Ride report – Boxing Day

James went on this ride led by Milton and writes:

Six of us left the Canoe Centre on a very quiet, heavily overcast Boxing Day morning. Heading out through Little Houghton, our post-Christmas levels of fitness were quickly tested by the climbs into Cogenhoe and Castle Ashby.  Moreover, any lingering hopes of this being a gentle ‘recovery’ jaunt were soon put out of our heads by the strong headwind that accompanied us as we continued on towards Yardley Hastings and crossed the A428.

It was on the B5388 into Olney – the next stage of our ride – that the blustery conditions were at their worst, and there were a couple of occasions when bike control became a little tricky.  Mercifully, things eased up once we left the main road and returned to the near deserted country lanes that took us on through Weston Underwood, Ravenstone and Stoke Goldington.

Given that a few of us were feeling a little fragile as a result of the previous day’s excesses it was with relief that our next stop was Salcey Forest Café, where strong coffee and cake provided temporary rejuvenation.  It was also good to see the presence of so many other cyclists – both solo and with local clubs – at the café who, like us, had obviously decided that getting out on their bikes was preferable to another day of over indulgence.

The return journey was in complete contrast to the outward ride both in terms of effort and weather.  Not only did we have a tailwind blowing us through Quinton, Preston Deanery and Great Houghton, but the sun also made a brief appearance!  Arriving back at the Canoe Centre, we said our farewells and looked forward to doing the same thing on Boxing Day 2016!!

Ride Report – Sunday 20th December

Brian led this ride to Stowe Park and back.  He writes:

Nine riders gathered at East Hunsbury on a spring-like morning.  We had quite a mix of bikes including a Sully 29’er – 3″ tyres, pressure 12psi, ideal for snowy climes (climbs?).  Did Andrew know something about the weather forecast that we had missed?

The ride took us out through Tiffield and onto the old road to Towcester.  At the A43 we turned onto a well-surfaced bridleway and a specific crossing point across the dual carriageway, fine on a Sunday but not so good if it was very busy.  At the other side a short section of ridable track took us back onto the old road into Towcester.  Here we had to mingle with the traffic on a short section of the A5 through Towcester before we turned once again onto a quiet road up to Silverstone.  There was not much activity as we passed the racetrack.  We continued down to Stowe Park against a fresh breeze. By this time the sun was out and it really did seem like spring.

A pleasant coffee and cake at the NT café and then we were back on the quiet road to Syresham now with the wind behind us.  We were joined by Geoff and his trike at Stowe who then rode back with us to Towcester.  At Slapton the group now ten strong split into two, given the disparity of bikes and speed, to wend the short distance back to Northampton via Duncote and Tiffield.

Close to Northampton the sun disappeared and an ominous cloud appeared.  I suspect at least half of us were caught by a very sharp cloudburst before we reached home.

Who could imagine a ride on such a day in late December?!

“Cycle Revolution” at the Design Museum

Phil L writes:

Last week whilst in London I visited a cycle exhibition – called “Cycle Revolution” – at the Design Museum and have to say it’s a great exhibition, well worth going to see if you are down that way.  If you aren’t familiar with its location, it’s not far from Tower Hill or London Bridge tube stations.  Check it out on the Design Museum’s website or read this article in the Guardian.  It’s on until 30 June 2016.  If you travel in by train, the exhibition features in the 2-for-1 ticket concession.  If you go on your own, there are plenty of discounts on the admission price on the usual cycling websites.

Here’s a synopsis of the show which aims to celebrate the diversity of contemporary cycling in Britain from every-day commuting to Olympic-level competition and to look at where design and innovation may take the riders of the future.

The bikes on display include:

  • Bradley Wiggins’s 2015 Hour-Record bike and 2014 World Championship Time Trial bike
  • Bikes and other kit and equipment from Chris Froome’s 2015 Tour de France victory
  • Chris Hoy’s 2012 Olympic Track bike
  • The Mike Burrows bike ridden by Chris Boardman at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games
  • Eddy Merckx’s 1972 Hour-Record bike
  • Francesco Moser’s 1984 Hour-Record bike
  • The earliest existing prototype Brompton
  • A 1978 Breezer Series 1
  • A 1969 Raleigh Chopper.

There’s a builder’s workshop – showing the tools and materials that create a bespoke machine.  Six independent British bike builders are profiled – Donhou Bicycles, Toad Custom Cycles, Hartley Cycles, Robin Mather Cycles, Mercian Cycles and Shand Cycles.

High profile cyclists including Norman Foster and Paul Smith discuss their passion for cycling and hopes for its future in a film.

Ride report – Saturday 12th December

Phil L led this ride and writes:

Following all the dire weather forecasts emanating from the Met Office for “continuous heavy rain from 5.00 a.m. onwards” I had my doubts that this morning’s planned brisk ride would even start.  By 8.30 a.m., however, it was still dry and seemed promising so I met the other three wanting to ride at the Brampton Valley Way start point.  And then it started raining!  Later than predicted but enough to make it a bit of a wet start.

But we got a good brisk pace going despite a fairly tough headwind and soon took in Flore, Nether Heyford, Stoke Bruerne, Ashton and Hartwell before it started to abate.  We called in at Salcey for a coffee and quick “steam”!

Our usual return loop through Quinton, Preston Deanery and Great Houghton was pleasantly aided by a following wind and so a good quick 35 miles were achieved and enjoyed.

Ride report – Sunday 6th December

James went on this ride led by Ian and writes:

Eight of us left the Canoe Centre on a blustery but rain-free Sunday morning to cycle south in the direction of Cranfield and our designated coffee stop, the Bike Bus.  After heading out of Brackmills on the A428, our legs and lungs were soon tested by the climb through Great Houghton, an ascent made all the more arduous by the strength of the wind that turned out to be a constant, yet unwelcome companion.

The main section of our outward journey was spent on the undulating B526. Passing through an assortment of pleasant villages such as Stoke Goldington and Gayhurst, we eventually turned on to the Sherington Road heading towards North Crawley.  This latter stage was enlivened by two things.  Firstly, the prospect of knowing we were soon to stop for coffee.  And, secondly, the sight of numerous sweaty runners wearing tormented expressions as they wheezed their way through the eight mile point of the Bedford Harriers’ Half Marathon …

We could tell when we were close to our resting point because of the increased presence of light aircraft preparing to descend into Cranfield Airport.  Nonetheless, this and the fact that our coffee stop was a big red double-decker bus didn’t prevent us cycling straight past it.  Fortunately, the error was quickly noticed, and it wasn’t long before we were sitting on the top deck fortifying ourselves with strong coffee, bacon rolls and the obligatory slices of artery clogging cake.

Bike Bus Loyalty Card

Bike Bus Loyalty Card – front & reverse

Reinvigorated, we got back in our saddles and started the return trip to Northampton via Newton Blossomville, Emberton and Olney.  Again, the route was pleasantly undulating, but the wind gusty.  On the plus side, the clouds started to give way to the occasional glimpse of blue and the sun made a few guest appearances.  The temptation to take a second coffee break at Olney was quickly voted down when we saw how crowded the town was.  The usual Sunday afternoon antique collectors being supplemented by families out to enjoy the annual Christmas Fair.

Given the crowds, it was unsurprising that the road out of Olney was busy, and it was with some relief that after crossing the A428 at Yardley Hastings we were soon back on some quieter stretches that took us through Castle Ashby and on towards the ‘Col de Cogenhoe’.  Whilst short, the climb itself is very steep and our efforts clearly weren’t helped by the conditions.  It was whilst in Cogenhoe – after regrouping and rediscovering how to breathe – that some of us said our farewells and cycled off in various homeward bound directions.  The remainder carried on, via Little Houghton, back to our starting point at the Canoe Centre.  Overall, a very enjoyable ride made all the more fun by the discovery of such a unique coffee stop!

Ride Report – Sunday 29th November

Brian, our Secretary, went on the “Double Pit-Stop” ride led by Phil J and writes:

Despite early morning rain, four riders started in the dry from East Hunsbury.  The first pit-stop was coffee at Pitsford Reservoir and we had a good tail wind most of the way, via Upton (mainly on cycle paths), Harlestone, Chapel Brampton to Brixworth.  A strong cross wind on the A508 really had us hanging on the bars and it was a relief to get to the café. The welcome break was followed by a return to Brixworth.  Phil L left us here to return to domestic duties.  At Teeton Dave departed for home.  The sky was very overcast and looked as if it could drop a lot of rain at any time.  However, we had no rain at all and the temperature was mild for the time of year.  Our only challenge was the wind and a few hills as we then made our way (now down to two riders) via Guilsborough, Cold Ashby to Naseby – our half way point.

We were tempted to stop here for a break at the vicarage café when we found the village shop had closed at noon, just 10 minutes before we arrived.  But, with the wind howling in the trees, we decided to eat our emergency rations instead and head on via Haselbech to Cottesbrooke and then on to Brixworth for a third time. Unsurprisingly we encountered hardly any traffic.

Deciding against a second pit-stop by the reservoir we returned along a busy A508 before turning off to the Bramptons and Harlestone.  Phil and I split up at Sixfields, to get home in good light and before the heavy rain came later that afternoon.

It was quite a hilly ride but the key feature was the very strong wind.  Because of the changes in our direction we had a real mixed bag of head- tail- and cross-winds all day, none lasting for many miles before it changed again.

It was a good winter route on quiet lanes which were never that far from Northampton so that if the weather had broken we could easily have
headed for home.  Thanks to Phil for a good ride!