I’d been looking forward to doing a Bypasser after work and the weather was nice enough today – dry, partly sunny and warm enough for exposed legs. Too windy, though. But hey ho.

Nice views into Staffordshire going along Orton Lane.

My left cleat wouldn’t clip in. It was hooking in nicely at the front though, so I tolerated it. Will replace it tomorrow. It was fine last time I wore those particular shoes (I choose them at random in the garage), but probably used on a different bike.

I listened to 5 Live Drive, which was mainly concerned with the news that Deborah James, the podcaster who was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer five years ago, is now receiving end-of-life care at home. There was a recorded interview with her.

Listeners were warned that it would be a tough listen, and it certainly was – not only because Deborah was audibly scared and upset, but also because Tony Livesey, who interviewed her, was improbably gushing and mawkish. But since he’s something of a personal friend of the poor woman, I forgave him.

I certainly counted myself lucky, as I pedalled the rest of the way round, to have a decent probability of another twenty or thirty years myself.

31.04 miles and that’s 206 this month. Happy with that for ten days into May.

Just looking at the forecast and Saturday looks a terrific cycling day – if I timed it properly I could do a Fondo with a tailwind both ways, albeit a very light one. But I’m on call.

Imperial Fondo

Lovely day for cycling with a light wind coming from the east. I wanted to do an Imperial Fondo, a term I’ve just coined for a 100 mile ride, and the Norfolk route, or part of it, seemed the obvious choice.

I was slightly concerned, when I got to Waltham, to find that both shops there were closed. I’d only brought a cornish pasty and a flapjack. But I stopped at a bench there and ate the pasty anyway, in the hope that I’d find a place open later on. Happily the village shop at Buckminster was still open for another half hour (good timing) so I stocked up on goodies there, and ate some of them at the bench outside. I particularly enjoyed the ice cream choc lolly.

I like that place, but when I inspected the chicken sandwich I’d bought there about 25 miles later, I noticed that it had a “Use by 5th May” label. Bit of a black mark.

I wore tights and three layers on top as it was definitely a bit cool when I set off, but the tights and an upper layer came off at Waltham. I was fine for a while after that but definitely still too warm for a couple of hours later on.

I confess I have not been maintaining my legs in the proper cyclist fashion and some of my leg hairs are alarmingly long now. I think it’s an age thing. I must sort them out soon.

I took a different route after Buckminster than last time I went this far, although I have been the same way before. I hope to do Norfolk and back again this year sometime and I think today’s option is a bit better. Better road surfaces and I think a little less climbing, though I will check that.

Nice sunny warm day, really nice day out on a bike. I was back about an hour before sunset and I did feel a bit guilty for not doing a longer ride. I didn’t set off particularly early either, about 09:10. But I didn’t have time to do the whole Norfolk shebang and just doing another 20 or 30 miles in that direction feels a bit pointless.

I went a bit further than 50 miles though which gave me the opportunity to take a slightly quicker route back (through Wymeswold and Rempstone again) to change things up a bit.

Listened to part two of the Cyberman audio series, Fear. Brilliant stuff. Also footy on 5 Live, although Arsenal took the suspense out of their game against Leeds somewhat by scoring twice in the first 10 minutes. Man City committed a similar offence later on against Newcastle so I flipped to Radio Leicester to listen to Leicester vs Everton which was a bit more interesting.

100.36, 174 this month.

Long Lane

Thoroughly decent weather was forecast for today, so I came up with a plan last night to do something a bit different. Attentive readers might recall that on Tuesday, I tried (but failed) to navigate my way to Long Lane, over near the border with Lincolnshire.  So I planned a route to do that from Eastwell, then to take a road called Redmile Lane north-east to the the Newark route that I’ve done a few times and come back that way. I made a slight modification, to come back through Rempstone rather than East Leake.

I loaded the route into a GPX app on my phone, which I mounted on the stem. Worked very well. It’s a pretty serviceable alternative to my eTrex I must say. As long as you only flip the screen on for brief periods, it doesn’t wear the battery down too much. Might even be adequate for a much longer ride.

Nice to reacquaint myself with Long Lane. I love the view of Belvoir Castle in the distance from there. Great to do the Newark route again on the return part as well, I’ve only done it a couple of times and not for over a year. The only bummer is that the roads in Nottinghamshire are really rough in parts; scrubby and weather-worn, and patched up with tarmac like big lumps of black chewing gum.

But I was glad to be coming back a different way. Typically on a long ride I come back mostly the same way, and the sense of adventure and fun drains out of the ride on the way back. But today I was looking forward to seeing landmarks on the old Newark route that I hadn’t seen for a long time.

I stopped to buy some food at a village shop at Stathern, on the part of the ride that I hadn’t done before. This turned out to be a cyclists’ dream village – there was another village shop two minutes further on with benches and tables, and an inviting looking pub with a beer garden. But I was happy enough with the bench I found there. Only 33 miles from home so it would be well worth making it the end point for a Fondo, except that it’s at the bottom of a long, steep hill.

I listened to the last half hour of The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. It has a pretty ambiguous and meaningless ending. It doesn’t really conclude, it just dies. It’s a phenomenally imaginative work and certainly thought-provoking, but not coherent. After that I listened to the first two instalments of Scorpius, a Big Finish audio production concerning the Cybermen. A bit like a radio play with some thoroughly creditable acting performances and impressive incidental music and sound effects. Brilliant! Very focused and really draws you in. Earth is in a war with a race of human-created androids in the Orion system. The androids are winning.

The Cybermen offer to help. They have the military power to destroy the androids easily. But what do they want? I loved it.

I trialled a backpack that I’ve had for about three years but never used, my only dedicated cycling backpack. Narrower, with a stiff back and chest and waist straps. Not that voluminous. Quite comfortable though, I don’t really see an advantage over a simple generic light backpack but I’m sure I’ll use it again.

Anyway – 74.12 miles and that’s my 10th Fondo this year.

Kirkby Lane

I left work pretty early, thinking of possibly doing a Fondo. Pretty nice out there, just warm enough for bare legs and sunny.

I did the southbound route as far as Kirkby Lane, at which point I decided I’d keep it short. I had other things I could be doing this evening and for some reason I didn’t fancy a long one. So I looped across to Market Bosworth and came back via Barton in the Beans, Odstone, Burgoland, Swepstone.

Really nice out there and I enjoyed it, but 27.25 miles was enough. I fitted the last of the new carbon seat posts to the second Boardman at lunchtime, so I took that. All good and again I think it’s improved the ride.

Listened to more of The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. Nearing the end now and man, what a strange book. Toward the end there’s some lengthy dialogue in which you sense that Dick is expressing some sort of whacked out religious philosophy. He did suffer from hallucinations and delusion in real life, and you can see that in what he writes.

447 this month and that’ll be it for April.


More a case of a Fondo being an excuse for an afternoon off work than vice-versa, today. I just felt I needed to take a break from it. And it’s only Tuesday.

The eastbound route was the obvious choice, with the wind coming from the NE. I did that for 24 miles, then I decided I needed to do something different. I remembered pedalling along a road called Long Lane a couple of years ago, with a nice view of Belvoir Castle in the distance – I knew it couldn’t be far from there (a little to the north and east) so I set off in the appropriate direction.

The main part of the eastbound route after Six Hills runs along the crest of a long hill, and any of the northward turns off it involve a steep descent – as you can see from this section of a topographic map:

I took a north turn along Ostler Lane, and rattled down the hill at quite some speed. Fun! I arrived at a village called Nether Broughton, where I saw a sign to Nottingham, pointing up an A road. Should I have a bit of an adventure, and head off in that direction? I didn’t. I continued my pursuit of Long Lane with the aid of Google Maps, but I gave up about two miles later. The route there looked too complicated and I was fed up of consulting my phone every few minutes. So I decided to take an easy looking route to the A road leading to Nottingham after all. I looped round via a village called Hickling.

Then I stuck with the A road for a bit, and plotted a course from a bench while I had lunch that would take me to Wymeswold, from where I’ve navigated home many times (it’s on the old eastbound route).

After I arrived at Rempstone I calculated that I’d be home on less than a Fondo distance so I detoured via Diseworth and that saw me home on 62.82 miles.

Quite a lot of new territory but not that interesting, and some of it was a bit suburban. A bit of an adventure I suppose but I was irritated by having to check Google Maps at regular intervals over the unfamiliar part. Nice weather today though. Intermittently sunny, completely dry and the wind wasn’t strong.

Three of my last four rides have been Fondos, not sure I’ve ever done that before.

420 this month, 1628 this year. This time last year I’d done 1378, and the year before, 1160.

Sutton Bonington

Wanted to do 30 or 40 after work. I was able to get out at about 4pm. Not particularly warm, but dry and mostly sunny.

With the wind coming from the east, I thought I’d do 15 or 20 miles of the eastbound route, then come back. I decided to turn toward Long Whatton instead, but just by following my nose I found myself back on the usual eastbound route after a few miles.

After Zouch though I took the turn to Sutton Bonington, rather than Normanton. I hadn’t done that for about three years – which is painful to think about really, because it doesn’t seem that long ago. Really nice along there. The trouble is, it doesn’t really go anywhere useful.

Stopped to take this pic, and to check the seat post and saddle – this was the Boardman’s first run out on its carbon seat post, which had been intended for the Cannondale but didn’t fit it. I hadn’t noticed anything amiss during the ride up to that point, but when I checked it by hand, the saddle was loose! Just as well I’d brought the appropriate Allen key.

I turned back for home. I could have gone a bit further along Soar Lane, but the road surface was awful.

Back on 28.96 miles. I could have done a few more but I was looking forward to a cheap but well refrigerated Sauvignon Blanc and a Tesco ready meal.

That’s 294 this month, 1503 this year.

Rectangular West

Cooler today, and a bit of a wind coming from the west. But I was relieved of oncall responsibilities at 0800 this morning, so today was set aside to do the April Fondo.

I planned the route last night; the idea was to go up through Coleorton and over Swarkestone Bridge then west along the A road until Sudbury, then go south to come back via what I might term the “legacy westbound route”, which runs to the south of the one which has gained favour in recent years. I did that but took a different turn at Yoxall than I intended, and came back through Barton under Needwood and Coton in the Elms, rather than Alrewas (pronouced “or ‘e was”) and Croxall. Still a familiar westbound route, but a bit shorter.

As I approached Measham though having done only 50 miles, I realised I was going to be about 5 miles short! I knew my navigation error would cut the route a bit shorter, but not that much. Turns out that I somehow made a stupid mistake on the route planner last night and got the track to double back on itself for a couple of miles.

Anyway I made up the requisite Fondo distance by going into Coalville and back.

Excellent day out on the bike, nice to do one of the old westbound routes again, even if only in one direction. The stretch of road that joins the two westbound routes is a brutal rollercoaster of hills, though.

I listened to another four hours of The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. Really right out there bonkers. It’s hard to know whether the events that appear to take place are real or happening in a sort of psychic netherworld induced by the futuristic drugs that are taken by the characters in the book. Wild. I can only think that Philip Dick had partaken of some hallucinogenics himself when he wrote it.

Back on 63.35 miles, that’s 265 this month. Target is 350.

A Warm Day

A beautiful warm, sunny day today. Unfortunately time constraints and the irritating matter of being on call meant I couldn’t make the most of it, but I did want to do 40 or so.

With the wind coming from the south, I had the idea of doing the southbound route for 20 miles or so then coming back. But I went a slightly different way and missed a turn; I realised I’d done this when I found myself approaching Barton in the Beans. But I pressed on down through Bosworth and Sutton Cheney, with the idea of joining the southbound route at Kirkby Mallory – which should have been easy enough to navigate to from there.

Unfortunately it wasn’t – I thought it was a left turn along the A447 but it was a right. So I looped back to Cheney and decided to do something else. I went west along Fenn Lanes and did a reverse Twycrosser of sorts.

Stopped off at San Giovanni for an Old Fashioned.

Very nice run out really, though I’d have loved to have done a longer ride. My inept navigation took me along some roads I haven’t done very often. Happy to have given the S Works a run out as well, it hadn’t been out of the garage since September.

I hadn’t seen any discarded underwear on a bike ride for quite some time, but the drought is over – two pairs of women’s knickers were sighted in the grass verge between Ibstock and Ravenstone, within  a few feet of each other. I suppose the improved weather must have something to do with it.

Back on 43.37 miles.

Longish Twycross Bypasser

Fitted a new seat post to the Cannondale yesterday so naturally, with a bit of time for cycling this afternoon, I was keen to try it. Had to make a minor adjustment after setting off (the saddle was a touch too high) but after that, it was very comfy indeed. I fitted a similar carbon seat post to the X and wasn’t sure if it made a difference to the ride, but on the X it definitely did feel smoother.

It always amused me that the Cannondale didn’t have a stitch of carbon fibre on it despite being my favourite bike, but I guess that’s why it makes more of a difference now that it does.

Anyway I wanted to do about 40 miles and I did a longer version of the Twycross Bypasser. Along Fenn Lanes and through Shenton and Bosworth, then up through the villages. Hadn’t done that for quite a while, a few months I think. Just checked, not since September according to Strava. Took this pic along Atterton Lane.

Noticed more small birds around than of late – is that a Spring phenomenon? Curious how they like to fly across the road at an altitude of a few inches, sometimes. Catching insects, perhaps? I wonder if they ever like to see how high they can go? Wouldn’t you?

The weather was almost perfect; nearly warm and very dry. A bit windy but not overly bothersome. Really a lovely run out.

39.20 miles.


I managed to leave work not long after 3pm with the intention of doing a Fondo. I was going to go up through Melbourne and west along the Beloved A Road in the time-honoured fashion. However I realised after a few miles that I hadn’t brought a phone with me. I’m not on call at the moment but even so, I’d never hear the end of it if my lovely wife tried to call me. She does have a broken wrist at the moment so it’s conceivable she’d need help with something.

I pressed on nonetheless, but started feeling a bit anxious after I got to Hatton. What would I do if my chain broke, with no phone and no debit card or cash, 20-something miles from home? So I turned back.

Very much a game of two halves, on the outward leg I got rained on quite a bit and had to contend with a headwind. Conditions dried up nicely for the homeward part and it was a very pleasant ride with a light wind behind me.

Back on 43.59 miles, 120 this month. Target is 350.