate.  To ensure the route is followed there was one manned control (at Grafham Water) and three information controls – where you answer a simple question based on observation at  junctions.  It’s not a race; it’s a tour within certain time limits.  Today, the time limits were to complete the route between 3 hours 22 minutes and 8 hours 5 minutes.  No racing, no places, just touring.

The first part took riders out from Oundle to Grafham Water, going east and south.  There was an early information control at Lutton less than 10k from the start and by that time riders were well spaced out.

Then the high point for me of the route: pedalling through Little Gidding, the hamlet that gives its name to the title of the fourth of T S Eliot’s great last set of poetry, “Four Quartets”. IMAG0317And there was the smallest of boards advertising an Eliot Festival over the weekend, presumably at the house associated with the seventeenth-century Anglican community established by Nicholas Ferrar.

It must have been cycle touring through the hamlet, on a journey from Oundle, that inspired Thomas Stearns Eliot to write (“Little Gidding”, section 1, lines 21-23):

If you came this way,
Taking the route you would be likely to take
From the place you would be likely to come from …

Anyway, it wasn’t long and I was at Grafham Water, meeting up with friendly faces and enjoying beans on toast to propel me through the second half of the ride, west and north back to Oundle.  Two information controls on this part – the first just before Keysoe and the second in Riseley – before joining the River Nene at Aldwincle and cycling that lovely part back to Oundle.

Which of course inspired the poet to write (“Little Gidding”, section 5, lines 1-3)

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.

The poem culminates of course with the motto of the cycle tourist (“Little Gidding”, section 5, lines 26-29)

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

A great day out!  You can find my route here.  I completed the route, including my refreshment stop at Grafham Water in 5 hours 15 minutes.  The time on the bike was 4 hours 22 minutes.


Lamport Hall Sportive – 30th June – 3 reports

Three of our members who took part in this event have recorded their observations!  Each writer took part in a different distance event.

David wrote:

Lamport Hall is a comfortable distance to cycle to, to ride in a sportive. There were three distances 100 miles that took you around Rutland Water, 60 miles and 25 miles.
I did the 60 mile course which went as far north as Lyddington, cycling along Eyesbrook reservoir where the Dam Busters trained. The weather was just right with bright sun and occasional gusts of cooling wind. The route had lots of hills to climb. I stopped once for refreshment at “The Compass” pub car park.
Around 55 miles having just passed through Rothwell, I could feel the soles of my feet begin to heat up and nearing the end they had become a bit painful.
There needed to be another arrow marker on the other side of Stoke Albany, crossing the A427 to confirm the first arrow marker to Desborough. I needed to look at my map to check. I Must have done 70 plus miles today. I recommend doing it next year.
Alex wrote:
I did the 100 mile route, although it was a tadge more and cycling to and from has made it 125. I agree that it was enjoyable and accessible, despite a strong headwind after lunchtime. However, for my liking the route should be reversed or redesigned to take out the dominance of right-hand turns.
The Scouts manning the two refreshment stands were volunteering, not getting paid funds for their Scout troop, and that seems wrong to me when entrants are paying £19 or so each.  (Please see comment below.)  I had a great day and would do it again, but will feedback as above to Elliott’s.
The 100 mile route plus there and back from NN2 involved 2356m climbing, my top speed was 42mph – there are some excellent fast sections, but busy in places too. The routes are available to download from Elliott’s website.
Finally, John wrote:
I too was at Lamport – on the 25 mile leisure ride – so that my grandchildren could look after me!
It was a perfect day, still not too hot at midday.  But I did have to take my helmet off at Creaton in order to enjoy the fresh air.  That was where my panniers came in useful.  My time was not good – 2 hrs 20 min – but I would have won the award, had there been one, for the rider with the most panniers.We entered on the day and so had to pay an extra £5 each.  That made the 25m ride far too expensive.  Two adults with two children came to £62 – [2x(16 +5) & 2x(5+5) ].  There were no feeding stations or other support on the 25.  Perhaps they did not want too many non-serious people.  Children’s father and uncles were on the longer rides, and they showed off by going fast, and mum was on a borrowed upright hub gear bike.  So over all family honour was satisfied.

If organisers had known I did not wear a helmet, and I had lied about the children’s ages, they would not have allowed us to enter.  We would have had to ride around on our public roads without paying, and would not have got a medal and a free biscuit afterwards!

John's grand-children maintain the family's honour!

John’s grand-children maintain the family’s honour!

Competition! aka “Where Is It?”

Hi all

I thought it was time to see how well-travelled our readers are, so here’s the first in an irregular series of cycling-related “Where Am I?” type competitions.

“Competition?” you say? Well yes, except that there’s no prize except the kudos of being revered as a cyclist who knows their geography. And possibly a cup of tea or coffee on the next ride if you choose to ride out with us.

So, here’s today’s mystery location:

1. It’s in the UK (note the weather 😦 )
2. It’s less than half a mile from a railway station (800m to you metric types).
3. It’s position next to a cycle path is appropriate.

So, where is it?

Answers and guesses in the Comments section below and I’ll give you a week to work it out.

NB: Some details of the picture have been obscured to make it just a little less obvious.