Peter Bayles went on this ride and writes:
Ten riders set off from Brampton Valley Way on Sunday morning for a moderate ride in wonderful winter sunshine, although the temperature started off at a bracing -4 degrees.
Phil’s route (shown below) was perfect for the conditions though, being mostly off-road on smaller tracks and pathways that circled Northampton. This meant that any ice that we encountered was not much of an issue, in fact the grip was improved on some stretches where the ground was frozen and rough.
All riders came well prepared with suitable bikes and warm clothing. Brian was sporting his usual antique Proflex full suspension bike, and James entertained us with his automatic saddle that moved up or down at the touch of a button – just the job for slippy conditions.
We rode via Boughton and Moulton Park to the café stop at Billing Aquadrome, a pleasant and cost effective venue. John, however, shot off ahead, missing the turn for the café and somehow ending up at Billing Garden Centre before realising what had happened and joining the group again after 15 minutes.
As is often the case, Hartley’s healthy eating regime meant that he immediately ordered a bacon butty, and what a bacon butty it was; thick bread and loads of bacon at a bargain price. Stupidly, Hartley decided to visit the little boy’s room before he started eating which, predictably, gave Viki the chance to tuck in and devour half of his breakfast before he returned.
We were just setting off when Phil, our bold and fearless ride leader, discovered that his front tyre had a slow puncture. It was so cold that Phil really wasn’t keen on getting his hands numbed by changing the tube, so opted instead to keep the tyre topped up by stopping every 30 minutes or so.
The return route went through Brackmills and up the steep footpath to Hardingstone. Half way up the hill, there is always a patch of sheet ice when it’s cold enough, which is difficult for both pedestrians and cyclists. Our bold and fearless leader, followed closely by Chris and James, stormed up the hill and over the ice, finding grip and looking impressive. John, however, was not so lucky and preceded to do the classic sideways fall with shoes still clipped into his pedals, impressively managing to soften the impact by falling onto the verge. The rest of the group immediately dismounted and walked up!
If anything good came from John’s acrobatic display, it was that his previously idolised bike was no longer perfect, and we had to stop at the top of the hill to re-align his saddle. But we’re still jealous of it John.
A few miles from home, Phil finally decided to change his tube and discovered that Schwalbe tyres on a Boardman gravel bike clincher wheel are tight and next to impossible to remove at the side of the road in the cold. Eventually Phil, with a little help and muscle from fellow riders, managed to get the tyre seated again and started to re-inflate it.
Perhaps it was the cold or perhaps the less than impressive pump, but whatever the reason, Phil only managed to half inflate the tyre and limped carefully home, not quite beaten by the Boardman, but severely slapped.
A great ride, so many thanks to Phil for organising and the other riders who joined.