Start: 9.30 a.m. Meeting point: Brampton Valley Way (BVW)/A5199 crossing near The Windhover, NN6 8AA. There is a BVW car park just up Brampton Lane. Distance: 40 miles (brisk), 35 miles (moderate). Refreshments: Salcey Forest Café
This circuit of Northampton skirts/circles the Borough boundary keeping the Express Lift Tower as our “hub” all morning – taking in Boughton, Moulton, Overstone, the Houghtons and Salcey Forest for an early brunch. Then we complete the circuit through Quinton, Blisworth, Milton Malsor, Rothersthorpe, Kislingbury and return to BVW.
Brisk ride led by Phil L; moderate ride led by Brian.
At 9.00 a.m. the prospects of a morning ride were a bit grim. Phil J was down with a cold so had asked me to lead the ride. The previous week I had been in the same situation and Phil L had stepped in to lead what had been a pretty wet ride. Was this to be my chance to enjoy the rain?
It was bucketing down so I decided on the easy option – to put the bike in the car and drive to this morning’s meeting point East Hunsbury given the chance that nobody would venture out in this rain. By 9.25 a.m. it was still raining and no sight of any riders. By 9.30 a.m. I thought that was it but decided to go and have a quick look in case anybody was sheltering in the underpass. At this point James turned up having having cycled over in the rain! We had a quick discussion. The rain stopped at that point, so we decided to go!
Luckily the rain had stopped for good that morning. But ten minutes into the ride I had a p*nct*re. A change of tube and we were off again on a busy road to Wootton and then on to quieter roads to Quinton and over to Cogenhoe and Whiston. We decided against a coffee stop at Castle Ashby and headed for Denton. When we reversed the road to Quinton in the late morning, blue sky appeared and we decided to extend the ride to Courteenhall and on to Blisworth. From here we had warm sun on our backs and a tail wind all the way back to East Hunsbury.
The forecast had been for rain at 9.00 a.m. followed by a clear spell later in the morning. This turned out to be correct but it was cutting it a bit fine to get a ride in, free of rain and with comfortable temperatures!
Six of us left the Canoe Centre on a very quiet, heavily overcast Boxing Day morning. Heading out through Little Houghton, our post-Christmas levels of fitness were quickly tested by the climbs into Cogenhoe and Castle Ashby. Moreover, any lingering hopes of this being a gentle ‘recovery’ jaunt were soon put out of our heads by the strong headwind that accompanied us as we continued on towards Yardley Hastings and crossed the A428.
It was on the B5388 into Olney – the next stage of our ride – that the blustery conditions were at their worst, and there were a couple of occasions when bike control became a little tricky. Mercifully, things eased up once we left the main road and returned to the near deserted country lanes that took us on through Weston Underwood, Ravenstone and Stoke Goldington.
Given that a few of us were feeling a little fragile as a result of the previous day’s excesses it was with relief that our next stop was Salcey Forest Café, where strong coffee and cake provided temporary rejuvenation. It was also good to see the presence of so many other cyclists – both solo and with local clubs – at the café who, like us, had obviously decided that getting out on their bikes was preferable to another day of over indulgence.
The return journey was in complete contrast to the outward ride both in terms of effort and weather. Not only did we have a tailwind blowing us through Quinton, Preston Deanery and Great Houghton, but the sun also made a brief appearance! Arriving back at the Canoe Centre, we said our farewells and looked forward to doing the same thing on Boxing Day 2016!!
Following all the dire weather forecasts emanating from the Met Office for “continuous heavy rain from 5.00 a.m. onwards” I had my doubts that this morning’s planned brisk ride would even start. By 8.30 a.m., however, it was still dry and seemed promising so I met the other three wanting to ride at the Brampton Valley Way start point. And then it started raining! Later than predicted but enough to make it a bit of a wet start.
But we got a good brisk pace going despite a fairly tough headwind and soon took in Flore, Nether Heyford, Stoke Bruerne, Ashton and Hartwell before it started to abate. We called in at Salcey for a coffee and quick “steam”!
Our usual return loop through Quinton, Preston Deanery and Great Houghton was pleasantly aided by a following wind and so a good quick 35 miles were achieved and enjoyed.
Brian, our Rides Secretary, was on this ride led by Eleanor and writes:
Seven riders left the Canoe Centre heading for Quinton. It was cloudy with
quite a breeze which we headed into for most of the morning. We made our
way almost due west out through Towcester, Wappenham and Weedon Lois
before turning north to Canons Ashby and on to the café at the
equestrian centre in Woodford Halse. Not many horses in view but popular
with cyclists. At nearly 30 miles we were ready for the bacon butties on offer especially as the route had been quite hilly as well.
When we emerged from the café the sun came out, the day warmed up and we
had a pleasant trip back with a tail wind, through Maidford and across
to Pattishall. Eleanor – with, no doubt, encouragement from John – managed to
find a few more challenging hills up to Gayton from where, as they say, it
was all downhill (well nearly).
On the way back Sylvia (MK) was asking where were all the cars? The
lanes had been very quiet.
Many thanks to Eleanor for leading the ride and for getting us back in
time to watch most of the Tour.
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?
Milton went on this ride, led by Iain D, and writes:
With most of the club seemingly in London for the big weekend (RideLondon FreeCycle & London-Surrey 100), there were only four intrepid souls ready on Saturday afternoon to enjoy a leisure ride from the Canoe Centre through Brafield-on-the-Green down to Horton and on to the cafe at Salcey Forest for the usual excess of cake and drinks.
We returned to the Canoe Centre via Quinton and Wootton by 4.15 p.m. having covered no more than 20 miles.
A lovely fresh breezy and warm day, perfect for cycling, and a well-led trip which the four of us much enjoyed. Many thanks to Iain D for a quality ride.