Ride report – Saturday 16th April

Rowan, our Ladies Rep, went on this ride and writes:

It was a damp and grey start to the inaugural “moderate” series of cycle rides but that did not stop four riders congregating at the Brampton Valley Way meeting point bedecked in rain legs, overshoes and warm cycling attire.  Brian and I met with two new riders Andrew and Brian (another one!) at the start and were met later at Brixworth by a second Andrew (on a Sully complete with touring kit) who hoped to make this the first of his two CTC rides this weekend!

We cycled steadily, initially through Chapel Brampton and then along the Pitsford Road, over a few “bumps” passing Sedgebrook Hall, towards Harrington in rather damp conditions – but by the time we reached our coffee stop at the Buddhist Centre in Kelmarsh the sun was peeping through and we could appreciate the new spring growth in hedgerows and a myriad of daffadils.  After digesting the centre cafe’s excellent cheese scones and cakes and putting the world to rights, we rode home along a more challenging route, roller-coasting through the Cottesbrooke estate and Creaton, towards Teeton and Holdenby.  By the time we reached the Brampton Valley Way, our final destination, it felt like a different weather day and we rode our separate ways home rather overdressed and hot!

Thanks to Brian for leading the ride and setting the route. I tried out the “Tail End Charlie” job for the first time.  Any feedback would be welcome!

Our next moderate ride is entitled the “Bluebell Ride” and will visit Stowe Dairy Farm Café on Saturday 14th May.  See you there!

A ride for Max Scott – Thursday 16th April

Everyone is invited to join this ride which will be a special occasion.  Thursday would have been Max’s 79th Birthday and his family are coming up from Suffolk to scatter his ashes along a quiet local lane.

Max Scott

             Max Scott

We will meet from 10.30 a.m. at Waterloo Farm Café, Great Oxendon, LE16 8NB. [Grid Ref SP 740 843]

The Ride will proceed to Great Oxendon turning right up the hill then left to Clipston, through the village to turn towards Kelmarsh, cross over A508 towards Harrington to turn left down the hill towards Arthingworth.  Here we will meet up towards the bottom of the hill by the last clump of trees at noon [Grid Ref SP 754 806].  The family will then conduct the scattering of Max’s ashes. Afterwards we shall proceed through Arthingworth up the hill to Desborough for lunch at the Tapas Grill and Wine Bar.  This is attached to “The Ritz” in Station Road, NN14 2RL. [Grid Ref SP 803 833]

Map of ride route

                       Map of ride route

Richard Daniells has circulated these details as there may be quite a few cyclists who are not regular attendees at Thursday Club rides but who may like to come to pay their last respects to Max in a local quiet spot of the kind that Max enjoyed.

As the Tapas Bar only holds approx 30 people, if a large number turn up there are other eating places locally: “The Bulls Head” Arthingworth and “The Tollmache Arms” at Harrington.

We look forward to seeing you on this special occasion and our last link with one of most loyal supporters of and workers for our pastime.

Ride Report – Leisure Plus Ride 19th July

Milton, another ride leader, went on this ride and writes

On a mild damp day, 7 of us met up for a short 30 mile ride to Kelmarsh Buddhist Centre for coffee and cake via Holcott and Harrington and returned to Moulton by means of  Arthingworth and Scaldwell and not the Brampton Valley Way as first planned. Pouring rain during our tea break meant the BVW surface would be less than good for the bikes, and our esteemed Chairman was, after all, out on his fine Bianchi!

A lovely day, even in the wet, and with three first timers, including the visiting Ken from Morecambe, a good club day.

Ride Report – Harrington Thor Missile Site

Ian M went on this ride, organised by Alex and guided on site by Steve, and writes:

Last night’s ride was from our Brampton Valley Way meeting point out to the old airfield at Harrington. There were seven of us on the ride and others also made their way to Harrington so that ten of us met with Alex’s friend Steve for a guided walk over the remains of the airfield with particular reference to the part it played in the Cold War. Most people associate Harrington with American bombing raids over Germany from 1943 (and also perhaps with the dropping of SOE parachutists into occupied Europe) but few perhaps realise the part the airfield played fifteen years later in the Cold War.

Between 1958 and 1963 (that’s from the launch of Sputnik to the Cuban Missile Crisis – the height of Soviet-American tension), Harrington was the home of one of the UK’s Thor Missile installations. It housed three intermediate range ballistic missiles (with a range capable of reaching Moscow) all tipped with nuclear warheads!

Steve met us at the roadside closest to the main WWII runway. He gave us a short introduction, handed out a site plan of the airfield (which he had drawn himself) together with a collection of contemporary photographs, a map of all the other Thor sites, and cutaway drawings of the southernmost launch site and of a Thor missile.

Paying attention to Steve's description - and to his hand-out

Paying attention to Steve’s description – and to his hand-out

Then, having locked our bikes together out of view of the road, we went on a thorough walk (and a thoroughly entertaining walk) of the site. The southernmost of the three missile launch pads is the one that has crumbled away least and it was here that we spent most time. With a guide like Steve, and with his drawings and photos, it was not at all difficult to imagine the buildings and operations as they were over fifty years ago – albeit now there are just a few ruins of buildings and oddly unremarkable marks of the nuclear front line.

Posts and wire from the security fencing

Posts and wire from the security fencing

But, with our guide, we were able to make out very clearly everything from rusting wire (that had been part of the security fencing) to the erecting and launching pad for a missile (shades of Dr Strangelove!).

At the erecting-launching pad

At the erecting-launching pad

There were the scarely visible paint marks which guided the personnel and the marks of the surveys which were used to aim the nuclear weapons.

We walked past the middle and northernmost launch pads towards the part of the site that had been the US compound – and there, looking for all the world like a prefab garage for a minibus, was the warhead store – a building which for a few years had held three nuclear warheads!

Nuclear warhead store

Nuclear warhead store

We met one or two birdwatchers – and a family from Rothwell who had always lived in the area and who remembered what their parents and grandparents had told them about the site. Then, after a good one-a-half hours at the site, it was time to pedal back to Northampton with the opportunity to carry on our discussions with Steve at The Brampton Halt.

Truly a very memorable evening!

Some of Steve’s work can be seen on the Facebook page of the Harrington Thor Preservation Society which is another treat!

Our route is here on RideWithGPS.

Ride Report – “La Petite Étape” – Sunday 11th May

Five Cycling – Report written by Nick (Enid Blyton being unavailable)

Five riders made the rendezvous point at the Windhover/BVW to enjoy the delights of this ride led by Alex (Alex, Miriam, Terry, Milton and Nick).  Maybe it would have been more but the previous evening’s weather forecast was not particularly fair.  As it turned out however the rain had cleared, the sun was out and the wind was blowing.  A great day for drying your washing but an even better one for riding a bike!

We set off in good spirits and headed north through Church Brampton before hitting the hills on the roller-coaster roads heading east from Holdenby through Spratton and up to Brixworth.  Happily each of the hills was easily conquered with the large helping hand supplied by the not inconsiderate tail wind.  It was then north and north-east through the picturesque lanes linking Brixworth to Cottesbrooke and Haselbech.  On the hill up to Haselbech we were reminded of the need for caution when riding near horses when an oncoming beast (with rider) was seriously spooked.  Apparently it was something to do with the sight of Milton’s knees!

Onwards to Naseby and then a seriously fast descent in the direction of Clipston (wind-assisted) but then turning south-east to Kelmarsh and Arthingworth.  From here we climbed the Strava Queen of the Mountains section used in Wednesday’s Stage One of the 2014 Women’s Tour of Britain.  At the top, outside the Tollemache Arms pub, we paused for a breather.  It was at this point that we realised that we had actually ridden three of the four Queen of the Mountain stages used on Stages One and Two of the Women’s Tour.  A little bit of messing about with a smart phone and we were ecstatic to discover that all five of us had ridden two of the sections faster than the professional riders on Wednesday and Thursday had.  FANTASTIC – however, just for the record we did it in the opposite direction …..

Not long after Arthingworth it was pay back time; we turned right and headed south and south-west across the flat land of the former aerodrome at Harrington which put us right into the teeth of the gale!!!  Alex was the leader so we all hid behind him.  We took a hilly detour off this road through Draughton – its a strange day when you prefer including a hill to avoid the flat – but it did cheat the wind.

The tightly formed peleton close to Lamport

The tightly formed peleton close to Lamport

Through the villages of Old, Walgrave, Hannington and Holcot before closing on the destination of Moulton.  Terry and Milton peeled off for home whilst those left enjoyed a coffee at the J-Gallery in Moulton before wending our way home.

Game for a laugh!

Game for a laugh!

Grateful thanks to Alex for leading this ride. It lived up to its name and happily, despite the often ominous clouds scudding along, we did not get rained upon.

The route is here on Garmin Connect.

Ride Report – “Ride the Route” – Sunday 4th May

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.

With the emphasis on the reason for the ride, the mandatory photo at the start featured the 6 ladies at the front.

With the emphasis on the reason for the ride, the mandatory photo at the start featured the ladies at the front.

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.

There was a celebratory photo outside the Guildhall.

There was a celebratory photo outside the Guildhall.

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.

Rutland Ride – Sunday 6th October

Philip Gray leads this ride and writes:
This Sunday’s ride takes us from the gentle hills of The (Northampton)Shire to the remote and craggy Kingdom of Rutlandia. Travelling via Broughton, Rothwell and Rushton, we shall seek refreshment from the good Caterers of East Carlton (Country Park) before entering Rutlandia. Then our route will take us north past Eyebrook Reservoir to sanctuary and a midday meal with the Travelling People (whom some call the Camp-Caravanners) of Sweet Hedges.
We will return through the seductive Vale of Welland and hamlets of Medbourne and Weston, to the hidden Dale of Dingley, before re-entering the Shire by a little-known route and tackling the gradual ascent to the plateau of Harrington and Lamport. From there it is a brief down, up and down back to Moulton.
Assuming we do not fall victim to any Orcs, Nazgul or the rumoured Worm of Uppingham, we shall have covered 55 miles and around 1000 metres of climbing by our return.
If you feel called to this adventure as one of the Fellowship of the Flying Wheel, please gather at the Co-op in Moulton on Sunday 6 October. As this is a longish and slightly arduous route, I would like to leave promptly at 9.30 am, so please aim to be there at 9.15.
Please let Philip know if you have any questions. Tel 01604 720522 or email philip.g@ctc-northampton.org.uk.

Ride Report – Saturday 20th June – Petite Etape de Northants

Brian (our Rides Secretary) went on this ride led by Alex and writes:
On the day the Tour de France covered the same route as this years Etape (successfully completed by our own member Philip Gray two weeks ago) Alex had lined up a hilly route for a brisk morning ride. The challenge was 2600ft and 35 miles. At the end Alex extended the route to just complete a total of  3000ft of ascent according to his GPS logger. A mere trifle compared with real Etape I suspect.
Six riders, including a new CTC member Terry, set out from the Brampton Valley Way / Welford Road meeting place at 9.30 a.m. in cloudy and cool conditions. This lasted throughout the ride and made for very pleasant cycling compared with the previous few days, although potentially the forecast was hot.
The route took us through Holdenby, Spratton and Brixworth in a series of undulations to Cottesbrooke where we had a brief spell on the flat before the long climb up to Haselbach.  Then we pedalled a short stretch to Nasby before turning down to Clipston and then to Kelmarsh. A slight problem was a sign that the road to Kelmarsh was closed over the weekend but we pressed on to find that the reason was a major event at Kelmarsh Hall with a one way system for traffic to its car park. Luckily we were able to walk the short stretch to the A508 and cross to Arthingworth. More hills followed in a loop to Harrington on some very pleasant narrow roads.
Whilst we were bidding farewell to Iain – he left to pedal to Kettering – an elderly gentleman cyclist passed us on his way to a wedding (not his) in Harrington. A drop into Draughton and then up to Lamport Hall before more gentle undulations through Old and Hannington and then the final few hills and a short detour to complete 3000ft of ascent before ending at Moulton.
We arrived at the J Gallery Café in the village at 12.30 p.m. for a welcome cup of tea in the gardens. Alex’s Bianchi kit was much admired by the other customers who were cycling-friendly.

(l to r) David, Alex and Brian in the J Gallery Café garden

(l to r) David, Alex and Brian in the J Gallery Café garden

Many thanks to Alex for planning and leading a very pleasant ride through quiet picturesque Northamptonshire lanes. A route definitely to be recommended.

Brian Tunbridge, our Secretary will be leading this ride and writes:
We meet at 9.30 a.m. at Moulton Co-op for a ride of about 45 miles to Braybrooke and back.
Our route goes via Holcot, Old, Draughton and Harrington to Braybrooke.  We’ll come back via Market Harborough, Clipston, Kelmarsh (brunch), Naseby,  Guilsborough and Brixworth.  Quite hilly,  all on mostly quiet roads.
Could Sunday be the start of the Spring weather?
With only one planned stop for sustenance at the Kelmarsh Naganjuna cafe, please bring a snack as a top up along the way.
More information from Brian on 01604 622073  (or 07722 055149 on the day).

Report – Ride on Saturday 12th January

Iain Dawson, our Rides Secretary, went on this ride led by Philip Gray and writes:

On a chilly, but ice- and snow- free morning, eight of us (Hi Alex, Hi Kieran) gathered outside the Co-op in Moulton for the first ‘brisk’ ride of the year.

Our leader, Mr Gray, had planned us a route that he said didn’t involve too many hills but the lack of hills didn’t really matter as we were soon getting our exercise thanks to a stiff easterly blowing straight into our faces. Oddly, it seemed less of a wind when it was behind us.

Having made it up to Broughton fairly easily, and from there past the old airfield at Harrington to Kelmarsh, we hit slightly lumpier territory climbing out of Kelmarsh (no stopping for tea!) and down to Maidwell where we regrouped. From there, back roads through Draughton and Scaldwell took us over a few more lumps before we crossed Pitsford on the causeway to make the J-Gallery in Moulton in good time for a coffee.

Thanks to Philip for planning such an inventive route, and to Phil Letts for keeping watch at the back of the group. Hopefully we’ll see more of you on the next rides, including Phil Letts’ brisk ride on February 2nd.