About nfc153

Cyclist, music-lover and engineer with qualifications in Being Nice to People (still working on that) and too much thinking time on his hands.

Ride Report – MK Loop

IainD, our chair, led this ride and writes

Six riders gathered outside the Canoe Centre for our first post-summertime ride of the year with no-one admitting to forgetting to put their clocks back or turning up an hour early even though some did turn up suspiciously early.

We headed through town alongside the river and out to Banbury Lane by way of Duston Park and then on to Gayton, where we were joined by another pair of riders.

The coffee stop in Towcester was the source of much confusion and dismay. Not only has the Dolphin Café closed :-(, the cafés in the immediate vicinity aren’t open on Sundays and there’s no bike parking at Costa. I strongly recommend that if you’re stopping for refreshments in Towcester now, you bring a decent lock because you can no longer keep your bike in sight while, erm, refreshing. Also, the approach from Green’s Norton supposedly involves following large yellow signs saying “Bridleway” to guide you over the A43. Follow them if you’re up for a bit of roughstuff. We stuck to tarmac and used the roundabout, as usual. Your choice …

Once free of the A5 in Towcester, we got to enjoy the lanes that lie south of the town, out to Deanshanger and Passenham before avoiding redways of any description through Milton Keynes, although that was, perhaps, a mixed blessing as Wolverton Road doesn’t have the smoothest of surfaces, speaking of which we then left Milton Keynes by way of Linford Lakes, on a road famed in this group for the quality of its surface.

And now it’s gravel, with “gates” that we don’t understand:

Bunny Hops ?

Gate at Linford Lakes

Still, we got through and made our way out over the M1 and up through the Tyringham estate before arriving in Olney, bang on schedule. In the café’s courtyard, we even caught a Pokémon! (Note to readers – if anyone knows what that is, an explanation would be appreciated – Ed).

We had an uneventful run back through Yardley Hastings, with some members of the group choosing the directness of the Bedford Road over the  scenery of the Castle Ashby route, but we were all back, as it was said we should be, by 4pm.

Cycling doesn’t stop when the clocks go back!

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Ride to Café Ventoux – Sunday 16th October 2016

Ride Leader James Holden writes:

Departing Moulton Co-op (NN3 7TB), 9.30 am on Sunday, for around 60 miles in total.

Whilst this ride is probably at the more challenging end of the spectrum, the effort is well-rewarded with quiet roads, impressive scenery and, of course, my company. An added incentive is the fact that our lunch-stop – the renowned Café Ventoux in Tugby – serves a fine array of cakes, coffees and ultra thick sandwiches that will re-energise anyone with fading legs. They also stock the latest range of elite Boardman road bikes so the opportunity is there if you feel like draining the credit card and riding home on a different bike to the one you set out on…

The first leg of the ride takes us out through Old, Harrington and the outskirts of Desborough. We then follow the B669 towards Leicestershire and Stoke Albany, whilst all the time attempting to enjoy the increasingly ‘undulating’ scenery. It’s then on to Medbourne – where we link up with National Cycle Route 64 – and finally, Tugby where, after journeying along the delightfully named Crackbottle Road and crossing the A47 we arrive at Tugby Orchards, home of . Incidentally, the car park surface at Ventoux is laid out with the names of famous riders from the past. Yes, it’s a minor novelty but it does provide you with the chance to pretend you’re a proper Tour cyclist.

The return leg of our journey provides us with some proper Rutland hill climbing – most notably in the area around Goadby and Horse Hill. Still, what goes up must come down and there’s a rather exciting descent which a road sign marks out as nine percent. This section of the ride is notably quiet given that some of the lanes we follow are closed to motorised traffic. Heading back through pretty hamlets like Glooston, Cranoe and Welham, we cross the Harborough Road soon after Great Bowden. The imposing HMP Gartree appears on our left as we cycle on towards Lubenham before rejoining the Harborough Road near East Farndon. Turning left we head through the Oxendons and then Harrington before linking up with the familiar route back to Moulton via Old, Walgrave, etc..

I’ve ridden this route a couple of times and, aside from the fact that on the last occasion I tore a calf muscle climbing Horse Hill (editor’s note: don’t do this on Sunday), I’ve always found it to be thoroughly enjoyable. The hilly bits are manageable and there are plenty of shops and cafés along the way should anyone require any additional refreshment or oxygen. Assuming there aren’t any major mechanicals or incidents then I predict we’ll be back at Moulton at around four-ish.

James
Please note new mobile number    07841 933046

Ride report – Brisk ride to Ashby St Ledgers, Sat 8 Oct 2016

Philip Gray led this ride and writes:
Seven riders gathered at Brampton Valley Way on Saturday 8 October in crisp Autumn weather for a brisk ride to Ashby St Ledgers, which turned into something of an “adventure cross” ride – with an unexpected bonus at the end.

Familiar roads took us through Long Buckby, which was busy with other cyclists out enjoying the morning, then north-west to Yelvertoft, and sharp south to Crick, on mainly good roads. After crossing the A5 we wound into historic Ashby St Ledgers and saw the famous room where the Gunpowder Plot reputedly was hatched.

We then followed smaller unclassified roads from Welton to Norton, and the disintegrating road through Dodford Lodge Farm, which involves opening and closing four gates, then slithering along half a mile of deep gravel.

Phil and Milton found this more fun than they could bear, and left us at the A5, mumbling excuses about family engagements… 🙂 The rest of us continued on the pretty but dodgy gated road through Brockhall, as it started to rain.

Pop-up Coffee

Pop-up Coffee

After a further challenging surface from Whilton, we reached Great Brington. Here by serendipity we noticed some bunting and a “Pop-Up Cafe – Cyclists Welcome” sign outside a house, and swiftly agreed to stop. We were received very warmly by the purveyors of Great Brington Coffee who were running this “pop-up cafe” in their garden in aid of Scope. Not only were the coffee and the cakes excellent, but we discovered a shared interest in cycling with other guests, including a group of young women cyclists .

After this well-timed stop, it was a short ride back through Althorp and Church Brampton to the star for a round trip of 38 miles.

Thanks all for your company.

PS I set off afterwards for an extra loop, only for my rear gear cable to snap after a couple of miles – which made for an interesting limp home, with only two gears… At least it didn’t happen on the ride!

Sunday 04th September – Ride to Market Harborough

Apparently summer ends when August ends (let us hope the weather disagrees) so we return to an 09:30 start for this weekend’s ride out to Market Harborough.

The route is just over 50 miles in total and does feature a couple of hills, although we shouldn’t be climbing as much as on the last two rides, and we have two stops for recovery (Kelmarsh and Waterloo Farm).

If you plan on riding skinny tyres, make sure they’ve got plenty of air in them. Some of the tarmac is a little broken and some of the route* is best described as “pavé”. Don’t worry, we won’t be hurrying over this bit and your tyres will be fine so long as they’re properly inflated. MTB tyres will not be required.

The planned route is here: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/16229338 although, as ever, the Leader reserves the right to amend it on the day if (s)he sees fit. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

At time of writing, the weather is forecast to be dry with not too much wind and temperatures in the high teens (60s in old temperature). Almost perfect conditions!

Hope to see you outside Moulton Co-op, 9.30 am on Sunday.

* northern-most section of the Brampton Valley Way, which is cobbles sprinkled with a little light gravel. No big rocks, no mud, no need for fat tyres.

 

Saturday morning rides – 27th August – A Report

Milton went out on Saturday and writes

Ten of us met up at East Hunsbury for James’s 40 mile tour through some of the more rural parts of western Northants to coffee at Daventry Country Park. Six opted for the brisk ride led, in the absence of James through injury, by Giles, and four for the moderate paced effort led by Iain. On a showery day, only once were we soaked, on the outward journey, and that was by a short sharp downpour around Preston Capes. As ever it took me until the shower was over and I was drenched to find and put on my waterproof jacket. Are there Di2 versions for the likes of me?

The brisk group kept up a fine spanking pace until Newnham hill when some of us came as close as it gets to a wheezing halt without actually falling off. Thank you Giles and Chris for waiting for us at the top – could you look a little more knackered next time?

We were soon safely seated at the country park and after about half an hour joined by the moderate group who had also had a pleasant time until the hill. Can’t it be levelled somehow?

Coffee and cake and bacon and egg butties (7/10 from Giles)  and the brisk group were off to battle home on the lovely route through Whilton, Great Brington, Upper Harlestone and down through Upton to the river and home. We were only caught by another shower just as we got to our homes, although I understand the moderate group had a bit of a dousing along the riverside.

Good to have Chris out for his third run and to see Hartley for the first time in a while. Iain D sported a new machine which, on passing Leisure Lakes Bikes, was taken in for some minor brake adjustment (as in “I had no brakes!”, which they sorted without quibble or charge despite me not having bought the bike from them! So many thanks to the staff there – Iain). How many people conspire to have a mechanical outside a bike shop?

Thank you leaders both –  Iain and Giles, and we look forward to Giles getting the promised reading glasses so that he can see his Garmin better, although, as he hasn’t a clue how to work it, I can’t imagine what difference it’ll make!

Ride to Wistow Rural Centre – Sunday 21st August

Brian will be leading this ride and writes:

Start: 9.00 am (note: it’s 9am in SUMMER not 9.30)
Start point: Moulton Coop
Distance: 59 miles
Only one refreshment stop

Steady pace ride  (average speed 13mph (21kph), speed on the flat 16-18mph). Return to Moulton before 4pm.

The route is via Pitsford along a short stretch of the A508 to Brixworth where we move on to quiet roads through Guilsborough, Naseby (cafe / shop in both) and on to Sibbertoft, Laughton Hills and on to Wistow (31miles), the most northerly point where we stop for an early brunch. There are no planned stops before this so please bring water and a snack. The return route heads South via Lubenham to Naseby, Cottesbrooke and back to Moulton. Depending on the group we have a chance to stop for tea on the way back.

This is a route originally planned by Milton who will be very disappointed not to be doing the few challenging hills on this route. It is mainly on quiet country lanes through some attractive countryside.

More details from Brian on 01604 622073  ( 07722 055149 )
Do join us.

See the route link on www.ctc-northampton.org.uk or direct on RideWithGPS

Ride *to* London – a Report

James, one of our Ride Leaders, reports on the CTC Northampton ride *to* London on 7th August 2016, planned and led by Ian Macsporran (group Treasurer and your regular correspondent). 

Northampton Station

Northampton Station

With a mixture of excitement and trepidation, seven of us met 
outside Northampton Railway Station on a veritable assortment of bikes, 
e.g. tourers, Italian fixies, hybrids and trusty racers. On this 
occasion, however, we weren’t there to board any of London Midland’s 
delightful carriages down to Euston but to ride there instead. Our goal 
was to follow a route Ian had planned with his usual thoughtful 
meticulousness insofar as it incorporated as many ‘bike-friendly’ 
stretches of road as possible. Typically, he was also kind enough to 
provide a very helpful information sheet for members who like to ride a 
little quicker than others. This highlighted regrouping points, lunch 
stops and junctions where the traffic could get hairy. Unfortunately, 
for anyone (me) who’d left their reading glasses at home, Ian’s careful 
handiwork was reduced to a blur and ensured that stopping at the correct 
places was largely due to guesswork and a well-known online mapping service.

Setting out via the B526 towards Newport Pagnell it soon became clear 
that – aside from some surprisingly gusty blasts of wind – the day was 
going to provide us with something akin to perfect cycling conditions. 
The sun was out, the thermometer was rising and, with a few exceptions, 
even the drivers seemed happy to share the roads with us. After Newport 
Pagnell and the outer reaches of Bedfordshire our route became more 
rural as we passed through Sharpenhoe, Barton-le-Clay, Hexton, etc., 
climbed a few hills and reassembled for lunch at The Lilley Arms in, 
err, Lilley. The food was wonderful, as was the service and the 
plentiful supply of free water. The only downside being the sad news 
that a fellow cyclist had been taken seriously ill somewhere along our 
route.

En-Route in Hertfordshire

En-Route in Hertfordshire

Post-lunch riding began with a suitably gentle five mile(ish) descent to 
Whitwell; a village it is easy to assume must have an exceptionally poor 
water drainage system until you’re told that it’s actually the 
watercress capital of the universe and is, in fact, meant to look like 
that. Such fascinations, however, were quickly forgotten thanks to the 
incline that greeted us as we took a right turn out of the village 
centre. Still, we continued to make good progress as we headed on out 
through Blackmore, Wheathampstead and Sandridge before finally reaching 
a cycle path that took us to our afternoon tea break: South Mimms 
Services.

Cycle Sign for MWSA

Yes, it’s real

In terms of atmosphere, this particular stop was a million 
miles away from your usual cyclist’s café. However, we were thirsty, 
hungry and, to be fair, it did have a Waitrose. Aside from the fruit 
machines, additional entertainment was provided in the form of Ian and 
his latex gloves as he sought to locate and repair a puncture with a 
dexterity and precision more commonly associated with world-class 
cardiac surgeons.

Cyclists at South Mimms Motorway Services

Cyclists at South Mimms Motorway Services – Not a Usual Sight

The final stage of our jaunt was perhaps the most demanding insofar as 
we were soon in Barnet and the outskirts of London. Cycling through 
London is always an adventure – even on a late Sunday afternoon. 
However, we made good use of the bus lanes and Ian was always keen to 
make sure that as a group we never became too spread out. Highgate, 
Gospel Oak and Camden all passed in a haze of traffic and frazzled 
pedestrians before we finally crossed Hampstead Road and arrived at our 
destination: hot, but happy, and, for those of us who’d not bothered 
with factor 50, some tan lines that were to look quite peculiar on 
Monday morning.

Euston Station

End of the Road

I’ve been to London many times by train, car, coach, etc., but can 
easily say that this was the most interesting and fun way that I’ve ever 
travelled there. It was just a shame that we didn’t carry on down to 
Brighton! Many thanks to Ian for organising the trip and making the day 
such an enjoyable one.

Note: this report has been edited slightly from the original for legal and other reasons.