About Phil Johnson

I am the current chairman of CTC Northampton - part of Cycling UK.

Circuit of Rutland Water – Sunday 17th February

Phil Letts is leading this ride and writes:


Start time: 9.30 a.m.
Meeting point: Brampton Valley Way, Welford Crossing, NN6 8AA
Distance: 25 miles off road circuit of Rutland Water
Refreshment stop: Various coffee stops


Members wishing to attend this ride/circuit of Rutland Water will need access to bike carrying transport to/from Rutland Water, a journey which takes about 50mins.
I’m proposing to meet at the car park opposite the Windhover/BVW at 9.30am then drive in convoy through to Uppingham and the start point at Manton where there is limited free parking (to avoid the £6 fees at Normanton!)
The off road ride surface is a mixture of tarmac, roughish gravel and cobbles so either an MTB or Gravel bike is required, definitely not a road bike.
It would be useful to know who intends to do this ride.
I can offer bike rack space for one or two more.
I’m on 07867388592


Ride to Upper Stowe – Saturday 9th February

Tim is leading these rides and writes:

Start time: 9.30 a.m.
Meeting point: Overslade Close, East Hunsbury, NN4 0RZ
Distance: 29 miles for the Moderate ride, 37 miles for the Brisk ride
Refreshment stop: The Barn Café Restaurant, Upper Stowe
Pace: Moderate (11 – 12 mph), Brisk (14+ mph)
Time expected back: 1.30 p.m.

We have a pair of rides with a shared tea stop this Saturday (9th February).
Both rides head out from East Hunsbury through Rothersthorpe, Gayton Marina & Tiffield before crossing the A5 at Fosters Booth.

They then continue along Banbury Lane before diverging at the Blakesley / Maidford cross roads. From here the Moderate group heads north via Maidford & Farthingstone and then up the hill to the southern edge of Everdon Stubbs before arriving for refreshments at the Old Dairy Farm in Upper Stowe.

Meanwhile the Brisk group take a longer loop via Adstone, Preston Capes & Everdon before climbing the somewhat steeper hill up through Everdon Stubbs where they join the Moderate route to Upper Stowe.

Suitably refreshed, both groups follow the same route home to East Hunsbury via Nether Heyford, Bugbrooke & Rothersthorpe.

The proposed routes can be viewed (and downloaded as gpx files) from the CTC Northampton account on RideWithGPS:

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/29044604 (Moderate route)

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/29044628 (Brisk route)

Tim will be leading the Moderate ride, but the Brisk ride will be self led (so please ensure you download the route to your bike computer if you are planning on attending the Brisk ride).

Any questions please contact Tim on 07749 477231.

Ride report – Sunday 3rd February

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.


Ride around Northampton Town Parks

Phil Letts is leading this ride and writes:

Start time: 9.30 a.m.
Meeting point: Brampton Valley Way, Welford Crossing, NN6 8AA
Distance: 30 miles
Refreshment stop: Billing Aquadrome
Pace: Steady

A mostly off-road ride, exploring the new park developments on east and south side of town, especially Rectory Farm linear Pocket Park and taking in Billing Aquadrome, Brackmills, Hunsbury, Upton park and Harlestone Firs.

Coffee at the Billing Aquadrome café.

A lot of this route is on gravel tracks so a road bike isn’t suitable. An MTB or gravel bike is best.

We look forward to welcoming all riders, and especially any new riders who may wish to join the ride. For any further questions, please feel free to contact Phil on 07867388593

Ride report – Saturday 26th January

Peter Bayles led this ride and writes:

Nine riders met at East Hunsbury for the ride to Woodford Halse on Saturday. The weather was reasonable for January; not too cold and reasonably dry.

The groups decided to ride together for most of the route, with those riders that wanted to, splitting off at Preston Capes to follow the slightly longer route. However, due to inadequate preparation, the Leader, yours truly, found that his Garmin didn’t like the plotted course, presumably upset because the course route crossed itself in a figure of eight.

So, with the Leader’s Garmin helpfully suggesting U turns at regular intervals, and Milton’s Garmin periodically dropping into sleep mode, it was left Brian to fill in some of the course details on-route.

The group stayed together until Preston Capes, where Brian took the Moderate Group directly to the café stop and directed the Brisk Group towards Priors Marston to follow the Brisk Route.

After an enjoyably fast and long downhill, the Brisk Group realised that Brian, uncharacteristically, had clearly given incorrect directions on purpose. This meant that the Brisk Group had to retrace their tracks, up the long hill and thus decided to go more directly to the café stop to recuperate.

Eventually, the two groups were enjoying the wonderful cakes and bacon butties (Hartley!) at the Equestrian Centre, with Chris amusing us with his stories of derring-do on training rollers. The group then readied the bikes for the return leg.

The ride Leader learned several lessons on Saturday.

The first is not to trust the Garmin (or, indeed, Brian) without trying the route first.

The second is that Milton is now the club’s go-to expert Garmin user, when it works (there Milton, I’ve said it publicly).

The third lesson is that some bike locks are not easy to remove when they go wrong, and the combination lock with which I had secured Hartley’s bike to mine decided not to unlock, no matter how hard we tried. Fortunately the staff at the Equestrian Centre came to our rescue with a bolt cutter, a hacksaw and a pair of pliers, and we cut through the cable with a bit of effort. No fingers were lost.

Chris enjoyed taking photos of us struggling, and the rest of the group supported the effort with a constant barrage of snide remarks.



Apart from the occasional swear word muttered by Milton about his gear problems (he’d just had the bike serviced), the return leg was enjoyable and uneventful.

Thank you to all who turned out ………. I promise to check the Garmin prior to the next ride I lead, or revert to an old fashioned map!

Ride to Woodford Halse – Saturday 26th January

Peter Bayles and Brian Tunbridge are leading these two rides:

Start time: 9.30 a.m.
Meeting point: Overslade Close, Near the Library, East Hunsbury, NN4 0RZ
Distance: 43 mls (Brisk) or 36 mls (Moderate)
Refreshment stop: Woodford Halse Equestrian Centre at 26mls (Brisk) and 18mls (Moderate)
Pace: Brisk or Moderate
Time Expected Back: 1.30pm

At the moment, the weather looks to be frost free and most likely dry, which is good news ……… if it stays like that, of course.

The two routes take us West of Northampton again, starting at East Hunsbury and crossing the A5 at Pattishall.

We then follow Banbury Lane past Caswell and on to Preston Capes, where the Brisk group will continue towards Priors Marston, turning south and taking in Byfield, West Farndon and to our café stop at the Equestrian Centre at around 26 miles.

The Moderate group take a short cut at Preston Capes, riding directly to Woodford Halse at around 18 miles. They are expected to save seats for the Brisk group, but not expected to eat all the cake!

The ride homewards takes us past Eydon and Canons Ashby. Following Northampton Road we skirt Bugbrooke and return to our starting point via Gayton.

We look forward to welcoming all riders, and especially any new riders who may wish to join the ride.

For any further questions, please feel free to contact Peter Bayles 07979850096

Christmas lunch ride – Sunday 20th January

Brian Tunbridge went on this ‘Christmas’ ride and writes:

The temperature had dropped to below minus 2°C overnight, lower than forecast. However, by 9.30 the sun was out and the temperature was just above freezing. The temperature put a few riders off, justifiably, but six riders did assemble at the Canoe Centre suitably dressed ready for the ride to Stoke Bruerne via Blakesley to meet up with MK CTC.

The initial ride along the river cycle path was ice free and there was no sign of slippery roads when we got to Rothersthorpe. The road there was closed over the bridge but we skirted the barriers and then had a traffic free ride towards Pattishall. The quiet roads continued all the way to Silverstone and with no wind, it turned out to be a glorious, sunny ride though the countryside.

At 11am the world seemed to wake up, but it was only a short ride to Stoke Bruerne where we joined about 20 MK riders at the Navigation Inn. Our ride leader Milton left us at this stage for a lone ride home, job done ! The five of us joined the Northampton ‘car’ contingent by which time we were ready to order ‘Sunday lunch’.

Service was very efficient and we were soon enjoying a good meal and good company meeting up with the MK riders who we probably last saw on the Guy Barber ride to Oxford in the summer.

One advantage of a January ‘Christmas’ lunch was that we could ride home in the daylight which we did returning to the Canoe Centre by 3pm.

Thanks go to Milton for planning the route which was nicely timed for the lunch stop.