Sutton Bonington

Although I’d intended to do a long run out in Lincs today, I decided I couldn’t really bothered to do 100 miles of driving for the sake of 60+ miles of flat cycling, let alone the faff of mounting the bike carrier, then the bike, on and off the back of the car twice. Maybe later in the year when summer has kicked in. But no Fondo for me this month.

I did give it serious consideration this morning, but in the end opted for Plan B, a run out to Nottinghamshire and back of about 30 miles’ distance in total. I took the Cannondale. I’d been looking forward to taking the S-Works out again but it doesn’t have an odometer and none of my GPS watches were charged up. I used my phone to track the ride.

The greater part of this route is the first part of a typical run out to Lincolnshire or Rutland, or just to Melton Mowbray. But after Zouch, just after crossing the River Soar into Nottinghamshire, I took a left turn up through Sutton Bonington and on through the University campus there. Although I worked for Notts Uni ten years ago I’d never visited this particular site. It looked idyllic in the sunshine, with grand buildings set in a nicely maintained green space and some of the students doing archery practice on the lawns.

I stopped at a bench opposite a pub in the village there to check Google Maps and briefly considered a pub lunch in the sunshine, but decided I hadn’t really come far enough to justify it.

I’d intended to continue on to Ratcliffe on Soar but took a wrong turn, and after tracking back just decided to come back home. Which is a shame really because I’d have ended up doing a couple more miles and as it stands, after today’s 27.9, my monthly total is 299. Interestingly my March 2018 total, before i buggered my knees, was 297. But I spent a week in the Caribbean that month.

I came back the same way. Was overtaken by more than 15 (I was counting) Harley Davidsons at Zouch. I caught them up at the crossroads over the A6; the roar of their engines as we waited for the green light was bloody deafening. Quite a spectacle as they rode off into the distance, though.

Anyway. There were a couple of level stretches on today’s ride and my assessment, not very scientific; just based on gut feel – is that I could probably do 50 miles on flat roads without much difficulty, if I take it easy. But I think my knees are still improving so it can’t hurt to put it off a bit.

Ratcliffe-Variant Twycross

Left work a bit later than I’d intended, at about 4:45pm but reckoned I still had time to do 20-odd miles if I took a bit of a risk with oncall duties. So I did.

Took the X again and did a Ratcliffe-variant Twycross. After realising I didn’t have a front light of any sort attached to my bike, I thought of turning left at Sheepy to do a shorter version and nearly did, but decided I’d just about get away with it if I put my foot down a bit. I was back just after 7pm and there was a bit of light, enough to see the road anyway.

Wanted to pay special attention to the stress on my knees over the level stretches, but there aren’t any really. It’s not what you’d call a hilly route by any means, but it’s not level either. Lots of gentle inclines.

24.72 miles, a pleasing 271 this month and for certain my knees are coping OK with regular ~25 mile outings at the moment.

Had a look on Google Maps and the Strava route planner last night to see if I could find a sufficiently flat bit of England closer to home (Notts maybe) to save me driving 50 miles to Lincs on Saturday, but not really.


I was thinking about getting myself one of these, for a while:

It’s Casio’s flagship GPS offering, with a lot of features. A bit (OK, very) large on the wrist perhaps but solar-powered, which would be ideal for a long ride. It’s actually described as “solar-assisted”, because even in bright sunlight, it won’t keep going forever while it’s tracking. But obviously it will run down a lot more slowly. I also really like the high resolution LCD screen.

The bummer though, and what stopped me buying one, is that there’s no way to export your track from the watch. You can upload it to Casio’s app and share it from there, but there’s no way to get it to Strava (for example) – or indeed anywhere else out of Casio’s ecosystem. Surprising.


I left work early and deployed the X at about 4pm on a lovely spring afternoon. Slightly blowy but sunny and mild. I hadn’t had time to plan a route but wanted to do a Twycrosser of roughly 25 miles’ distance, since I hadn’t done one at the weekend.

I did a medium-length one going through Ratcliffe and Sibson again, but decided to take Shenton Lane to Bosworth on an impulse. I thought this might add a mile or two to my ride but actually, just having checked on the Strava route planner, it only added about half a mile. However I ended up on 27.12 miles, a couple more than I intended but once again, the knees did OK. Very nice ride out. Nice to have been able to revisit some old haunts in the last week or two.

A young deer shot across the road a few metres in front of me as I approached Heather from the south. It was out of one hedge and into the other in about half a second, but I’m sure it was a deer though it was quite small and seemed to have stubby legs.

So – 246 done this month. I might just hit 300 before April kicks in.

Had a rethink-ette about doing the same 60-70 miles from the Norfolk route. Maybe better to devise a route where I have an early return option, just in case. Also want to make sure I have a pub stop near the half-way point.


I had an idea.

The elevation profile of the Norfolk & back trip I did in 2017 looks like this:

While I’m waiting for my knees to recover, I thought I might take the bike on the back of the car to the start of that flat section, and do that flat 70 miles – 35 miles to Sutton Bridge and back. Perhaps next weekend.


Last night I plotted a route that would take me through Measham, west of Ashby to a village called Linton, then back from there a different way – a 24 mile rectagonal-ish route.

I took the Planet X. I’m pleased to report that the apparent problem with the new left pedal turned out to be a problem with the left cleat on my Muddy Fox shoes – a large chunk of it had snapped or worn off. Will re-cleat it later, I wore my Shimanos today.

A bit cold and blowy and once again I hadn’t wrapped up warm enough. But I was delighted to find that I experienced only minimal knee discomfort throughout.  My physio has given me some slightly more brutal versions of my exercises to do and I did some of them half an hour before starting. I think that may have made a significant difference.

So anyway – out through Heather, Swepstone, straight on to Measham and along Burton Road. It’s quite rare for me to come out this way, possibly because it’s a bit more hilly than my usual routes. I took it very easy in order to preserve my knees.

I took a wrong turn after about 9 miles, which took me off through Netherseal. But I didn’t mind as this would have added only about half a mile onto my ride, and it was easy to get back on to the route proper a mile later. Unfortunately just as I’d rejoined the route I took another wrong turn, though I didn’t realise this until I checked Google Maps to find that I’d cut right across to the “other side” of my route, in a considerable short cut. So from that point I made up my own route home, hoping to add a few miles back on – to Moira, through Willesley Woods which was rather pleasant, to Ashby, through the town centre there and back home along Ashby Road.

The sun came out for the last 7 or 8 miles, and I warmed up a bit.

Nice change. 21.63 miles, a couple short of my intended target but good enough. And that takes me to 219 miles in March, which is over target and more than I’ve done in a calendar month since May.

I used the GPS Logger app to track my ride – it worked very nicely.

For some reason my cycle trips west of Ashby can coincide with someone famous shuffling off this mortal coil. I suppose Tusk or Juncker are too much to hope for?


Just for interest (mine, probably not yours) I weighed my bikes this morning, with a luggage scale.

I removed frame packs, lights and so on, but not bike computer mounts / wiring etc. Anyway:

So the S-Works might be my poshest bike, but it’s not the lightest.

Just worked out that if I’d gone out on my hybrid just after Christmas when I personally weighed 81kg, with (at a guess) about 1.5kg of winter clothing / gloves / overshoes on, I’d be pushing roughly 11.5kg more up those hills compared to a run out on the Cannondale in summer clothing at my present personal weight of 74.5kg.

Didn’t weigh the Boardman ‘special edition’ but it has a carbon fork so presumably might be a bit lighter than the other Boardman. Or not .. the Cannondale is all alloy, not a fibre of carbon anywhere.


Wanted to get out on the bike today rather than tomorrow so I can have a (knee) rest day, and do 25 miles or so on Saturday.

I’ve been keeping the Cannondale in reserve for a long ride, wanting to preserve the present allocation of tyre rubber and keep the gears in their present, smoothly-operating state as long as possible. But I don’t know when I’ll next be able to do another 80 miler, possibly not this year. So since the roads were nice and dry and I haven’t been out on it for months, it got a run out.

I love that bike. So quick, light and easy. Not as smooth and refined as the S-Works but it cuts through the distance in front of you like a sharp knife.

I was half-expecting an email requiring me to intervene on some time critical work, so I had the idea of doing three laps of a simple 5 mile route close to home. But after the first lap I got bored and headed through Heather and Swepstone instead. I checked my email at Heather, then again at Swepstone where I did receive the unwanted email and had to pedal back the way I’d come. Fortunately that took me to just over 15 miles, which is my arbitrary distance to get me out of rowing machine duties.

Nice to be out on the Cannondale again but not a particularly fun ride all told. It was almost warm out there though – I had lighter clothing on and was completely comfortable. Probably could have had me legs out (but I’d have been so ashamed, I haven’t shaved them for weeks!)

Anyway – that’s 198 this month, 8 short of target. 561 this year.

The weekend should be a bit cooler, but brighter. And the days are stretching out nicely now.


Wanted to get some more miles into my legs – my physio advised me yesterday to man up, keep increasing my distances and ride often – so I left work early with the idea of doing a 25-ish mile Twycross. I didn’t actually plan it, was fairly confident I could get it to 25 or so by busking it.

I took the Boardman. A bit cloudy and cool, but no rain. Not nearly as windy as of late, either. Set off at about 4:15pm.

I wrapped up if anything a bit too warm, with long johns underneath my tights. I also trialled a new soft balaclava / hood hybrid item that I got off Amazon cheap – that was very effective, kept my ears warm and the wind noise out of my earplugs. But I took it off at the first wee stop as I was overheating slightly.

Kept on keeping on after Sheepy, down to Ratcliffe. Hadn’t been that far down on a Twycross for quite some time, not sure when the last time was. I suppose there must be some way to find out from Strava by scrutinising segments. Ah there is, just had a look. Unfortunately you can’t sort them by date though but I’ve had a scan through and it looks like I last did that in May 2018.

The dummy in the phone box at Ratcliffe is now wearing a Kaftan.

Right knee especially was hurting a bit over the last few miles. I think I’ve overdone it slightly by doing 58 in the last three days. But I won’t be able to do a significant distance until Friday at the earliest anyway due to other commitments, so I’ve got a bit of recovery time before my old legs have to undergo substantial pedalling duties again.

So nice to do that two mile stretch between Ratcliffe and Sibson again.

Getting dark by the time I got home. I had a decent head lamp with me but didn’t need it, the road was still just about visible by the time I got back.

I must sort out the new chain and cassette on the Boardman soon, some of the gear options are a bit juddery now. I remembered with only a few miles to go that I hadn’t actually lubed the chain after hosing it out with GT85 last time – but I reckon GT85 is a decent lube anyway if you apply it often enough.

Anyway that’s another 27.36, and 182 this month.


Last night I planned a ~26 mile route for today that would have taken me down to Twycross as usual, but through Shenton to Bosworth, then back through Bagworth. However, as I pulled my bike out of the garage this morning, I decided that it was too risky – I’m on call at the moment and the route I’d planned would take me too far from home.

So as I set off, I decided to try to make up a route that would still see me doing ~26 miles but without travelling so far from home at the most distant point. So I thought I’d head north for a bit, come back down, then do a short Twycross to the south and back home. And that’s what I did. Up to Belton and the top of Top Brand, then back down through Peggs Green, Coleorton and Farmtown.

I hadn’t been through Farmtown for a very long time. It was actually part of my default route of 7 miles or so when I was a very occasional cyclist and I don’t think I’ve ever been that way on a proper road bike.  Was interested to see how I’d cope with the brief but steep hill there – better than I used to back in 2014 or so in fact. I was on a lighter bike today of course but I think my legs are stronger, if a few years older.

Anyway from there I crossed Ashby road, came through Packington and past Measham then tacked a short Twycross onto the route. It was obvious by this time that I was going to end up doing more than 26 by going down to Twycross, but I couldn’t really think of anything better. Looking at the map now I suppose I could have cut across to Shackerstone from Snarestone. But anyway I didn’t, and ended up on 31.14 miles.

The weather was forecast dry, but actually while I was putting my gloves on with the bike leaned against my car ready to go, a few hailstones clattered against the windscreen and bonnet. That soon stopped though, fortunately. Nonetheless, once again a mixed bag of weather with cold sharp rain, bright pleasant sunshine  and gloomy overcast conditions in varying quantities. I can’t say I enjoyed myself much during the rain and I hadn’t quite wrapped up warm enough, but overall an enjoyable run out.

Despite being pressed into service for a few more miles than I’d intended, my knees coped well. A bit sore now. Nothing unusual. But I’ll keep the distances down to 25 or so for now (can’t always get the time to do more than that anyway).

No interesting wildlife of note. A couple of dead frogs (or toads, no idea). A dead fox, a dead badger. A juvenile cat carrying a squirrel it had (presumably) just killed at Farm Town. Not much older than a kitten really. It wasn’t much bigger than the squirrel.