Northampton Romp to the Piston Club

April. A month of sunshine and showers. As 13 club members gathered at Bicester Starbucks for coffee, the sun was shining and the sky was blue. But, would it last? Today’s regular Meetup run was to the Piston Club, Alcester just beyond Shakespeare’s birthplace. A charming roadhouse created by the owners of Power Maxed Racing, multiple winners of the British Touring Championship. Amongst the motoring memorabilia can be found a Honda CB750 for sale at £7K plus a JAP engine speedway bike.

Starbucks Bicester

We set off just after 10am following a briefing and customary TVAA collection (£39 – thanks all) and trickled our way through Bicester just about avoiding the international brigade of determined shoppers sprinting towards the Mecca that is Bicester Retail Village. Leaving Oxfordshire we enjoy a short dip in the land of HS2, formally known as Buckinghamshire.A rural landscape sinking under concrete, enormous trucks and plant with associated craters and permanently set to red, temporary ? traffic lights. It’s a hard life up North (Buckinghamshire). Usually best avoided but today we are on a mission to the Towcester Races to wave at the galloping nags.

Unfortunately, in a vain effort to exit Bucks the ride leader chooses to disagree with his pre-planned route, fails to turn right and leads a merry band of men and machines into the deepest depths of a Bovis Homes construction site. Luckily good fortune smiled and a kindly construction worker directed our U-turn and pointed us towards a big sign with A5 written on it! The GS riders look disappointed being denied the opportunity to traverse a muddy wonderland. The rest of us look relieved. Later, Colin was to offer wise words on trying to outwit a pre-planned route and its consequences 🙂 . It was good advice!

The fun wasn’t quite over. Since testing the route 5 days earlier, the road closed mafia had been out and shut the road to Gayton! Stoke Bruerne is the epicentre of the canal network in Northhants and Garmin gave us a wonderful tour of narrow, weak canal bridges as we circled around the closure. With these unplanned delays we are running late for our midway break at Woodford Halse community café. It’s approaching midday as we ride into Bugbrooke, 10 miles short. Good news, the Badger café is open so the 13 of us join about 20 villagers and enjoy the relief on offer! The cakes and plumbing are equally stunning. The village ladies waiting table are welcoming and old worldly in the speed of service. But we are happy.

Bugbrooke Badger Community Cafe

Less so when we return to the bikes. Yep, as they say in France ‘I’ll pleut’. Now this is the month for April showers BUT Northants has other ideas. We now enjoy (endure) 90 minutes of constant rain to our destination. Do those claims made by Rukka, Halvarsson and others really stack up . . . hmm. Always a joy to see the steam rising from a BMW heated seat. Other highlights along the way included a ride through Fenny Compton, made famous by the brave Sub Postmasters who took on a corrupt Post Office, military aircraft on show at Wellsbourne and as a finale 13 bikes traversing Stratford’s ring road gently filtering past the mostly stationary traffic.

The Piston Club was still expecting us, despite our lateness. Lovely warm atmosphere in the pub, good food, refreshment, conversation, ride post mortem – kit drying out. Just perfect.

Why not join us?  Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday rides most months. Sign up to Meetup and then look for us at:



Author: James O'Shea