Sunday, 27 November 2016

Another splendid weekend of cycling!

There's no doubt about it, my life is truly enriched by cycling. This weekend I had two very different rides and some excellent service from my LBS C&D Cycles.

Hair? Some of us get more aero as we get older!

Before I talk about this weekend's rides I need to tell you about the rollers above. I purchased these with my birthday money because I've always wanted rollers. Having tried them I can already understand how they're a better indoor workout than a turbo. I'm also pleased we have a narrow corridor to practise in! Because I like to support my LBS as much as possible I asked Andy at C&D Cycles what his best price was given that I'd seen these on offer from an internet retailer. Well Andy pulled out all the stops and got me a matched price. It's a no brainer then isn't it. LBS gets my cash. At the same time I had both my Giant Propel and Sam's CX bike serviced. Very good service indeed! 

On Saturday I opted for the C&D Cycles CC banter ride. I was a bit slow to start having had another challenging week and was thankful that the ride was coming past my house, giving me another half an hour and an extra cup of tea! The route is a beauty. We've done it a few times so I don't even need to look to know where we're going. As far as road rides go this has everything Northamptonshire is good at with a lot of up and down's, beautiful rolling countryside, quiet roads (well mostly, more to come on that,) history and picture postcard villages.

The wide verges on most of our country roads are for very good historic and economic reasons. Whilst the principle industry of Northants was shoe making, there was a great need to get livestock to their final destination. Today they go by lorry but in the past they were 'driven,' along these drovers lanes. These days it just makes it a bit more comfortable for all forms of traffic.

The weather was dry on the day but at this time of year the roads are always damp. For that reason I've put my 'best' bike away (well relegated it to indoor use.) It was good to be on my trusty Forme again. 'Clive,' may lack the stiffness, lightness and all round elegance of my Propel but he's still a good bike and a trusted bit of kit.

Those are the typical views you get on this route. Also at this point we were really shifting down the hill away from Naesby. Did I mention history? Well I've blogged about Naesby before but hey it's as simple as this. The parliamentary system we have today is directly influenced  by the decisive battle that happened on our doorstep hundreds of years ago! I'm not sure what Cromwell would make of our current situation but as he banned Christmas and Dancing you have to wonder if politicians have always been a bit "special!"

Another strong feature of this route is the climb into Brixworth which has featured on the Women's Tour. There's no massive climbs around here, just regular slopes that take your breath away! The other thing that leaves me breathless is the high quality banter during our rides.

As we neared the end of the ride two things happened. Firstly the normally quiet Mawsley Road was absolutely rammed with cars due to the closure of the A43 and then we had an incident with a dog. The hapless pooch ran around in the road and was narrowly missed by several cars. Luckily we located the owner and they were able to get the canine character home safely. That was enough for me though. I headed home at Loddington rather than getting stuck in more cars. I'm not sure what was so important, shopping I guess, probably for Christmas...maybe Cromwell wasn't so bad!

This Sunday we opted for a ride with a difference and went off road. Six intrepid riders on a mix of CX and MTB's headed out on Steve and Andy's mystery tour whcih took us places I've never been. The ride was another ten miles on yesterday but the hard work through the mud made it feel like another 50! I can honestly say I've been less tired finishing an Epic Sportive than I was today.

We had a first little bit of trail rather than road past the superb skate park in Kettering. Ken wanted to break in and have a spin around, luckily its a good lock!

You might think we're being irresponsible by riding three abreast but this isn't a road with cars on. It's a farm track which may or may not be a right of way. We were not chased 'orf my land,' by a shot gun toting farmer so I'm guessing ti was okay.

The track emerged near the Roundhouse at Finedon built to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo. A bit of road before we found  another nice bit of track.

After Little Addington we had to jump a gate before another of Steve's factual gems. We were near a former prisoner of war camp Hill Farm Estate, Irthlingborough Road, Little Addington.  Apparently this camp was for Italians!

Then we arrived at Stanwick Lakes where Chris and I couldn't resist a play on the death slide! Soon after that we found ourselves in the middle of a charity Santa run, As it's still November I refused to take pictures, oh really really now I agree with Cromwell!

We found a hobbit house at Stanwick but Frank was not at home. Chris wondered if he could ride in, round the centre post and back out again. The answer was yes. Yes he could! From there it was a good track through to Islip.

Upto that point the tracks had been fairly dry. It was however about to get more challenging. The field past the trout fishery at Aldwinkle was a challenge. It was nothing compared to the track out of Aldwinkle as we headed to lyveden new bield

This is the last picture my Garmin Virb managed before it ran out of charge. It was a lovely piece of off road. Steve and Andy had put together a very good route. As we arrived at Lyvden we pressed an unsuspecting couple into taking our picture. I'm still bemused as to why they used their own camera first! They took one on my mobile which is pants because unbeknown to me at the time, I'd smashed my lens cover!

Rubbish isn't it. Anyway the place has a great history that is not remotely enhanced by a gang of lycra louts descending on the place. Some great skills from Graham though as he traversed the dry moat! From there we had brief respite on the road before a grueling trek along a bridleway towards Brigstock.

Then to Brigstock. The track from Brigstock to Geddington, through the chase is frankly the best bit of downhill in Northants when it's dry. Well it wasn't dry and we were going uphill not down! Great fun though. Quite a few tumbles in the tricky ruts and fall of the day goes to Rob. Somehow, mostly rising slowly, I managed to stay upright through the boggy bits but my legs were gone. The others made it to Geddington way before me. When I got there, Rob had a puncture to add to his Mr Tumble woes.

A swift inner tube swap was followed by a woefully inadequate pump. Chris lent him something more powerful and there was some impressive handling of the longer shaft. As you can imagine that really was the tamest thing we said about the situation! I was done and said goodbye to the lads and headed home through Weekly Woods. It was tough turning the peddles but the thought of the last apple cake of the year kept me going!

I arrived home absolutely filthy and incredibly tired but really quite pleased with myself. I didn't feel like riding today but forced myself. It was well worth it. Pure cycling therapy with fantastic company. Cheers to Andy, Steve, Ken, Graham, Rob and Chris.The Queen of Cakes apple cake did indeed aid recovery but I'll still sleep well tonight!

Okay that's enough for now.
Happy Pedaling

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