Ride report – Saturday 17th December

Tim, our webmaster, went on this “leader-less” ride to Yelvertoft and reports:

Five riders congregated at Brampton Valley Way for Milton’s “Steady ride to Yelvertoft”.  Sadly Milton wasn’t able to be one of them having been laid low the day before by Norovirus; we wish him a speedy recovery.

We headed west via Holdenby and East Haddon before turning north at Long Buckby towards West Haddon and on to our most northerly point at Yelvertoft.  From here it was back south to Crick where we had an impromptu stop outside St Margaret of Antioch Church for an energy bar or two.

There was a minor deviation from Milton’s planned route at this point to avoid the road to Ashby St Ledgers (discovered to be coated with a rather unsavoury layer of semi-liquid mud and horse manure on a reconnaissance ride the Thursday before!).  Instead we branched off down a very pleasant gated road to Watford village before rejoining the planned route just east of Welton.

From here a section of “Milton special tarmac” (to borrow from Eric Morecombe – “all the right pieces, just not in the right places”) led us to Norton and thence to our planned stop at Whilton Locks where bacon butties were eagerly consumed.

It was then just a short ride back to the start via Great Brington and Harlestone.

All in all a very pleasant December morning out: no blue skies but warm and dry nonetheless.  Thanks to Milton for providing us with a fine selection of quiet country lanes to enjoy.

Milton will be back to lead the “Boxing Day Bash” (departing 9.30 a.m. from the Canoe Centre – 28 miles with a stop for elevenses at Salcey Forest) so why not come along and join him?

Ride report – Saturday 10th December

Brisk & Moderate Rides to Welford

Eleven riders – a good number for a December morning – gathered at the Brampton Valley Way meeting point for a morning organised by James.  We welcomed new rider, Phil W; and welcomed back John for his first CTC ride since his accident.  Drizzle in the air was not going to dampen our spirits.

A late change of plan and routes – our original café stop at Kelmarsh being unavailable because of a Buddhist holiday – meant that we were to head for a café new to nearly all of us: Mini-Meadows Farm Café just outside Welford on the Naseby road.  Five riders opted for James’s brisk ride; six for the moderate route plotted by Brian and led by Ian M.  James must have taken to heart Mother Theresa’s dictum that “Brisk means Brisk” and by Church Brampton the brisk group was down to four and the moderate group up to seven.

The moderates pedalled through East Haddon, Coton, Guilsborough and Welford to reach the café after seventeen miles at 11.05 a.m. finding the brisks already ensconced – having been through Holdenby, Spratton, Brixworth and Naseby after eighteen lumpier miles in an hour-and-a-quarter! The drizzle hadn’t turned to anything worse but those who had no mudguards had nice stripes-of-honour up their backs.

img_1256

At Mini-Meadows Farm Café

The café served good coffee and cakes (the Xmas Tiffin was much consumed); conversation was lengthy; and both groups set off again at 11.45 a.m.  The moderates pedalled through Naseby (welcoming the easier approach from the north-west), Cottesbrooke, Creaton, Teeton and Holdenby to return to the BVW after 15 miles by 1.15 p.m.  The brisks headed on to Sibbertoft, back to Naseby, and then through Kelmarsh, Harrington, Old, Scaldwell, Brixworth, and Holcot before splitting on the edge of Northampton after 28 miles just after 1.30 p.m.

So twenty-nine miles for the moderates, forty-eight miles for the brisks and a splendid morning enjoyed by all.

Thanks to James for the morning plan and to Brian for reminding us of the recommendation for the café from Peter W and the CTC Leicestershire group.

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!

Sunday 04th September – Ride to Market Harborough

Apparently summer ends when August ends (let us hope the weather disagrees) so we return to an 09:30 start for this weekend’s ride out to Market Harborough.

The route is just over 50 miles in total and does feature a couple of hills, although we shouldn’t be climbing as much as on the last two rides, and we have two stops for recovery (Kelmarsh and Waterloo Farm).

If you plan on riding skinny tyres, make sure they’ve got plenty of air in them. Some of the tarmac is a little broken and some of the route* is best described as “pavé”. Don’t worry, we won’t be hurrying over this bit and your tyres will be fine so long as they’re properly inflated. MTB tyres will not be required.

The planned route is here: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/16229338 although, as ever, the Leader reserves the right to amend it on the day if (s)he sees fit. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

At time of writing, the weather is forecast to be dry with not too much wind and temperatures in the high teens (60s in old temperature). Almost perfect conditions!

Hope to see you outside Moulton Co-op, 9.30 am on Sunday.

* northern-most section of the Brampton Valley Way, which is cobbles sprinkled with a little light gravel. No big rocks, no mud, no need for fat tyres.

 

Ride to Wistow Rural Centre – Sunday 21st August

Brian will be leading this ride and writes:

Start: 9.00 am (note: it’s 9am in SUMMER not 9.30)
Start point: Moulton Coop
Distance: 59 miles
Only one refreshment stop

Steady pace ride  (average speed 13mph (21kph), speed on the flat 16-18mph). Return to Moulton before 4pm.

The route is via Pitsford along a short stretch of the A508 to Brixworth where we move on to quiet roads through Guilsborough, Naseby (cafe / shop in both) and on to Sibbertoft, Laughton Hills and on to Wistow (31miles), the most northerly point where we stop for an early brunch. There are no planned stops before this so please bring water and a snack. The return route heads South via Lubenham to Naseby, Cottesbrooke and back to Moulton. Depending on the group we have a chance to stop for tea on the way back.

This is a route originally planned by Milton who will be very disappointed not to be doing the few challenging hills on this route. It is mainly on quiet country lanes through some attractive countryside.

More details from Brian on 01604 622073  ( 07722 055149 )
Do join us.

See the route link on www.ctc-northampton.org.uk or direct on RideWithGPS

Ride *to* London – a Report

James, one of our Ride Leaders, reports on the CTC Northampton ride *to* London on 7th August 2016, planned and led by Ian Macsporran (group Treasurer and your regular correspondent). 

Northampton Station

Northampton Station

With a mixture of excitement and trepidation, seven of us met 
outside Northampton Railway Station on a veritable assortment of bikes, 
e.g. tourers, Italian fixies, hybrids and trusty racers. On this 
occasion, however, we weren’t there to board any of London Midland’s 
delightful carriages down to Euston but to ride there instead. Our goal 
was to follow a route Ian had planned with his usual thoughtful 
meticulousness insofar as it incorporated as many ‘bike-friendly’ 
stretches of road as possible. Typically, he was also kind enough to 
provide a very helpful information sheet for members who like to ride a 
little quicker than others. This highlighted regrouping points, lunch 
stops and junctions where the traffic could get hairy. Unfortunately, 
for anyone (me) who’d left their reading glasses at home, Ian’s careful 
handiwork was reduced to a blur and ensured that stopping at the correct 
places was largely due to guesswork and a well-known online mapping service.

Setting out via the B526 towards Newport Pagnell it soon became clear 
that – aside from some surprisingly gusty blasts of wind – the day was 
going to provide us with something akin to perfect cycling conditions. 
The sun was out, the thermometer was rising and, with a few exceptions, 
even the drivers seemed happy to share the roads with us. After Newport 
Pagnell and the outer reaches of Bedfordshire our route became more 
rural as we passed through Sharpenhoe, Barton-le-Clay, Hexton, etc., 
climbed a few hills and reassembled for lunch at The Lilley Arms in, 
err, Lilley. The food was wonderful, as was the service and the 
plentiful supply of free water. The only downside being the sad news 
that a fellow cyclist had been taken seriously ill somewhere along our 
route.

En-Route in Hertfordshire

En-Route in Hertfordshire

Post-lunch riding began with a suitably gentle five mile(ish) descent to 
Whitwell; a village it is easy to assume must have an exceptionally poor 
water drainage system until you’re told that it’s actually the 
watercress capital of the universe and is, in fact, meant to look like 
that. Such fascinations, however, were quickly forgotten thanks to the 
incline that greeted us as we took a right turn out of the village 
centre. Still, we continued to make good progress as we headed on out 
through Blackmore, Wheathampstead and Sandridge before finally reaching 
a cycle path that took us to our afternoon tea break: South Mimms 
Services.

Cycle Sign for MWSA

Yes, it’s real

In terms of atmosphere, this particular stop was a million 
miles away from your usual cyclist’s café. However, we were thirsty, 
hungry and, to be fair, it did have a Waitrose. Aside from the fruit 
machines, additional entertainment was provided in the form of Ian and 
his latex gloves as he sought to locate and repair a puncture with a 
dexterity and precision more commonly associated with world-class 
cardiac surgeons.

Cyclists at South Mimms Motorway Services

Cyclists at South Mimms Motorway Services – Not a Usual Sight

The final stage of our jaunt was perhaps the most demanding insofar as 
we were soon in Barnet and the outskirts of London. Cycling through 
London is always an adventure – even on a late Sunday afternoon. 
However, we made good use of the bus lanes and Ian was always keen to 
make sure that as a group we never became too spread out. Highgate, 
Gospel Oak and Camden all passed in a haze of traffic and frazzled 
pedestrians before we finally crossed Hampstead Road and arrived at our 
destination: hot, but happy, and, for those of us who’d not bothered 
with factor 50, some tan lines that were to look quite peculiar on 
Monday morning.

Euston Station

End of the Road

I’ve been to London many times by train, car, coach, etc., but can 
easily say that this was the most interesting and fun way that I’ve ever 
travelled there. It was just a shame that we didn’t carry on down to 
Brighton! Many thanks to Ian for organising the trip and making the day 
such an enjoyable one.

Note: this report has been edited slightly from the original for legal and other reasons.

Ride report – Saturday 23rd July

Phil J went on this ride organised by James and writes:

Eight cyclists assembled at Moulton for James’ Queen of the Mountains ride of two halves on a glorious sunny morning.  Moderate or brisk?  The choice was yours. The sides were quickly picked and gave us four riders in each group.  We set off on the long road out towards Holcot and the groups splintered as expected.  Our moderate group set into a nice steady pace which included Elspeth once again.

The sun shone but a gentle breeze cooled us sufficiently and made it one of the best days for cycling so far this year. The pace quickened for the moderate group but with still no sign of the faster riders in the brisk group ahead.  We meandered through picturesque villages without much traffic to hold us up and it wasn’t long before we were entering the wonderful Cottesbrooke estate with its steep climb at the end.  But we skirted round this and soon headed for Naseby with a number of testing hills there instead.  Cyclists passed us as we regrouped but we managed to rein one or two of them in on the climbs as they lost power much to our satisfaction.

Some miles on after a short stretch along the busy Market Harborough road we approached the tea stop at the Waterloo Farm Café and a welcome break for us all.  The brisk group hadn’t arrived yet as they were still out covering the extra miles and climbs on their own particular route but the “moderates” were ahead of time according to our leader.

We settled onto an outside table and it wasn’t long before the “brisks” arrived and joined us.  The location was baked in sunshine and we all enjoyed teas and coffees whilst some got stuck into tasty fayre.

On the move again we all set off together before two became one after the first rise.  The route continued through familiar territory including the long haul up Harrington Hill, the final QoM stage, ending at the Tollemache Arms which seemed rather tempting on a hot day but we continued without succumbing to a swift pint or two!

Towards Foxhall a police roadblock was in place and a helicopter circled overhead where a stolen car had been abandoned in the nearby field.  Further on Old and Walgrave tested the weary legs of the group before we met up again with the brisk group just outside Holcot.

The final stretch into Moulton was the last couple of miles of the day and we blazed down the road whatever group you were in.  James and I had a bunch sprint to the finish which of course he won and punched the air in delight. A great days riding with a choice of ways to do it.

Thanks to James for devising the QoM route. James lead the brisk group at a challenging pace leaving Brian, Phil and Co to enjoy a more steady pace.

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.

The Tour de France and punctuation

From Keith Houston’s excellent blog, “Shady Characters“:

The first stage of this year’s Tour de France ran from Mont-Saint-Michel to Utah Beach/Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, along the north-west coast of the Manche re­gion, on the second of July.  As the riders fol­lowed the 188km route, they passed through the little town of Gouville-sur-Mer, which, in the time-hon­oured tra­di­tion of pro­vin­cial vil­lages that the Tour vis­its but once every few dec­ades or so, laid out its slo­gan for the tv heli­copter to see: Gouville-sur-Mer, cap­itale mon­diale de l’huître de pleine mer (Gouville-on-sea, world cap­ital of the open sea oyster).  So now you know.itv-tdf-huitres-02-07-2016
World oyster cap­ital though it may be, Gouville-sur-Mer is not, evid­ently, the world capital of dia­crit­ics: the noble cir­cum­flex, which should have reigned proudly over the word huître, was nowhere to be seen.  Nor were any other non-al­pha­betic marks — not the hy­phens that should have ap­peared in Gouville-sur-Mer or the comma that should have come after it, and not the apo­strophe that should have punc­tu­ated l’huître.  And yes, tweets and in­stant mes­sages may be in­creas­ingly do­ing without their full stops, but I could have handled one ap­pear­ing here.  For shame, Gouville-sur-Mer!  I sa­lute your oyster cre­den­tials but I de­plore your aer­ial ty­po­graphy.

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.

IMG_0845

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!

018

You might not see the pothole in the shade …

015

… 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.

IMG_0846

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