Ride report – Saturday 16th July

Brian went on this ride led by Iain D and writes:

A select group of four riders left Moulton at 9.00 a.m. on an overcast but warm and humid morning for a full day’s ride.  Soon after Sywell we met rolling hills through Mears Ashby, Castle Ashby and on to Olney, on relatively quiet roads.   Here we stopped for coffee and sat outside in the café courtyard enjoying toasted tea cakes as the sun came out.  Showing just how small the world is Anne and Ken discovered that they had both grown up in the same area of Lancashire.  The hills of Northamptonshire apparently have nothing on those in the north west!!  This was to be well tested later in the ride.

From Olney we headed north-east to Turvey and on to Carlton where we did a loop to Odell, Sharnbrook and through the picturesque village of Bletsoe before we turned back though Milton Ernest and more quiet roads.  We returned to the Emmaus Centre at Carlton for lunch at 1.00 p.m.  The weather was now warming up with blue skies and highs of 23C.  We were ready for a break.

After a very convivial lunch we headed up to Poddington and Wollaston before dropping into the Nene valley at Great Doddington.  From here it was all uphill via Wilby to Sywell which was the highest point on the ride, not that it was an obvious summit finish.

We arrived in Moulton at 3.45 p.m. after a pleasant day in the saddle.  Ideal cycling weather, summer at last!  Thanks to Iain for devising and leading the ride.

Ride report – Sunday 3rd July

Our new – for July & August – start time of 9.00 a.m. saw 13 riders congregate in Moulton for a planned 64-mile round trip to Oundle.  The sky was cloudy but it was warm, it was dry and we had a slight tailwind for the outward leg. In fact, all looked well for a great day’s riding.

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Gathering outside Moulton Co-Op for the start

Did I mention there were 13 of us?

We hit potholes and had an off while we were still in Moulton! Very unpleasant for Colin!

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You might not see the pothole in the shade …

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… but it caused us grief!

We were rolling again after a few minutes, with Colin gamely opting to continue the ride, and ran to Harrowden without incident where the route was altered slightly to avoid the unmade surface of Furnace Lane, given that we’d already had problems and lot of riders were on 23s, but that did allow us to rendezvous with a fourteenth rider on The Slips near Irthlingborough and we had an problem-free run then all the way through to Oundle.

When we got there, it was packed.  The cafés were overflowing with cyclists and there were bikes parked four-deep in places.  Fortunately the Coffee Tavern had upstairs space for us and we managed to get ourselves fed and watered and ready for the next leg.  One of our number left us at this point to return directly home complaining that she hadn’t done enough mileage this year.  She doesn’t know what she missed.

If you’re the ride leader, it pays to keep an eye on the map to ensure that the ride goes where you said it would go.  Our ride leader – me – didn’t bother, having memorised the route the night before, and so the route didn’t exactly go where it was planned to!  In fact we added a few miles of tarmac between Oundle and East Carlton that weren’t in the original plan at all.  (Sorry!)  But it was good tarmac and people seemed to enjoy it so no harm done.  Might as well take advantage of the weather when we can, eh?

Also, since we were passing the bottom of Rockingham Hill, we allowed those up for the challenge the chance to tackle the climb.  I mean, it’s not like we get out there every week is it?  And we had a few fast riders who felt they wanted a go so why not?  In total, six tackled the climb, including Dave who was probably keen to try out the new bike on a proper hill.

East Carlton was again busy, though sadly not with cyclists, but we did get a couple of tables out in the sun, the clouds long since having disappeared.

The final leg saw us back from East Carlton by way of Harrington where the group finally split.  Some of the faster riders continued straight through back to Moulton, others dived in to the Tollemache Arms to refill water bottles and such like, but we all made it back to Moulton in one piece, some of us having clocked 74 miles, some 75 (it’s that hill at Rockingham).

All in all, a good day’s ride (Colin’s early mishap excepted) with decent pace (13+ mph even at the back of the group), plenty of new roads and views unfamiliar to us and I promise I’ll keep an eye on the map for the next ride I lead.

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An appropriate refreshment in the garden of the Artichoke in Moulton at the end of the ride!

Ride Report – Saturday 11th June

Brian reports (with photo by Anne):

Nine riders gathered at Moulton Co-Op at 9.30 a.m. for one of our Saturday-morning moderately-paced rides.  We hope these rides will encourage cyclists with some experience to join in a group ride perhaps for the first time.  We certainly welcomed two new riders along with some regular riders.

An early decision – agreed by all – was to avoid the gravel at Pitsford and take the reservoir causeway on the road from Holcot to Brixworth which turned out to be relatively traffic-free at that time of day.

Beyond that and we were into quiet roads through Scaldwell and Lamport and on to the single track road down to Draughton.  Time for a quick photo, courtesy of Anne, and then we were back on the rolling hills through Loddington, Cransley and Broughton before making use of the short section of cycle path along the A43 to get us to the Walgrave turn.ctc-june2016

Not far now and we were at Manvell Farm Café where we received a friendly welcome.  It had been overcast most of the ride although it was quite warm.  As we sat outside enjoying coffee and large, indulgent slices of cake, the sun broke through (obviously on the righteous).  I couldn’t help thinking that this is what cycling is all about.

It was only a short ride back to Moulton which we made by 12.30 p.m.

Ride report – Sunday 15th May

Tim, our webmaster, went on this ride and writes:

Eight riders congregated at Moulton Co-op for Brian’s “Steady ride to Saddington”, including five who had been out on the previous day’s “Moderate ride to Everdon Stubbs”. Amongst this keen group of five was new rider Elspeth.

We were blessed with a fine late spring day with only the occasional blast of cold wind to dampen our spirits.  We headed out northwards via the familiar villages of Holcot, Walgrave & Old and on through Harrington and Braybrooke before alighting at our morning refreshment stop at Farndon Fields Farm Shop where we indulged in a variety of tea, coffee, cakes, scones & the like to prepare us for the hillier challenges ahead.

After a short section through the outskirts of Market Harborough we were once again treated to quiet country lanes with mostly other cyclists and the odd horse for company. Our relaxed cycling was brought to an abrupt halt however by Laughton Hill, aptly surveyed by the OS to have a gradient of between 14% and 20%.  It felt every bit of this as we slowly spun our way to the top where there was a very welcome pause to re-group, have a drink, nibble an energy bar and generally get our breath back.

Quite a long and hilly section then followed as we wended our way north to Saddington and then back south, passing through North Kilworth and Sibbertoft where Nick left our group to head home; and so it was that seven tired cyclists arrived at our lunch stop at Naseby Old Vicarage Tea Room.  The ladies were relieved that we were late to arrive (being around 2 p.m. at this point) as they “had had a very busy day”.  We had the place to ourselves so could seek out the sunniest spots to rest our tired limbs.  Their “busy day” had left its impact on the menu choice – thankfully though, there was just enough to go round even if the bacon butties had to be rationed.

Once replete, we set off on the home leg to Moulton, taking the shortest (and least hilly) route through Guilsborough, Church Brampton and Boughton.

All in all a lovely day’s cycling and many thanks to Brian for organising and leading the ride.

Ride report – Saturday 23rd April

Brian, our Secretary, went on this ride led by Iain D, our chair, and writes (in poetical mood):

It was good to see ten riders assembled outside the Co-op in Moulton.  Despite the glorious sunny morning there was a distinct absence of shorts given the cool wind.  This was both St George’s Day and the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth.  As we had a Welsh ride leader, with a Scottish actor on board, the rest of the group showed great restraint in not shouting as we left Moulton:

Straining upon the start.  The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry “God for Harry, England, and Saint George!” (Henry V)

The plan was to ride to Holcot as a group and then let riders decide how to group to continue.  We easily agreed three groups: Brisk (3), Steady (3) and Moderate (4).

We had been promised some hills en route which we duly encountered.  Most were down then up as we dropped into the many river valleys around this part of Northamptonshire, with fast descents giving a bit of help on the ‘up’.  We soon navigated Hannington, Pytchley, Broughton and on to Great Cransley.  The entrance to Green Trunks Garden Centre for the café stop was well hidden down a gravel track.  Although the restaurant was being refurbished we were given a warm welcome and some “cyclist-size” mugs of tea.
Suitably refreshed we continued in our three groups to Loddington and on to Orton where we turned for home.

Up until now we had been riding into a somewhat icy, northerly wind.  But all this changed as we rode on with a tail wind, sun and blue skies.  We sailed along quiet roads (some single track) via Mawsley and Old to Brixworth, then back to Holcot across the reservoir and on to Moulton.  Given the opportunity for some short cuts, all three groups managed to meet up at Moulton within 10 minutes or so at the end.

Suitably dressed it was a great morning for a ride. Thanks to Iain for planning the route and leading the charge.

Ride report – Sunday 6th March

Milton went on this ride led by Tim and writes:

Seven of us set off from Moulton on a cold, (3-4 degrees) but dry and fairly wind free morning. We were a little late as Ian Mac, not riding on this particular day, but resplendent as ever on his titanium steed, had popped across to wish us bon voyage.

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Gathering at the start, outside Moulton Co-Op.

Through Sywell and on to Little Harrowden we took the the lovely ‘Slips’ route to Finedon the edges of which we skirted, then up through Burton Latimer on to Orlingbury then to Broughton, to Loddington, a lovely route through Braybrooke, and eventually to the edges of Market Harborough when we finally found ourselves, in the middle of a storm of sleet, at our coffee stop at Waterloo Farm.  Cold and tired after 35 miles non-stop we entered the warm welcoming building and found all tables pre-booked for ‘Mother’s Day’ lunches, but we were welcome to sit outside and they’d do some bacon sandwiches for us.

Oddly enough, the sun came out, the sandwiches and cakes appeared quickly and we rather enjoyed the stop.  They couldn’t serve us indoors but did their best to tend to us with great efficiency outside.

Back on the bikes to as direct a trip home as possible via Kelmarsh, Lamport and Walgrave. Tired legs meant the group split a little on the homeward leg, but we all met up at Moulton before wending our ways home.

In all, some 52 miles, 2,700 feet of climbing and the first lot home managed to average 14.8 mph, which wasn’t bad going.

A fine trip with lots of little known rural tracks which are always a treat, although the coffee stop was much needed when it finally arrived.

Thanks to Iain D for devising the route and for Tim who led it in Iain’s absence.

Ride Report – Sunday 21st February

Iain D, our Chairman, led this ride and writes:

By 9.30 a.m. on Sunday, a group of eight cyclists had assembled by Moulton Co-Op.  I say “by 9.30” as everyone had turned out early.  Whether that was down to the allure of a day’s ride in unseasonably warm temperatures or just due to the strong wind blowing up from town, I don’t know.

We had that wind at our backs as we headed away from Moulton towards Sywell, through Earls Barton and down over the Hardwater crossing of the Nene.  The road from Wollaston to Irchester provided a bit of a challenge for the lighter riders as we’d shifted round so that the wind was now coming from the side.  In gusts.  Straight lines were not the order of the day.

But we survived and Geoff, temporarily taking the lead, guided us through Higham Ferrers and out along the newly-surfaced Greenway over the Nene.  We paused to ponder Irthlingborough’s lantern church, so far inland, and that, plus the wind and the marshy nature of the flood plain, did prompt one rider to comment on the “coastal” nature of the ride.  We have it all here in Northamptonshire, folks!

The climb away from Irthlingborough was painless, the wind having reverted to being our friend, and we made very good time to Woodford Mill for brunch.  The Nene was running a bit high and throwing the odd bit of spray our way but it was still pleasant to be sitting out in the garden in the February sun.  And the jacket potatoes were excellent.

Now, with ineluctable logic, s/he who rides with the wind must also ride against it at some point and so we left the lee of Woodford Mill, turned our collective face to the wind and set off back to Moulton, heading first past Cranford and then over the A14 to the sheltering urban landscape of Burton Latimer.  From there to Holcot was pretty much unsheltered plain old-fashioned hard work I’m afraid.  In fact, by the time we got to Orlingbury we had split into two groups as we took turns trying to hide behind each other.  Still, we weren’t riding against the clock: we were on a Sunday Club ride, not a Saturday Brisk, and we had plenty of time in hand after our rapid earlier progress.

I’m pleased to say that we all made it back to Moulton – apart from Geoff who’d turned for home, as planned, at Burton Latimer – and in reasonable time too. Wind aside, the weather had been kind – warm, dry and bright for February.

Thanks to Brian for doing a sterling job as TEC in testing conditions!

Ride Report – Sunday 1st November

Phil J went on this ride, led by Ian M, and writes:

A colourful plethora of cyclists gathered at the Canoe Centre on this unusually warm and sunny start to November for the ride to Ringstead.  They included new boys Vic and James, as well as Northants visitor Jeanette. Ten of us set off on the busy A428 before the welcoming turn to Little Houghton and the less than welcoming climb into it. At that point our leader Ian advised that we should split into two groups of five to avoid any issues with cars and we duly obliged.

The downhill at Cogenhoe shortly afterwards provided an early blast of speed for the two groups and we blazed down gratefully giving us plenty of momentum towards Grendon before an early check on numbers at the roadside.  The route down to Bozeat was swift and the ride paused there briefly for a simple mechanical on Jeanette’s bike. And, after a quick check of one or two maps, we were on our way again.

The weather was simply fantastic as we pressed on towards Podington, all of us amazed at how lucky we were to be riding in such glorious sunshine at this time of the year. Hinwick Hall looked majestic as we skirted around it.  The road ramped up a little towards Wymington and the terrain opened up at the same time to reveal wonderful scenery as far as the eye could see.  Riders changed groups, layers came off but all made good time regardless.

Towards Chelveston and beyond, the traffic levels increased meaning more splitting of the large group to accommodate the drivers going our way.  Without incident we navigated our way out of the urban sprawl that is Raunds and onto quieter roads with the mill on the horizon.

Our chair, Iain D, was already soaking up the sun in a vibrant location overlooking the marina and we duly joined him.  Two tables were required for our thirsty peleton.  The service was great and we all enjoyed our time there before heading back home.

Out of the mill a short sharp rise was waiting with hardly anybody in the right gear!  Cue frantic grinding of gears to get us up and over.  The reward at the summit was another reminder of the great weather and the spectacular colours of autumn.

Great Addington was the first village en route before meandering our way round to Cranford and eventually over the A14 as we made our way towards the streets of Burton Latimer and the Weetabix plant nearby.  Isham and Orlingbury passed quickly before the long and winding road towards Sywell beckoned.  Once again keeping your distance from the riders up ahead was the order of the day and this continued through Overstone as well.

At Moulton Co-op some the group said their goodbyes with it seemed just three of us heading for the finish.  We passed busy parks, residential areas and cyclepaths but we arrived at the Canoe Centre without incident before three more riders joined us having taken a slightly different route back.

A quite tactical ride for everyone today due to the numbers but a better ride at this time of year would be difficult to find!

Stunning scenery and wonderful weather with a great cafe stop to boot!

Thanks to Ian M for the ride!

Ride report – Leisurely afternoon ride – Saturday 22nd August

Milton, our Secretary, led this ride – originally planned by Brian, our Rides Secretary – and writes:

Five of us set off on a hot sunny afternoon on a loop from Moulton through Sywell, Mears Ashby and on to Great Harrowden, Orlingbury, Old and Scaldwell before stopping at Brixworth for coffee and cake.  We closed the loop and returned to Moulton by skirting the reservoir and shredded one of our tyres in the process – sorry Tim!  That section of path is getting a little too rough for “racing” tyres.

Lovely afternoon on the bike and good to have a new rider on the trip with us – see you next time Jim!

Ride Report – Saturday 24th January

Milton, our Secretary, went on this ride led by Phil L and writes:

Five of us met at the Brampton Valley Way start point to be taken by Phil L on one of his legendary brisks!  In fact, because we had a nearly new rider with us, we were able to keep the brakes on Phil as we set off on the route round Northampton clockwise through Boughton and Moulton to Overstone and Ecton.  On through Little Houghton and up the hill at Great Houghton and via Quinton and Preston Deanery to coffee at Salcey Forest café.

We had already lost Eleanor before the cafe (Packing for the great Thailand trip perhaps?  Good luck you two!)  Our new rider decided to get a lift back home from there.  We look forward to your company again, Janne!

We three remainders continued off through Horton towards Kislingbury where Phil G left us to go to the bike shop to try out a new bike.  The remaining Phil, L that is, and I parted at Sixfields to our respective homes.

A cold and icy morning had miraculously turned into a sunny and almost warm day with only the slightest breeze.  As good a cycling day as you get. Good weather, a good route and fine company. What more can you ask for?