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.

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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 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!

Ride Report – Sunday 7th February

Milton went on this ride led by Brian and writes:

On a fairly cold and windy but clear skied morning only three of us were at the Canoe Centre for the start.  As it was one of the few dry starts of the past couple of months, it was surprising to see so few people.  Perhaps we’ve got out of the habit in recent wet and windy times.

We set off to Cogenhoe and on to Grendon where we found Geoff waiting to join us – and on his “fixie” too, which he rode all day as if it had a multiplicity of gears!  On to Wollaston to Poddington and to Melchbourne and Souldrop before stopping for our only break at the Garden Centre in Milton Ernest.  The world’s most expensive cakes surprised us, but the newly re-furbished room was warm and welcoming and not too busy, so we forgave them the £3.00 bits of cake and ordered meat and potato pies instead.

We returned via Harrold, Bozeat and Castle Ashby and were back by 2.30 p.m. as promised.

Largely blown to Milton Ernest, we fought a stiff breeze for most of the way home, and, with 55 miles on my computer, we were pretty knackered.

The rain stayed largely where it should, in the clouds, and I think we had a cracking day of it.  Lots of quiet country roads with little traffic meant it had been, unsurprisingly, well planned, and was well led, and our thanks, as ever, to Brian.

Ride Report – Saturday 9th January

Brian writes:

At 9.00 a.m. the prospects of a morning ride were a bit grim.  Phil J was down with a cold so had asked me to lead the ride.  The previous week I had been in the same situation and Phil L had stepped in to lead what had been a pretty wet ride.  Was this to be my chance to enjoy the rain?

It was bucketing down so I decided on the easy option – to put the bike in the car and drive to this morning’s meeting point East Hunsbury given the chance that nobody would venture out in this rain.  By 9.25 a.m. it was still raining and no sight of any riders.  By 9.30 a.m. I thought that was it but decided to go and have a quick look in case anybody was sheltering in the underpass.  At this point James turned up having having cycled over in the rain!  We had a quick discussion.  The rain stopped at that point, so we decided to go!

Luckily the rain had stopped for good that morning.  But ten minutes into the ride I had a p*nct*re.  A change of tube and we were off again on a busy road to Wootton and then on to quieter roads to Quinton and over to Cogenhoe and Whiston.  We decided against a coffee stop at Castle Ashby and headed for Denton.  When we reversed the road to Quinton in the late morning, blue sky appeared and we decided to extend the ride to Courteenhall and on to Blisworth.  From here we had warm sun on our backs and a tail wind all the way back to East Hunsbury.

The forecast had been for rain at 9.00 a.m. followed by a clear spell later in the morning.  This turned out to be correct but it was cutting it a bit fine to get a ride in, free of rain and with comfortable temperatures!

Ride report – Boxing Day

James went on this ride led by Milton and writes:

Six of us left the Canoe Centre on a very quiet, heavily overcast Boxing Day morning. Heading out through Little Houghton, our post-Christmas levels of fitness were quickly tested by the climbs into Cogenhoe and Castle Ashby.  Moreover, any lingering hopes of this being a gentle ‘recovery’ jaunt were soon put out of our heads by the strong headwind that accompanied us as we continued on towards Yardley Hastings and crossed the A428.

It was on the B5388 into Olney – the next stage of our ride – that the blustery conditions were at their worst, and there were a couple of occasions when bike control became a little tricky.  Mercifully, things eased up once we left the main road and returned to the near deserted country lanes that took us on through Weston Underwood, Ravenstone and Stoke Goldington.

Given that a few of us were feeling a little fragile as a result of the previous day’s excesses it was with relief that our next stop was Salcey Forest Café, where strong coffee and cake provided temporary rejuvenation.  It was also good to see the presence of so many other cyclists – both solo and with local clubs – at the café who, like us, had obviously decided that getting out on their bikes was preferable to another day of over indulgence.

The return journey was in complete contrast to the outward ride both in terms of effort and weather.  Not only did we have a tailwind blowing us through Quinton, Preston Deanery and Great Houghton, but the sun also made a brief appearance!  Arriving back at the Canoe Centre, we said our farewells and looked forward to doing the same thing on Boxing Day 2016!!

Ride report – Sunday 6th December

James went on this ride led by Ian and writes:

Eight of us left the Canoe Centre on a blustery but rain-free Sunday morning to cycle south in the direction of Cranfield and our designated coffee stop, the Bike Bus.  After heading out of Brackmills on the A428, our legs and lungs were soon tested by the climb through Great Houghton, an ascent made all the more arduous by the strength of the wind that turned out to be a constant, yet unwelcome companion.

The main section of our outward journey was spent on the undulating B526. Passing through an assortment of pleasant villages such as Stoke Goldington and Gayhurst, we eventually turned on to the Sherington Road heading towards North Crawley.  This latter stage was enlivened by two things.  Firstly, the prospect of knowing we were soon to stop for coffee.  And, secondly, the sight of numerous sweaty runners wearing tormented expressions as they wheezed their way through the eight mile point of the Bedford Harriers’ Half Marathon …

We could tell when we were close to our resting point because of the increased presence of light aircraft preparing to descend into Cranfield Airport.  Nonetheless, this and the fact that our coffee stop was a big red double-decker bus didn’t prevent us cycling straight past it.  Fortunately, the error was quickly noticed, and it wasn’t long before we were sitting on the top deck fortifying ourselves with strong coffee, bacon rolls and the obligatory slices of artery clogging cake.

Bike Bus Loyalty Card

Bike Bus Loyalty Card – front & reverse

Reinvigorated, we got back in our saddles and started the return trip to Northampton via Newton Blossomville, Emberton and Olney.  Again, the route was pleasantly undulating, but the wind gusty.  On the plus side, the clouds started to give way to the occasional glimpse of blue and the sun made a few guest appearances.  The temptation to take a second coffee break at Olney was quickly voted down when we saw how crowded the town was.  The usual Sunday afternoon antique collectors being supplemented by families out to enjoy the annual Christmas Fair.

Given the crowds, it was unsurprising that the road out of Olney was busy, and it was with some relief that after crossing the A428 at Yardley Hastings we were soon back on some quieter stretches that took us through Castle Ashby and on towards the ‘Col de Cogenhoe’.  Whilst short, the climb itself is very steep and our efforts clearly weren’t helped by the conditions.  It was whilst in Cogenhoe – after regrouping and rediscovering how to breathe – that some of us said our farewells and cycled off in various homeward bound directions.  The remainder carried on, via Little Houghton, back to our starting point at the Canoe Centre.  Overall, a very enjoyable ride made all the more fun by the discovery of such a unique coffee stop!