Ride Report – Sunday 6th August

Ian M went on this ride led by Phil J and writes:

Four of us – Phil, Justin, Peter and Ian – gathered in Hunsbury for today’s ride to Draycote Water. Phil, our leader, got us to leave very punctually at 9.30 a.m. and set us a good pace along some of his favourite roads and lanes. He had arranged ideal cycling weather – warm but not hot and the sky never got too cloudy. At times, however, a headwind seemed to be facing us in every direction! He had also arranged for it to be a one-stop ride!

We were soon going through Upton, discussing its housing styles, around the edge of the Althorp estate and on to Wilton, crossing over the M1 for the first time. Then we were up to Welton and heading towards Barby with Phil, rightly as it turned out, ignoring pleas for an elevenses stop there. We crossed over the M45 into Dunchurch. Over the motorway again and soon we were climbing the humped road towards Draycote Water. Here was our reward for foregoing elevenses: the famed Draycote scones. Huge they were, with jam and cream. We sat on the delightful balcony overlooking the reservoir. Half the party added large portions of carrot cake to their plates, arguing that the calories had already been spent!

IMG_1768

Scones and cakes overlooking Draycote Water

Phil cracked his whip again and soon we were whizzing on the lovely surface of Warwickshire lanes into Grandborough. A short stretch of the A45 and we were off into the village of Braunston and soon found ourselves back in Welton. This time, we left Welton through Norton. A short stretch of the A5 and we were onto lanes again into Brockhall, crossing over the M1 for a second time. Phil knew from his recce that the “road closed” signs on the lane from Brockhall to Flore were just that – closed even to bikes – and so we went diverted along the gated road. We scrupulously followed the signs requesting that we closed the gates behind us before descending from the Roman road – and over the M1 a third time – into Flore. And just one of several glorious descents that Phil had built into the route.

The next lanes took us past the mill and then, quickly, through Nether Heyford and Bugbrooke. We went in and out of Kislingbury via a fourth and fifth crossing over the M1. Then, after Rothersthorpe, courtesy of Banbury Lane, we made our sixth and final crossing over the M1. Justin left for home before Ladybridge Drive, and then Peter too felt the siren call of home comfort, leaving Phil and Ian one last climb up to Hunsbury for 3.00 p.m. Sixty miles from start to finish (and seventy miles door-to-door for your correspondent – brilliant!)

It had been a lovely day and a lovely ride. Our thanks to Phil for making it all so enjoyable!

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Sun 7 May 2017 47 miles ‘Steady’ to Ringstead

Milton is leading this ride and writes:

Date:      Sunday 7 May

Time:      9.30

Place:     Moulton Co-op

Distance; 47 Miles

Type;       Steady

Well, here we go again. I tried to set this up a few weeks ago, but an absolute deluge on the Sunday morning in question meant that nobody arrived for the start – much to my relief, it was not a day for being on a bike. I think it was because of the rain ……?

We go in an anti-clockwise direction which means that it is about 32 miles to the first and only stop, the payback being that it’s a bit of a breeze home after that. You might want to bring an energy bar or two to see you through to the break.
From Moulton to Sywell, Mears Ashby and Wilby and then we cross the river towards Wollaston. From there we head to Poddington, Wymington and Newton Bromsgrove and then out further east to Chelveston. We skirt Raunds, and  turn and cross the river again into Ringstead  and after another mile or so cake and coffee and, sometimes, bacon butties. I will phone ahead and ask them to keep some bacon for us as they stop serving breakfast food before we get there.  They obliged last time.
After coffee it’s an attractive section through the Addingtons to Irthlingborough and, from there,a bit of a schlep up to Finedon alongside the A6, (Oh, it’s only a mile or so – you’ll manage!). The beautiful single track road, (The Slips) takes us to The Harrowdens and from there it’s Mears Ashby, Sywell and back to Moulton.
47 miles in all, and I expect to be back in Moulton well before 3pm.
GPX file attached.

Reflections on Mike Hall, the IPWR and cycling in Australia

Well worth reading – from my friend Frank

Cycling There

Mike Hall

The IPWR has been an amazing experience but everything has been overshadowed by Mike Hall’s death on the road near Canberra. Not since Tom Simpson, in a very different era and context, has British cycling lost one its heros, so suddenly and so sadly, in action.

More than anyone, Mike created the sport of unsupported ultra-endurance bike racing. In doing so, he‎ made long-distance cycling exciting and got a younger, faster crowd hooked on it‎.  Building on the achievements and ideas of others, such as Mark Beaumont and Nathan Jones, Mike, with his Transcontinental Race, created something full of fantasy and adventure which could fit into two weeks’ holiday. He made the wild, exotic and exciting accessible, not exactly to the masses, but to those of us, less extraordinary than him, who were magnetically drawn to it.

He focused on keeping it open and non-elitist. He could easily…

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Helping county council staff make Travel Choices

We have to admit it – some cycling promotion events are not as well attended as, say, President Trump’s inauguration. And certainly not President Obama’s. Whether for reasons of organisaton, weather or advertising, some events just don’t draw the crowds.

Well, this week CTC Northampton, part of Cycling UK, took part in an event that was a bit different: it was well attended, lively and positive. This was the county council’s Travel Choices day for its own staff.

The event drew in over 350 people keen to research their options for when the council moves to its new HQ building in the town centre. With limited, potentially expensive car parking and growing congestion problems in the town, the council wants to encourage staff to consider other travel solutions, including car sharing, pool bikes, pool cars, buses and park and ride (combined with bus or bike).

The event was held at County Hall and buses were laid on for staff to attend from other sites included in the move to the new HQ. It showcased many of the tools the council has included in its travel plan for the new building, such as the car sharing app Faxi, Enterprise pool cars, and good old bus timetables.

One of the big hits was the opportunity for people to try out pool e-bikes from Halfords, and cycle scheme e-bikes from GTech. Everyone who did so seemed to return with a smile on their face.

Brian and Phil staffed the CTC Northampton stall, and soon found themselves busy talking to people who were mostly not current cycle commuters, but were prepared to consider it. The most frequent question was about routes, but safety, insurance, cycle training and cycle buddies all came up too, as did the local group’s rides programme. Several people coming from other towns also asked about where to “park and cycle”.

Philip, a council property environmental manager (and CTC Northampton publicity officer), was on hand to outline the cycle facilities in the new building. These include 100 secure cycle spaces and dedicated changing, shower and locker areas.

The stall featured our new Cycling UK banner, calling cards and postcards, and freebies such as spoke reflectors and frame protection. By far the most popular item was the Northampton Cycling Map.

This county council map, now in its 4th edition, was originally developed by John Cutler and other CTC Northampton members for the council and is based on the Cheltenham model, which uses colours to indicate the traffic hazard on every road. It was invaluable for discussing route options with buddng cycle commuters.

A few themes became clear. First, most newcomers to commuting want traffic-free or low traffic routes. Second, while a few fairly good routes exist in Northampton (e.g. along the river), these still don’t connect well with key destinations. So there is work for the planners to do. Third, training and support for new cyclists are essential in the meantime. Specific cycle training for staff, cycle buddies, and a bicycle user group for the new building were widely supported ideas, which hopefully the council will take forward.

This event’s success was partly due to the coordinated travel plan backed by the council’s leadership, as well as financial incentives for staff to consider new options. But it also worked for cycling precisely because it brought together a wide range of options and expertise in the same room. Yes, we can be better together…

Many thanks to Brian and Phil for giving up their time, and to the council for inviting us along to this event.

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!