Ride Report – MK Loop

IainD, our chair, led this ride and writes

Six riders gathered outside the Canoe Centre for our first post-summertime ride of the year with no-one admitting to forgetting to put their clocks back or turning up an hour early even though some did turn up suspiciously early.

We headed through town alongside the river and out to Banbury Lane by way of Duston Park and then on to Gayton, where we were joined by another pair of riders.

The coffee stop in Towcester was the source of much confusion and dismay. Not only has the Dolphin Café closed :-(, the cafés in the immediate vicinity aren’t open on Sundays and there’s no bike parking at Costa. I strongly recommend that if you’re stopping for refreshments in Towcester now, you bring a decent lock because you can no longer keep your bike in sight while, erm, refreshing. Also, the approach from Green’s Norton supposedly involves following large yellow signs saying “Bridleway” to guide you over the A43. Follow them if you’re up for a bit of roughstuff. We stuck to tarmac and used the roundabout, as usual. Your choice …

Once free of the A5 in Towcester, we got to enjoy the lanes that lie south of the town, out to Deanshanger and Passenham before avoiding redways of any description through Milton Keynes, although that was, perhaps, a mixed blessing as Wolverton Road doesn’t have the smoothest of surfaces, speaking of which we then left Milton Keynes by way of Linford Lakes, on a road famed in this group for the quality of its surface.

And now it’s gravel, with “gates” that we don’t understand:

Bunny Hops ?

Gate at Linford Lakes

Still, we got through and made our way out over the M1 and up through the Tyringham estate before arriving in Olney, bang on schedule. In the café’s courtyard, we even caught a Pokémon! (Note to readers – if anyone knows what that is, an explanation would be appreciated – Ed).

We had an uneventful run back through Yardley Hastings, with some members of the group choosing the directness of the Bedford Road over the  scenery of the Castle Ashby route, but we were all back, as it was said we should be, by 4pm.

Cycling doesn’t stop when the clocks go back!

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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 15th November

Philip G led this ride and writes:

Last Sunday five riders, undeterred by a grim forecast, came out to test themselves against Storm Abigail’s gusty southwesterlies: Ian M, Tim, Phil J, Brian and me.

Heading out into the wind was quite a struggle. A slight error led us to discover the lovely road from Moreton Pinkney to Eydon. Finally we reached Harley’s Café, meeting George who was just leaving.

The stretch to Towcester was a total contrast: gliding along with the wind behind us through glorious villages in crisp sunshine. Our goal was Towcester Mill Brewery, where we washed our own sandwiches down with the excellent house brews. A highly recommended stop for any beer lover.

The wind then more or less blew us home to complete a very enjoyable 45-mile ride, whatever the forecast said!

Ride Report – Sunday 19th July

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.

Ride report – Bank Holiday ride to Milton Keynes

Iain D, our Rides Secretary, led this ride and writes:

With the planned route involving redways and their bollards, and this being the first anniversary of our ride to Monschau (blog readers can remind themselves of that day’s events here), I was a little apprehensive at the start, especially given the fog that had settled over Northamptonshire.

We were joined by a few of the regular crew, one occasional member and a new rider who also teaches spin classes! And I’d got such a gentle ride planned.

The seven of us took the usual route out from East Hunsbury towards Towcester, cut across the A5 south of town to Whittlebury and then had a pleasant and trouble-free run into Potterspury where we arrived for elevenses, at eleven o’clock, just as the shop was opening for the day.

Refreshed, and with the GPS now running (!), we headed off to Deanshanger and the lanes west of Milton Keynes before turning towards the conurbation itself. With thanks to Google Streetview, we found our desired redway fairly painlessly. This was important as that particular redway should, in theory, have delivered us all the way across MK directly onto the Willen Lake promenade. Alternating between wooded/grassy areas and some of the less salubrious housing estates, it actually made good on its promise and we arrived, unscathed, at Willen Lake not 50 yards from lunch. This pleased Milton immensely.

It being a sunny Bank Holiday Monday, there was a bit of a wait for food but since we’d bagged ourselves a table out in the sun we weren’t too fussed. It seemed better to wait than to ride back in towards the town centre.

Navigating away from lunch was harder, but we headed north on the redways then west across Great Linford to pick up the Millennium Cycleway then the Grand Union canal north out of town. That lane is now more cratered than ever, and just north of the bridge it’s a little muddy, but still usable. I hear it flooded a bit over the winter which doesn’t surprise me.

We were resting up in Hanslope a short while later, taking on a few mouthfuls of water, when a large 4×4 pulled over. The window came down and we thought we knew what was coming next. What they actually wanted to know was whether we were all okay or whether we needed any assistance! That doesn’t normally happen …

The group split in Quinton, those from the east side of town opting to avoid the town centre, leaving the rest of us to make our way back to East Hunsbury and the end of a very pleasant day’s riding.

The route for the (last 2/3rds of) the day is here. I forgot to turn the GPS on at the start (oops) and, interestingly, it failed to pause itself at Willen Lake. That does seem to be a recurrent issue there. Maybe MK messes up GPS somehow?

Ride Report – Sunday 2nd March

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

Twelve of us braved the wind to meet at East Hunsbury to participate in what had been billed as “Hannah Barnes’ Favourite Ride” (or a ride based thereon).

And it didn’t disappoint, with our chairman and Twitter-meister confirming that our ride had acquired the seal of approval from the lady herself.Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 19.51.53We headed out along the usual route towards Towcester, with a couple of new faces getting used to riding in a group like ours, and then cut across from the south side of the village towards the Silverstone circuit.  Unbeknownst to us, yesterday was also the day of the Silverstone Half-Marathon so the traffic on the approach to the circuit from Silverstone village was horrible.  Fortunately, once we got up near the circuit itself, we could take advantage of the cycle/footpath before leaving the motorists behind and heading down to the impressive new visitor centre at Stowe National Trust with its Nevillery Café.

After refreshments, and an early lunch for some, we set out to cross flooded roads (well, one) and several hills as we tracked north-west with a cross-wind to our second NT property of the day (has Brian got shares in the National Trust?) for lunch (or afternoon tea, depending) but the weather had started to turn a little damp. Still, plenty to keep us warm with the south Northamptonshire dips and climbs on the way over to Canons Ashby.

Neil and Chloe at lunch - or afternoon tea

Neil and Chloe at lunch – or afternoon tea

With one of our number electing for an early finish and not stopping for tea at Canons Ashby, we were reduced to eleven riders as we headed back (with the wind now mostly, and very thankfully, behind us). A short sprint down the A5 kept it interesting then we were back onto the quiet lanes through Caldecott, Tiffield and over the canal bridges back to Northampton.

Many thanks to Brian for what turned out to be a surprisingly energetic ride (I blame the headwind) and for keeping the group together so well on the road.

Our route is here on RideWithGPS.

 

 

“Hannah Barnes’ Favourite Ride” – Sunday 2nd March

Brian, our Secretary, is leading this ride and writes:

This ride was inspired by an article in Cycling Weekly in July 2013 which described the favourite training route of national rider Hannah Barnes who lives in Towcester and starts/finishes her route there. Hannah does her 40 mile route in about 2 hours but we will probably take a little longer and not just because we start in Northampton!

We’ll start from Overslade Close, East Hunsbury, NN4 0RZ (behind the Tesco Superstore) at 9.30 a.m. prompt.

Route: Blisworth, Shutlanger, short stretch of A5 then across to Silverstone.  Down past Stowe School and on to Chackmore and the Stowe National Trust property and through the Corinthian Arch for coffee.

On then to Biddlestone, Helmdon, Sulgrave, Thorpe Mandeville, and across to Canons Ashby for lunch at the NT property (sandwiches and baked potatoes are available).  It is a short ride back via Litchborough, Greens Norton and Tiffield to Northampton.  That makes for 54 miles.  It’s hilly in parts but the roads are mainly very quiet.

We will return mid-afternoon. (If you want to join us for just the morning, you could return to Northampton from Stowe.)

Brian Tunbridge 01604 622073 (07722 055149 on the day)

You can see the route here on RideWithGPS.