Brian, our Secretary, went on this ride led by Ian M, our Chairman, and writes:
It is not often that we get a chance to do a linear ride without returning to the start but last Sunday week, twenty riders met on the Market Square in the centre of Oundle at 9.30 a.m. to ride the route of Stage 1 of The Women’s 2014 Tour: 100 km finishing at the Guildhall in Northampton. Six of us took advantage of Iain D’s landrover and a borrowed trailer to get to the start; some went by car with a lift back to the start with ride leader Ian M; three others cycled out from Northampton; and, to complete the group, four riders associated with Oundle School joined us.
As a large group, a quick briefing from ride leader Ian outlined the grouping for the ride. As it turned out, riders were all experienced and of similar ability so we kept in small groups within sight of the leader regrouping from time to time. Apart from crossing a few main roads the route was quiet and traffic-free, through some very pleasant countryside. It was sunny, warm and with only a light wind, ideal for riding.
Unusuallly for a CTC ride there were no cafés along the first part of the route (not that the ‘Tour’ race organisers would be planning for that) so a brief respite at Rushton gave us time for socialising as well as preparation for the quoted “queen of the hills” at Harrington. This hill was not so much steep as relatively long and sustained.
We were all ready for a lunch stop in Brixworth. Although we arrived at about 12.45 p.m. ‘Sunday lunch’ in the pub took some time for a large group and we did not depart Brixworth until 2.45 p.m. somewhat behind schedule but having had a very sociable break. As arranged a number of riders left the group at this stage to return home and a reduced group continued for the second half of the ride. This took in some of the steepest hills on the course especially between Brixworth and Great Brington. We could not go through the closed section of the Tour route through Althorp but thanks to Ian’s recce earlier in the week, our detour followed the official route as close as possible.
From Nobottle it was a relatively fast run on a straight road to the outskirts of Duston, where it seemed as if we were nearly home. However, the route turned south around Northampton taking us as far east as Great Houghton before it returned along Bedford Road and into the Derngate for a sprint finish – won, of course, by Emily and Chloe.
The race organisers certainly chose a great route through the County with some of the best cycling on quiet roads. I wonder what the Tour riders will make of some of the road surfaces en route.
Many thanks to Ian M for sorting out the route and leading so ably on the day. Just for the record the route was 58miles (93km), total ascent 3048 ft (938m), 37%up, 33% down, 30%level (<1%). Average speed 13+ mph.
The route is here on RideWithGPS.