Ride Report – Saturday 9th December

Milton led this pair of rides on Saturday morning.  (He also checked out the first few miles of the routes earlier in the morning because it had been particularly cold overnight – dedication!)  He writes:

The weather promised cold and ice and slippy roads and offered, in the end, only a bit of a chill.  The roads were free of frost and ice and mostly dry and the sun shone almost all the time.  It was on the cool side, but only the wimps stayed at home  ….  that means most of you of course!

Six of us met up at the Canoe Centre and three of the six were new to us and one of the remainder was a rare(ish) visitor, Geoff (surely we stop for coffee every 5 miles) which left only Giles and myself from the usual club riff raff.

Giles and John C took the 38-mile brisk option and from Salcey headed west to Hartwell before taking the road to Castlethorpe, Haversham and Litttle Linford and then turning north to reach Olney arriving about 10 minutes after the 31-mile moderate group who had got there via Stoke Goldington, Ravenstone and Weston Underwood.  Fine scones and maple-syruped pancakes were enjoyed alongside scrambled egg with smoked salmon and toasted teacakes before a quick visit to the adjacent bike shop – Pedalz – where Nigel G nearly cracked and bought a bike, and we were off home via Yardley Hastings, Castle Ashby and Cogenhoe.

Good cycling, good weather, good food and excellent company meant yet another Saturday morning well spent.

Morning rides to Olney – Saturday 9th December

Milton is leading Saturday morning’s rides – two groups (brisk and moderate) – and writes:

Start time: 9.30 a.m.
Meeting point: Canoe Centre, Bedford Road, NN4 7AA.  (The Canoe Centre will probably be open all day on Saturday but, if it’s not, your car will get trapped behind the car park barriers.  Better to park just outside where there is lots of space!)
Distance: Brisk 38 miles / Moderate 31 miles
Refreshments: Courtyard Brasserie, Olney (23 miles / 16 miles)
Return by: 1.00 p.m. – 1.30 p.m.

The difference in length for the two groups is all on the outward journey to Olney.  At about twenty-three miles for the brisk group and sixteen for the moderate group, the opportunity for a perfectly synchronised meeting at the Courtyard Brasserie depends on the Brisks showing some real pace.

Both groups set off up the hill through Great Houghton, Preston Deanery and Quinton before passing the Salcey Café.  Whilst the Brisks turn right into Hartwell and on through Hanslope, Castlethorpe and Haversham, the Moderates continue through the forest and on to Stoke Goldington before turning up through Ravenstone and Weston Underwood to Olney.  Meantime the Brisks (hopelessly knackered by now)  are heading through Little Linford, Tyringham and Filgrave before getting to Olney via the A509.  (Oh stop moaning, it’s only a mile downhill and there’s a perfectly good cyclepath for most of the way!).

After coffee and whatever together, it’s an attractive return through Yardley Hastings, Castle Ashby, Cogenhoe and Little Houghton to the Canoe Centre. We ought to make it back for lunchish  –  say between 1.00 p.m. and 1.30 p.m.

It’ll be a lovely warm, dry, sunny day with little breeze (don’t fact-check that!) and I look forward to your company.

Questions?  Milton is on 07845 967537.

BRISK ride to Harrold – Saturday 24th June

Tim is leading this ride and writes:

Start: 9.30 am, Saturday 24th June
Meeting point: East Hunsbury Library, Overslade Close, NN4 0RZ
Distance:  40 miles
Anticipated Speed: 14-16 mph
Refreshments: Castle Ashby

This Saturday’s ride starts at 9:30am from East Hunsbury Library. The led ride (ride leader Tim) will be at a brisk pace, but there is also the option for a shorter self-led alternative (see below).

The ride heads out in the direction of Salcey Forest & Stoke Goldington before turning north east to skirt Olney en route to Lavendon & Harrold. Here we head up Dungee Hill before turning back towards Northampton passing through the villages of Bozeat and Easton Maudit before arriving at our refreshment stop at The Buttery Tea Rooms at Castle Ashby (at approx 29 miles).

Post refreshment we have a shortish ride (approx 11 miles) back to the start at East Hunsbury Library via the villages of Horton & Hackleton. It is anticipated that we should be back at East Hunsbury sometime around 1:30pm.

Please note that there is a possible short cut from Olney to Castle Ashby that avoids the loop to Harrold. This shortens the overall route to approx 32 miles with the Castle Ashby tea stop at approx 21 miles. If you intend to ride this shorter route please ensure you are happy to self navigate, so you will either need to bring a map of the route with you or load the route on to your bike computer. Unfortunately, due to holiday absences, we do not have a ride leader available to lead you round this shorter alternative.

The proposed route and the shorter self-led option can be viewed (and downloaded as gpx files) from the CTC Northampton pages on RideWithGPS:

Led ride (40 miles): https://ridewithgps.com/routes/20043458

Self- led alternative (32 miles): https://ridewithgps.com/routes/20043453

Any questions, please contact Tim – 07749 477231.

Ride report – Sunday 30th April

Milton went on this ride led by Tim and writes:

Eleven cyclists set off from the canoe centre last Sunday on a warmish breezy day for Tim’s 56 miler to Keysoe. Good to see new rider Mark on a fine traditional steel Thorn with Rohloff hub gears and a front hub dynamo – a true touring set up – and to welcome again Chris.

With the quite fierce breezes in our faces it was nearly a struggle to reach Scald End Farm just outside Thurleigh, but very worth while. We were welcomed at the cafe by exceptionally cheery and efficient service and a few full breakfasts were ordered to say nothing of the bacon butties. The addition of cake was too much after that, but most of us managed.
Homeward bound then with bulging stomachs, but with the wind behind us, saw the peloton split in a number of places. Front runners were deservedly punished for going through a junction ahead of the leader by taking a wrong turning at Felmersham and had to be called back. One was too far ahead to hear and, no matter that attempts were made to phone him, he was never seen or heard from again. We hope you made it home John C, but if not and you’re still out there pedalling like mad, I can recommend a fine B and B in Glasgow which, at the speed you were going, you should have reached by now!
We had eaten too much for there to be any excuse to stop at Castle Ashby, so we did, and the coffee and cake was as fine as ever.
Back to base and we realised that we’d all averaged something over 14mph which, for a ‘steady ride’ was not at all bad. Couldn’t have been done without the cake.
Lovely ride Tim, thank you. Good quiet roads and a certain amount of new territory covered..

Ride to Keysoe – Sunday 30th April

Tim, our webmaster, will be leading this ride and writes:

Start: 9.30 a.m.
Meet: Nene Whitewater Canoe Centre, Bedford Road, Northampton, NN4 7AA. (If coming by car, don’t park within the car park barrier.  There is plenty of space on the approach road.)
Distance: 56 miles
Speed: 12-14 m.p.h.
Refreshments: Scald End Farm, Thurleigh (at approx 30 miles)

From the Canoe Centre we head out in a generally eastwards direction through the villages of Cogenhoe, Grendon, Bozeat, Odell, Sharnbrook and Riseley en route to our most easterly point at Keysoe.  From here we turn south and west to our stop for refreshment at Scald End Farm, located just outside Thurleigh.  Here you can feast on the breakfast “fit for a king” or maybe one of the several cakes on offer.  There is also the benefit of a cosy wood burning stove to warm oneself by.

Once replete, we continue south westwards through Milton Earnest, Harrold and Lavendon before heading north & west on our final homeward leg via Yardley Hastings, Castle Ashby (where a second tea stop is eminently possible) and Cogenhoe Hill before arriving back at the Canoe Centre.

The route can be viewed (and downloaded as a gpx file) at: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/20043554

Any questions?  Please contact Tim on 07749 477231.

Ride Report – Sunday 5th February

Milton went on this ride led by Tim and writes:

Seven of us braved a fairly dark and chilly morning to meet up at East Hunsbury for Tim’s 52-mile steady ride around Northampton.

The half-way point saw us getting stuck into cake and coffee and sausage rolls (possibly in that order) at the cafe in Brixworth Country Park having swept round the south and west of the county through Kislingbury, East Haddon and Spratton climbing what felt like most of the Northants cols on route.before Brixworth.

The second stage included Holcot and Earls Barton before crossing the river and climbing up the day’s last mountain to the peak at Castle Ashby where we stopped for more coffee and cake.  We had dropped Phil L off by this stage but picked up another, Elspeth, at the Castle so we were still seven and then we lost Geoff who was nearer home than he would be at any other time and so we were six.

We six nipped back towards East Hunsbury via Denton and Preston Deanery at which point three more of us set off homewards and the remaining three – well, who knows – I was safely tucked up at home with coffee and a well deserved couple of slices of cake.
I heard later that the final three made it back to the start point safely, so a good day out was had by all.  A well devised route with thanks to Tim!

Boxing Day Ride Report

Milton led this ride and writes:

Perfect weather saw ten cyclists with nothing but coffee and cake in mind meet up at the Canoe Centre for a simple 28-mile drift through the south east of the County.

Little Houghton, Cogenhoe, Castle Ashby, Yardley Hastings, Weston Underwood and Ravenstone gently slid past as we sauntered slowly but with great determination to cake at Salcey.

Down the hill through Great Houghton and we were back at the Canoe Centre just after mid-day and heading home to some cake and mince pies and whatever chocolates were left before getting stuck into lunch.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Ride Report – Sunday 6th November

Brian, our secretary, went on this ride led by Milton and writes:

Looking out of the window at 9 o’clock, there was wall to wall sunshine and blue skies.  The reality, however, was that it was only a few degrees above freezing outside.  At the Canoe Centre, Milton and I decided that the weather must have put off riders that morning but then Colin and Nick arrived.  Given the temperature, the four of us set off without delay for Castle Ashby, welcoming the hills in between to get warmed up.  At Easton Maudit Geoff joined us on his tricycle and the five of us then made our way to Harrold and on to the picturesque village of Newton Blossomville.  With a good tail wind, warming sun and ever quieter roads it was perfect autumn weather for a ride.  When we saw the sign “Welcome to Central Bedfordshire” we knew we were not far from the Bike Bus Café, a red London double decker bus parked on a farm at Bourne End.  Arriving at 11.30 a.m. we were soon enjoying excellent coffee and sausage baps, sitting outside, soaking up the sun and warmth.

Having seen a couple of other cycling groups leave, we were soon on our way to Sherington after which we changed direction and headed back into a very chilly wind.  Fortunately we were often sheltered by hills and tree-lined roads but it was noticeably cooler now.  Our route took us through Tyringham Hall deer park and not long after turning onto the Newport road the predicted rain clouds appeared and for the rest of the way home through Salcey Forest the rain got steadily heavier.  We were well prepared for the rain and made good time to the Canoe Centre arriving just after two o’clock, damp but in good spirits, having had an excellent day’s ride.  Thanks to Milton for planning and leading the ride!

Ride report – Saturday 16th July

Brian went on this ride led by Iain D and writes:

A select group of four riders left Moulton at 9.00 a.m. on an overcast but warm and humid morning for a full day’s ride.  Soon after Sywell we met rolling hills through Mears Ashby, Castle Ashby and on to Olney, on relatively quiet roads.   Here we stopped for coffee and sat outside in the café courtyard enjoying toasted tea cakes as the sun came out.  Showing just how small the world is Anne and Ken discovered that they had both grown up in the same area of Lancashire.  The hills of Northamptonshire apparently have nothing on those in the north west!!  This was to be well tested later in the ride.

From Olney we headed north-east to Turvey and on to Carlton where we did a loop to Odell, Sharnbrook and through the picturesque village of Bletsoe before we turned back though Milton Ernest and more quiet roads.  We returned to the Emmaus Centre at Carlton for lunch at 1.00 p.m.  The weather was now warming up with blue skies and highs of 23C.  We were ready for a break.

After a very convivial lunch we headed up to Poddington and Wollaston before dropping into the Nene valley at Great Doddington.  From here it was all uphill via Wilby to Sywell which was the highest point on the ride, not that it was an obvious summit finish.

We arrived in Moulton at 3.45 p.m. after a pleasant day in the saddle.  Ideal cycling weather, summer at last!  Thanks to Iain for devising and leading the ride.

Ride Report – Sunday 20th March

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Assembling at the Canoe Centre on Sunday morning!

James went on this ride, led by Brian, and writes:

Seven of us departed from the Canoe Centre on a cold, overcast morning for what was the longest ride of the year so far; a sixty-plus mile round trip to Grafham Water in Cambridgeshire.  After heading out through Little Houghton – where we met up with our two newest members, Alison and Carwyn – we journeyed on at a leisurely pace via Cogenhoe and Poddington towards Melchbourne, where the option of a shortcut to Harrold Country Park was on offer to any riders lacking the stamina to make it to Grafham and back.  Happily, everyone was feeling healthy and strong and nobody took up this alternative route.  The fact that the sun was (contrary to the forecast) making frequent appearances, combined with the picturesque scenery, meant that the miles passed quickly, and it wasn’t long before we’d cycled through Perry and arrived at our destination.

Any thoughts of filling our faces with bacon rolls or jacket potatoes (or both) were soon put out of our minds by the poor overworked chap who – due to staff shortages – was running the restaurant at Grafham by himself and, understandably, didn’t have the time to cook as well as serve drinks to the assorted walkers, runners, windsurfers, etc.  Still, he was kind enough to rustle up some sandwiches for us and there was plenty of cake for sale on the counter.  Leaving Grafham the weather was noticeably cooler and the sky slightly darker.  However, a few miles of pedalling soon warmed us up, and the sunshine made a welcome reappearance as we headed homewards via Felmersham and Chellington.

Given the length of the ride and the lack of satisfactory refreshments at Grafham the journey back included a stop off at the aforementioned Harrold Country Park.  Fortunately, the café here was fully operational and able to accommodate nine famished cyclists in search of flapjacks and caffeine.  Suitably stuffed, we remounted and continued homewards on a route that was just as scenic as the outward trip – passing, as it did, through Easton Maudit and the ever impressive Castle Ashby.  Alas, whatever energy we’d regained at Harrold was quickly drained away by Whiston Hill and the “Col de Cogenhoe’, two sharp little inclines that were made all the more demanding given that they were on the final stage of the ride.  With this in mind, then, it was clearly a notable achievement that none of us collapsed into weeping heaps by the roadside or required oxygen cylinders, defibrillators or ambulances once we’d conquered them!  As well as providing the final climb of the ride, Cogenhoe also served as the end point of our journey where we said our farewells and broke off into smaller groups.

All in all, this was a lovely ride, which thanks to the sunshine and lambs in the fields, signalled the fact that Spring has properly arrived and with it the prospect of many more enjoyable miles on our bikes.  Happy Easter!