Ride Report – Sunday 20th December

Brian led this ride to Stowe Park and back.  He writes:

Nine riders gathered at East Hunsbury on a spring-like morning.  We had quite a mix of bikes including a Sully 29’er – 3″ tyres, pressure 12psi, ideal for snowy climes (climbs?).  Did Andrew know something about the weather forecast that we had missed?

The ride took us out through Tiffield and onto the old road to Towcester.  At the A43 we turned onto a well-surfaced bridleway and a specific crossing point across the dual carriageway, fine on a Sunday but not so good if it was very busy.  At the other side a short section of ridable track took us back onto the old road into Towcester.  Here we had to mingle with the traffic on a short section of the A5 through Towcester before we turned once again onto a quiet road up to Silverstone.  There was not much activity as we passed the racetrack.  We continued down to Stowe Park against a fresh breeze. By this time the sun was out and it really did seem like spring.

A pleasant coffee and cake at the NT café and then we were back on the quiet road to Syresham now with the wind behind us.  We were joined by Geoff and his trike at Stowe who then rode back with us to Towcester.  At Slapton the group now ten strong split into two, given the disparity of bikes and speed, to wend the short distance back to Northampton via Duncote and Tiffield.

Close to Northampton the sun disappeared and an ominous cloud appeared.  I suspect at least half of us were caught by a very sharp cloudburst before we reached home.

Who could imagine a ride on such a day in late December?!


Ride Report – Sunday 1st February

Brian, our Secretary, led this ride and writes:

The weather forecast on Saturday looked distinctly wintry for the Sunday morning with the prospect of ice and very cold temperatures.  Following a few phone calls to the regulars everybody seemed keen to get some fresh air and by Saturday evening five riders had signed up subject to no icy roads. Saturday had been sunny and fortunately the overnight temperature was only down to 2 degC so no ice.

The five riders met at East Hunsbury on a cool overcast morning.  We set off with a following wind and made good time to Silverstone where the sun emerged.  We had the cycle track to ourselves as we headed south to Stowe, with the sound of sports cars on the Silverstone circuit alongside.

The National Trust Café at Stowe was quite busy.  Our conversation about the delights of hot sausage rolls was overheard and a plate of steaming rolls appeared just as we got to the till.  Suitably refreshed and warmed up we headed north on very quiet roads to Syresham and Wapenham straight into a strong wind.  Milton waxed lyrical about the buzzards and kestrels along the hedgerows and this and the open countryside made up for the extra effort against the wind.  It wasn’t long before we turned east slightly out of the wind and on to Slapton and Greens Norton before heading home.

We were back in Northampton at about 2 p.m. but the sun had dropped, as had the temperature. Given it was February we were lucky to get in a ride on a day that turned out to be good cycling conditions, not to mention of course the good company!

Ride Report – Sunday 23rd June – Stowe Park Loop

Iain Dawson, our Rides Secretary, went on this ride and writes:

For various reasons, not least of which may have been the damp and dismal weather forecast, only three of us turned out for Sunday’s Stowe Park Loop ride. This was disappointing but we are nearing peak season for other cycle-related activities so perhaps it’s not too surprising that turnout was low. Brian, David and I enjoyed ourselves though.

Heading out into the wind, we worked our way down through Stoke Bruerne, past the southern tip of Towcester and onto the lanes that lie between Paulerspury and Milton Keynes, passing a familiar Sustrans face heading the other way, before Brian navigated us down into Buckingham while managing to avoid traffic completely.

Looking for coffee in Buckingham, we wandered into a courtyard arrangement, similar to where we go in Olney, which held not just a brasserie/bistro but also a bike shop. The shop staff made it clear that there are only two decent places in which to get coffee in Buckingham, and there was nowhere to park bikes within sight of one of them. That left the bistro in the courtyard as the other (and our preferred) choice. Highly recommended, especially for Canadian-style pancakes.

A couple of mini-roundabouts and a short climb saw us out of Buckingham and on the straight, and very grand, approach to Stowe Park but rather than head into the grounds we skirted round them for a short stretch before turning off towards Biddlesdon and thence to Syresham, which appeared to have been taken over by scarecrows for the weekend. From there, the plan was to head up through Helmdon to Sulgarve Manor for lunch but this was a little scuppered when we discovered that the road to Helmdon was closed. After a quick review of the map, it was determined that we could simply do the other two sides of the square so we were stuck on the main road a little longer than had been anticipated, but when we finally turned off it: Tailwind!

Sulgrave was also busy, it being open garden weekend. (And also open-your-car-door-without-looking weekend! Don’t ride too close to parked cars).

Lunch was, I have to say, a disappointment. We’ve been to Sulgrave over and over again and it’s always been fairly reasonable but not so on this trip. I don’t know why it’s changed but changed it has and much for the worse. Thank heavens for coffee-stop pancakes.

Brian had cunningly contrived to make the home leg of the route tailwind-assisted all the way so we made excellent time back to Northampton, Greens Norton’s signpost deficit notwithstanding. Sadly, it wasn’t quite an excellent enough time to prevent us from getting drenched on the A45 cycle path. It seems that the weather had got fed up with us ducking under trees for a couple of minutes when it threw a light shower down and decided to throw everything it had at us when there was no shelter around. It was going alright up until then.

Thanks to Brian for a different and interesting route. The full details are to be found here, with a bit extra (although don’t believe all you read there. It appears to show us getting lost, exceeding 100 mph and climbing a mere 2000 feet)!
See you next time and don’t forget Wednesday’s BBQ,