Report – 10th Annual Guy Barber Ride to St Neots – 12th July

Brian, our Rides Secretary, was one of the organisers of this event and writes:

Eight riders gathered at the Canoe Centre for this annual event.  Numbers were down on previous years but the mix was still 50-50 members from CTC Northampton and CTC Milton Keynes. Big thanks to Colin Bishop for turning out to do the registration and collect donations for the Headway Charity.

This was not a led ride but with a small group we all set off and stayed together throughout the ride which was at a comfortable pace (we still averaged just under 14mph).  It was cloudy at the start with a tail wind and we made good progress, deciding by mutual consent to forego coffee at Thurleigh and get to lunch early.  Near St Neots the sun came out and when we arrived at the Market Square we enjoyed sitting outside the café eating various options from their cooked breakfast menu.

It was tempting to dwell longer in the sun but then there was the odd spot of rain so we hastened to set out on the return loop.  The rain did not materialize and even cycling into the headwind was not too bad on the very quiet leafy lanes.

With most of the return leg cracked we were only a few miles from Poddington, looking forward to afternoon tea when the heavens opened and we got well and truly soaked.  Fortunately Poddington let us in, where we met another CTC group from MK who had just arrived before the rain.  We watched the continuing deluge from the shelter of the café.
With signs of a break in the cloud we set off again with Tim and Sylvia joining the MK group. Just before we arrived at the Canoe Centre the rain returned but that did not dampen our spirits and we all agreed it had been a very good day in the saddle.

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Ride Report – Easter Monday

Iain D, our Chairman, went on this ride led by Brian, our Rides Secretary, and writes:

Eight of us gathered on a spectacularly warm – for early April – Monday morning at the Canoe Centre on Bedford Road, including two faces I’d not seen before and the ever-welcome Ken.

Brian led us out through Cogenhoe, Wollaston and Poddington where we encountered the first problem of the day: the Brompton – my ride for the day – didn’t want to make the turn at the bottom of Poddington’s hill. It was eventually persuaded round but the front tyre was looking rather empty. I think the two are linked.

Which leads me on to the second problem of the day, and a lesson for all of us: bring your tyre levers AND the right pump for the inner tube. Honestly, who puts a Presta valve on a 16″ tube ? Won’t be buying those again … . Anyway, thanks to Milton, we got rolling again fairly quickly and on to something I’m not used to – being passed by a bin wagon. A little reminder that we were out on a weekday, for a change.

The day’s route spent a few miles running against the grain on previous years’ Guy Barber route before cutting down to Sharnbrook and following the same in the more familiar direction, and since the café in Sharnbrook was closed, we looped over the A6 again and back to Milton Ernest for lunch at their fine garden centre.

Leaving Milton Ernest, we hit snag no. 3: Network Rail’s ongoing plan to raise bridges on the Midland Main Line. Rather annoyingly, the road closure signs promised 26 weeks of closure starting 03rd October last year. We’re now into week 27 and they’re a long way from done yet. I’m told the current estimate is completion by 31st May. Fortunately, there’s a well-trodden path across an adjacent OSR field that leads out to another road. Phew.

Carlton – Harrold – Bozeat – Castle Ashby and you know the rest. All completed without further mishap and not a single drop of rain.

Many thanks to Brian for a pleasant day’s outing and I promise to be better equipped next time out.

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!

Ride report – The Turkey Buster, Saturday 27th December

Phil J went on this ride led by Milton, our Secretary, and writes:

Five hardy riders including Northampton visitor Ken and ‘rarely to be seen’ Mike H set off on this post festive ride from the Canoe Centre surprised that it hadn’t been snowed off considering the forecast.  After a couple of miles we all began to regret the extra helpings of Christmas pudding and Quality Street as we climbed the first hill at Great Houghton.

Once up, it seemed like a wonderful autumn day rather than a winter’s ride as the sun was shining against lovely blue skies and helping to keep us warm.

We blazed down to Hackleton at a pace and, heading towards Denton, it seemed like Milton had arranged for closed roads as we barely saw any motorised transport.  Large puddles of surface water were the main obstacles on the roads but nobody came unstuck.

A winter breeze accompanied us from then on and the skies turned grey as we headed towards Castle Ashby where we enjoyed the view of the great building as we passed by.

Hardwater Hill proved to be another gem in Milton’s route as it tested all riders right to the top.

We pressed on at a steady pace eventually arriving at the Beckworth Emporium in Sywell for a well-earned rest. As befits the location some of the group opted for Earl Grey and scones!

Once on our way again, Eleanor said goodbye leaving the four guys to continue the journey.  As the A45 came into view we realised we were on the best form of transport as there was total gridlock all around.  On the cycle paths alongside we spilt up and headed our own way home leaving just the writer to continue back to the Canoe Centre.

Thanks for the ride Milton!  Well done all!

Ride report – Leisure ride to Castle Ashby – Saturday 22nd November

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

On a warm and wind free day, eight of us set off from the Canoe Centre on the Bedford Road.  It was good to have Giles along for the first time in a couple of years as well as Colin and Nick.  The rain promised to make an appearance all morning but largely stayed away.

We set off through Little Houghton and Cogenhoe and took the low road to Wollaston.  Once through Wollaston, five of the more muscular sort headed off on a seven mile loop which skirted the Irchester suburbs, whilst us three weaklings headed directly to coffee at Castle Ashby via Bozeat and Easton Maudit.

The café at Castle Ashby served a fine selection of cakes, good coffee with tap water automatically supplied to the table (outside in the quadrangle in November !! – hardy types) and gave us, as cyclists, a significant discount!  What’s not to like, as they say across the pond!

The larger group appeared twenty minutes after us having collected Eleanor along the way. There was a lot of talk about phone calls and neighbours popping round at the wrong time but it was clearly a long lie-in that was the reason for her late appearance!

Up to Whiston, up to Cogenhoe and home, on time, along the A45 path.

A fine mild day’s riding on some lovely quiet roads which all nine of us enjoyed.  Thanks to Brian for leading!

Ride Report – Sunday 17th August

Words by Phil J; photos by David.

Nine riders met outside the Canoe Centre under gloomy skies for a slightly longer ride than normal to the picturesque location of Grafham Water over the border in Cambridgeshire.  Right on cue the heavens opened and all riders donned wet weather gear somewhat earlier than we expected to.  We therefore departed a little later than scheduled but fortunately the rain subsided pretty quickly but it had left plenty of surface water around making conditions tricky for some of the group especially down the fast decent at Cogenhoe early on.

A wet start

A wet start

 

Nonetheless decent pace was made towards the first cafe stop at Thurleigh with the suspicion falling on a strong tailwind that might have its revenge on the return leg.  All riders came in out of the cold at Thurleigh to warm up with hot drinks and snacks. Phil L was riding well and after refuelling decided – understandably – to play it safe and return to Northampton accompanied by Eleanor.  Well done, Phil!

As we left Thurleigh it seemed like a completely different day as the sun came out and skies cleared to lift the mood of the remaining cyclists.  All pressed on towards Grafham and enjoyed plenty of fast riding through some beautiful villages along the way.  The odd mechanical gave us a chance to admire some splendid scenery.

The odd mechanical

The odd mechanical

As the destination came into view it was decided to use the main café rather than the boating club giving us an extra couple of miles to reach lunch.  We actually rode round some of the cycle path around the reservoir before deciding to get back on the road to find the regular entrance.IMG_1952

A busy café greeted us – full of Sustrans rangers and other visitors to the reservoir. Talk turned to the strength of the wind and also how Milton had managed to polish off two oversized pieces of cake in one day with one more stop to come!  Phone calls were made by some of the group to other halves to soften the blow of an anticipated late return.

The café at Grafham

The café at Grafham

We reluctantly left the lovely location at the side of the water and headed out on the cycle route across the dam and eventually onto the main road through Perry and beyond.  Our suspicions about the wind were immediately noticeable as all the riders were pounded relentlessly across the open terrain. Turns in direction seemed to have no effect as the wind continued to pay us back for the journey out.  Mile after mile came stronger and stronger gusts especially on exposed locations.  Wind turbines that we passed were a clear indicator of what we were riding through.

There was very little respite until the final welcoming stop at Poddington where we all enjoyed a well earned break before the final push home.

The hill at Cogenhoe proved to be the only real obstacle left.  When all the team reached the top we regrouped and talked tactics about the routes each of us would take home.  We split on the cycle paths alongside the A45 leaving just Iain D and Phil J to return to the Canoe Centre and to a much brighter setting than we had seen that morning.

A longer and tougher ride than I think any of us had expected. Well done all!

Ride report – Saturday 9th August

Milton went on this ride, led by Iain D, and writes:

 With most of the club seemingly in London for the big weekend (RideLondon FreeCycle & London-Surrey 100), there were only four intrepid souls ready on Saturday afternoon to enjoy a leisure ride from the Canoe Centre through Brafield-on-the-Green down to Horton and on to the cafe at Salcey Forest for the usual excess of cake and drinks.

We returned to the Canoe Centre via Quinton and Wootton by 4.15 p.m. having covered no more than 20 miles.

A lovely fresh breezy and warm day, perfect for cycling, and a well-led trip which the four of us much enjoyed.  Many thanks to Iain D for a quality ride.

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And we didn ‘t get wet!