Iain D, our Rides Secretary, writes:
Phil L led this ride and writes:
I think for the four of us who rode today, it was quite refreshing to ride a fair bit off-road and without having to constantly be on the lookout for wayward drivers. So, having dusted off our mountain bikes, we took a route in the morning sunshine which linked the parks of Delapre, Becketts, Sixfields, Upton, Hunsbury Hill and Grange emerging not far from Salcey Forest for a loop of the woods and a coffee stop.
Our return via bridleway to Piddington and Brackmills Cycle Network didn’t take too long despite some interesting wheel-gripping sections of mud on-route.
An enjoyable change. So a “New Year’s” resolution: do more off road!
Iain, our rides secretary, went on this ride led by Phillip G and writes:
An overcast start to the morning meant that we would, at least, be riding without fear of drivers being blinded by the sun. It also meant that our leader had much to do to keep us motivated. Seven of us were motivated enough to be there at the start but there had been mention of shortcuts.
We departed East Hunsbury fairly briskly on the usual route out through Blisworth to Roade and from there past the pub at Ashton where the Christmas meal is being held this year. There did seem to be a fair amount of mud on the junctions round here, not that it caused us any problems, but it is that time of year so take a bit of care if you’re out that way.
We made it over the rail line to Long Street in good time and nobody opted for the shortcut, so Phillip’s route must have been keeping our spirits up, besides which it wasn’t cold enough to cause problems – once you’re moving, that is. It was rather chilly whenever we stopped.
We looped south through Hanslope and back up again to Stoke Goldington, passing Olney signs on the way, before escaping from the Milton Keynes district to cut across the middle of Salcey Forest and head to the café for coffee. The café was doing good trade for a winter’s morning and there were even a couple of non-cyclists in there, though they were hugely outnumbered.
Between Salcey and Quinton, we passed the construction entrance for the M1 Windfarm that’s currently under development and which will boast nine smaller-than-planned turbines by the time it’s finished. At Quinton the group split. Riders from the east side of town opted to avoid the west turn to Courteenhall, as did Rowan who, with a dangling front light, was opting for the shortest route home, leaving a much reduced group to brave the A508 between two lovely stretches of country lane. That road doesn’t get any better, which is a shame because the lanes to and from it are lovely and very quiet.
The stretch back through Blisworth to East Hunsbury brought us up to the 29 mile mark, according to my route planner, rounding off a very pleasant, briskish, winter’s morning ride.
Thanks to Phillip for organising the route.
Philip G will be leading this ride and writes:
Iain D went on this ride, led by Ian M, and writes:
First thing on Sunday morning, things were looking decidedly autumnal. The air was cool and damp and it hadn’t long finished raining. One breakfast later, I was headed over to East Hunsbury, not bothering to dodge the showers as they were very light and wondering whether we’ve been spoiled by all the recent sunshine. Crossing Northampton, it all dried up and, in fact, we didn’t see another drop of rain all day after that.
It was still quite cool though as the three of us assembled for a ride that promised some new roads, Banbury being an area we seldom visit.
Following Ian’s newly acquired Garmin box, we headed out through Tiffield and Greens Norton to Sulgrave Manor for elevenses (and received a much warmer welcome than last time!) and it was still autumnal enough to justify their “ye olde 16th century hot chocolate” – interesting blend – before heading on to Middleton Cheney and the local golf club for lunch, by which time, of course, the sun was out and it was getting rather warm and summery once more.
Note to webmaster: it’s worth adding the golf club to our list of food stops. All-Day veggie breakfast is great value.
Having navigated the hitherto unseen “Barley Hill” in Culworth on the return leg, we were FORCED by the heat to stop at Canons Ashby, where we ran into a couple making the most of the long weekend on their Pino tandem (if you’ve never heard of one,
I’m sure Ian will be posting his GPS trace up as well, to see how the two compare.
I’m afraid the rest of you missed out on a rather decent ride!
Just a quick reminder:
- Meet at 9.30 a.m. at Overslade Close, Hunsbury
- Elevenses at Sulgrave Manor (18 miles)
- Lunch – bar snacks – at Cherwell Edge Golf Club (25 miles)
- Tea stop – if wanted – at Canons Ashby (33 miles)
- Return to Hunsbury (47 miles)
Ian M will be leading this ride on Sunday and writes:
Iain Dawson, our Rides Secretary, went on this ride and writes:
Heading out into the wind, we worked our way down through Stoke Bruerne, past the southern tip of Towcester and onto the lanes that lie between Paulerspury and Milton Keynes, passing a familiar Sustrans face heading the other way, before Brian navigated us down into Buckingham while managing to avoid traffic completely.
Looking for coffee in Buckingham, we wandered into a courtyard arrangement, similar to where we go in Olney, which held not just a brasserie/bistro but also a bike shop. The shop staff made it clear that there are only two decent places in which to get coffee in Buckingham, and there was nowhere to park bikes within sight of one of them. That left the bistro in the courtyard as the other (and our preferred) choice. Highly recommended, especially for Canadian-style pancakes.
A couple of mini-roundabouts and a short climb saw us out of Buckingham and on the straight, and very grand, approach to Stowe Park but rather than head into the grounds we skirted round them for a short stretch before turning off towards Biddlesdon and thence to Syresham, which appeared to have been taken over by scarecrows for the weekend. From there, the plan was to head up through Helmdon to Sulgarve Manor for lunch but this was a little scuppered when we discovered that the road to Helmdon was closed. After a quick review of the map, it was determined that we could simply do the other two sides of the square so we were stuck on the main road a little longer than had been anticipated, but when we finally turned off it: Tailwind!
Sulgrave was also busy, it being open garden weekend. (And also open-your-car-door-without-looking weekend! Don’t ride too close to parked cars).
Lunch was, I have to say, a disappointment. We’ve been to Sulgrave over and over again and it’s always been fairly reasonable but not so on this trip. I don’t know why it’s changed but changed it has and much for the worse. Thank heavens for coffee-stop pancakes.
Brian had cunningly contrived to make the home leg of the route tailwind-assisted all the way so we made excellent time back to Northampton, Greens Norton’s signpost deficit notwithstanding. Sadly, it wasn’t quite an excellent enough time to prevent us from getting drenched on the A45 cycle path. It seems that the weather had got fed up with us ducking under trees for a couple of minutes when it threw a light shower down and decided to throw everything it had at us when there was no shelter around. It was going alright up until then.
Iain Dawson, our Rides Secretary will be leading this ride and writes:
This Sunday we’ll be heading over to the west of the county and through the village of Eydon. There’s no special reason for visiting that spot, although I’m sure it’s lovely, but it will give us a chance to try out a different mix of lanes to those we usually ride on.
Total distance is a shade over 50 miles (12 m.p.h. average speed at a steady pace), elevenses will be at Canons Ashby, lunch in Towcester and the weather looks set to continue fine into the weekend so I’ll see you all on Sunday – start at East Hunsbury (Overslade Close, by the library, NN4 0RZ) at 9.30 a.m.
Iain is on 07909 992468