Wanted to do 40 today and although it was cooler in the morning, rain was due over by 4pm-ish so I set off early, at about 10:25.

As soon as I’d strapped on my cycling shoes, it started to rain. But not too heavy, so I set off anyway, on the Boardman. I did much the same route as last time I pedalled down to Stoney Stanton – but extended it a bit to go down to a village called Sapcote. This is a route that differs slightly from the original route I devised down there in that it avoids a steep climb on the approach to Desford, at the cost of a bit more elevation gain overall. But I planned to come back the original way, so it was a sort of part-circular route, like so:

Anyway – it stopped raining after a couple of miles, or more probably I pedalled out of it, as the roads were bone dry by the time I got to Ibstock. I soon dried off in the sunshine. But unfortunately despite a promising forecast, I was plagued by on and off rain, interspersed with warmish sunshine for the whole ride. It was quite blowy intermittently, as well. But my spirits remained high, as indeed they have been since the EU parliament results came in last night. And since Theresa threw in the towel, to be fair.

Stopped at a garage near the bottom of the route and bought myself lunch which I consumed on a comfortable bench at Croft. I also did a couple of calf stretching exercises, no doubt to the amusement of the person in the passing car who saw me performing a sort of seated goose-stepping routine.

Very happy with the way the knees coped again, a bit of general soreness set in after about 25 miles but no pain from pushing up hills. Substantial improvement over just a few weeks ago. Will continue to extend distances by a couple of miles a week and I’m very happy that I can now do a decent run out like this, especially over relatively unfamiliar territory.

40.08 miles, which takes me 70 miles over May’s target to 352 this month, and that’s my biggest monthly tally since April 2018 by over 100 miles. I see I’ve also achieved the VĂ©lo North 50 Mile Challenge on Strava. Which is nice.

Shorter Twycross

Hot and sunny weather this morning. I planted the maintenance stand in the garden and hoisted the X onto it. Removed both wheels and gave it a half-decent clean. Much easier than the Boardman – the curvy carbon frame doesn’t create so many inaccessible nooks and crannies and of course it wasn’t as dirty. I forgot to get the car shampoo I usually use out of the garage so I used Persil washing liquid on a sponge. Worked nicely! And I finished off with a Tesco heavy duty surface wipe.

With that done, once again I wrestled the front tyre off and replaced the inner. This time I inspected the tyre more carefully, and I found a tiny little thorn sticking through it. I would guess it was probably responsible for the previous puncture, as well as the last one. Happy that mystery’s solved, and I have no reason to fear the puncture fairy.

Sadly, the X’s bike computer stopped working once I’d replaced the front wheel. Thought I might have it the wrong way on, but nope – the magnet was passing very close to the sensor / transmitter. Tried a new CR2032 in the sensor, no joy. I just took off the computer, the mount and the transmitter, and binned them. Will use a GPS watch for now. I prefer the simple wired ones anyway, and this was a cheap Chinese wireless one. The one thing I liked about it was that you could set the wheel circumference in mm, so it was very accurate.

Anyway – very happy the X is all sorted out (or it will be when I’ve lubed it) but I took the Spesh out this afternoon. Would have loved to have done 40, but I was on call. So I did a shorter Twycross, taking in Bilstone Road and Barton Lane, a long stretch that I don’t do often enough – mainly because it’s in essence a short cut. It was cloudy by the time I set off, and a bit blowy.

As I came within a few miles of home and back into my comfort zone, I extended the ride a bit by going home via Burgoland again. I then took a left into Coleorton, having done 26 miles – with the idea of doing 6 or 7 towards Belton then coming back, which would leave me having done 39 or 40 when I arrived home.

Unfortunately it started to rain very lightly after less than a mile so I just turned around and came back. To my surprise there was a queue of cars coming down the hill into the village – it’s a pretty quiet place, so this was odd. I overtook them and arrived at a Range Rover and an estate car with their hazards flashing. For a moment I thought there must have been an accident, but nope – by the hedge on the right side of the road, three or four people were doing their best to take custody of an emu. I smiled pleasantly and continued past the vehicular obstruction. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one before!

It stopped raining and I’d only caught a few drops but I decided to call it a day anyway. Bad timing really, should have gone out earlier when it was sunny. 29.52 by the time I was back, which takes me to 312 this month.

Kirkby Mallory

37 miles or so was today’s target, and I’d decided upon a slightly modified version of the ride down south of Desford. This newer variant actually has a bit more elevation gain overall, but avoids a sharp climb north of Desford on the way down. It also takes in a narrow road called Kirkby Lane that turned out to be perfect cycling territory – very off piste and quiet, decently surfaced level-ish and plenty of off-road farm entrances for use as wee spots. Really lovely along there.

Nice day, wore shorts but with a couple of layers on top. Very confortable. I wanted to take the X to make sure all’s well with the front inner tube but realised that it doesn’t have an Etrex mount attached to the bars. Briefly considered removing the mount off the Cannondale but couldn’t be bothered, so I just took the Cannondale instead.

This route also takes in Kirkby Mallory, location of the famous Mallory Park race track which I seem to remember driving round in an F1 video game in the ’80s. It has a slightly urban element going through Ibstock and Earl Shilton, but only for short stretches.

So I pushed right down through Barwell, Elmesthorpe and finally into Stoney Stanton, where after 18.6 miles I stopped to come back the same way.

I was a bit peckish by this time and put my head round the door of the co-op there with the intention of buying a sandwich – but the queue at the till was quite long and I hadn’t brought a bike lock. So I made do with a Tesco peanut bar that I’d brought with me, on the way back.

That was joyous. Nice weather, pleasant new roads to explore and best of all my knees coped very well, which kept me in very good spirits.

Very nice to visit Stoney Stanton, having seen it featured briefly in a TV programme from 1972.

I conceived this route as part of a lower elevation alternative to my usual route down to Welford in Northamptonshire, and it’s really much nicer. A classic case of necessity being the mother of invention. It does add about four miles to the round trip, though. And it doesn’t knock a huge proportion off the elevation gain. Still, it’s definitely preferable.

37.38 and that’s 230 done this month, 1217 this year.

Same Again

Another early exit from work, hadn’t thought much about where to go so I thought I’d just do the same reverse Twycross again. Much cooler today, cloudy and a little breezy. I wrapped up warmish with leggings on and three layers of jersey. It rained this morning and I thought there might be the odd puddle (there wasn’t) so I took the Boardman.

Quite enjoyable. But as I neared the turning point along Fenn Lanes, I decided to keep on keeping on and just go round the usual, mostly circular route. I extended it a mile or two by taking the Newton Burgoland / Swepstone route into Heather, rather than along Newton Road.

I forgot to bring the bike computer out of the house and was using a phone in my pocket to record the track, so I wasn’t sure how many miles I’d done as I arrived back at the garage. 34.79, a bit less than the 37 I’d intended but I was on a heavier bike, and in heavier clothing. So that’ll do.

Noticed as I pedalled along Fenn Lanes that a field on my right had about 12 light aircraft in it, including some brightly coloured biplanes, all visible through the trees and hedgerow at the side of the road. Google Maps tells me this is “Stoke Golding Airfield”. I’ve certainly never seen an aircraft take off or land there. Must be some sort of event happening there, in fact yep – just Googled it, and it’s the “Midland Air Festival”.

My knees were a wee bit tender but they didn’t suffer on the climbs. I think 36 or 37 is my limit for now.

Also, I hadn’t been through Newton Burgoland for a while. It’s been spruced up with some new signage on smart wooden posts, but a pub there that I’m fond of, the Belper Arms, looked to be closed for some reason – the car park was empty at 7:25.

Anyway. That’s me on 193 miles this month and 89 to do before June to reach my target.

Non-Circular Twycross

A sunny summer’s day with nary a waft of wind – so since I had an opportunity to leave work early, I took it – with the aim of doing 37 miles or so.

I’d spent an improper proportion of the day when I should have been working devising a 37 mile route on the Strava route planner, though none I came up with seemed particularly desirable. I thought of extending the 35 mile longish Twycross that goes through Witherley, but couldn’t think of a pleasing way to do that.

Then a light bulb went on in my head. Why not do the Twycross, but after exactly half the distance I wanted, just stop and come back the other way?

This had three distinct advantages.

  • I’d get to visit my favourite secluded wee spot twice
  • I could get my distance to the exact requirement in a predictable manner
  • I’d get to do the really flat stretch near Witherley twice

I also thought it would be fun to do, and a bit different.

So I did that; an experimental non-circular Twycross.  I dressed in light gear, took it easy, soaked up the summer sunshine and the Leicestershire countryside ambience, and had a marvellous time. Although I’d replaced the front inner on the Planet X yesterday, I took the Cannondale. I never quite trust a new inner tube (I’m the same with gear cables and cleats) and didn’t want a lovely afternoon marred by another flat.

I actually stopped after 18.7 miles, rather than the 18.5 I’d intended. At the 18.5 point I was freewheeling down a gentle incline so I thought I might as well soak up a bit more distance while it was free, albeit I’d have to pedal a bit further on the way back.

Doing a familiar route in reverse can be disorienting and the southern end of this one isn’t that familiar, so I thought I’d probably have to consult a map. But I didn’t. The challenge of remembering the way back (Until the turn for Sheepy, easy after that) put a fun spin on my ride. I have done a reverse Twycross before and I’d forgotten how much easier it is to go from Twycross – Snarestone rather than the other way round. It’s all very gently downhill.

Really had a lovely time and my knees did really well. I’d love to be able to write one of these without repeatedly referring to the joints between my thighs and lower legs, but apparently I can’t.

I also had a nice view of the Moon in a blue sky. Always cheers me up for some reason, the Moon and Sun being out at the same time. I don’t know why.

37.65 which takes me well over half of May’s target with half the month left, so that’s good. I shall definitely do this one again. It’s very easy to extend as well as I increase my distances, by pushing further along Fenn Lanes before turning back. And the Atterton Lane bit is very quiet and pleasant.

What a luxury it seems to be able to go out for hours after work, and be back while it’s still broad daylight. I must say though, the longer days seem to have come round very fast this year. I’m reminded of Rod Stewart’s wise words that life is a bit like a toilet roll – it runs out really quickly when you get nearer the end.

In other news: noticed that the stem bolts on the Boardman are showing a bit of rust so I bought some new titanium ones. But they’re so nice looking that I think I’ll put them on the Cannondale, and the Boardman can get the Cannondale’s hand-me-downs.

Oh yes, and while playing with the route planner I found a promising 18 mile stretch of road that’s pretty flat, SW of Derby. Might be worth doing a few lengths of that as a proof of concept for a flat Fondo in Norfolk.


Thought I’d do 15 after work to see how I’d cope with a shortish ride without taking a day off. I intended to do the first seven of the ride I did yesterday, then the same seven back. Nice enough weather but unfortunately those first few miles are a bit urban in that direction, and I had rush hour traffic to contend with. It was a bit blowy as well.

I did get knee pain from the off but nothing serious, and they coped OK.

Anyway once I reached the 7 mile point I decided I wasn’t coming back the same way, so I took what I thought was a detour but in fact ended up being a slight shortcut. Certainly more pleasant though, for the couple of miles until I was back on the same track then it was back to the dust and traffic.

Not much fun really, and to cap it all the bike seemed to start handling a bit funny a few hundred metres from home. I weaved left and right a bit to test the steering and sure enough it had gone slightly anarchic. Closer inspection revealed that I had a front puncture. So I hoisted the bike to shoulder height and clogged home in cleats, taking a short cut across the village green.

Could have been worse! Gave the front wheel a few revolutions under careful scrutiny and it’s still spinning true, so I don’t think running on a flat for whatever distance has done it any harm. The road didn’t even feel particularly rough, funnily enough.

Anyway – a tragically truncated 14.52 miles. 15 miles is the arbitrary point at which I excuse myself rowing machine duties, so that’s unfortunate.


I wanted to do 36 or so today. Lovely sunny day for it, and I set off on the Cannondale at about 12:50. Decided I’d do the first 18 miles or so of the new lower-elevation route I’ve devised to Northamptonshire, then the same 18 miles back.

Cooler than I expected when I set off in bare legs, but I had two long sleeve layers on on top, and soon warmed up in the May sunshine. Once again I had the eTrex to assist with navigation. What a luxury that would have seemed 20 years ago; a handlebar-mounted electronic map that pinpoints your position and gives you distance done and distance to go. I prefer it to using a phone as the LCD screen is very readable in strong sunlight and the AA batteries last for many hours.

Had to contend with clouds of greenfly near Desford – my jersey was covered with the little buggers by the time I’d emerged from it. And I saw some kind of small stoat creature crossing the road rapidly about 20 metres in front of me, near Thurlaston. It seemed to have an improbably bulbous head, but in retrospect perhaps it was carrying something it had just killed? That was the only wildlife of note on this trip, anyway.

The plan was to take a small detour at the bottom end of the ride, to a village called Stoney Stanton. I was curious to see it because it featured briefly on a programme from 1972 that I happened to watch a couple of weeks ago, a sort of travelogue following a car journey from London to Manchester using an A road route.

So I took a right along a road called Watery Gate Lane, but half a mile later was met by a rather impassable ford. So I turned back the way I’d come and back onto the main route. I briefly considered navigating to Stoney Stanton a different way, but in conjunction with the pointless mile I’d just done, this would have added 4 or 5 miles and I wasn’t comfortable doing that many at this stage. I settled for a village called Croft instead, where I spent a happy ten minutes lounging on a bench in the sun.

Took a brief detour along Kirkby Lane on the way back, partly because I needed a surreptitious and quiet spot for a wee – but also because I wanted to add a mile or so, as at that point it looked like I’d be back home on about 35 – and I’m doing my best to extend my distances by 2 miles a week.

As I visited the contents of my bladder onto a clump of nettles, 5 Live reported that Brighton had gone one up on City – which promised to make the remaining football coverage a bit more interesting, but not for long. By the time I had mounted my bike again City had equalised, and three or four miles further up the road, they were in front.

My knees held up pretty well – a bit sore now as expected but the only time I felt any trauma or pain was when pushing up a brief but steep hill approaching Desford. Encouraging, for now anyway. I’m assuming I’ll get MRI results in the next week or two.

36.09, 106 done this month. I still have 176 to do to meet this month’s target, but the weather looks good for a few days.

Heading South

I’d been thinking of doing Sutton Bonington and back today, because it’s a relatively low elevation route and my knee was a bit tender after Saturday’s 35 miles. And perhaps I should have, because my knee does feel a bit worse for wear now. But I didn’t.  A few days ago I devised a different way to do Northamptonshire and back that’s not only less hilly than my usual way, but a bit quieter as well, not involving skirting the southern end of Leicester. So I planned a route for today that would try out the first 16 miles or so, then come back a different way.

A lot of this was unknown to me, so I uploaded the route to my Etrex for handlebar-mounted navigation. And it turned out to be a really nice adventure, exploring territory where I hadn’t boldy gone before. Mostly. I did remember one road junction at the southern end of the route from a ride I did one Christmas Eve, probably at the end of 2017. Must have a look through this thread and find out what inspired me to go down that way. I certainly didn’t take the same route anyway.

Cold when I set off, so I wrapped up warm. But although I’d been led to expect by the BBC forecast that the temperature wouldn’t improve much, in fact it did later on, quite a bit when the sun came out. Fortunately I had a backpack to stuff my gloves, balaclava and woolly hat into.

Pleased to report that the Boardman is running nicely on its new chain and cassette, with no sign of the judder that prompted me to replace them.

The knees did OK mostly; they did complain a bit over the last few miles but not too serious. Looks like the weather will enforce a few days off anyway.
34.67 miles, which takes me to a modest 70 this month.

If I ever do a Northamptonshire & Back again, I’d certainly go down that way. It’s only half a mile longer but inherently nicer, and involves less climbing.

Appleby Magna

I took the newly-lubricated X out on roads west that I’ve done a few times in the past, but usually as part of longer routes (eg to Stafford and Wales), and not in the last couple of years (I don’t think).

So after about 5.5 miles of my usual Twycross route I took a right west to Appleby Magna, rather than continuing straight down to Twycross. Really quite enjoyable initially, especially on the quiet road along to Appleby and I found myself wondering why I don’t do that route more often. The answer came later, as I crossed into Warwickshire then Staffordshire – the road between No Man’s Heath and Clifton is just too lumpy. It’s decently surfaced, not crumbly or damaged but just too momentum-sappingly uneven; you can’t just relax and settle into your rhythm.

Anyway. The plan was to do 17 then come back the same way, and that’s pretty much what I did except that when I hit the 17 mile marker I was on a pleasingly flat stretch, so I pressed on gently for another half mile or so.

Despite its flaws, quite a nice route. Nice weather – mostly sunny apart from a cloudy spell when the temperature dropped quite a bit, and not too cold mostly (I wrapped up warm anyway). I did pick up a couple of spots of rain at Heather, a couple of miles from home but the cloud from whence it had come blew over quickly. Happy memories of my trip to Wales along this route a couple of years ago. I’d love to do that one again one day, not sure if that will be possible though.

I was well entertained by the football on 5 Live. Spurs went a bit feral against Bournemouth and had two players sent off so I was pleased to hear them lose to a late goal. And I was delighted that MK Dons, whom I have a soft spot for, perhaps due to my British sense of fair play and wanting to defend people from mean-spiritedness and spite – beat Mansfield to gain promotion to League One. They very nearly changed places with AFC Wimbledon, which would have been quite funny.

My Garmin GPS watch lost GPS coverage 3.4 miles from home and never regained it, so I had to synthesise a Part 2.

Never had that happen before. I’ve had a watch run out of juice or reboot itself, but never lose satellite coverage so that’s a bit of a mystery. I may end up buying a new one after all, there’s a new range of Forerunners out soon. One of them supposedly has a feature that allows specified contacts to track you in real time but I would assume that it needs to pair with a phone for that, so you might as well just use a phone app. However, the battery life looks very impressive even on the cheaper ones. They double as bluetooth music players as well (again though, I wouldn’t use a watch for that).

Anyhoo – that’s May started (May the 4th be with you) and I’m into four figures for the year. 1022 done in 2019.

Looks like rain on Monday later on so if the forecast stays like that, I’ll have to go out a bit earlier. Might have the red Boardman working by then.


I was hoping to do a route today that is generally north-south in orientation, but it will have to wait for another day as a rather strong northerly is doing its thing today. Wouldn’t be so bad if I’d intended to head north and come back south, but it was the other way round.

I shall head west, come back east. Bit cold out there unfortunately.