Saturday 12th August – London Ride 2017 – *Two* Olympic Velodromes

Ian M will be leading this ride and writes (with photos from the recce last Saturday):

Everyone is very welcome on this ride which will take us from Euston Station to the 2012 Velodrome in the Olympic Park at Stratford, then on to the Herne Hill Velodrome, the last site still standing from the 1948 Olympics, and back to Euston.  In between, we will see much of “hidden London”.  I am very grateful to Brian who came with me on the recce for this ride last Saturday.  We checked the route thoroughly, paying particular attention to junctions, to the suitability of river-side and canal-side paths for a group, and to the cycle super-highway network.  More importantly, we checked the proposed lunch stop.  Even more importantly, we sampled several pubs before deciding on the afternoon refreshment stop – it was a hard job but someone had to do it!
The route is 29 miles long of which
  • River-side & canal-side paths = 10 miles
  • Parks & cemeteries = 6 miles
  • Cycle super-highway = 2 miles (1 mile blue paint, 1 mile fully segregated)
  • Quiet streets (defined by Transport for London – TfL) = 7 miles
  • Roads with traffic = 4 miles.
We will leave Euston Station (meeting outside on the picnic benches in front of the cafés) at 10.00 a.m.  (Trains departing from Northampton at 0825 and 0850 are very suitable and you can carry any type of bicycle.)   Rather than give distances in miles, the following description of the ride gives distance length in time, and allows for photograph stops.

We’ll take about 1 h 10 m to get to the 2012 Olympic Velodrome (now named the Lea Valley Velopark), via the Regent Canal and Victoria Park, and with a good view of the Olympic Stadium, now the London Stadium.

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View of the Olympic (London) Stadium. The building work appears to be running late.

Entry to the velodrome is free, there is bike parking inside next to the reception desk and there are toilets and a café on the viewing level.  We can spend upto twenty minutes having a look inside.

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Brian outside the Velodrome

We’ll circumnavigate the outside of the Velodrome and return to the London Stadium.  There we will join the path alongside the River Lea and then the towpath alongside Limehouse Cut, the oldest canal in London (1766), taking us to the western side of the Isle of Dogs  where we’ll follow the Thames Path.
We’ll then find a single-track path lined with countryside bushes which emerges above Mudchute Farm, a large urban farm with educational aims where we’ll have lunch.  Olympic Velodrome to Mudchute Farm will take about 1 h 20 m.  The Farm has a kitchen with a range of food from coffee & cake to daily specials.  The prices are good value and the profits are going to a good cause.  Bikes can be taken to the tables.
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Mudchute Kitchen

It’s a stone’s throw to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel (which we’ll walk – there are lifts at each end), emerging at the Cutty Sark.  We’ll cycle through Deptford and behind New Cross, with the only climb of the day, to Nunhead Cemetery.  Allowing for photos in Greenwich, that’s about 1 hour.
We’ll enter the Cemetery through the North Gate, follow the looping East Path, and exit via the South Gate.  The path surface is a little like the Brampton Valley Way.  There aren’t any famous Victorians buried here really – but it’s such a different environment in which to cycle.
Stuart Road with its allotments, which links Nunhead Cemetery to Peckham Rye Park, is where we’ll find The Ivy House, London’s first community-owned pub.  Orignally a Truman’s house, it was owned and neglected for decades by the Enterprise chain.  They tried to sell it four years ago for the development of apartments.  The local community had it declared a listed building and raised enough money to buy it.  They have thoroughly cleaned it with the bonus, as far as we could tell, that having had no money spent on it by the previous owners, the original fixtures and fittings are in place.  And the pub has bike stands on the street outside.  We enjoyed a glass of very local beer: Peckham Pale!
We’ll then pedal on through Dulwich Park and into a suburban street behind which lies Herne Hill Velodrome.  Brian and I watched some local amateur club racing; I can’t guarentee that we’ll see racing this Saturday but it will be busy!  There’s a good café and modern toilets.  From leaving Nunhead Cemetery to leaving the Velodrome took us two hours (but we had to investigate more than one pub as well as watch the racing!).  The modern grandstand is supported by the pillars of the Victorian grandstand!
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Victorian support for the modern grandstand

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Track racing at Herne Hill last Saturday

We’ll go half-way down Denmark Hill (busy but we’ll use the bus lane) before turning into quiet residential streets to reach the Oval cricket ground.  Then it’s onto a very impressive stretch of infrastructure, a new cycle super-highway giving cyclists separation from and priority over motor traffic, under Vauxhall Station and over Vauxhall Bridge.  Then we turn east along the next super-highway (blue paint at this point) past Tate Britain and up to the Houses of Parliament.  After navigating Parliament  Square, we’re on the separated cycle lane along the Embankment, pulling off to cycle under the Savoy Hotel to the spot where Bob Dylan recorded probably the first pop video – for “Subterranean Homesick Blues”.
From the Savoy Steps we’ll walk over the Strand and cycle up Bow Street, past the Royal Opera House, and Drury Lane (both busy with pedestrians).  We’ll go around the British Museum and through parts of London University (the School of Oriental & African Studies and the Institute of Education) to find ourselves at Euston Station – and possibly a well-deserved pint at the Bree Louise.  From Herne Hill Velodrome to Euston will take us a little under an hour, with time allowed for photographs.
We’ll be back at Euston before 6.00 p.m.
If you would like to come on the ride, then just turn up!  If you would like to let me know you’re coming, then send me an e-mail to ianmac63@icloud.com or text 07960302095.  That will mean I won’t leave without you.  But it’s not necesary – the velodrome cafés are large, and the staff at Mudchute Farm and The Ivy House, when we enquired, will be very happy to see us without any definite booking of numbers.
The IAAF World Athletics Championships at the London Stadium won’t affect any of our route in the Olympic Park.  I subsribe to TfL’s weekly e-mail about weekend road closures and will use this to check all the other areas.
I’m really looking forward to seeing you – and am hoping to post a .gpx file of the route in the next couple of days onto our RideWithGPS page.
Any questions?  Phone me on 07960302095.  That’s also my contact number on the day.
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Report: Annual Guy Barber Memorial Ride, Sunday 23 July, in aid of Headway Northampton

Our Secretary Brian did much of the organising of this year’s Guy Barber Ride and he reports:

Now in its 12th year this challenging ride attracted eighteen riders from the CTC groups in Northampton, Milton Keynes and Kettering.  This was the first year of a route to Oxford with two start options of Northampton and Buckingham giving three rides of 94, 66 or 55 miles, all meeting up at Oxford for lunch.

Despite the early morning drizzle ten riders left East Hunsbury at 8.30 a.m. for the first leg to Buckingham of the 94-mile ride.  This took us on mainly quiet roads through Blisworth, Pury End and Leckhampstead.  The drizzle stopped, and the sun emerged from the cloudy skies, as the group made Buckingham at 9.45am. Perfect timing to meet the eight MK riders who had cycled out from Stony Stratford and beyond.

The Northampton group set off for the first café stop seven miles away in Twyford whilst the remaining group signed in and left a little later.  An early puncture close to the start split the second group and this was further split when the Community Café at Twyford had unexpectedly closed that morning.  The shop was open but, after a brief stop for snacks, the first group motored on to Oxford leaving a second group to pick up the punctured riders.

As we meandered through the small villages of Marsh Gibbon, Piddington, Boarstal and Stanton St John, there was little traffic on the roads.  The sun came out and we had ideal cycling weather.

Oxford “arrived” when we met the ring road, a dual-carriageway roundabout with a couple of underpasses.  Then we were through Headingley on a separate cycle path at and then onto marked tracks alongside the main road.   After a steep hill down into the centre of Oxford. it was only a short distance to Café Couscous for lunch.  Just to add to the “best laid plans” the last stretch of road before the café was closed for road works.  So much for the recent reconnoitre!

The first group arrived at noon and had just finished lunch as the second group arrived at 1.00 p.m.  This was good timing for the café.  The forecasted midday rain did not materialise and we enjoyed sun and blue skies at the café.

One rider's lunch at Café Couscous - vegetarian tagine!

One rider’s lunch at Café Couscous: vegetarian tagine!

The first group took the route back to Northampton via Islip, Kirtlington, the Heyfords and on to Aynho where Ian peeled off to Buckingham and a stop at Stowe Park for tea (the only rider to complete the 66m route) whilst the rest rode on to Farthinghoe for the last café stop.  Only twenty-two miles now, on familiar quiet roads, back to Northampton via Helmdon, Wappenham and Greens Norton. This group arrived in Northampton at around 5.00 p.m.

The second group finished a very good lunch by 2.00 p.m. and split for the return journey.  The MK riders returned via Beckley, Brill (hill !), Ludgershall and onto Buckingham, stopping at the Green Dragon Eco Centre near East Claydon for tea and possibly even cakes!

This left 4 riders to return via Islip and a detour via Brackley for tea and cookies, sitting in the late afternoon sun outside a café before returning to the original route to Northampton arriving at 6.15 p.m.

A donation of £85 has been sent to http://www.headwaynorthampton.org.uk/

Who was Guy Barber ? Please see our web site http://www.ctc-northampton.org.uk/history.html

Thanks to all who supported this event.

Winter Warmer Ride to Woodford Mill – Sunday 4th December

Iain D, our Chair, will be leading this ride and writes:

Start time: 9.30 a.m.
Meeting point: Moulton Co-op (Stocks Hill, NN3 7TB)
Distance: 41 miles
Refreshments: Woodford Mill (one-stop only) 22 miles

It’s been a bit chilly this week but don’t worry: Sunday’s forecast is (currently) frost-free.

This Sunday we’ll be heading out from Moulton, nipping past Weetabix and the eastern fringe of the Kettering metropolis, and using some of the lanes we rarely see on Northampton rides to get out to Woodford Mill for our one-and-only stop of the day (unless someone’s really hungry by the time we roll back through Burton Latimer).

The return route is slightly more conventional for us but we might find time to take a side road and look at some wind turbines if anyone’s feeling especially eco-centric.

A rough outline of the route is to be found here on RideWithGPS.

See you outside the Co-op in Moulton, 0930 Sunday morning, for this back-in-daylight* 41-mile ride.

R … Iain

* That’s the plan but it’s winter so BRING LIGHTS.

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!

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.

Re-branding the Cyclists’ Touring Club

Concerned about our Club’s re-branding, I sent this e-mail – in a personal capacity – to our National Chair and our Chief Executive Officer:

To: David Cox, Chair of National Council, Cyclists’ Touring Club
Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive Officer, Cyclists’ Touring Club

Dear Sirs,

You have announced that you will be going ahead this week with the rebranding of the Cyclists’ Touring Club.

To do so would be profoundly undemocratic.

This is because you have received a petition – some weeks ago – signed by a sufficient number of members of the Cyclists’ Touring Club to demand a poll of the whole Club on this issue.

I therefore call upon you to:

  • cancel the rebranding, and
  • announce, via “Cycle” – the magazine of the Cyclists’ Touring Club, the arrangements for the conduct of the poll of the whole Club.

Yours in a spirit of democracy and transparency,

Ian Macsporran

Cyclists’ Touring Club Member 7137209