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.

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Ride Report – Sunday 20th March

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Assembling at the Canoe Centre on Sunday morning!

James went on this ride, led by Brian, and writes:

Seven of us departed from the Canoe Centre on a cold, overcast morning for what was the longest ride of the year so far; a sixty-plus mile round trip to Grafham Water in Cambridgeshire.  After heading out through Little Houghton – where we met up with our two newest members, Alison and Carwyn – we journeyed on at a leisurely pace via Cogenhoe and Poddington towards Melchbourne, where the option of a shortcut to Harrold Country Park was on offer to any riders lacking the stamina to make it to Grafham and back.  Happily, everyone was feeling healthy and strong and nobody took up this alternative route.  The fact that the sun was (contrary to the forecast) making frequent appearances, combined with the picturesque scenery, meant that the miles passed quickly, and it wasn’t long before we’d cycled through Perry and arrived at our destination.

Any thoughts of filling our faces with bacon rolls or jacket potatoes (or both) were soon put out of our minds by the poor overworked chap who – due to staff shortages – was running the restaurant at Grafham by himself and, understandably, didn’t have the time to cook as well as serve drinks to the assorted walkers, runners, windsurfers, etc.  Still, he was kind enough to rustle up some sandwiches for us and there was plenty of cake for sale on the counter.  Leaving Grafham the weather was noticeably cooler and the sky slightly darker.  However, a few miles of pedalling soon warmed us up, and the sunshine made a welcome reappearance as we headed homewards via Felmersham and Chellington.

Given the length of the ride and the lack of satisfactory refreshments at Grafham the journey back included a stop off at the aforementioned Harrold Country Park.  Fortunately, the café here was fully operational and able to accommodate nine famished cyclists in search of flapjacks and caffeine.  Suitably stuffed, we remounted and continued homewards on a route that was just as scenic as the outward trip – passing, as it did, through Easton Maudit and the ever impressive Castle Ashby.  Alas, whatever energy we’d regained at Harrold was quickly drained away by Whiston Hill and the “Col de Cogenhoe’, two sharp little inclines that were made all the more demanding given that they were on the final stage of the ride.  With this in mind, then, it was clearly a notable achievement that none of us collapsed into weeping heaps by the roadside or required oxygen cylinders, defibrillators or ambulances once we’d conquered them!  As well as providing the final climb of the ride, Cogenhoe also served as the end point of our journey where we said our farewells and broke off into smaller groups.

All in all, this was a lovely ride, which thanks to the sunshine and lambs in the fields, signalled the fact that Spring has properly arrived and with it the prospect of many more enjoyable miles on our bikes.  Happy Easter!

Ride Report – Sunday 7th February

Milton went on this ride led by Brian and writes:

On a fairly cold and windy but clear skied morning only three of us were at the Canoe Centre for the start.  As it was one of the few dry starts of the past couple of months, it was surprising to see so few people.  Perhaps we’ve got out of the habit in recent wet and windy times.

We set off to Cogenhoe and on to Grendon where we found Geoff waiting to join us – and on his “fixie” too, which he rode all day as if it had a multiplicity of gears!  On to Wollaston to Poddington and to Melchbourne and Souldrop before stopping for our only break at the Garden Centre in Milton Ernest.  The world’s most expensive cakes surprised us, but the newly re-furbished room was warm and welcoming and not too busy, so we forgave them the £3.00 bits of cake and ordered meat and potato pies instead.

We returned via Harrold, Bozeat and Castle Ashby and were back by 2.30 p.m. as promised.

Largely blown to Milton Ernest, we fought a stiff breeze for most of the way home, and, with 55 miles on my computer, we were pretty knackered.

The rain stayed largely where it should, in the clouds, and I think we had a cracking day of it.  Lots of quiet country roads with little traffic meant it had been, unsurprisingly, well planned, and was well led, and our thanks, as ever, to Brian.

Report – 10th Annual Guy Barber Ride to St Neots – 12th July

Brian, our Rides Secretary, was one of the organisers of this event and writes:

Eight riders gathered at the Canoe Centre for this annual event.  Numbers were down on previous years but the mix was still 50-50 members from CTC Northampton and CTC Milton Keynes. Big thanks to Colin Bishop for turning out to do the registration and collect donations for the Headway Charity.

This was not a led ride but with a small group we all set off and stayed together throughout the ride which was at a comfortable pace (we still averaged just under 14mph).  It was cloudy at the start with a tail wind and we made good progress, deciding by mutual consent to forego coffee at Thurleigh and get to lunch early.  Near St Neots the sun came out and when we arrived at the Market Square we enjoyed sitting outside the café eating various options from their cooked breakfast menu.

It was tempting to dwell longer in the sun but then there was the odd spot of rain so we hastened to set out on the return loop.  The rain did not materialize and even cycling into the headwind was not too bad on the very quiet leafy lanes.

With most of the return leg cracked we were only a few miles from Poddington, looking forward to afternoon tea when the heavens opened and we got well and truly soaked.  Fortunately Poddington let us in, where we met another CTC group from MK who had just arrived before the rain.  We watched the continuing deluge from the shelter of the café.
With signs of a break in the cloud we set off again with Tim and Sylvia joining the MK group. Just before we arrived at the Canoe Centre the rain returned but that did not dampen our spirits and we all agreed it had been a very good day in the saddle.

Ride Report – Easter Monday

Iain D, our Chairman, went on this ride led by Brian, our Rides Secretary, and writes:

Eight of us gathered on a spectacularly warm – for early April – Monday morning at the Canoe Centre on Bedford Road, including two faces I’d not seen before and the ever-welcome Ken.

Brian led us out through Cogenhoe, Wollaston and Poddington where we encountered the first problem of the day: the Brompton – my ride for the day – didn’t want to make the turn at the bottom of Poddington’s hill. It was eventually persuaded round but the front tyre was looking rather empty. I think the two are linked.

Which leads me on to the second problem of the day, and a lesson for all of us: bring your tyre levers AND the right pump for the inner tube. Honestly, who puts a Presta valve on a 16″ tube ? Won’t be buying those again … . Anyway, thanks to Milton, we got rolling again fairly quickly and on to something I’m not used to – being passed by a bin wagon. A little reminder that we were out on a weekday, for a change.

The day’s route spent a few miles running against the grain on previous years’ Guy Barber route before cutting down to Sharnbrook and following the same in the more familiar direction, and since the café in Sharnbrook was closed, we looped over the A6 again and back to Milton Ernest for lunch at their fine garden centre.

Leaving Milton Ernest, we hit snag no. 3: Network Rail’s ongoing plan to raise bridges on the Midland Main Line. Rather annoyingly, the road closure signs promised 26 weeks of closure starting 03rd October last year. We’re now into week 27 and they’re a long way from done yet. I’m told the current estimate is completion by 31st May. Fortunately, there’s a well-trodden path across an adjacent OSR field that leads out to another road. Phew.

Carlton – Harrold – Bozeat – Castle Ashby and you know the rest. All completed without further mishap and not a single drop of rain.

Many thanks to Brian for a pleasant day’s outing and I promise to be better equipped next time out.

Ride Report – Sunday 17th August

Words by Phil J; photos by David.

Nine riders met outside the Canoe Centre under gloomy skies for a slightly longer ride than normal to the picturesque location of Grafham Water over the border in Cambridgeshire.  Right on cue the heavens opened and all riders donned wet weather gear somewhat earlier than we expected to.  We therefore departed a little later than scheduled but fortunately the rain subsided pretty quickly but it had left plenty of surface water around making conditions tricky for some of the group especially down the fast decent at Cogenhoe early on.

A wet start

A wet start

 

Nonetheless decent pace was made towards the first cafe stop at Thurleigh with the suspicion falling on a strong tailwind that might have its revenge on the return leg.  All riders came in out of the cold at Thurleigh to warm up with hot drinks and snacks. Phil L was riding well and after refuelling decided – understandably – to play it safe and return to Northampton accompanied by Eleanor.  Well done, Phil!

As we left Thurleigh it seemed like a completely different day as the sun came out and skies cleared to lift the mood of the remaining cyclists.  All pressed on towards Grafham and enjoyed plenty of fast riding through some beautiful villages along the way.  The odd mechanical gave us a chance to admire some splendid scenery.

The odd mechanical

The odd mechanical

As the destination came into view it was decided to use the main café rather than the boating club giving us an extra couple of miles to reach lunch.  We actually rode round some of the cycle path around the reservoir before deciding to get back on the road to find the regular entrance.IMG_1952

A busy café greeted us – full of Sustrans rangers and other visitors to the reservoir. Talk turned to the strength of the wind and also how Milton had managed to polish off two oversized pieces of cake in one day with one more stop to come!  Phone calls were made by some of the group to other halves to soften the blow of an anticipated late return.

The café at Grafham

The café at Grafham

We reluctantly left the lovely location at the side of the water and headed out on the cycle route across the dam and eventually onto the main road through Perry and beyond.  Our suspicions about the wind were immediately noticeable as all the riders were pounded relentlessly across the open terrain. Turns in direction seemed to have no effect as the wind continued to pay us back for the journey out.  Mile after mile came stronger and stronger gusts especially on exposed locations.  Wind turbines that we passed were a clear indicator of what we were riding through.

There was very little respite until the final welcoming stop at Poddington where we all enjoyed a well earned break before the final push home.

The hill at Cogenhoe proved to be the only real obstacle left.  When all the team reached the top we regrouped and talked tactics about the routes each of us would take home.  We split on the cycle paths alongside the A45 leaving just Iain D and Phil J to return to the Canoe Centre and to a much brighter setting than we had seen that morning.

A longer and tougher ride than I think any of us had expected. Well done all!

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]