Ride report – Saturday 23rd July

Phil J went on this ride organised by James and writes:

Eight cyclists assembled at Moulton for James’ Queen of the Mountains ride of two halves on a glorious sunny morning.  Moderate or brisk?  The choice was yours. The sides were quickly picked and gave us four riders in each group.  We set off on the long road out towards Holcot and the groups splintered as expected.  Our moderate group set into a nice steady pace which included Elspeth once again.

The sun shone but a gentle breeze cooled us sufficiently and made it one of the best days for cycling so far this year. The pace quickened for the moderate group but with still no sign of the faster riders in the brisk group ahead.  We meandered through picturesque villages without much traffic to hold us up and it wasn’t long before we were entering the wonderful Cottesbrooke estate with its steep climb at the end.  But we skirted round this and soon headed for Naseby with a number of testing hills there instead.  Cyclists passed us as we regrouped but we managed to rein one or two of them in on the climbs as they lost power much to our satisfaction.

Some miles on after a short stretch along the busy Market Harborough road we approached the tea stop at the Waterloo Farm Café and a welcome break for us all.  The brisk group hadn’t arrived yet as they were still out covering the extra miles and climbs on their own particular route but the “moderates” were ahead of time according to our leader.

We settled onto an outside table and it wasn’t long before the “brisks” arrived and joined us.  The location was baked in sunshine and we all enjoyed teas and coffees whilst some got stuck into tasty fayre.

On the move again we all set off together before two became one after the first rise.  The route continued through familiar territory including the long haul up Harrington Hill, the final QoM stage, ending at the Tollemache Arms which seemed rather tempting on a hot day but we continued without succumbing to a swift pint or two!

Towards Foxhall a police roadblock was in place and a helicopter circled overhead where a stolen car had been abandoned in the nearby field.  Further on Old and Walgrave tested the weary legs of the group before we met up again with the brisk group just outside Holcot.

The final stretch into Moulton was the last couple of miles of the day and we blazed down the road whatever group you were in.  James and I had a bunch sprint to the finish which of course he won and punched the air in delight. A great days riding with a choice of ways to do it.

Thanks to James for devising the QoM route. James lead the brisk group at a challenging pace leaving Brian, Phil and Co to enjoy a more steady pace.

Ride report – Saturday 16th July

Brian went on this ride led by Iain D and writes:

A select group of four riders left Moulton at 9.00 a.m. on an overcast but warm and humid morning for a full day’s ride.  Soon after Sywell we met rolling hills through Mears Ashby, Castle Ashby and on to Olney, on relatively quiet roads.   Here we stopped for coffee and sat outside in the café courtyard enjoying toasted tea cakes as the sun came out.  Showing just how small the world is Anne and Ken discovered that they had both grown up in the same area of Lancashire.  The hills of Northamptonshire apparently have nothing on those in the north west!!  This was to be well tested later in the ride.

From Olney we headed north-east to Turvey and on to Carlton where we did a loop to Odell, Sharnbrook and through the picturesque village of Bletsoe before we turned back though Milton Ernest and more quiet roads.  We returned to the Emmaus Centre at Carlton for lunch at 1.00 p.m.  The weather was now warming up with blue skies and highs of 23C.  We were ready for a break.

After a very convivial lunch we headed up to Poddington and Wollaston before dropping into the Nene valley at Great Doddington.  From here it was all uphill via Wilby to Sywell which was the highest point on the ride, not that it was an obvious summit finish.

We arrived in Moulton at 3.45 p.m. after a pleasant day in the saddle.  Ideal cycling weather, summer at last!  Thanks to Iain for devising and leading the ride.

The Tour de France and punctuation

From Keith Houston’s excellent blog, “Shady Characters“:

The first stage of this year’s Tour de France ran from Mont-Saint-Michel to Utah Beach/Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, along the north-west coast of the Manche re­gion, on the second of July.  As the riders fol­lowed the 188km route, they passed through the little town of Gouville-sur-Mer, which, in the time-hon­oured tra­di­tion of pro­vin­cial vil­lages that the Tour vis­its but once every few dec­ades or so, laid out its slo­gan for the tv heli­copter to see: Gouville-sur-Mer, cap­itale mon­diale de l’huître de pleine mer (Gouville-on-sea, world cap­ital of the open sea oyster).  So now you know.itv-tdf-huitres-02-07-2016
World oyster cap­ital though it may be, Gouville-sur-Mer is not, evid­ently, the world capital of dia­crit­ics: the noble cir­cum­flex, which should have reigned proudly over the word huître, was nowhere to be seen.  Nor were any other non-al­pha­betic marks — not the hy­phens that should have ap­peared in Gouville-sur-Mer or the comma that should have come after it, and not the apo­strophe that should have punc­tu­ated l’huître.  And yes, tweets and in­stant mes­sages may be in­creas­ingly do­ing without their full stops, but I could have handled one ap­pear­ing here.  For shame, Gouville-sur-Mer!  I sa­lute your oyster cre­den­tials but I de­plore your aer­ial ty­po­graphy.

Ride report – Sunday 3rd July

Our new – for July & August – start time of 9.00 a.m. saw 13 riders congregate in Moulton for a planned 64-mile round trip to Oundle.  The sky was cloudy but it was warm, it was dry and we had a slight tailwind for the outward leg. In fact, all looked well for a great day’s riding.

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Gathering outside Moulton Co-Op for the start

Did I mention there were 13 of us?

We hit potholes and had an off while we were still in Moulton! Very unpleasant for Colin!

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You might not see the pothole in the shade …

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… but it caused us grief!

We were rolling again after a few minutes, with Colin gamely opting to continue the ride, and ran to Harrowden without incident where the route was altered slightly to avoid the unmade surface of Furnace Lane, given that we’d already had problems and lot of riders were on 23s, but that did allow us to rendezvous with a fourteenth rider on The Slips near Irthlingborough and we had an problem-free run then all the way through to Oundle.

When we got there, it was packed.  The cafés were overflowing with cyclists and there were bikes parked four-deep in places.  Fortunately the Coffee Tavern had upstairs space for us and we managed to get ourselves fed and watered and ready for the next leg.  One of our number left us at this point to return directly home complaining that she hadn’t done enough mileage this year.  She doesn’t know what she missed.

If you’re the ride leader, it pays to keep an eye on the map to ensure that the ride goes where you said it would go.  Our ride leader – me – didn’t bother, having memorised the route the night before, and so the route didn’t exactly go where it was planned to!  In fact we added a few miles of tarmac between Oundle and East Carlton that weren’t in the original plan at all.  (Sorry!)  But it was good tarmac and people seemed to enjoy it so no harm done.  Might as well take advantage of the weather when we can, eh?

Also, since we were passing the bottom of Rockingham Hill, we allowed those up for the challenge the chance to tackle the climb.  I mean, it’s not like we get out there every week is it?  And we had a few fast riders who felt they wanted a go so why not?  In total, six tackled the climb, including Dave who was probably keen to try out the new bike on a proper hill.

East Carlton was again busy, though sadly not with cyclists, but we did get a couple of tables out in the sun, the clouds long since having disappeared.

The final leg saw us back from East Carlton by way of Harrington where the group finally split.  Some of the faster riders continued straight through back to Moulton, others dived in to the Tollemache Arms to refill water bottles and such like, but we all made it back to Moulton in one piece, some of us having clocked 74 miles, some 75 (it’s that hill at Rockingham).

All in all, a good day’s ride (Colin’s early mishap excepted) with decent pace (13+ mph even at the back of the group), plenty of new roads and views unfamiliar to us and I promise I’ll keep an eye on the map for the next ride I lead.

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An appropriate refreshment in the garden of the Artichoke in Moulton at the end of the ride!