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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!