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.
Perfect weather saw ten cyclists with nothing but coffee and cake in mind meet up at the Canoe Centre for a simple 28-mile drift through the south east of the County.
Little Houghton, Cogenhoe, Castle Ashby, Yardley Hastings, Weston Underwood and Ravenstone gently slid past as we sauntered slowly but with great determination to cake at Salcey.
Down the hill through Great Houghton and we were back at the Canoe Centre just after mid-day and heading home to some cake and mince pies and whatever chocolates were left before getting stuck into lunch.
Brian, our secretary, went on this ride led by Milton and writes:
Looking out of the window at 9 o’clock, there was wall to wall sunshine and blue skies. The reality, however, was that it was only a few degrees above freezing outside. At the Canoe Centre, Milton and I decided that the weather must have put off riders that morning but then Colin and Nick arrived. Given the temperature, the four of us set off without delay for Castle Ashby, welcoming the hills in between to get warmed up. At Easton Maudit Geoff joined us on his tricycle and the five of us then made our way to Harrold and on to the picturesque village of Newton Blossomville. With a good tail wind, warming sun and ever quieter roads it was perfect autumn weather for a ride. When we saw the sign “Welcome to Central Bedfordshire” we knew we were not far from the Bike Bus Café, a red London double decker bus parked on a farm at Bourne End. Arriving at 11.30 a.m. we were soon enjoying excellent coffee and sausage baps, sitting outside, soaking up the sun and warmth.
Having seen a couple of other cycling groups leave, we were soon on our way to Sherington after which we changed direction and headed back into a very chilly wind. Fortunately we were often sheltered by hills and tree-lined roads but it was noticeably cooler now. Our route took us through Tyringham Hall deer park and not long after turning onto the Newport road the predicted rain clouds appeared and for the rest of the way home through Salcey Forest the rain got steadily heavier. We were well prepared for the rain and made good time to the Canoe Centre arriving just after two o’clock, damp but in good spirits, having had an excellent day’s ride. Thanks to Milton for planning and leading the ride!
Five riders set off from East Hunsbury on Phil’s “mainly off-road” route. The conditions certainly lived up to the wet and muddy prediction so much so that one rider decided to inaugurate his own mini-triathlon with an impromptu fall in to the canal followed by a quick run to warm up before resuming cycling. Maybe water wings should be added to the list of essentials on future rides.
“Chapeau” to the water baby for insisting on riding on, despite everyone’s concern lest exposure set in. The lure of an open fire at the Boat Inn at Stoke Bruerne proved a stronger draw than an instant abandonment.
Suitably warmed and refreshed with flapjacks and cups of coffee we decided to stick to the road and forego the planned canal tow-path to Cosgrove. Our return via Ashton, Hartwell and Salcey Forest was a welcome anti-climax to the morning’s trials.
Despite its diminutive 16 miles, this was a ride that will live long in our memories (if falling in to the canal wasn’t enough excitement for one ride we also suffered multiple punctures, with our leader accumulating a winning total of three) and one that has reminded me of a couple of things:
If you’ re going to fall off your bike, it’s best not to do so alongside a canal!
Hawthorn hedge trimmings & liquid mud do not make for a good bike riding surface!
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.
Spring has sprung! Well at least that’s what it felt like as the five off us set out for a brisk ride out towards Castlethorpe and Haversham. There were plenty of other riders out as well – mostly in ones and twos but that’s a good sign as well.
It was surprisingly breezy as we battled our way back to Salcey – why is it that the wind always seems to be against you when out cycling?!! But we could almost ‘smell’ the coffee a few miles out.
So over a pleasant coffee stop at Salcey it was good to recognize a fair few other cyclists and do some ‘catching up’ in the sunshine.