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.
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!
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.