Ride report – Saturday 23rd April

Brian, our Secretary, went on this ride led by Iain D, our chair, and writes (in poetical mood):

It was good to see ten riders assembled outside the Co-op in Moulton.  Despite the glorious sunny morning there was a distinct absence of shorts given the cool wind.  This was both St George’s Day and the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth.  As we had a Welsh ride leader, with a Scottish actor on board, the rest of the group showed great restraint in not shouting as we left Moulton:

Straining upon the start.  The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry “God for Harry, England, and Saint George!” (Henry V)

The plan was to ride to Holcot as a group and then let riders decide how to group to continue.  We easily agreed three groups: Brisk (3), Steady (3) and Moderate (4).

We had been promised some hills en route which we duly encountered.  Most were down then up as we dropped into the many river valleys around this part of Northamptonshire, with fast descents giving a bit of help on the ‘up’.  We soon navigated Hannington, Pytchley, Broughton and on to Great Cransley.  The entrance to Green Trunks Garden Centre for the café stop was well hidden down a gravel track.  Although the restaurant was being refurbished we were given a warm welcome and some “cyclist-size” mugs of tea.
Suitably refreshed we continued in our three groups to Loddington and on to Orton where we turned for home.

Up until now we had been riding into a somewhat icy, northerly wind.  But all this changed as we rode on with a tail wind, sun and blue skies.  We sailed along quiet roads (some single track) via Mawsley and Old to Brixworth, then back to Holcot across the reservoir and on to Moulton.  Given the opportunity for some short cuts, all three groups managed to meet up at Moulton within 10 minutes or so at the end.

Suitably dressed it was a great morning for a ride. Thanks to Iain for planning the route and leading the charge.

Ride report – Saturday 16th April

Rowan, our Ladies Rep, went on this ride and writes:

It was a damp and grey start to the inaugural “moderate” series of cycle rides but that did not stop four riders congregating at the Brampton Valley Way meeting point bedecked in rain legs, overshoes and warm cycling attire.  Brian and I met with two new riders Andrew and Brian (another one!) at the start and were met later at Brixworth by a second Andrew (on a Sully complete with touring kit) who hoped to make this the first of his two CTC rides this weekend!

We cycled steadily, initially through Chapel Brampton and then along the Pitsford Road, over a few “bumps” passing Sedgebrook Hall, towards Harrington in rather damp conditions – but by the time we reached our coffee stop at the Buddhist Centre in Kelmarsh the sun was peeping through and we could appreciate the new spring growth in hedgerows and a myriad of daffadils.  After digesting the centre cafe’s excellent cheese scones and cakes and putting the world to rights, we rode home along a more challenging route, roller-coasting through the Cottesbrooke estate and Creaton, towards Teeton and Holdenby.  By the time we reached the Brampton Valley Way, our final destination, it felt like a different weather day and we rode our separate ways home rather overdressed and hot!

Thanks to Brian for leading the ride and setting the route. I tried out the “Tail End Charlie” job for the first time.  Any feedback would be welcome!

Our next moderate ride is entitled the “Bluebell Ride” and will visit Stowe Dairy Farm Café on Saturday 14th May.  See you there!

Ride Report – Sunday 3rd April

Phil J led this ride and writes:

Four riders undeterred by the prospect of a testing loop through Naseby joined me on an overcast morning at East Hunsbury.  Alex and Andrew joined regulars Brian and Ian M to make the foursome.  All of us were unaware of the drama to unfold later that afternoon.
Upton and St Crispin’s provided the urban backdrop to the start of the ride before reaching familiar ground through Harlestone and the Bramptons.  The climb through Church Brampton was the first real test for the group but we all pretty much arrived at the summit in unison.

Onwards at a leisurely pace we passed Sedgebrook Hall before reaching the A508 followed by another steep climb into Brixworth Country Park for a well-earned tea stop.  Milton was already there in the Spring sunshine and we duly joined him whilst one or two of the group looked in at Pitsford Cycles adjacent to the cafe.

On the move again, now six strong, we blazed down the steep gradient at the back of Brixworth where a slight breeze kept our speed down just a little.  It wasn’t long before we were in low gears again though as we grinded up the long haul to Spratton which splintered the group a bit.  Regrouping at the top we headed for another fast descent skirting Teeton before hitting another rise on the way to Guilsborough.  The roads then flattened out for a while and we all enjoyed the scenic views as we cruised along the quiet country lanes in the now glorious sunshine.

Once through Guilsborough we turned for Cold Ashby on more scenic roads and another fast downhill to enjoy.  Andrew headed the group and soon reported that he had hit a pothole that he was unable to see.  The rest of us avoided it.  A pinch puncture was the inevitable result and we all came to a stop although there are worse places to have a puncture than our picturesque location and nobody was in any rush to carry on!  The change of inner tube didn’t go as straightforwardly as it should have but with one or two tubes and a number of pumps to hand we finally got on our way again.

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Puncture repair? Or a chance for a rest in the sunshine?

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Our ride leader (left) demonstrates his ability with a pump after Andrew (right) suffered after hitting a pothole!

We reached Cold Ashby and the road to Naseby.  Or so we thought!  As we reached the main A road we spotted a large sign pointing us back a mile or two for Naseby and the battle site.  Having ridden the route before, I was sure we were going the right way despite the sign but, convinced by the group that I had taken a wrong turn, we headed back to the last junction and beyond only to see another sign to Naseby pointing in the opposite direction!  We headed back the way we had gone initially and Andrew realised that the large sign on the crossing had indeed been hit by something and was spinning freely.  He dismounted and pointed it in the right direction. Puzzle solved!

A couple of miles later we arrived in Naseby at the Old Vicarage right opposite All Saints Church.  Eleanor had already arrived and was relaxing in the lovely grounds.  We all sat down and enjoyed lunch together in the open air.

Andrew decided after lunch to make a beeline for home on a direct route whilst Eleanor joined us for the planned ride back.  Through Cottesbrooke we avoided riders and runners on a local triathlon event and made our way through lovely surroundings and onto the gated road for Brixworth.  The inevitable climb back was next before six became one as everyone except me headed for Holcot and their own way home!

I pushed on through one or two more climbs and continued on the route back home.  I called it a day at Hunsbury Meadows and avoided the last climb of the day back to the start.  A dramatic day – what with one thing and another – with plenty of climbs and impressive descending from all the riders.

Well done everyone!

Ride to Naseby – Sunday 3rd April

Phil J is leading this ride and writes:

Start: 9.30 a.m.
Start point: East Hunsbury (Overslade Close, East Hunsbury, NN4 0RZ)
Distance: 45 miles
Two refreshment stops

From East Hunsbury we’ll head towards the urban areas of Upton and St Crispin’s before winding our way through Harlestone and the Bramptons.  With one or two climbs behind us, we’ll soon arrive at Brixworth Country Park for our first well-earned pit stop at the Willow Tree Café with the Pitsford Cycles Shop.

On the move again, the fast descent at the back of Brixworth is then followed by the long haul up to Spratton.  Guilsborough and Cold Ashby follow soon afterwards, on quiet country lanes.  All Saints Church at Naseby will then be on the horizon where we’ll stop either at the cafe or use the convenience store nearby.  Please bring your own snacks just in case we miss both!  (Another stop back at Brixworth is an option as we return.)

The loop continues through Haselbech and the Cottesbrooke estate before climbing back into Brixworth again.  From there we’ll pretty much retrace our steps back to Harlestone before turning for a short stretch along the Roman Road.  Another fast descent through Harpole brings us to Pineham with its wide cycle paths over to Hunsbury Meadows leaving us with just a mile or so back to the start.

It’s a bit of a climber this one. Last time out Brian rode with me and clocked it at around 3000ft of climbing. But with pit stops along the way, you should be able to fuel yourself round without too many problems.

Hope to see you there!

Phil is on 07927 377191.

Ride Report – Sunday 29th November

Brian, our Secretary, went on the “Double Pit-Stop” ride led by Phil J and writes:

Despite early morning rain, four riders started in the dry from East Hunsbury.  The first pit-stop was coffee at Pitsford Reservoir and we had a good tail wind most of the way, via Upton (mainly on cycle paths), Harlestone, Chapel Brampton to Brixworth.  A strong cross wind on the A508 really had us hanging on the bars and it was a relief to get to the café. The welcome break was followed by a return to Brixworth.  Phil L left us here to return to domestic duties.  At Teeton Dave departed for home.  The sky was very overcast and looked as if it could drop a lot of rain at any time.  However, we had no rain at all and the temperature was mild for the time of year.  Our only challenge was the wind and a few hills as we then made our way (now down to two riders) via Guilsborough, Cold Ashby to Naseby – our half way point.

We were tempted to stop here for a break at the vicarage café when we found the village shop had closed at noon, just 10 minutes before we arrived.  But, with the wind howling in the trees, we decided to eat our emergency rations instead and head on via Haselbech to Cottesbrooke and then on to Brixworth for a third time. Unsurprisingly we encountered hardly any traffic.

Deciding against a second pit-stop by the reservoir we returned along a busy A508 before turning off to the Bramptons and Harlestone.  Phil and I split up at Sixfields, to get home in good light and before the heavy rain came later that afternoon.

It was quite a hilly ride but the key feature was the very strong wind.  Because of the changes in our direction we had a real mixed bag of head- tail- and cross-winds all day, none lasting for many miles before it changed again.

It was a good winter route on quiet lanes which were never that far from Northampton so that if the weather had broken we could easily have
headed for home.  Thanks to Phil for a good ride!

Ride report – Leisurely afternoon ride – Saturday 22nd August

Milton, our Secretary, led this ride – originally planned by Brian, our Rides Secretary – and writes:

Five of us set off on a hot sunny afternoon on a loop from Moulton through Sywell, Mears Ashby and on to Great Harrowden, Orlingbury, Old and Scaldwell before stopping at Brixworth for coffee and cake.  We closed the loop and returned to Moulton by skirting the reservoir and shredded one of our tyres in the process – sorry Tim!  That section of path is getting a little too rough for “racing” tyres.

Lovely afternoon on the bike and good to have a new rider on the trip with us – see you next time Jim!

Ride report – Saturday 8th August

Phil J led this Saturday “brisk” ride and writes:

A glorious and cloudless sunny morning was the reward for the six riders who set off from East Hunsbury to Pitsford Water near Brixworth, including first timer Liam and occasional CTC rider Giles.

First, we descended into the valley at a fast pace setting the agenda for the rest of the
ride.  Skirting Hunsbury Meadows we headed for Rothersthorpe and a couple of early inclines to raise the heartbeats of the group.  Cruising towards Kislingbury got the riders warmed up in the wonderful morning sun before making our way towards Harpole on the safe cycle path alongside the main A4500 road.  The short sharp climb out of Harpole provided the first real test of the day but everyone climbed admirably.  A short run along the Roman road at the top led to another off road stretch on the near perfect cycle paths towards Harlestone before taking the road option again past the garden centre.  Another fast descent beckoned past the Fox & Hounds on the smooth tarmac giving us momentum up the other side and the turn towards the Bramptons.  More fast descending and climbing followed towards The Windhover and eventually up to the main Market Harborough road ahead.  Two more fast downhills and long climbs lay ahead before the arrival into Pitsford and we were all grateful to see the signs up ahead.

Eleanor had already secured a table for us all and we joined her for refreshments in the open air.  After a very pleasant stop, five of us headed back whilst Eleanor and Brian made their own way home.  The first downhill out of Pitsford was accompanied by a sudden headwind, coming out of nowhere, making the subsequent climb that little bit harder to make.  The second dip was avoided though as we turned right towards Brampton Halt where new boy Liam took the helm with a turn of pace to the Northampton Road junction.  At this point Phil L branched off leaving a team of four to continue.  The road went upwards again before the rewarding dash down through Church Brampton and back past the Fox & Hounds for a second time.  Upper Harlestone was next en route which looked picturesque in the morning sunshine.  We meandered our way through the village and onto the Roman road again where a headwind hit us immediately, just as if the gods had seen us coming!  We moved swiftly though and were soon turning for the exhilarating downhill into Harpole which would be the last on the ride and one to enjoy.  Pineham provided more smooth off road riding over to Hunsbury Meadows.  The final climb to the finish went up Hunslet Lane for a change, a shorter sharper rise than the usual route we normally take and caught some of the group by surprise.  A quick dip before another rise completed the climbing and the morning’s ride.

Well done everyone!

Ride the Route of Stage 3 of the 2015 Women’s Tour of Britain – Sunday 7th June

Ride the Route of Stage 3 of the Women’s Tour of Britain with CTC Northampton on Sunday 7th June – starting at Oundle Market Square at 9.15 a.m.

The race route, which runs to the north of the County, is through some of the best countryside in Northamptonshire.  It is over mainly quiet and attractive country roads.  Our ride will be a slightly abridged version of the route.

This is a CTC Northampton club ride open to non-members and registered as a 2015 Bike Week event – http://bikeweek.org.uk/event/ride-stage-3-of-womens-tour/.  Entry is free.

The ride starts at Oundle and ends at Kettering.  The main ride will be 105 km (66miles), with optional self led variants of 115 km (72 miles) and 74 km (46 miles) towards the later parts of the route.  The main group will expect to average 20 kph (13mph).  There will be two stops along the way, at East Carlton Country Park (Coach House Café) and Kelmarsh (World Peace Café).  For further details or to register for the ride please contact secretary@ctc-northampton.org.uk.

Limited transport will be available at the end, from Kettering to Oundle, on a first come basis.  Kettering to Oundle is 25 km (16miles).

Some CTC members are planning to pedal back to Northampton either from Kelmarsh (after lunch) or from Brixworth (the nearest point on the route to Northampton) rather than continue to Kettering – and so, if you wanted to do this, you would have company.

Car parking in Oundle is free. The car park is next to the Joan Strong Centre, PE8 4BY.

Directions to car park:
From the A605 (avoiding the first turn at Barnwell which may have road works) take the A427 signed Oundle.  Pass Gorilla Cycles on left.  Take next left into East Road.  Pass Waitrose, go across next roundabout and continue on East Road.  Take next left just before another roundabout to the Joan Strong Centre (the Scout Hut on the left). The public car park is beyond the Centre on the left.  Beware height barrier if cycles on the roof.

Route from car park to Market Place:
Leave car park and return to East Road.  Turn left to roundabout and then right along East Rd.  At T-junction, turn right into St. Osyth’s Lane which leads to Market Place.  The Coffee Tavern café at 34 Market Place opens at 9 a.m.

The start of our 2014 Ride the Route event

The start of our 2014 Ride the Route event …

... and the finish

… and the finish

If you have space on a car to transport a rider and bike, or if you would like a lift to Oundle, please contact secretary@ctc-northampton.org.uk.  Contact details of riders wanting transport will be passed onto potential drivers offering lifts, with the onus on the driver offering the lift to make the first contact.

Our route for 7th June can be found on RideWithGPS.  A gpx file can be downloaded from this site by clicking on the “Export” tab at the top right).

If you wish to discus the event please ring Brian Tunbridge (CTC Northampton Rides Secretary) on 01604 622073.

We look forward to seeing you!

Ride report – Great Cransley – Sunday 16th February

Phil J went on this ride, led by Milton, and writes (with pictures by Dave):

A misty but fairly warm morning greeted the group of five riders on this rerouted ride.

Taking in a number of familiar roads and one or two less known to us, we headed off through plenty of villages including the picturesque Ecton and Orlingbury further along.

Rowan had an early mechanical but nothing to hold up the steady pace we were making. The route undulated as expected but the group coped admirably.

Traffic levels seemed high in parts but so was the level of cyclists that we regularly passed en route – a positive sign indeed.

The cafe stop at Great Cransley was a welcome sign where Nick joined us from his start in Welford. The small but friendly café at Bugtopia provided enough fuel for us to continue our journey where we were now a group of six.

Entrance to Bugtopia Café

Entrance to Bugtopia Café

Our welcoming host at Bugtopia

Our welcoming host at Bugtopia

The sun finally broke through the clouds and raised the temperature a degree or two as we left the café making the return journey a much better prospect than on the way out. At least for a while. The hills at Loddington that were approaching were mentioned several times by our leader during the morning and they didn’t disappoint as hills go. Coming in quick succession as well.

Iain departed soon after the climbs having put the miles in already with his ride in but not before a superb display of short sharp climbing from the back of the pack right to the front.

Nick took his preferred route back shortly after and the remaining four pressed on towards Old. The anticipated climb at Brixworth didn’t materialise as Milton found a more pleasing route through Scaldwell to soften the blow which was most welcome to all. Another of the group – Rowan – said her goodbyes leaving a trio to carry on with the ride.

We cruised over some of the flatter parts of the route thereafter which was useful in keeping us warm as the sun had disappeared again, dropping the temperatures.

We returned through Ecton and eventually along the familiar cycle paths parallel to the A45. Again the group split with Milton and Dave heading home and just myself returning to the Canoe Centre.

Thanks for the ride Milton! Good riding all!

Leisure ride report – Saturday 10th January

Nick went on this ride, led by Milton (our Secretary), and writes:

Six cyclists converged at the meeting point, Moulton Co-op, having all received their first soaking of the day (second if they had taken a shower before leaving home).  Not the greatest of starts to a leisure ride but everyone was in good spirits and looking forward to the “lumps” (as Milton described them) that lay ahead.  Wind was another feature of this ride, the meteorological kind, that is.  Scotland had taken a huge battering overnight.  The Midlands faired better but it nevertheless proved challenging when passing holes in the hedge on the first section to Holcot.  It was not long before we took a break, about three quarters of a mile actually, when Giles suffered a flat rear [tyre] which necessitated a delay to the half of the group who stayed to help.  Quickly fixed and that ever present lesson “cheap tyre levers are a worthless investment” learned, we shot off in pursuit of our leader and the two Brians, one of whom was making his CTC ride debut.  Hope we see you again soon, Brian!

Turning west at Holcot it became apparent that the wind really was the dominant factor in the day’s weather.  Having to pedal downhill always feels so wrong but today was necessary in order to maintain sufficient forward motion to stay upright.  The climb up to Brixworth proved a real leg tester.  In the village we rejoined Milton who had kindly waited, and coincidently found the time to down a coffee and a sausage roll.  Chapeau!

Across to Spratton and then Teeton where we rejoined the two Brians.  The weather was slowly becoming brighter with spells of sunshine and the occasional rainbow.  Turning south at Teeton the going whilst still lumpy became a little easier.  It was not long before we arrived at the Stables Coffee Shop in Church Brampton where we were joined by John, who not fancying the ride had travelled by car.  Why have I never thought of doing that?
After refuelling we departed back towards Moulton via Pitsford, an easterly direction that ensured that we were wind assisted all the way back.

It was pretty tough going for a leisure ride, but nevertheless thoroughly enjoyable.
Thanks to Milton for planning and leading the ride!