My ride on Sunday morning was one of the best rides I have done for ages .
I can’t really say why it was so good , perhaps it was a mixture of things that just added up to a great ride .
As I stated in my previous blog I used my 1950’s Raleigh Roadster so I made sure it was all ready to go the night before, I fitted some lights, inflated the tyres and filled my small saddle bag with the essentials .
I had already decided on a route to take as I wanted it to be fairly flat so as not to make it too hard for me or the bike as I would not have the normal amount of gears available to me . The bike is fitted with a Sturmey Archer AW 3 speed hub with 2 external rear cogs to give me a total of six gears to choose from .
I had wanted a 1950’s Roadster for a while before this one came along. One of the qualifying factors was it must be useable on a day to day basis as the right bike would be part of my commuting fleet. This rules out a lot of bikes fitted with steel rimmed wheels as we all know about damp weather and steel rims with the lack of braking they provide so when this one came up and I could see it had alloy rimmed 26 x 1 ¼” wheels I jumped at it .
This ride, if it went to plan, was intended to be my longest ride to date on this machine. I was up and out of the house by 5.20 am and headed out of Wellingborough on the A510 which meant I had the worst of any hills on the intended route within the first 5 miles of the ride , these were coped with ease using most of the gears that were available. Once clear of Finedon I was able to actually relax and start getting a nice rhythm going and before I knew it I was cruising along at 18 mph with just enough light being provided on the mid power setting on both of the lights I had fitted so I had some extra light in reserve if I needed it .
This bike rides so smooth and quietly it really is hard for me to believe it’s actually older than myself and with some Koolstop brake pads fitted it even stops quite well which is always useful . Once I had crossed over the A14 I was on to more secondary roads so the extra lighting was turned on to try and help me negotiate the various pot holes and lumps that strewn our network of roads these days . As I cycled through sleepy Cranford village I realised how well I was actually doing as I was averaging just under 15 mph .
As I entered Barton Seagrave I dropped on to the pavement to avoid being held up in the road works that were present , this meant a reduction in pace as a lot of the driveways that crossed the pavement were not very smooth at all . Once clear of the Warkton Lane turning I was able to rejoin the main carriageway and head down towards Wickstead Park before taking a left turn that takes you past the Weetabix factory and into Burton Latimer. This stretch of road is always busy with fellow cyclists either going to work or coming from doing the night shift, it’s just a shame that none of them use lights !
Once I was past the Weetabix factory it was off towards Isham and the nasty stretch of the A509 that runs through the centre of the village. So once again up on to the pavement till I got to the Orligbury turn where I could rejoin the main carriageway on this country lane that has a few up and downs on it so again quite a few of the gears were used to keep up a good average pace . Upon arrival in Orlingbury I decided to elongate my intended route as all was going well and instead of heading homeward I headed off towards the Red House Garage crossing .
This section of road from Orlingbury to the crossing on the A43 is a long gentle slope that only really starts to show as you approach the wooded section at the far end near the crossing, so by the time I reached there I found myself in gear 2 in the hub and the smaller rear cog and still going well which was a pleasant surprise. It was also starting to lighten up a bit so I could go back to middle mode on both of the front lights .
Once across the A43 the road has a gentle drop all the way into Hannington, as you pass the quaint church it rises gently on the way towards Holcot before dropping down to the edge of the village where I headed into the centre and took a recently discovered short cut which saved me about 150 yards . The road out of Holcot rises gradually past the car boot site and on towards the island with the A43 where I crossed straight over heading towards Sywell .
It was as I travelled along this section of road I noticed my average had dropped to below 15 mph and with quite a few more little hills to go I thought I would be happy to maintain the current average all things considered . The road between Sywell and Mears Ashby has a nice quick descent and again a sharp little rise where I noticed that I had achieved 28 mph down the slope before crawling up the other side and straight on over the cross roads into Mears Ashby. Here it drops and rises again before getting to the Wilby road where it is mostly flat with a couple of little hills just to catch you out and a quick descent into Wilby before you hit the main A4500 and head back towards Wellingborough. With total miles just short of 25, as I rode past Sainsbury’s I decided to head straight home and up the Queensway with the last climb of the day completed I felt it was time to pat myself on the back and say well done to man and machine . This ride also took me past the 4k mark for miles covered in 2016.