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.
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!