As planned, I downed tools early to go cycling in the beautiful
quasi-summer weather we’ve been having. I wore a mere two layers on top,
and shorts. Possibly the earliest date in the year that I’ve ever
cycled with my legs out, but needless to say I was certainly adequately
warm. Perhaps not having shaved them helped. And I wore a helmet, for
what I think is the first time this year. Clearly a woolly hat is not
appropriate in this weather. I wore a peaked sport cap on Sunday.
took the X with me this time, bringing to an end a run of 448
consecutive miles on the red Boardman. The X certainly felt different – a
fair bit lighter and more refined – and it made light work of the
slightly-longer-than-Sunday Twycross that I embarked upon. I set off 20
minutes earlier than Sunday with the hope of being back in bright
daylight, and I’m pleased to say that I achieved that. A slightly later
sunset and a quicker bike also helped, of course.
Really nice to be out on the green one again for the first time in four months.
a Twycross version that I’ve probably done quite a few times; straight
through Twycross to Sheepy then back along Gibbet Lane. Knees did OK,
feeling a bit sore now but I think they’ll be back to what passes for
normal these days by Thursday.
My new DAB radio performs
beautifully – it sounds great and even hangs on to the 5 Live DAB signal
in what I’d hitherto assumed to be a DAB black spot just south of
Heather. It’s just a shame that it only does 5 hours on a single charge
(according to the manual). The supplied earplugs are of decent quality
but protrude a bit and pick up wind noise – I shall replace them with my
favourite variant of Sennheisers.
Annoyingly the X’s bike
computer ran out of juice (a CR2032 in this case) after about a mile and
I was using my phone in my jacket to track the ride, so had no
functioning odometer. But I didn’t really need one.
wildlife of any note but a very pleasant 21.79 miles. A couple more than
I want to be doing at this stage really but having a quicker / lighter
bike is a mitigating factor.
looking at the track on Strava, I’m struck by how accurate it is,
following the road really smoothly and closely. I used the same phone to
track a walk in the City last week and it was all over the place –
jagged and wobbly. I think reflections from tall buildings must
interfere quite a bit.
Lovely day. Unfortunately I’d booked lunch for 2pm at a local hostelry. I
was determined to do 20 miles or so, and decided to do them after lunch
rather than before as it was a bit cool and misty in the morning.
Perhaps more hazy than misty, but anyway – afternoon seemed a better bet
with temperatures slated to climb quite a bit from 1pm or so.
hoped to be out of there by 3:15pm or so but due to their pitifully
slow service – I’ll be crucifying them on Tripadvisor later – I hadn’t
mounted the Boardman until just after 4pm. Just enough time though for a
decent run out without resorting to a powerful front light.
planned a route which I thought would give me a bit more than 20 miles,
but it didn’t, for some reason. Must have got it mixed up with another
I used my Soleus GPS watch to track the route. To my
amazement it spontaneously started using BST time about half-way through
the ride after I fiddled with the buttons. But it looks like an update
to my Windows lappy has buggered up Java on it, and I haven’t been able
to upload the track to Strava.
My right knee was feeling a
bit sore before I set off so I thought I’d try my tendon strap again. It
did hold up pretty well through the ride. My left knee has started
giving a bit of discomfort after 10 miles or so, which it wasn’t before I
did that stupid 50 miler two weeks ago.
of an unusual route, this one. I stopped short of Twycross again to
head left to Bilstone, but this time I went straight through and on to
Carlton, then back up the usual way from there. I don’t think I’d done
that stretch of road between Bilstone and Carlton before but it was
lovely – very quiet and scenic, but well-surfaced. Not muddy. I’ll
incorporate it into a longer Twycross route.
Home with the very last of the light.
Don’t know if I’ll be able to get the track off the watch. But 19.64, which takes me over target this month to 163 miles.
Looking at the weather, a run out on Tuesday looks on the cards. Sunset at 17:38. I’ll try to finish work early.
No cycling today, shame as the weather is glorious. But I did hose out the Boardman’s chain with GT85 and relubed it. I think it was the filthiest I’ve ever seen it. Managed to get most of the gunk off the jockey wheels – it was coming off in hard chunks.
Also gave the grimier parts of the nether regions (the bike’s, not mine) a wipe with a GT85-soaked rag. It deserves a proper clean, really. Maybe in the summer.
In other news – I’ve bought a new personal DAB, you can’t have too many. At 55g it’s the lightest one I own. Doesn’t have removable batteries so not that useful for a long ride. Also bought myself a new bike lock while wandering around Spitalfields on Wednesday. Not ultra secure as it uses a simple two-prong key to unlock. Not much more than a sort of steel-reinforced plastic tie. But again, very light at 27g including the key.
Lovely sunny afternoon – mild, only slightly blowy and dry so with a
decent quantity of post-4pm daylight on offer and the legs seeming to
have recovered somewhat from their 50 mile indulgence a couple of weeks
ago, I decided I’d go for a shortish spin. Not too far – about 15 miles,
I thought – because I want them to recover properly tomorrow so I can
go out again on Sunday.
Got to the garage and decided I’d take
the Planet X, but realised that the X’s bike computer was in the house.
If I’d had a GPS watch on I’d have been fine of course but I only had
the phone with me. So I took the red Boardman again.
I did the
short version of the Twycross that takes a left at Little Twycross to
Bilstone. Took it easy, really enjoyed myself. Even the farmy smells
seemed to have a certain charm in the almost-spring sunshine.
Anyway I had a run out to
Belton and back, eschewing the “figure of eight” route of old in favour
of a more circular route through Coalville and Thringstone, intended to
moderate the elevation a bit.
Quite pleasant, almost
spring-like. But I had to contend with a bastard of a headwind coming
back south, along Top Brand. Right knee hurt all the way round –
possibly as much a consequence of the slant board exercises I was doing
last night, as recent cycling shennanigans – but I don’t think I’ve done
it any harm and it didn’t get any worse. More typical joint pain than
the stabby, raw pain I get sometimes.
I trialled a new GPS
phone app called “GPS logger” – quite a straightforward app that simply
records your track to a GPX file on the phone, but the interesting thing
is that you can set the logging interval – so you could set it to
record only every 30 seconds, or even once a minute, or longer. Might be
handy for long distances if you need to save phone power. Perhaps
useful for keeping track of where you went on a long car journey.
had it set to record the position every 6 seconds. As you can see from
the following two samples the GPS Logger track is cruder than the Strava
app track which I recorded at the same time, but still does a pretty
good job of tracking the route.
– 15.29, which takes me to 305 this year. Another 29 to do this month
to reach the 156 target. But probably no more cycling until Friday at
the earliest due to other commitments.
Went out on the Boardman this afternoon. Lovely day – mild, bright and
sunny. I’d intended a low elevation route to the Gibbet Post and back
which would have been about 15-16 miles. I’d picked it out by perusing
my activity record on Strava, sorting them by distance and looking for
the low elevation ones in the 15-16 mile range.
my usual absent-minded self I realised by the time I got to Snarestone
that I’d basically ignored my plan, and was doing a Twycross on
auto-pilot. As I neared Twycross though I turned left along Bilstone
Road to Bilstone and Congerstone, to keep it short. Home on 16.73 miles.
knees experienced a bit of discomfort. Possibly I did give myself a
setback at the weekend by doing nigh-on 50 miles. It’s a long journey.
What the destination is I don’t know, but anyway I will be good and
increase my distances in 2 mile per week increments as instructed by
Physio 2. I’ll start from 16 miles, unless my knees improve markedly in
which case I’ll consider my setback to be temporary and bump up the
distances a bit more.
Lovely view of the daytime 2/3 full
Moon in a clear blue sky throughout. One or two buzzards around, flying
high against the blue backdrop.
The battery on my old Forerunner 10 died with about two miles to go. I suppose I’ll give up on it. Once again I synthesised the track by looking on Strava for the last time I’d done the same ride, exporting the GPX, editing it to remove 8 metres or so where I overshot a turn (because I didn’t do that this time) and to change the timestamps. I used a graphical tool called gpsprune. Nice & easy. Uploaded the modified version to Strava, job done.
Took a late, long lunch break and did a Twycross on the Boardman. Right knee was still feeling a bit aggravated from doing (very nearly) 50 miles on Saturday. I took it easy but still got pain in both knees after 8 miles or so. Nothing debilitating and I was able to complete 23.56 miles without suffering too much, but perhaps I gave myself a bit of a setback on Saturday. It does feel as though there’s a trend toward them getting better eventually. I was having to hop upstairs in July, and although I feel a bit of a pain in the right knee still I can at least ascend them normally now.
I’ll see how they feel at the weekend anyway, with another three or four days off.
Anyway quite a pleasant run out, disregarding concerns about my anatomy. Not too blowy, not overly cold. Bright to start off then a bit overcast and gloomy. Then dark-ish, but I had lights. Was back while there was still enough light to see the road without a powerful beam at the front (just had a cheapo LED blinker with me).
So that’s 95 this month, leaving me with 61 to do in the rest of Feb. 273 done this year.
Going to stick to 20 or so for a week or two I think. I hadn’t actually intended to do as many as 23 today. Just mentally miscalculated. I suppose I should keep a handy list of familiar routes and their distances.
I left the garage atop the Boardman at about 11:35. I’d decided to head
out east with the tailwind behind me and see how I got on. I thought I
might just go as far as Wymeswold then come back, which would have got
about 35 miles under my belt. But equally, I thought I might well turn
back after 12 or so, to be on the safe side.
fairly warm, though it wasn’t that cold. I trialled a new tubular
headscarf that came as a freebie with the balaclava – and that turned
out to be really effective at keeping the wind off my ears. There are
several ways to wear it but I opted to stick my head through it and
arrange it so just my face was sticking out of it, like a hijab. Wore a
dutt on top. Probably more useful than the balaclava, actually.
took a low-elevation route to the main route out east, Ashby Road,
joining it at Belton. Pushed along quite happily over the river and into
Nottinghamshire in pleasant sunshine, with the wind at my back. Got to
Wymeswold after about 18 miles, but decided to keep going for a bit.
Took a detour along a quiet lane called East Road, looking for an
inconspicuous spot for a wee. After consulting Google Maps I decided to
keep going in that direction, then take a right along Hades Lane before
joining Paddy’s Lane, where I would turn right and come back home.
although the wind was supposed to dissipate roughly at this time it
actually grew substantially stronger, as evidenced by a number of wind
turbines in the vicinity, spinning quite powerfully and facing the
direction I would have to pedal to return home. I was being buffeted by
the wind quite powerfully from my right, so much so that at one point I
was actually pushed onto the bumpy grass to the side of the road. I had
to pedal quite forcefully to stay upright and rejoin the road, which was
a real bummer because I hurt my right knee doing this and it wasn’t
quite the same again for the rest of the ride. Up until that point I’d
been keeping it in a reasonable state of equilibrium by taking it easy.
– I came to the junction where I was due to turn right and homeward,
but I simply wasn’t going to push into 40mph winds with a dodgy knee. So
I turned left instead, heading still further from home but with the
wind at my back. In the back of my mind I thought I might even go as far
as Melton Mowbray, spend an hour or two there in Costa Coffee then head
home into less hostile conditions once the wind had died down. I pushed
on another 1.5 miles until I came to a steep descent approaching
Asfordby Valley, which I’d forgotten about. Definitely wouldn’t have
been a good idea to come back that way so I came to an abrupt halt and
consulted Google Maps. As it turned out I’d just passed a left turn to a
village callled Grimston, with a pub called the Black Horse. So I
headed that way instead.
turned out to be a good idea because the Black Horse had a very nice
sandwich menu and friendly staff. I left the bike leaning against a
wooden bench outside, strolled in and ordered a bacon & brie
sandwich and an orange juice. I didn’t have my bike lock with me so I
ate outside, at the bench. The sandwich came with perfectly made crispy
fries, coleslaw and a small jar of ketchup. Perfect. Quite a fortuitous
find because it’s only half a mile from Six Hills Lane, the main road
over to Belvoir Castle which I’ve done a few times – a road which is
conspicuously lacking in garages, caffs, pubs, small shops and other
places to fuel up. Ideal really as it’s just about the half-way point as
So, suitably replenished and with the power of the
wind having diminished a tad I set off again in the direction of Six
Hills Lane and came home the usual way. My right knee had started to
hurt a bit by this time but I took it easy, making the occasional stop
to do quad and hamstring exercises. My left knee started to hurt as well
over the last fifteen miles or so, which reminded me not to be
complacent about it – I’ve focused mainly on the right leg for my physio
exercises but I need to work them both.
set in just as I was leaving Nottinghamshire about ten miles from home
and the temperature dropped a bit. I picked up a bit of rain near Zouch,
but only for ten minutes or so. Things brightened up a bit again 20
Got home on 49.63 miles, but felt as if I’d
done a long one – partly I guess because I hadn’t done a ride of that
distance for many months, partly because I’d made a bit of a day out of
it with a lunch stop, but also because I mainly used roads which I
associate with longer trips. Very nice to be riding over that way again.
Didn’t see much interesting wildlife, just a buzzard, a fox
that had recently been twatted by a motor vehicle, a quadruped that was
so badly decomposed that it was impossible to tell what species it was,
and some cute little hedge birds with brown / white foilage.
– despite the wind and my concern about my knees, that was actually a
pretty cracking ride out. A bit of an adventure being largely unplanned,
and with some new roads and a new pub. And – I think I’ve got away with
it. My knees don’t feel too bad. Assuming they do recover as I expect
in a couple of days then I think it’s probably safe to try a Fondo in
two or three weeks, if I can devise a suitably low elevation route
(probably out west, north of Lichfield). I seem to be able to pootle
along flat roads without putting any trauma on my knees if I take it
Actually – here’s a thought. Maybe I could drive a bike
to start / finish point somewhere east of Stamford, and do a flat 100
miler from there? It’s not cheating, is it? It’s not like people who
live in Norfolk get disqualified from Fondos. I’ll think about that.
Anyway so that’s 71 this month, 85 miles to go to reach the Feb target of 156.
Oh yes! Almost forgot. A discarded underwear sighting a few miles from Rempstone. Black, with pink and purple hearts. Unusual as the roadkill panty season proper doesn’t start until late April in the East Midlands.
Thought the roads would be wet this morning after yesterday’s precipitation but they look fairly dry. The forecast is for high winds pointing east over the next couple of hours, which made me think of taking advantage and heading over to Melton Mowbray. But I’d still have a headwind, albeit less powerful, on the way back.
Wow – weird – in the very second that I typed that a caller to Danny Baker on 5 Live mentioned Melton Mowbray. Spooky. Perhaps it’s a sign.
Probably better sticking to 23 miles or so for the time being. It’s not a particularly low elevation route anyway. But I do feel the need to do something a bit different.
The roads were acceptably dry by lunchtime so I did a Twycross on the Boardman. Cold, but beautifully sunny. Just before I set off, the Man from Amazon turned up with a balaclava that I’d ordered – a full face affair, with just a letterbox for the eyes, and long enough to go right down the collar of a jersey. it certainly kept the cold wind off my face but it does have one disadvantage – it captures your breath as you expel it, then directs it up to the eye gap, where it fogs up your cycling glasses for a moment. At my first wee stop near Twycross, I removed it. I think I would definitely wear it again in very cold weather though. There must be a solution for the lens misting problem. It probably looked a bit silly under a red dutt. Onward through Sheepy, and back to the A44 along Wellsborough Rd. I’d done 13 miles at that point and was hoping to do 22. I knew that the end of Gibbet Lane -> home is about 8, so I took a left and came back that way. Stopped at the Gibbet Post to see if a few of the physio exercises might help, but they seemed to wear me out a bit – I felt a bit dizzy when I got back on the bike for the first minute or two.
My front tyre picked up a bright grey stripe – salt on the roads, no doubt.