Report: Annual Guy Barber Memorial Ride, Sunday 23 July, in aid of Headway Northampton

Our Secretary Brian did much of the organising of this year’s Guy Barber Ride and he reports:

Now in its 12th year this challenging ride attracted eighteen riders from the CTC groups in Northampton, Milton Keynes and Kettering.  This was the first year of a route to Oxford with two start options of Northampton and Buckingham giving three rides of 94, 66 or 55 miles, all meeting up at Oxford for lunch.

Despite the early morning drizzle ten riders left East Hunsbury at 8.30 a.m. for the first leg to Buckingham of the 94-mile ride.  This took us on mainly quiet roads through Blisworth, Pury End and Leckhampstead.  The drizzle stopped, and the sun emerged from the cloudy skies, as the group made Buckingham at 9.45am. Perfect timing to meet the eight MK riders who had cycled out from Stony Stratford and beyond.

The Northampton group set off for the first café stop seven miles away in Twyford whilst the remaining group signed in and left a little later.  An early puncture close to the start split the second group and this was further split when the Community Café at Twyford had unexpectedly closed that morning.  The shop was open but, after a brief stop for snacks, the first group motored on to Oxford leaving a second group to pick up the punctured riders.

As we meandered through the small villages of Marsh Gibbon, Piddington, Boarstal and Stanton St John, there was little traffic on the roads.  The sun came out and we had ideal cycling weather.

Oxford “arrived” when we met the ring road, a dual-carriageway roundabout with a couple of underpasses.  Then we were through Headingley on a separate cycle path at and then onto marked tracks alongside the main road.   After a steep hill down into the centre of Oxford. it was only a short distance to Café Couscous for lunch.  Just to add to the “best laid plans” the last stretch of road before the café was closed for road works.  So much for the recent reconnoitre!

The first group arrived at noon and had just finished lunch as the second group arrived at 1.00 p.m.  This was good timing for the café.  The forecasted midday rain did not materialise and we enjoyed sun and blue skies at the café.

One rider's lunch at Café Couscous - vegetarian tagine!

One rider’s lunch at Café Couscous: vegetarian tagine!

The first group took the route back to Northampton via Islip, Kirtlington, the Heyfords and on to Aynho where Ian peeled off to Buckingham and a stop at Stowe Park for tea (the only rider to complete the 66m route) whilst the rest rode on to Farthinghoe for the last café stop.  Only twenty-two miles now, on familiar quiet roads, back to Northampton via Helmdon, Wappenham and Greens Norton. This group arrived in Northampton at around 5.00 p.m.

The second group finished a very good lunch by 2.00 p.m. and split for the return journey.  The MK riders returned via Beckley, Brill (hill !), Ludgershall and onto Buckingham, stopping at the Green Dragon Eco Centre near East Claydon for tea and possibly even cakes!

This left 4 riders to return via Islip and a detour via Brackley for tea and cookies, sitting in the late afternoon sun outside a café before returning to the original route to Northampton arriving at 6.15 p.m.

A donation of £85 has been sent to http://www.headwaynorthampton.org.uk/

Who was Guy Barber ? Please see our web site http://www.ctc-northampton.org.uk/history.html

Thanks to all who supported this event.

Ride Report – MK Loop

IainD, our chair, led this ride and writes

Six riders gathered outside the Canoe Centre for our first post-summertime ride of the year with no-one admitting to forgetting to put their clocks back or turning up an hour early even though some did turn up suspiciously early.

We headed through town alongside the river and out to Banbury Lane by way of Duston Park and then on to Gayton, where we were joined by another pair of riders.

The coffee stop in Towcester was the source of much confusion and dismay. Not only has the Dolphin Café closed :-(, the cafés in the immediate vicinity aren’t open on Sundays and there’s no bike parking at Costa. I strongly recommend that if you’re stopping for refreshments in Towcester now, you bring a decent lock because you can no longer keep your bike in sight while, erm, refreshing. Also, the approach from Green’s Norton supposedly involves following large yellow signs saying “Bridleway” to guide you over the A43. Follow them if you’re up for a bit of roughstuff. We stuck to tarmac and used the roundabout, as usual. Your choice …

Once free of the A5 in Towcester, we got to enjoy the lanes that lie south of the town, out to Deanshanger and Passenham before avoiding redways of any description through Milton Keynes, although that was, perhaps, a mixed blessing as Wolverton Road doesn’t have the smoothest of surfaces, speaking of which we then left Milton Keynes by way of Linford Lakes, on a road famed in this group for the quality of its surface.

And now it’s gravel, with “gates” that we don’t understand:

Bunny Hops ?

Gate at Linford Lakes

Still, we got through and made our way out over the M1 and up through the Tyringham estate before arriving in Olney, bang on schedule. In the café’s courtyard, we even caught a Pokémon! (Note to readers – if anyone knows what that is, an explanation would be appreciated – Ed).

We had an uneventful run back through Yardley Hastings, with some members of the group choosing the directness of the Bedford Road over the  scenery of the Castle Ashby route, but we were all back, as it was said we should be, by 4pm.

Cycling doesn’t stop when the clocks go back!

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]

 

Ride report – Bank Holiday ride to Milton Keynes

Iain D, our Rides Secretary, led this ride and writes:

With the planned route involving redways and their bollards, and this being the first anniversary of our ride to Monschau (blog readers can remind themselves of that day’s events here), I was a little apprehensive at the start, especially given the fog that had settled over Northamptonshire.

We were joined by a few of the regular crew, one occasional member and a new rider who also teaches spin classes! And I’d got such a gentle ride planned.

The seven of us took the usual route out from East Hunsbury towards Towcester, cut across the A5 south of town to Whittlebury and then had a pleasant and trouble-free run into Potterspury where we arrived for elevenses, at eleven o’clock, just as the shop was opening for the day.

Refreshed, and with the GPS now running (!), we headed off to Deanshanger and the lanes west of Milton Keynes before turning towards the conurbation itself. With thanks to Google Streetview, we found our desired redway fairly painlessly. This was important as that particular redway should, in theory, have delivered us all the way across MK directly onto the Willen Lake promenade. Alternating between wooded/grassy areas and some of the less salubrious housing estates, it actually made good on its promise and we arrived, unscathed, at Willen Lake not 50 yards from lunch. This pleased Milton immensely.

It being a sunny Bank Holiday Monday, there was a bit of a wait for food but since we’d bagged ourselves a table out in the sun we weren’t too fussed. It seemed better to wait than to ride back in towards the town centre.

Navigating away from lunch was harder, but we headed north on the redways then west across Great Linford to pick up the Millennium Cycleway then the Grand Union canal north out of town. That lane is now more cratered than ever, and just north of the bridge it’s a little muddy, but still usable. I hear it flooded a bit over the winter which doesn’t surprise me.

We were resting up in Hanslope a short while later, taking on a few mouthfuls of water, when a large 4×4 pulled over. The window came down and we thought we knew what was coming next. What they actually wanted to know was whether we were all okay or whether we needed any assistance! That doesn’t normally happen …

The group split in Quinton, those from the east side of town opting to avoid the town centre, leaving the rest of us to make our way back to East Hunsbury and the end of a very pleasant day’s riding.

The route for the (last 2/3rds of) the day is here. I forgot to turn the GPS on at the start (oops) and, interestingly, it failed to pause itself at Willen Lake. That does seem to be a recurrent issue there. Maybe MK messes up GPS somehow?

Bank Holiday ride – Monday 21st April

Iain Dawson, our Rides Secretary, is leading this ride and writes:

Easter Eggs! Burn them off on the Easter Monday Bank Holiday ride.

We’ll be rolling through the wooded lanes south of Whittlebury, stopping for elevenses at Wakefield Farm in Potterspury and heading out to the west of Milton Keynes before testing the ride leader’s navigation skills on the MK Redways as we try to find Willen Lake and lunch.

If we’re successful, we’ll then leave Milton Keynes by way of Mill Road and Hanslope before passing through Salcey Forest on our way back into Northampton.

All up, it should total about 55 not-too-strenuous miles.

We meet in Overslade Close, East Hunsbury, at 9.30 on Monday morning (NOT Sunday!)

Ride Report – Saturday 23rd November

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.

Ride Report – Sunday 23rd June – Stowe Park Loop

Iain Dawson, our Rides Secretary, went on this ride and writes:

For various reasons, not least of which may have been the damp and dismal weather forecast, only three of us turned out for Sunday’s Stowe Park Loop ride. This was disappointing but we are nearing peak season for other cycle-related activities so perhaps it’s not too surprising that turnout was low. Brian, David and I enjoyed ourselves though.

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.

Thanks to Brian for a different and interesting route. The full details are to be found here, with a bit extra (although don’t believe all you read there. It appears to show us getting lost, exceeding 100 mph and climbing a mere 2000 feet)!
See you next time and don’t forget Wednesday’s BBQ,