Ride review – Sunday 19th February

Phil J led this ride and writes:

Seven riders gathered at the start for this undulating ride to Naseby including new rider Peter B on his first group ride.

The first descent out of the blocks had a surprising headwind which seemed to be present on a few more of our subsequent drops.  Once through the eco village of Upton, St Crispin’s provided the first unlikely climb of the day as we settled into the ride.

We levelled off towards Harlestone before we all got into the small chainring and the slow grind up Church Brampton.

Sedgebrook Hall passed by during another long haul which split the group a bit and took us up to the Market Harborough road and the route to Pitsford.  A rapid descent on the busy road was then quickly followed by another testing rise to the entrance of Pitsford Water.

Through Brixworth the group went, when Phil L and I suddenly found ourselves on our own.  We’d turned left in full view of the rest of the group but they continued over. Head scratching ensued before the group appeared from another direction much to our relief and amusement.

The fast downhill on the Spratton road came next with Milton suggesting this could be one of the fastest downhills in the area.  We all took full advantage of the opportunity and headed for Spratton.  The bridge closure wasn’t on our route and we climbed uninterrupted through the village before regrouping at the top for a well earned breather and refuelling.

Over the Welford Road another opportunity to test the descending skills.  We dropped swiftly towards Teeton and as expected we soon started to climb as the road ramped up once more.

The journey to Guilsborough was perfect “active recovery” and we enjoyed the dry country roads and comfortable speeds.  The road to Cold Ashby seemed rather more caked in dried mud but it was pleasant nonetheless as we started to see the signs for Naseby.

With another couple of miles in our legs All Saints church at Naseby came into view.  We arrived at The Old Vicarage café just as some cyclists were leaving but they insisted they had left some cakes for us.

With renovations underway outside we were lead along the corridor to possibly the grandest venue we may have ever had refreshments in.  A large dining room with a table that was almost impossible to reach over due to its huge size and a chandelier over the centre.  We almost expected a butler to start serving us but various group members took that role upon themselves.  The service was equally splendid and the food exquisite.

The loop continued through the Cottesbrooke estate and probably the most hair raising descent of the day.  Plenty of gravel and uneven tarmac at the base making it a heart in mouth situation just before entering the village.  All safely down and the gated road to Brixworth lead us to the steep climb back into the centre and onto Pitsford once again.

Four of us were lured by a second stop at the Willow Tree Café whilst the remaining three continued home.

The rest of the ride back mirrored the ride out with another mix of testing ascending and fast descending.

This was a pretty difficult ride today with over 3000ft of climbing but all riders performed superbly.

Ride report – Saturday 10th December

Brisk & Moderate Rides to Welford

Eleven riders – a good number for a December morning – gathered at the Brampton Valley Way meeting point for a morning organised by James.  We welcomed new rider, Phil W; and welcomed back John for his first CTC ride since his accident.  Drizzle in the air was not going to dampen our spirits.

A late change of plan and routes – our original café stop at Kelmarsh being unavailable because of a Buddhist holiday – meant that we were to head for a café new to nearly all of us: Mini-Meadows Farm Café just outside Welford on the Naseby road.  Five riders opted for James’s brisk ride; six for the moderate route plotted by Brian and led by Ian M.  James must have taken to heart Mother Theresa’s dictum that “Brisk means Brisk” and by Church Brampton the brisk group was down to four and the moderate group up to seven.

The moderates pedalled through East Haddon, Coton, Guilsborough and Welford to reach the café after seventeen miles at 11.05 a.m. finding the brisks already ensconced – having been through Holdenby, Spratton, Brixworth and Naseby after eighteen lumpier miles in an hour-and-a-quarter! The drizzle hadn’t turned to anything worse but those who had no mudguards had nice stripes-of-honour up their backs.

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At Mini-Meadows Farm Café

The café served good coffee and cakes (the Xmas Tiffin was much consumed); conversation was lengthy; and both groups set off again at 11.45 a.m.  The moderates pedalled through Naseby (welcoming the easier approach from the north-west), Cottesbrooke, Creaton, Teeton and Holdenby to return to the BVW after 15 miles by 1.15 p.m.  The brisks headed on to Sibbertoft, back to Naseby, and then through Kelmarsh, Harrington, Old, Scaldwell, Brixworth, and Holcot before splitting on the edge of Northampton after 28 miles just after 1.30 p.m.

So twenty-nine miles for the moderates, forty-eight miles for the brisks and a splendid morning enjoyed by all.

Thanks to James for the morning plan and to Brian for reminding us of the recommendation for the café from Peter W and the CTC Leicestershire group.

Ride report – Sunday 2nd October

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

Seven riders assembled at Brampton Valley Way on a crisp sunny morning for Ian’s ride north to Kilworth.  Milton showed off his new Titanium tourer in stunning silver before we left.  Once we departed, the Brampton climb gave the group a heart thumping start to the morning before we settled into an easy pace.  With time on our side before the first café was due to open, we ambled along without any great urgency and everyone enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere.

The first few miles towards Teeton really undulated.  One quick downhill followed by the uphill equivalent almost immediately keeping the ride interesting but the group together. Horses at the Teeton junction gave the group an impromptu stop before moving on through the village.  Milton tested the tourer on the downhills and it tested him on the uphills.

Creaton passed in a moment and it wasn’t long before we were meandering through the glorious Cottesbrooke estate anticipating the big climb at the end but Ian cleverly avoided that with a left turn through easier terrain.

Naseby beckoned and with a quick u-turn along the way the seven were back on track as we headed passed the majestic All Saints Church in all its splendour in the morning sun. Skirting the Cottesbrooke estate again gave us a bit of respite along flat roads that allowed the group to up the pace towards the first cafe stop at the World Peace Café at the Buddhist Centre.  Right on cue we arrived for elevenses in the tranquil setting with the sun shining perfectly.  Over tea and cake riders revealed how many bikes they owned.  Some going into double figures!

Leaving Kelmarsh there were six, with Milton going his own way home.  The rest of us doubled back and headed up the long haul to Sibbertoft and onto the Welford Road allowing the group to open up a bit on the open roads.  The gliding school alongside giving a lovely backdrop against the sunny skies.  Now Nick left us.  A perfect day for gliding and cycling for that matter!

At the next junction a plane flew low overhead towing a glider on a line on its way to the release altitude.  Perfect timing.

A country lane or two later we approached the urban road of North Kilworth before entering the more picturesque location of South Kilworth soon after and made our way swiftly through.  After Swinford we entered the impressive grounds of Stanford Hall. Roads that were made just for cycling through.  Just walkers and us.  Villages with names like Stanford-on-Avon and Clay Coton summed up the wonderful location we were riding in.  Purely Idyllic.

Wind turbines seemed visible from all angles in the distance and all moving steadily in the breeze.

The Red Lion at Crick was our next port of call and we were accommodated quickly by the friendly staff.  John Cuttler had ridden in and joined us for lunch too.  Roast dinners consumed and pints put away we were soon on our way again for the last leg of the ride.

Leaving Crick we headed for Watford – as in Gap not Watford Herts.  But not before long we were climbing into Long Buckby and out the other side.  A road closure some way along didn’t divert our ride and we breezed through it enjoying closed roads for a while.  Brington church then came into view and the mood changed with thoughts of the climb in mind.  Probably the hardest climb of the day was left to the end but everyone climbed admirably.  The long stretch at Church Brampton was the only rise left to do before turning back the way we had come and the finish at the Windhover.

A great days riding in perfect weather.

Thanks Ian.

Ride report – Sunday 15th May

Tim, our webmaster, went on this ride and writes:

Eight riders congregated at Moulton Co-op for Brian’s “Steady ride to Saddington”, including five who had been out on the previous day’s “Moderate ride to Everdon Stubbs”. Amongst this keen group of five was new rider Elspeth.

We were blessed with a fine late spring day with only the occasional blast of cold wind to dampen our spirits.  We headed out northwards via the familiar villages of Holcot, Walgrave & Old and on through Harrington and Braybrooke before alighting at our morning refreshment stop at Farndon Fields Farm Shop where we indulged in a variety of tea, coffee, cakes, scones & the like to prepare us for the hillier challenges ahead.

After a short section through the outskirts of Market Harborough we were once again treated to quiet country lanes with mostly other cyclists and the odd horse for company. Our relaxed cycling was brought to an abrupt halt however by Laughton Hill, aptly surveyed by the OS to have a gradient of between 14% and 20%.  It felt every bit of this as we slowly spun our way to the top where there was a very welcome pause to re-group, have a drink, nibble an energy bar and generally get our breath back.

Quite a long and hilly section then followed as we wended our way north to Saddington and then back south, passing through North Kilworth and Sibbertoft where Nick left our group to head home; and so it was that seven tired cyclists arrived at our lunch stop at Naseby Old Vicarage Tea Room.  The ladies were relieved that we were late to arrive (being around 2 p.m. at this point) as they “had had a very busy day”.  We had the place to ourselves so could seek out the sunniest spots to rest our tired limbs.  Their “busy day” had left its impact on the menu choice – thankfully though, there was just enough to go round even if the bacon butties had to be rationed.

Once replete, we set off on the home leg to Moulton, taking the shortest (and least hilly) route through Guilsborough, Church Brampton and Boughton.

All in all a lovely day’s cycling and many thanks to Brian for organising and leading the ride.

Ride Report – Saturday 13th February

Brian, our Rides Secretary, went on this ride led by Phil L and writes:

It was quite cool on Saturday morning (3°C) but the roads were not icy.  Four of us set out from our Brampton Valley Way meeting point up through Church Brampton and then across to Althorp.  We had the wind behind us as we made our way through West Haddon and Long Buckby to Yelvertoft on very quiet country lanes.  Then we turned south into the breeze as we made our way down National Cycle Route 50 through Crick and Ashby St Legers, great countryside on quiet roads.  As we approached Daventry there was hail in the
wind and we were glad to stop for coffee at the Country Park café which we almost had to ourselves.  The last stage back to Northampton was a bit of a battle against the wind and it felt much colder with a hint of rain in the air, although we did not get seriously wet.

Many thanks to Phil L for leading the ride which was just right for a breath of fresh air on a winter’s morning.

Ride Report – “Phil’s Hilly 30-miler” – Saturday 11th April

Phil L led this ride and writes:

The tiny peleton of three which gathered for the start of “Phil’s Hilly 30 miler” feared the worst as the rain came down and the wind started to blow.  And so it wasn’t brilliant for the first forty minutes of the ride especially since -as is always the case – the wind was against us!

But then the rain cleared away and by the time we made the turn towards home at Naseby, we were in sunshine with the wind at our backs. No other groups seemed to be out, just single or double riders, but plenty of folks on horses.

There was time for a coffee stop at Church Brampton as well. Good to see new rider Tim out with us again.

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!

Ride report – Brisk ride in the dark – Saturday 6th December

Milton, our new Secretary, went on this ride and writes:

A hardy band of nine met up at the Brampton Valley Way starting point for Phil G’s 30-mile brisk ride.  He could really have advertised it as icy brisk, as it was certainly that.

We headed out through the Bramptons and thence to Holdenby, Guilsborough and West Haddon by which time the hilly terrain had done for two of us who took the offered short cut to the pub at Great Brington via the beautiful and historic Ashby St Ledgers.  Later Phil would stop the main group there to point out the building in which the gunpowder plot was reputedly hatched.

As the sun sank and our lights went on we came across a couple of lads trying to push their broken-down car up the single track road to Welton to find a safe spot to leave it.  We downed bikes and heaved them to a safe spot before setting off again and starting to wonder if we’d kindly helped a pair of thieves with their booty.  Who can tell?  If they were thieves, they were grateful ones!

By the time we reached Long Buckby it was pitch black and the single track and lonely road to the pub at Great Brington loomed large to those of us with less than adequate lights … me that is.  I stuck to the well endowed in the lighting department as s*** sticks to a shovel and made it through.

We, all nine of us now, had a beer or two in front of a fine open fire and reluctantly, as it was colder than ever and annoyingly still dark, we set off on the final few miles back to our starting point via Harlestone and Church Brampton.

How did I find my first ever night ride? … Bonkers, totally bonkers but much fun.  We all enjoyed it and owe a debt of gratitude to Phil G for leading it.

Ride Report – Leisure Ride – Saturday 25th October

Rowan went on this ride, led by Iain D.  She writes:

Four of us met up at the entrance to the Brampton Valley Way (BVW), near the Windhover pub on Saturday afternoon for what was the last of our summertime rides.

Luckily for us, the sun came out and we enjoyed some very mild, if a little windy, weather as Iain D. led Milton, Dave U. and myself northwards up the BVW path, over loose chippings and through some puddles (eek!) until we hit a beautifully smooth surfaced (in comparison) road towards Creaton village and up the rather steep but scenic hill!

Our ride was rather challenging in terms of ups and downs; certainly it was for me after having a few weeks off from suffering a twisted neck muscle but as we got into the swing of it I would say we might have re-titled our ride “brisk”.

We rode through Creaton, Hollowell, Ravensthorpe, East Haddon and lastly along the Holdenby road towards our refreshment stop, Café Monde, Church Brampton. We went “up hill and down dale” for the whole ride, but I seemed to go up a few gears on the final stretch towards my waiting coffee! Milton left us at this point to go and walk his dog ….

The remaining three of us were very pleased to meet up at our tea stop with John Alcock , who had cycled over from his home in Duston to be with us. Thanks to John we had a great conversation ranging from our shared re-collections of Chesterfield and Worksop to the future of our CTC groups.

Thanks to Iain D for organising this ride and for everyone else’s company.

Ride Report – Saturday 23rd August

Brian, our Secretary, went on this ride led by Philip G.  Brian writes (with photos by Philip G):

This was a brisk morning ride through the hilly area around Creaton, Cottesbrooke and Naseby and then up to Marston Trussell.  This route confirmed the original ride description that “there are several ‘medium difficulty’ hills – nothing too vicious but they may mount up.”  Digital maps and GPS reveal all and on the 36-mile route only 20% of the route (7 miles) was on the level and the hills added up to 2500ft of ascent.

At Haselbech

At Haselbech

Nevertheless, Philip led the pace – fresh from his L’Etape du Tour in the Pyrenees – with the four remaining riders hanging on in what seemed a continuous head wind – even on the way back!  We had plenty of sun but the temperature was distinctly autumnal.  We nearly entered the A14 by mistake – oops! – but a hasty retreat up the slip road and we were back on quiet country lanes with little traffic.

Returning via Sibertoft, and a final challenging hill up to Guilsborough, we were soon in the Café Monde at the Stables in Church Brampton enjoying well-earned coffee and cake.

Outside the coffee stop

Outside the coffee stop

A really good morning ride.  Many thanks to Philip.