I went out for a proper ride this morning on the Specialized speedy tourer. I was heading for a cafe that I knew from club rides as a good place to go, The Barn Cafe at Upper Stowe not very far from Daventry in Northamptonshire.
I headed our via Salcey Forest and I was passed by a man of similar age to me on a speedy road bike. we had a brief word of greeting as he went past and that was that.. for now !! Thats the beauty of plodding around on what is obviously a touring bike, you don’t feel obliged to try and keep up. I carried on along my way to Roade and then Blisworth and then over the canal and up towards Gayton. I was just approaching a ‘T’ junction there where I would turn left. Just before I got to it i saw ‘speedy man’ from earlier approaching from the opposite direction and he turned right. He obviously recognised me as he slowed down once he was round the corner and waited for me to catch up. We had a nice chat I found out that he lived in Bugbroke and i was going to be passing through there. We had a discussion about the benefits of retirement and how there never seems enough time to get everything done. However there is plenty of time for cycling and when it come to jobs you can take your time and do it properly.
About five miles later we were in Bugbroke and he turned off and I carried on to Nether Hayford where I turned left and up the long hill to the A5 road and across that and up another hill to Upper Stowe. On the way up the hill I got a whiff of the smell of newly ploughed fields so I stopped to take a photo. Its a very autumnal smell in the countryside when all the fields are ploughed up after summer crops.
I restarted and at the top of the hill I stopped to take a photo of the sign that shows you are entering Upper Stowe, but there seemed to have been a bit of cost saving as they also added the name of the next village, Stowe Nine Churches.
Through the village and round a bend and I was at the cafe.. paying particular attention to my speed on the way as warned on the town boundary sign !!
I went in and ordered a toasted tea cake and a cup of coffee and the lady asked me if I wanted my water bottle topped up, I said yes please and I would get it done before I left as I was going to sit outside in the sunshine and I took the above photos while i was waiting. Soon enough my refreshments arrived and very nice it looked too.. the aforesaid toasted tea cake and plenty of butter. Also a cafetiere of coffee and another jug of hot water to top it up should I require, which I didn’t as I got two cups from the cafetiere, a nice thought though non the less, and all for the princely sum of £3.80 which i didn’t think was bad value.
Before leaving I took up the ladies offer of refreshing my water bottle and set off on my way. I wasn’t quite half way yet and soon after I left the cafe I was passed by another speedy road bike and again passed the time with a couple of quick pleasantries. His passing shot was ‘Its good to feel a tailwind at last’. This filled me with dread as I hadn’t even thought about wind direction I just thought i was very fit !! So much was I taken aback that I stopped to take this picture of the rolling Northamptonshire countryside that doesn’t look so rolling here. Its towards the village of Farthingstone where I was going to hit the headwind.
Just after this pause I went through Stowe Nine Churches, there are not nine churches there, in fact its so small that I don’t think there are any, not even nine houses I think. I decided that maybe as it was so high up you could maybe see nine churches from it but I didn’t check.
Soon enough I was into the headwind that more or less stayed with me for the entire ride back. I just dropped down one gear and kept pedalling. Eventually I came upon Towcester and I had plotted a route around the town centre and it brought me out onto the A5 south of Towcester and almost opposite the racecourse entrance.
I was on the final leg now, about 25 miles to go along very familiar roads to me, through Stoke Bruerne and over the canal again and then Hartwell and Hanslope followed in quick succession and I was pretty much home then. I was just about on my last legs when I got there but I had more than doubled the distance of my previous ride with 82km and over 800 metres of climbing.