Westbound Fondo

Another lovely day but the weather is due for a change later in the week, so I took the afternoon off work to do a Fondo. There are so many days in the year when you have to clad yourself in multiple layers of clothing to go cycling and still end up with freezing fingers and toes, that it seems a rare privilege to be able to go out in short sleeves and shorts on a warm day.

Actually it wasn’t that warm when I set off and I wondered if I’d made a mistake on the clothing strategy. But an hour or so later conditions were perfect.

I only settled on a firm plan a mile or two after setting off. I went up through Coalville to Belton and Isley Walton then up over Swarkestone Bridge. By this time the idea was to go west along the time-honoured Flat A Road until I’d done 30-odd miles then come back. The wind was coming from the west.

But when I got to Sudbury after 29 miles, I saw a sign to Abbot’s Bromley – part of the other (more southerly) westbound route. I didn’t know how much this would add to the overall distance and I couldn’t afford to stay out too long since I’m on call, but I decided to take it. This took me south along a B road. Really quite a nice stretch, not too busy and with a few pubs, though I didn’t stop.

After a few miles, Abbots Bromley was signposted to the west – this seemed a counter-intuitive thing to do given that I needed to be going back east, so I consulted Google Maps at a farm gate off the road. The road I was on would take me to Yoxall, familiar territory. Perfect. So I carried on to Yoxall and through Barton under Needwood, Walton-on-Trent, Rosliston et al. All familiar points on the “lower westbound” route.

I stopped to take the following pic near Measham. I have no idea who the property where these signs are maintained belongs to, but he or she seems to be thoroughly astute.

By this time I’d realised that, rather than over-extending my ride, my unplanned impromptu route home would see me back on about 57 miles at most. I extended it to the requisite 100km distance by taking an indirect route back, through Swepstone and Ibstock.

Really a very satisfying ride, much more interesting than a perfunctory run along the A road and back the same way. And very nice to do the older westbound route again for the latter part of the ride, I don’t do it that often these days. It’s much hillier than the A road but a valued element of my road repertoire nonetheless.

I must compose a proper Fondo route based on this ride, perhaps one that goes all the way to Abbots Bromley.

I listened mainly to Scotland vs Czech Republic on 5 Live. As the game started, I thought of the words of Neil Oliver: “Until the day I die, I will consider myself to be British”. And I remembered that those brave Scottish lads, facing a foreign foe on British territory, are after all my countrymen.

And yet – somehow, I couldn’t help a cheer and a fist pump when the first goal went in against them, as I pedalled through Scropton. So much so that a gentleman on the pavement nearby withdrew his phone to find out what had happened.

First thing I did when I got home was to sit myself in front of YouTube to check out the second goal they’d conceded, it sounded spectacular. And it was.

62.40, 269 this month, 2206 this year.


Augmented Twycrosser

I got up early this morning, yet somehow I didn’t really feel like grinding out a long ride. Shame really because it was a warm, dry day and I wasn’t on call. Just the sort of conditions that can be frustratingly elusive. But the wind was coming from the west and I didn’t really fancy a long run out over that way again so soon.

In the end I left the house at about 10:25, with the thought of doing 45 or so – which would allow me time for other activities in the afternoon, but get the distance total for June up to about 200 miles.

No clear idea of what I wanted to do as I set off, but I settled for a Twycrosser. I decided to have a run along the Dad’s Army extension, into Warwickshire. That led me eventually along a busy stretch of the A5, I tried a couple of left turns off that, but both took me into dead-end industrial estates. After a few miles of that, I turned back.

Back off the A5 and onto Spon Lane. On a whim I decided to take a left off that, to explore for a bit. Found myself on a narrow, gritty and mostly uphill track. At the top of that I followed a sign to Dordon. I had no real idea where I was at this point, but fortunately Dordon was a decent-sized little town so I was hopeful I’d have a better route out of it than the narrow track I’d just taken.

And I did, but this took me back to the A5! I’d looped back onto myself. So I came back down. I stopped at a garage and bought an iced coffee, a bag of crisps and a Flake. Strolled over to a nearby Starbucks and made myself comfortable at a table and chair outside there. Bit cheeky I suppose, since I was consuming food bought elsewhere.

Back onto the Twycross route, along Fenn Lanes, up through Bosworth, Carlton et al as usual. I stopped at the Gate Hangs Well for a G&T in the sunshine six miles from home.

Back on 51.59 miles. 207 this month. In the end I was sorry I hadn’t done a proper Fondo. I could have done another ten miles today of course but I much prefer to go somewhere 20-odd miles away and come back, rather than faffing around.

Still – nice run out on a warm, sunny day. Quick shower when I got back then out again for cocktails by the lake at San Giovanni, so it’s been a good day.


Equipment Test

Not much time this evening but I thought I’d take out Trigger’s Broom for 25 or so after work, to check all’s well with the new chain, gear cable and rear mech. I finally got round to fastening the gear cable and adjusting everything yesterday.

All working very sweetly, I’m glad to report. Nice to have it almost clean, as well. I wouldn’t have bothered to do that yet if I hadn’t bought new stuff to put on it.

I went up through Coalville and Belton, up to Long Whatton, Diseworth, back down through Coleorton. Nothing fancy. Ended up on 20.82 miles, a bit less than I intended but that’s fine. Not clever to go too far with three newly-fitted critical components anyway.

Really good to have the Boardman back in full working order, but as I sailed past views of the Leicestershire landscape along Top Brand, pondering the number of equipment options I have available, it did occur to me that I’m a greedy bastard with too many bikes.

Intermittently cloudy and sunny again. Cooler than of late but still comfortable in shorts and short sleeves. Nice little run out.


155 this month, more tomorrow possibly.

Anniversary Fondo

To celebrate the first anniversary of my 200-miler, I decided to do the June Fondo after work today. In all honesty I was going to do a Fondo today anyway, but why not make an occasion of it?

I was able to leave work at about 3:30pm. A bit of a wind coming from the west, but dry and warm. Quite cloudy when I set off but the sun came out for long periods later on.

I was going to go straight up to Melbourne then over the bridge, but absent-mindedly went up Top Brand instead. At the top I decided that the quickest way to get to the South Derbyshire town with the Australian-sounding name would be to go left through Breedon, but looking at my track on Strava, I wasn’t right about that. Would have been quicker to keep on to Isley Walton then turn left, or to go through Wilson. I normally prefer not to take that latter road though because it goes past a quarry, and the road is usually rather dusty.

Anyway – up over Swarkestone Bridge then west along my beloved flat A road south of Derby. I went a bit further than Sudbury where I calculated that if I came back through Ticknall and Hartshorne, I’d have done the required 100km.

Beautiful out there, especially at about 9pm in bright, late evening sunshine. Back shortly before sunset. I did think of stopping at a pub near Hilton for a pizza or something but I’d brought enough food with me, so I didn’t.

Really loving these opportunities to go out in shorts and short sleeves. I’d brought a long-sleeved top in my backpack in case it was too cool later on, but it wasn’t.

I really enjoyed gliding back along the A road with the sun and the wind on my back. Glorious. If only the last ten miles could have been flat as well.

Listened to my Alastair Reynolds audiobook, which is only just maintaining my attention I have to say, then Iain Dale on LBC who was hosting a sort of ‘Any Questions?’ without an audience. Quite good-natured. Then he had a phone-in about Gareth Southgate and his attention-seeking “Dear England” open letter. I’ve come to dislike Southgate, I’m sorry to say. He is arrogant, self-important and unwilling to listen. And for the first time in my life, I’ll be hoping this current crop of attention-seeking English footballers, with their fondness for political gestures, get knocked out in the group stage of a major tournament.

Anyway, 63.18 miles.



Blowier than I’d have liked today, but conditions were warm, dry and intermittently sunny – so it would be churlish to complain. My intention was to slide out of work early and do a Fondo, perhaps to the Northamptonshire border and back – but I didn’t manage to creep away from my PC quite as soon as I hoped, and after I noticed that I hadn’t brought a pump with me, about 10 miles in – I decided to keep it to 40 or so. Shame because I love dusk this time of year, but there’ll be other opportunities.

I continued down the southbound route as far as Earl Shilton, then decided to take a left along the A47 instead of crossing it to go through the town. I had no clear idea where this would take me, but that was the general idea really. A bit of adventure. I assumed I’d arrive at a left turn that would take me back to familiar territory before long, and I did. I took a road that went through Peckleton, to Desford.

Bizarrely, I couldn’t find my way out of Desford. This was disconcerting because I’ve been along that same road a few times and never got lost before. I recognised the cast-iron aircraft model placed there in honour of the RAF airfield at the same site during the Second World War; I’ve passed it more than once on my travels.

I took a small road that degenerated into a very rough, gritty track. I wasn’t taking a nice road bike along that so I U-turned. Back through Peckleton where I consulted Google Maps, and took a route that would lead me to Kirkby Mallory. Back home through Sutton Cheney, Bosworth, Odstone et al.

Really lovely out there, really should have squeezed more miles out of a very nice evening.

I saw a woodpecker near Bosworth – it landed on a fence post in the usual posture and looked like it was about to give it a good seeing to, but it flew off as I passed. Colourful creature.

40.59 miles, 71.31 this month and that takes me just over half-way to the 2021 target. 2008 miles done this year.


Twycross Bypasser

I hadn’t intended to ride a bike today as I had other commitments in the afternoon, but the evening sunshine was so warm and pleasant that I thought I’d sneak in a crafty 30 miles after dinner. The weather forecast for tomorrow’s not quite so pleasant and opportunities for cycling in light clothing with your legs out are a shame to waste.

I did a Twycross Bypasser. Pretty unremarkable really except that I don’t usually do the stretch from Atherstone Road to Sheepy from south to north.

Listened to the Wales vs Albania friendly until I got bored, then listened to a Hue & Cry compilation on the music player on my phone.

Very nice run out, very nice out there. Glad to have got the June campaign up and running. The adjusted target is 336 miles, but I’ll aim for the original target (386).

https://www.strava.com/activities/5419797958 30.72 miles.


I was going to do at least the regulation 62.14 miles to achieve Fondo status for my ride today, but thought I’d probably do more. I’ve devised a new route to get over to Norfolk, should I do that again some time – and I think I probably will – and I wanted to try part of that out. The new route is largely north of the old Norfolk route. Rather than going through Melton Mowbray, it takes the usual route out east nearly as far as Eastwell – then takes a 90 degree right turn before curving eastward and into Lincolnshire.

This has the advantage firstly that the first 31 miles are very familiar to me, from many rides out to Eastwell or Belvoir Castle – and secondly that it’s a bit less hilly.

So that’s what I did. I wore light clothing, because this afternoon was slated to be warm. Shorts, and a short-sleeved jersey over a long-sleeved top. And unfortunately I got punished for this. I set off at 08:35 when it was pretty overcast and cold, and I was still shuddering in the oncoming cool breeze two hours later. It wasn’t until midday when the sun came out that I started to feel comfortably warm. An hour or so later I had to stop to stuff the long-sleved top in my backpack.

The new stretch of route is really nice – much better than going through Melton. I used the eTrex for the part of the route after Eastwell.  I will definitely do this one again. Because my spirits picked up nicely riding along the various scenic roads and through pleasant villages in the sunshine, I decided to make a 100-miler of it. I stopped eventually at a place called Grimsthorpe, then turned and came back exactly the way I’d come. Another five miles and I’d have been onto the flat bit of Lincolnshire, east of Bourne. Perhaps I should have got up a few hours earlier and gone to the Norfolk border again.

Nice that my route took me right past a TV transmitter that’s visible from the road near Eastwell in the distance. Turns out it’s the Waltham Transmitter, which broadcasts Freeview to 700,000+ homes in the East Midlands (I’ve just read). No doubt including this one.

I listened to 5 Live until they threatened to broadcast a piece on Stop and Search on the execrable Nihal Arthanayake’s show, and I was just in too good a mood to be brought down by one-sided race-baiting drivel. So I started my next audiobook, Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds.

I read a brilliant double novella by Reynolds in the noughties called Diamond Dogs / Turquoise Days – unbelievably stylish, imaginative and clever science-fiction. And I’m sorry to say that Pushing Ice seems a bit pedestrian, but I quite liked it. I’ll stick with it.

The shop at Sproxton where I’d intended to stop for food and drink on the way back was closed when I tried the door, despite a conspicuous SHOP OPEN sign deployed on the pavement outside. I was nearly out of fluid but not suffering. I made it to Burton in the Wolds, where I bought a very welcome, very cold bottle of fizzy Lucozade, a sausage roll and a Raspberry Crumble bar. Lovely.

After the initial brutality of the cold morning wind, a super ride out with some thoroughly pleasant new places and roads. Back on 104.23 miles. That was my third 100 miler of the year. I think my target was to do five this year.

Quite surprised that I’ve got a Strava personal record on a long stretch of a route that I’ve done many times, from Cotes to Eastwell – despite a headwind.



Didn’t feel a need to go too far today while on call, and I had other plans for the afternoon anyway. Set off at about 10:30, thinking of doing 35 miles or so again. Quite surprised to find that a few spots of rain were descending as I extracted the Cannondale from the garage, but I expected that they’d dry up before long. In fact, twenty minutes later I was riding through a persistent soft rain. But another half hour later things had brightened and warmed up considerably, and my clothes and the bike dried off nicely.

I did a Twycross Bypasser, extended to the west by an excursion to Polesworth from the Orton detour. I’d actually intended to turn left short of Polesworth along Kisses Barn Lane, but I missed that turn.

Back up through Shenton and Bosworth. Every time I take Shenton Lane I wonder why I don’t do it more often, and make a mental note to do so. Beautifully quiet along there. Took this pic there.

Listened to the rest of the Reacher audiobook, Echo Burning, to its conclusion. Seems a little bit contrived, the way Jack ultimately determines the exact sequence of events, Sherlock Holmes-style. But it’s a pretty good book, one of the best of the first five. Unfortunately although there’s an audiobook version of the next one, Without Fail, for some reason it’s not available as a cheap add-on with a Kindle version purchase. Perhaps I’ll try something a bit more highbrow for a bit, anyway.

Lots of little flies around at the moment, presumably because we’ve had a wet May. And as I was coming round the fast downhill bend north of Bosworth, head down, what must have been a fairly large one collided with my right eye like an air rifle pellet. Not really what I wanted on one of those rare moments when I have concentrate carefully on a bike ride. But I survived. Thoroughly pleasant run out.

Back on 36.08 miles, 440 this month. Quick shower when I got in then spent a very nice hour or two in a sunny restaurant garden in Melbourne quaffing cocktails, so it’s been a rather nice day.


Melbourne and Ticknall Again

Beautiful weather this afternoon. Actually warm! Not too windy. And sunny. I had withdrawn a bicycle from the garage by 4pm.

No clear intention other than to do about 35 miles, which would take me over 400 for May. On call though, so I couldn’t go too far. I went north-east up to Long Whatton, west via a rather wayward route to Melbourne, then south-west to Ticknall. I detoured through Hartshorne again like I did on Saturday. Nice to have a viable way of coming home through Ticknall that avoids Bastard Hill.

Came home through Ashby, slightly more directly than last time. Lots of people out on the street, and a queue outside one of the pubs there, the White Hart.

Hadn’t stopped off at the bench near Ticknall for a long time, so I snapped a pic there. It’s clearly in need of a lick of varnish.

Listened mostly to Matt Hancock’s press conference. I don’t want to dwell on Dominic’s little vendetta really, because outside the often fictional world of opposition politics it’s a non-story, but clearly the journos in attendance today didn’t think so. I’ll just record here that Matt handled the questions put to him with great dignity and integrity, and indeed with commendable clarity to be fair.

The BBC is using the anniversary of the death of George Floyd, whom their presenters speak of in hushed, reverent tones now, as though he was Black America’s answer to the Dalai Lama, to have another broadcast race politics festival. This evening 5 Live invited a number of contributors to give their view on how History, as a school subject, might be adjusted to better serve the agenda of the perpetual victim culture addicts and race propagandists. No opposing view was permitted, no kind of critical questioning of this took place.

Anyway, fuck the BBC. I’m not paying for that garbage any more. Back on 36.77 miles, which takes me to 404 this month.



A warm-ish, sunny afternoon but a bit windy. Left work early and did a pretty run-of-the-mill Twycrosser on the Cannondale. Nice apart from the wind which was a bit of a struggle with it in my face coming north of Bosworth.

Had to be back early so only 28.74 miles.


368 this month.