Atterton Lane

I wanted to do about 34, dutifully extending my default distance by a couple of miles per physio instructions. But I had a slight headache induced by drinking about a half bottle of Merlot last night, and it was worsened during the day by stress induced by having to do a critical and scary job while being interrupted. Most of my days aren’t like that, fortunately.

Anyway, predictably I didn’t plan it. I just set off on a long Twycross and hoped I’d be able to extend it a bit. At least the weather was nice – sunny, not too windy and almost warm. Beautiful. I did the same Twycross variation as of late that goes through Witherley, but with the important difference that I took Atterton Lane across to Fenn Lanes, instead of taking my life in my hands on the A5 for a mile.

Not sure if I’d ever been along Atterton Lane before but it was lovely – a well-surfaced and quiet single track lane, relatively untroubled by mud.

At Sheepy, I was surprised to see a 1970s style NYPD patrol car, complete with all the appropriate paint and stickers. It can’t be legal to drive around in a car with POLICE emblazoned on the bonnet, can it? A couple of miles further up, I was equally surprised to see a black & white US sheriff’s car, with SHERIFF in a large yellow font. Again, in really good nick and very authentic looking with lights on the roof and everything. Couldn’t help wondering if rural Leicestershire was doubling for upstate New York in a budget film production. Or maybe there’s a local club for owners of replica law enforcement vehicles.

Saw a few vintage sports cars as well, including a lovely GT40 in sky blue. I’ve never been a fan of cars really but I’d always recognise one of those; I had a Scalextric one as a kid. I suppose the GT40 might have been a replica as well, a kit maybe. All of them stank of petrol fumes as they burbled past.

So nice to be able to do routes that take in my favourite benches at Sutton Cheney again. I stopped at the second one. A couple of years ago when it was brand new it was a glowing woody brown colour, but it’s weathered light grey now, like Rory Gallagher’s Strat. By this time I was starting to feel a bit cream crackered, and I resorted to the gel that I’d brought with me as an emergency measure. An orange one. It wasn’t that bad actually, despite being three months past its use by date. This and a bit of a rest perked me up for a bit but only for seven or eight miles. By this time I was determined to simply come home by the easiest route, and that’s pretty much what I did, so I finished up on 32.43 miles.

That takes me to a pleasing 325 miles this month. A bit surprised actually to have done only 26 more than last month, but I suppose I did have a weekend away. Anyway it’s 56 over target all the same, and the highest monthly total for 12 months.

Lots of cute lambs hopping around in the fields including a couple of mainly black ones with white patches that looked like miniature Fresian cows.  I also saw a couple of rabbits.

In other news – had my MRI scan today at Loughborough’s National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine – on the campus at the Uni, and a really impressive and modern facility. It just involved lying still while looking at my reflection in the ceiling. There are worse ways to spend 20 minutes.

I had thought, naively, that I’d be sticking my leg into a small scanner the size of a washing machine, but nope – I was inserted chest deep into a big scanner on a tray, a bit like Virgil Tracy heading down to Thunderbird 2. Or a coffin rolling into a furnace, if you want to be morbid.

Results in a few weeks I hope.

I’m not sure I can be arsed to do 30+ after work regularly, even though it seems a real luxury to have nice weather and the sun up until 8:30pm. I’m going to have to just do the longer ones at the weekend and days off.

I feel knackered now. Going to bed. Hope I’m not coming down with something.


Wanted to do 30+ today. The roads looked a bit moist when I got up and waiting a few hours for them to dry up wasn’t an option, as I had other plans for this afternoon. The Boardman is presently missing a chain and cassette, so – although I did briefly consider taking the X, I finally decided to give the hybrid its first run out since December 2017. In all that time I haven’t got round to sorting the gears out since I changed the rear gear cable, but although you can’t get all the gears it does still have a usable range, and the changes are fine – slick and positive.

I gave the chain a good dose of GT-85 and pumped up the tyres good and hard to squeeze as much rolling resistance out of them as poss. And actually although it felt bloody heavy, it did roll along quite pleasantly on the level, and it didn’t struggle too badly up the climbs.

It’s actually only 4kg heavier than the X and I’ve lost more body weight than that since Christmas. However there’s more to it than just the weight. It just feels like a great big lumbering carthorse of a thing compared to the road bikes.

Anyway I decided that a regular Twycross of 23 miles or so would be more than enough and that’s what I did, 22.54 miles to be precise.

Cool, cloudy morning but I wrapped up warm. Hadn’t thought I’d be back in winter gear again so soon. Still – nice ride out.

A young girl attempted to sell me some lemonade from a stand she’d set up with her friend as I pedalled through Sibson, but since I didn’t have any cash I declined. Would be nice to think she’d had a few customers but in weather like that in a quiet little village, I would be surprised. Quite an optimistic venture, I thought.

Since my Forerunner 10’s battery gave up the ghost I’ve been thinking of treating myself to a new GPS watch. The ones I have tend to be fiddly or cumbersome to use, or need Windows to transfer data, which amounts to the same thing. But I’ve found an Android app for my Garmin 310XT that allows me to grab the data and upload it to Strava from my phone reliably and quickly, so it has a new lease of life. Cost about £4 but well worth it. The last app I was using for that was really slow and flaky and typically took three or four retries to work properly.

Anyway – 292 done this month and hopefully more on Tuesday. The weather looks ideal, about 18C and not much wind.

Fenn Lanes

Took a combined late lunch and early exit from work at about 15:35, and removed the X from the garage with the intention of doing a Twycross of roughly 30 miles’ distance. In fact although I didn’t intend to, I did exactly the same route as last time, through Witherley and Fenny Drayton. By the time I’d got to Sheepy I thought it might be fun to see if I could remember the route. And I did.

This was quite a different experience from Saturday, though. Cloudy and cooler, though still warm enough for shorts. But I had to contend with a bastard headwind the whole length of Fenn Lanes. I thought (or hoped) it would dissipate once I took the left turn into Cadeby, but nope. It was tolerable after Bosworth though, coming a more direct north. But I got it in the face again when I turned east toward Ibstock at Odstone.

Despite the headwind I consciously went a bit quicker than on Sunday, and got round 12 minutes quicker (by “moving time”). For some reason I recorded a slightly shorter distance though, 31.82 miles.

That sees me past my April target by 1 mile though, so I’m happy about that.

For reasons that are not known to me, there’s a fibreglass cow peeking through the hedgerow on one side of Fenn Lanes. It’s been there for years but recently it’s been sporting a cycle helmet, so I stopped for a selfie.

I noticed that it’s also adorned with Christmas tree lights.

Presumably due to a combination of increased speed and the headwind compared to Sunday, my right knee did start feeling a bit sore after Sutton Cheney. But nothing troubling.

I am supposed, per my physio’s advice, to increase my distances by 2 miles per week. I’m notionally on 30 miles at the moment (I allowed myself another couple on this route because it has long flattish stretches). But I’m not always going to find the time to do 32+ miles three or more times a week, so I guess  my strategy will be to increase the elevation instead. Perhaps I can come up with a rough formula as a guide. I’ll think about that.


No cycling today but I did erect the maintenance stand in the garden, attach the red Boardman to it, remove the wheels, the chain and the cassette. I thought the cassette wasn’t going to budge at first but happily it did give way.

Took me a while to find the cassette tool for my spanner. I hate myself sometimes for leaving my garage so untidy. But I found it after about 10 minutes so I went back to liking myself too much.

With the wheels off it while it was on the stand it would have been rude not to give it a bit of a clean, so I did. The Boardman especially has really awkward-to-get-to nooks and crannies and some of the dirt is never going to come out of them. But it’s in a lot better state than it was. Unbelievable the amount of grime that collects in the front forks and round the brakes. I couldn’t find my Muc-Off spray so I used Tesco glass cleaner and Ariel stain remover spray (I reasoned that the latter would be especially effective since it contains solvent). Seemed to work OK.

I haven’t put the new cassette and chain on yet.

Should be out of work by 16:30 tomorrow and the weather forecast looks nice, albeit a bit more breezy than of late. Sun up until 20:16! Good times.


I woke early this morning – at about 0500 – and my thoughts turned to the possibility of getting up early to take the bike to the flatlands east of Bourne. I decided eventually that I wouldn’t do that. Seemed a shame to spend all that time on a bank holiday driving to Lincolnshire and back. And I didn’t do that. But I’d spent so much time mulling over the idea that by 0600, I was wide awake. So I got up anyway.

Spent a while on my computer looking for flattish routes, and Google turned up something interesting: a flat route from Worthington, just a few miles from here that goes right into Derby, using a dismantled railway path. Called the “Cloud Trail”.

Did a bit of research and it doesn’t quite look suitable for a road bike.  A YouTube contributor has helpfully filmed the whole thing, and uploaded a helmet camera record of the whole thing, sped up a few times of course, and that’s what put me off. But it might be fun to dig the hybrid out and give it its first run out for about 16 months. I was going to get rid of it but maybe I’ll get some use out of it after all.

Anyway in the end I decided on a route that I’d devised a few days ago; a sort of variation on a long-ish Twycross that’s extended at the bottom by going down along a flat stretch near a village called Witherley, then onto the A5, cutting out some of the usual elevation of that route.

I set off at 1000 on the Spesh. I might have taken the Cannondale but I flipped the Spesh stem yesterday and wanted to try it (it was fine). I would normally do a quick test ride after flipping or changing a stem, but I’m happy to report that it didn’t snap off leaving me impaled by the throat on the steering tube.

I dressed very light in my flimsiest jersey (the camo one), but was actually a bit too cold for the first half hour. Just lovely out there, all the same. Sunny and warm, and no wind to speak of.  I took it very easy and I’m pleased to say that my knees didn’t suffer any trauma at all. The right one feels a little sore now, but nothing unusual. Encouraging.

Wanted to wear my new retro yellow cycling cap, but Mrs Slim got wind of this and insisted that I should wear a cycling helmet.  I resisted of course but she resorted to emotional blackmail and I ended up wearing her own cycling helmet, as it has a bit of a peak. Unsurprisingly my head didn’t collide with anything during my ride save the odd flying insect but oh well, anything for an easy life.

Lots of other cyclists on the road today, and everyone wanted to wave. Don’t know if the sunshine has brought out the fair weather cyclists who want to feel validated and special, but I humoured them all anyway.

Reached down for my Lucozade Sport just before Witherley, and it wasn’t there. Must have bounced out of the bottle cage. Shame, because I do find Luco bottles quite ergonomic and of course they’re eminently light and disposable. But they just aren’t meant for bike bottle cages. I still had about 19 miles to go at this point, and I could have stopped for a diet coke at Sutton or bought a bottle of something at Market Bosworth, but I didn’t seem to need to. I’ve always thought of myself as a low hydration person actually. I do usually drink fluids properly on a ride, but I’ve never been one to drink water at work, or around the house. Just coffee mostly and the odd alcoholic drink.  Fortunately it wasn’t too warm and I didn’t feel thirsty even at the end of the ride.

Saw a peacock sitting beside a gate at Cadeby.

The unfamiliar parts of the ride were really pleasant, apart from the brutal half mile stretch of A5. I’d like to do this route again or one a lot like it, but I’ll rethink that part.

I think that was the most enjoyable run out I’ve had since I buggered my knees. Speaking of which – I read an article online this morning by a guy with knee pain who had them scanned and was told that he’d already ruined his knees, and nothing he could do to them on a bike could possibly make them worse so he might as well keep going. But even though his knees were in a worse state than mine (hopefully!) – he actually had bone grinding against bone – he was able to continue cycling (racing, even) by doing regular exercises. So I’m quite optimistic.

The exercises I’m doing are definitely helping so I’ll keep at it.

31.84 miles, which takes me to 900.01 done this year, and 238.11 this month. I was also delighted to find that I’ve now done the 24 hours required for the Gore Wear “24 in 24” badge – in fact I’ve done 24 hrs, 1 minute so I’ve just sneaked it. Lucky. If I’d gone a bit quicker I would have have missed out on it, which makes it an unusual Strava challenge in that it punishes faster riding.

More on Tuesday evening I hope, although I’ll be on call. The weather looks a bit rubbish for about a week after that, unfortunately.


Went out yesterday intending to do 23 or so (a Twycross as usual), but ended up doing 27.17 – partly because when I got to Sibson, I decided do go home via Shenton again, to avoid the climb up the A444. Just lovely out there. So much nicer to be pedalling unencumbered by tights, and to operate the gears without gloves on. And nice to have an opportunity to wear my cycling sunglasses.

I developed a bit of a headache for some reason after the first 18 miles but I had a bit of a rest at the wooden bus shelter at Barton, did a couple of calf stretching exercises and was fine after that.

No knee pain to speak of generally, except for a couple of twinges pushing up hills and a bit of superficial soreness, so I was pleased about that. I had a standing-only gig to go to last night and the knees were a bit uncomfortable, but they seem OK this morning.  However I will be good for the foreseeable future and not operate a bicycle on consecutive days.

And I note that the weather is gorgeous out there again today, but it looks like more of the same tomorrow. So there’s that.

206 done this month.

I must learn to manage my distances properly. I’ve set up an overlay for Google Maps with landmarks showing the distance to home from strategic points along a number of my regular routes which would help, but I can never be bothered to get the phone out.

Perhaps 20 or 30 years in the future, you’ll be able to get cycling glasses with a sort of Head Up Display. They’ll be linked to Google Maps, or whatever the digital map provider of choice might be in the mid 21st Century. And as you approach one of the waypoints you’ve saved, you’ll have a marker projected into your field of view – it will be rendered to look exactly like a signpost sticking out of the ground, to the side of the road, saying “18 miles from here to home” or whatever.

You’ll also be able to have a voice-operated cycling assistant on your phone – so you’ll be able to ask for directions and help using a lapel mic on your cycling jersey. What’s the lowest elevation route to Melton Mowbray from here? Record my track and upload it to Strava. And so on.

Long Whatton

My knee was still hurting a bit from Monday but I went out anyway, thinking of doing 25 or so. Set off without any sort of plan in mind on the X. Went out through Coalville and thought of doing the Sutton Bonington route again. But I passed the sign to Diseworth just before the A6, and thought I’d see where that might take me. Diseworth, you might think. But no, I took a left at Long Whatton then Smith Lane, and came back the same way.

Lovely weather – very spring like; almost warm. Nice to go for a ride with bare legs. I must shave them. Fairly substantial headwind on the way out, but so placid once I turned round at Long Whatton.

A young man in a baseball cap riding a little two-stroke dirt bike pulled alongside me in Coleorton, and offered to race. I declined. About three minutes after that, I experienced the single closest overtaking manouevre by a passing motor vehicle that I’ve ever experienced on a bike, beating my previous record from 2016 by a good couple of inches – not counting of course the time in 2010 when a car actually delivered a glancing blow to the rear fork of my old Ridgeback along Heather Lane, cracking the frame and bringing to an end its useful life.

Ended up doing only 21.27 miles. So much for my strategy of increasing my distances by two miles every week. But my knee pain dissipated quite a bit after the first few miles; I seemed to ride through it. And they don’t feel any the worse for wear now, at least compared to this morning. Will be interested to see how they feel on Friday.

I now have an appointment for an MRI scan later this month which I hope will at least take some of the mystery out of it, though it will be a few weeks after that before I get the results I suspect.

179 done this month.


I normally have a day off for knee recovery these days, but prior engagements on Tuesday and Thursday night this week mandated a Mon – Wed – Fri cycling schedule. So barely 24 hours after dismounting from the Spesh yesterday, I was back on it. Set off with the intention of doing 26 or so.

Because I dropped 0.14 miles yesterday by forgetting to start the Strava app, I had the bright idea of using my GPS-doping Soleus watch, to exaggerate the distance a bit and bring my Strava stats a bit closer to real life. It cheated quite a bit though and recorded 24.59 for a course that was really only about 24.11. Oh well! I’ll put the real distance on the spready anyway.

Went up toward Ashby and through Packington on the first part of the route, since I hadn’t done that for months. Nice change.

Passed a farm with a bird-shaped kite flying from a stick, presumably to scare off (real) birds. It also provided a graphic illustration of the direction of the wind over the second part of the ride; pretty much right in my face.

I’d forgotten completely about the stem and the height of the bars and seemed to be quite comfortable, but later on my back started to ache and I had to stop and stretch my legs a couple of times. I will have to flip the stem.

Unfortunately the second time I stopped, at the top of Heather Lane, my right knee was quite hurty when I set off again. Perhaps I should have had a day off after all. Hopefully it’ll be OK by Wednesday.

I’ve noticed that the most force I ever put through my right knee is when I set off and start pedalling with the right leg. So I’ve been trying to switch legs when setting off, but it’s bloody hard! Reminded me of learning to ride my first bike when I was a kid.

Much nicer weather than yesterday. Not a trace of rain, sunny and a fair bit warmer.  But blowy.

Anyway that’s the British Cycling Ride Seven definitely done, and I’m 18 hours into the Gore Wear 24 in 24 challenge, which requires 24 hours of riding in 24 days. Seven days left so I rather think that one’s in the bag as well. Strava’s very liberal with its challenges recently.


I wanted to do 26 or so, but I ended up planning a 30 mile route through Sutton Bonington and back, same as I did two weeks ago. I reasoned that the relatively low elevation of this route, with long flat stretches, merited a few more miles.

Quite a sunny day when I set off, so I took the Spesh. I also wanted to calibrate its new bike computer. I still haven’t flipped the stem, but I seem to have got used to it and the lower bars were no trouble at all. Will probably leave it.

Once again, cold. I wore warm clothing with two leg layers, and my hijab. It does a brilliant job of keeping ears warm, and keeping wind noise off my earphones.  Had to contend with a stiff, chill headwind for the first half, going in a NE direction. But on the return half of course that disappeared, and I warmed up nicely. I did pick up a few spots of rain coming through the University campus, though.

Had intended to go up to Ratcliffe on Soar, but on a whim I took a left to Kegworth instead. Not that interesting really but I don’t think I’d been to that part of Kegworth. Anyway – I turned round at that point, and came back the same way.

Annoyingly I forgot to start the Strava app when I set off, and only remembered after about .14 miles. I may upload a dummy .14 ‘prequel’ track to Strava to keep it honest. I like my Strava stats to match my spreadsheet.

Over the recorded track, my new bike computer registered 29.76 miles, whereas the Android Strava app (which is pretty accurate I think) registered 29.68. The bike computer is set to a circumference of 210cm, and my maths tells me that if I’d set it to 209, it would have registered 29.62 – which is only slightly more accurate, but I suppose I’ll do that. Good enough either way really. But it’s a shame you can’t set it in millimetres, like the cheap Chinese one I have on the X.

It is, as of today, one year since I buggered my knees while cycling, on a trip to Huntingdonshire, Cambridgeshire and back. In that time, including today, I’ve done 1950 miles – which is way below what I’d consider my usual yearly average, but I do think things are improving and I was pleased with the way my knees coped with today’s 29.81. Even pushing relatively firmly up the climb through Thringstone didn’t cause any trauma. For sure the exercises I got from the second physio have made the biggest difference.

Anyhoo – that takes me to 796 this year. It also gets me my “British Cycling Ride Seven Challenge” badge, for doing 7 hrs riding between 8-21 April. In fact it looks like I’ve done 7 hrs exactly in that time, by coincidence – I honestly didn’t contrive it. Nice.

The weather is slated to warm up quite a bit this coming week, with 20 C forecast for Friday. Good times!


Had to work until 6, but hadn’t been out on two wheels since Tuesday. So after downing tools, I mounted the X with the intention of doing a 26-ish mile Twycrosser. I hadn’t actually planned the route.

Down through Twycross to Sheepy as usual, then through Ratcliffe and Sibson. Decided to take Shenton Lane to Bosworth, partly because I thought it would be less of a climb than going via Gibbet Lane or Bosworth Lane. I suspect you’re swerving a big hill by going through Shenton. Will check that later.

As it turned out I did exactly the same route as about three weeks ago, when I last detoured through Shenton on an impulse.

Dry, but a rather low temperature. Had to contend with a stiff, cold headwind for most of the last 14 miles.  Bracing. Picked up a few spots of rain near Sibson as well. Shenton was very atmospheric at dusk.

Dark for the last 5 miles or so. I used a head lamp, not as powerful as some of the handlebar-mounted lights I own but adequate, and much better for checking the bike computer in the dark, or looking down at the chain to see what gear you’re in. Handy for putting the bike away in a dark garage as well.

27.17 miles, taking me to 104 this month. This month’s target is 269 so I think that’s decent progress 12 days in, especially as I was in Belgium last weekend.

More on Sunday I hope.