Report from our Man in the Mountains

CTC Northampton member Phil L loves his camper van and riding his bike up high mountains.  He reported for us in summer 2012 (“Mountain Pass Junkie”).  This year he writes:

I’m up in the High Alps, Bourgeois d’Oisans, the centre of the cycling universe!  Am sure you’ve been here yourself and of course everything is in preparation for the TdF which comes through next Thursday, 23rd.  I don’t often get good wifi but it’s ok here.
I had a few days down in Provence – Bedoin – to do Mont Ventoux the conventional way which was ok, despite there being hundreds of cyclists churning their way up!  Was going to do it the next day a different route and got a few miles up when the rear dérailleur on my Trek gave up the ghost, fell apart, chain snapped etc. so a longish walk/ scoot back to camp.  Was touched by the number of cyclists who stopped to see if I needed help – one Dutch guy even offered me an emergency chain link to get back.  Wasn’t too far though.  The bike has done well over 2 months I suppose and is going to need a whole new drive train so I thought I would wait til I get home to get it done and switch to the MTB. Nobody rides a Trek over here and with one busy bike shop in the village it would be an expensive wait for parts I guess.

Top of Alpe d'HuezJPG

Top of Alpe d’Huez

Col du Glandon

Col du Glandon

So I came up here to do some of the TdF passes.  Did the Alpe d’Huez the other day along with hundreds of others and yesterday the Glandon and Croix de Fer.

On Alpe d'Huez

On Alpe d’Huez

Col de la Croix de Fer

Col de la Croix de Fer

Done them all before but not on a MTB which I have to say was fun.  When you’re churning uphill, those extra gears are pretty handy.  I am amazed how many riders are doing these passes with a compact and rear cassette with too high a ratio – hardly moving some of them.  You’ve got to spin up in my book.  Need a front 50/34 and 32 rear at least which of course a MTB will have.

Col de Sarenne

Col de Sarenne

Anyway, the motor-homers have already moved in to “bag” the best lay-bys and viewing spots; some have already been here a week!  The gendarmes are being a bit stricter this year and insisting that up the Alpe you can only park on some bends and you have to face downhill – to avoid the million point turns that have to be made to get down I suppose.

Alpe d'Huez from above

Alpe d’Huez from above

Phil's  home for two months!

Phil’s home for two months!

The roads maintenance people are out mending guard rails, resurfacing, cutting back verges and sweeping.  (Makes me think we need a couple of TdF stages in UK every year to put our roads right!)  And there are a host of road closures and deviations coming up so I have to keep an eye those ‘cos I have a date with Mr. Froome up in Paris for the Champs Élysées finish next week and I don’t want to get grounded / hemmed in and stuck here!
I’ll be back for the London-Surrey 100; great to think CTC Northampton has at least six riders in it – almost a TdF Team peloton!

Don’t forget: you can sponsor Phil in the London-Surrey 100 here!  He’s using his place to raise funds for Headway Northampton.

Report – 10th Annual Guy Barber Ride to St Neots – 12th July

Brian, our Rides Secretary, was one of the organisers of this event and writes:

Eight riders gathered at the Canoe Centre for this annual event.  Numbers were down on previous years but the mix was still 50-50 members from CTC Northampton and CTC Milton Keynes. Big thanks to Colin Bishop for turning out to do the registration and collect donations for the Headway Charity.

This was not a led ride but with a small group we all set off and stayed together throughout the ride which was at a comfortable pace (we still averaged just under 14mph).  It was cloudy at the start with a tail wind and we made good progress, deciding by mutual consent to forego coffee at Thurleigh and get to lunch early.  Near St Neots the sun came out and when we arrived at the Market Square we enjoyed sitting outside the café eating various options from their cooked breakfast menu.

It was tempting to dwell longer in the sun but then there was the odd spot of rain so we hastened to set out on the return loop.  The rain did not materialize and even cycling into the headwind was not too bad on the very quiet leafy lanes.

With most of the return leg cracked we were only a few miles from Poddington, looking forward to afternoon tea when the heavens opened and we got well and truly soaked.  Fortunately Poddington let us in, where we met another CTC group from MK who had just arrived before the rain.  We watched the continuing deluge from the shelter of the café.
With signs of a break in the cloud we set off again with Tim and Sylvia joining the MK group. Just before we arrived at the Canoe Centre the rain returned but that did not dampen our spirits and we all agreed it had been a very good day in the saddle.

Ride Report – Ninth Annual Guy Barber Ride – Sunday 13th July

Bill, our Treasurer, organised this ride and writes:

Numbers taking part = 18. We raised £90 for Headway Charity though a cheque for £100 was forwarded to them.

Though eighteen took part, sadly, this year we had no female presence. Not sure off-hand if this was a first …

Of the eighteen, there was one new CTC member: Hartley from Northampton. We had Phil from St. Andrews Hospital who worked with Guy and is a close friend of the Barber family. It was good to have him on board. Also with us was Harry from Milton Keynes, who would win the prize of the elder statesman with us. I believe he is around the 73-74 years of age so should Harry read this, well done! We raise our helmets to you. [John, another regular rider, adds: “Phil was the old rider I think. At 78 he rode from Milton Keynes and back as well!”]

The other riders were a mix of Northampton, Milton Keynes and one CTC member from Wellingborough. Most of you have supported this ride over the last 9 years and the fact that you still do is very much appreciated by the benefactors Headway.

Riders gathering early at the start

Riders gathering early at the start

As for the ride itself, it is always a ride that produces great spirit… The ride through the east side of the county as it heads for Bedfordshire through the villages of Sharnbrook and Thurleigh to name but two, just seem to fly by effortlessly, with a constant chatter of voice and the sounds of gears and wheels. As is normal on this ride the bunch splits with some stopping and enjoying the fayre at Thurleigh (the healthy food option) while others prefer to get the bulk of the ride behind them and they press on to St. Neots. As usual the groups meet at St. Neots at The Market Café for a short exchange of pleasantries of the ride encountered thus far.

The split at St. Neots continued, only the split of two groups became three. Then as the ride heads for home the chatter recedes as it progresses on the road towards Kimbolton. This is always a sign that a headwind is encountered and so it proved to be… Poddington Garden Centre is always a welcome break from that constant element, and an enjoyable stop for afternoon coffee.

The final miles back to Northampton seem to fly by. As far as I am aware, no p*nct*res were experienced though we did have one mechanical problem to deal with, soon put to rights by John and George ….

So in conclusion, the question must be asked, what will the 10th G.B. memorial ride bring? We wait to find out. Hopefully we may enjoy the company of a few female riders along with all the usual suspects who have supported this event over the years …

Many thanks on behalf of Headway!

[The 65-miles route is here on RideWithGPS]


The Guy Barber Memorial Ride – Sunday 1st July

Bill Simpson is the organiser of this event and he writes:

We start from the Holiday Inn Hotel opposite the canoe centre on Bedford Road.  There is a public car park available on the left of the hotel.  Register from 9.10 a.m.  Depart at 9.30 a.m.

The total distance for the circular route (via St Neots) is 68 miles.

Entry registration fee = £5. All money will be forwarded to the charity “Headway”.

Route sheet available, though there are two leaders to guide at hand.  Iain Dawson for a slower group and myself for a quicker group

Hopefully it will be warmer and less windy than has been the case in recent weeks..

Looking forward to seeing you there!