Day 15 of #30DaysOfBiking

Up and down The Centurion Way, Chichester’s equivalent of Northampton’s Brampton Valley Way – a disused railway line converted into a linear recreational area (and with a stream flowing alongside!

A junk-sculptured centurion!

A junk-sculptured centurion!

Triumphal arch at the entrance to Chichester!

Triumphal arch at the entrance to Chichester!

Route here on RideWithGPS.

The Sustrans / University of Northampton ride

The event took place last Wednesday and was a great opportunity to meet people.  I met George Pollard, the new Sustrans officer at the University.  And then he equipped half-a-dozen students with bikes from his Sustrans “fleet”.  Two more helpers turned up: John from the CTC and Bill, George’s brother, of Bomberdrome and Ministry of Bicycles fame.

We made a little alternative to the planned route down to the Brampton Valley Way – going through Obelisk Spinney into Boughton rather than down Lynton Avenue to the A508.


The students were keen on the fast descent of Brampton Lane and enjoyed the flat BVW going further than they thought.  With of course the result that there was further to pedal back!

The limit of our adventure: the BVW at the Brixworth-to-Spratton road

The limit of our adventure: the BVW at the Brixworth-to-Spratton road

A non-alcoholic break was taken at The Windhover, hosted by George (Sustrans’ expenses exclude the taking of alcoholic beverages.

Refreshments at The Windhover

Refreshments at The Windhover

Then we were off along the BVW towards Kingsthorpe, leaving at Kentstone Avenue before a slightly gentler climb up to the University.  And one little alternative again: straight along Reynard Way to use the toucan crossing of Holly Lodge Drive.

The students all enjoyed it.  The prize for those who had come the furthest went to the three Greek students on Erasmus exchanges!

Route here: and the Greek girls were very pleased to have cycled 20 kilometres!

Recce’ing a ride for Sustrans / University of Northampton

Thursday morning was bright and mild – almost spring-like – and so I decided it would be an ideal time for recce’ing a short ride being organised next week for students at my local university by Sustrans.  I think it’s part of the university’s Environment Week.

The fun part of the ride is to be along the traffic-free Brampton Valley Way (BVW).  The problem is to find a safe route from the university to the BVW – and another safe route back again – for cyclists who may well be inexperienced or nervous in motor traffic.

With friends John and Phil, I’d helped on a smiler ride last year but couldn’t remember the safe route back.  And I have to admit that that part of Kingsthorpe (between the BVW and the Welford Road) is a bit of a mystery triangle for me.

So, I started at the University and got quickly down to The Windhover where the A5199 crosses the BVW and I remembered two pieces I’d read by fellow Kingsthorpe Blogger “baptissimo”.  In his blog “Searching for Lucia” he’d written about a tile mosaic erected beside the path.  And then he’d found another one!

So, instead of just recce’ing a safe way back, I pedalled along the BVW (We’ll be going along there with the university group on Wednesday anyway).  Met three ladies; asked them; no, they hadn’t seen any mosaics.  And then I did – just where the restored railway begins.

A ghostly figure enjoys a cup of coffee

A ghostly figure enjoys a cup of coffee

A quick pedal back; chat with the three women (their dogs must have been slow); onto the BVW going south from The Windhover.  What a lovely surface for that part of the Way!  And then nipping through a jitty into Kentstone Close, it was a safe journey back to the University.

Now the upside to all this is that Carole Miles commented on “Searching for Lucia” and identified herself as the artist.  The mosaics project is called “Marking a Fine Lane” and there are some excellent photos by the splendidly named MacCanonymous here on Flickr.

Here’s the route I’ll suggest to Sustrans:

Day 1 of 30 Days of Biking

I signed up a few weeks ago for this “challenge” – ride a bike every day in April – and have been looking forward to it.  Oddly, it will be more difficult than it seems.

I made friends with two American cyclists from Minnesota last summer; this idea is from the state capital, Minneapolis.  So that’s another reason to “take (this particular) pledge” as the US website puts it.

Today will be one of the shorter rides, I hope.  Got out of the house just after 5 p.m. (actually the nicest part of the day) to take the Brompton out, having been slightly worried that, after Saturday’s London ride, it was squeaking a bit.  Turned out to be no squeaks at all.

Went down to the Brampton Valley Way and a part that has been recently upgraded.  I wrote about that here.  Not only a good surface but some signs indicating that this is indeed NCR 6.


A very enjoyable short ride!


A local Sustrans ride

This afternoon I went along to my local university (the main campus of the University of Northampton is less than five minutes away) at the invitation of Dan Romberg who is Sustrans’ university officer there.  With a colleague who works in local schools, he has a project to reduce congestion in the “Kingsthorpe corridor”.  With two other CTC friends – John and Phil L – I was to help him lead a group ride out to, and then along, the Brampton Valley Way.  The individuals who made up the group were staff members from the university, most of whom lived locally and might be helped to make a decision to cycle to work rather than always travelling by car.

It was a great afternoon! Sustrans has found the money for half-a-dozen new hybrid bikes.  (By coincidence from Pitsford Cycles where my touring bike is presently being serviced.)  We collected them from a secure bike park and this was to be their first outing.  Dan had checked them in advance and my job was to adjust the saddle height for the riders who chose them.  When the ride started, I was Tail-End Charlie.

We went out through the quiet roads of two or three housing estates (including the one where I live) with just a short stretch of 300 metres along the A508 before turning onto a great downhill down Brampton Lane.  Hats went flying!

We re-grouped at the start of the Brampton Valley Way.



and then there was no stopping anyone!  One or two stretches of the path, where it was exposed, were bitterly cold but in the sheltered parts (which form the majority) it was lovely and … sunny!


Our leader, Dan!

We passed the restored Pitsford railway and the Merry Tom crossing and almost reached the Brixworth-to-Spratton road – before someone remembered that a pub stop had been promised!  We turned about and pedalled to an old favourite, “The Windhover”.  The first puncture (someone had been flailing hedges and there were thorns aplenty) happened just before the pub.  The rider manfully carried on until it could be repaired indoors!



Well-earned refreshment

Dan was a whizz at repairing the puncture inside the pub.  I don’t think I’ve seen that before.

And then, finding a quiet way back to the university, our second puncture happened just having left the pub.  Dan was even faster at getting that one repaired.  John had chosen a route that didn’t take in too much hill climbing although, because we’d all enjoyed the chatter in the pub, dusk was upon us.  The Sustrans bikes had lights and so all was well.

Everyone had enjoyed themselves, agreed that the exercise had been good fun, and some were enquiring about other organised rides – and indeed the possibility of cycling to work once or twice a week!

Part of the route – from the University to The Windhover is here.

A great afternoon!

Upgrading the Brampton Valley Way Cycle Path, part 2

At the end of CTC Northampton’s bike ride on Saturday morning Iain Dawson and I took the opportunity to look at and photograph the improvements to the Brampton Valley Way cycle path – this time where it goes under the Northampton-to-Rugby railway line (between King’s Heath and The Windhover).  I’ve written text and photos on the blog I maintain for CTC Northampton here:

Upgrading the Brampton Valley Way cycle path, part 2.

To whet your appetite, here’s a nice photograph of what I mean:


Upgrading the Brampton Valley Way cycle path

I was out for a bike ride this morning and took the opportunity to look at and photograph the improvements to the Brampton Valley Way cycle path (where it crosses the A5099 near The Windhover).  I’ve written text and photos on the blog I maintain for CTC Northampton here:

Upgrading the Brampton Valley Way cycle path.

They don’t make rims like they used to!

Well, that’s not quite true.  This rim lasted 17 years of heavy braking usage on an off-road bike – until last Thursday.

First the bike: I bought this Saracen Tufftrax in 1995.  Not quite their top-of-the-range model but quite close to state-of-the-art!


No, they didn’t have suspension systems as regular then.  And I still feel it’s one more thing to go wrong.  This bike has been all over the Peak District, the Lake District, Exmoor and the Brecon Beacons.

Then, last Thursday, descending to the Brampton Valley Way quite near my house, I put the brakes on and, afterwards, the bike didn’t seem to want to move.  Interesting!


I understand now that one isn’t supposed to let rims achieve a concave profile!  I pushed the bike home and only then did air slowly escape from the tyre.  The lovely people at Pitsford Cycles (I used to teach the young mechanic) put me right!