Semi-Accidental Fondo

Thinking ahead to a time when I’ll be able to do 70+ miles again, I had a look at my usual route to Melton Mowbray and back, with a view to changing it around a bit. I did find a really promising detour for the A6006 stretch between Zouch and Six Hills, which can be a bit of a drag sometimes.

So although I wasn’t going to go all the way to Melton today I was quite keen to try it out. I thought I’d go as far as Asfordby, then turn back – which would give me roughly the same distance I did on Friday night, a bit less than 55 miles.

I took the X again. I gave the Cannondale a bit of a clean yesterday and GT85-ed out the chain, and hadn’t lubed it. Must do that tomorrow.

Despite having got back from a gig at about 12:25AM last night, or this morning if you’re going to be pedantic – I arose at about 06:55 this morning. I actually misread the clock next to my bed. I thought it was 07:55. I’d actually made toast and coffee before I realised what I’d done there, but I stayed up, took my time over breakfast and set off at about 08:30.

Lovely and quiet at that time on a Sunday morning, barely any traffic. I actually missed the turn for the new part of the route, but only by a couple of hundred yards. When I turned back I was disappointed to find myself battling a headwind, which didn’t bode well for the return part of the journey. The new part actually adds a couple of miles to the route and a little bit of elevation as well, but it’s much nicer. Quiet, very leafy. Lots of gentle ups and downs which all add up of course, but it avoids a brutal climb just after Normanton. I did have to consult Google Maps a couple of times, though.

Rejoined the usual route at Six Hills and made my usual way from there to Asfordby. Asfordby is a dismal little town really but it does have a serviceable co-op and a thoroughly decent bench outside its parish hall. I secured the bike to some railings using my new ultra lightweight bike lock (not a lock at all really, more like a steel-reinforced plastic tie with a little two-prong tool to unfasten it) and procured a sandwich.

Suitably rested and refuelled, I started on the way back home. I think I’d done about 27.5 by this time. Sadly though, eight miles later I turned left at the Big Lane crossroads when I should have turned right. I only realised I’d done this when approaching Seagrave, a village I knew I’d never been through before. I’d just come down a long hill and I just couldn’t face climbing it again, so I plotted a new course from there, to take me back on track via Sileby and Barrow upon Soar. I was of course a bit apprehensive about this, as it meant I’d be adding three or four miles but my knees seemed to be doing really well so I pressed on.

Looking at the track now, I didn’t really take the most efficient route to get back on track. But map reading while straddling a bike using a phone in bright sunlight is not ideal.

As I approached Normanton and Zouch it occurred to me that I probably wasn’t far off doing a Fondo – and I might get close to the requisite distance by adding a brief excursion over to Sutton Bonington and back from there; a decidedly flat bit of road. So I did that.

Stopped at Belton for a rest a few miles later and did some stretching exercises.

Decided to come back home from there through Griffydam and Peggs Green rather than Thringstone as I didn’t fancy the climb along Talbot Street. I’d punctured the front tyre on the same bike last time I came home that way, which also put me off a bit.

I couldn’t remember whether a Fondo was 62 or 63 miles, so I did a slight warm down in the immediate vicinity of home to push the distance up a bit. Home on 63.39 (I’ve knocked 0.02 off for clogging around the shop and walking the bike to benches etc). I wasn’t at all proud of myself for overclocking my intended mileage and my right knee had started to feel a bit strained. But I doubt the ‘warm down’ or the Sutton Bonington stretch did any significant harm. And anyway, I think I’ve got away with it.

So that’s a rather pleasing 504 miles for June, 212 more than the target and the highest monthly tally since August 2017.

1861 so far this year.

I was a bit too cool intermittently for the first half of the ride, but fine when the sun was out. I wore a long sleeved top. Got a bit of sunburn on my wrists. My leg tanlines are looking pretty good, although I compromised them yesterday by wearing rugby shorts on a lounger in the garden.

The headwind on the way back was indeed a bit of a nuisance. But despite having got up stupidly early after a long night, I felt pretty fresh the whole ride.

I threw out a pair of cycling shorts last week because they’d started to wear out – they actually had a couple of holes in them. So I wore new ones for this trip, newly acquired from Amazon. Best ones I’ve ever had; they’re really lightweight, the fit is perfect and they have a little zipper pocket on the back that’s handy for a debit card, garage key or emergency tenner. They’re a bit drab though, black with red pinstripes. The old ones had big yellow flashes. I’m convinced that more colourful clothing and frame paint is conducive to better morale while riding, and that’s why I like to take the X on longer distances.

The Bull and Spectacles

Wasn’t able to leave work as early as I wanted yesterday but it’s light until after 10pm at the moment so I wanted to do a longish one. I set off at about 5:20pm on the X.

Lovely sunny, warm weather. For some reason I couldn’t find my long-sleeved non-winter cycling jersey anywhere so I just put a short-sleeved one on and hoped it wouldn’t be too cool later. It was.

I wanted to something a bit more adventurous than the time-honoured Twycross variation. I’d originally thought of going eastward over to Grimston, a nice easy one that wouldn’t require any map-assisted navigation. But the prospect of rush hour traffic through Coalville and Thringstone put me off, and I decided to go westward instead. The plan was to do the old Wales / Stafford route for about 25 miles, then turn back the same way.

And that’s what I did, taking the nice quiet road to Appleby Magna, then over the A42 and into Warwickshire and Staffordshire through No Man’s Heath and Clifton Campville. Would be a lovely route if not for the momentum-sapping, lumpy state of the road for a few miles either side of Clifton Campville but I’d factored that in, and decided to wear it. After that there’s a really nice long, scenic flat stretch which although an A road feels decently safe and quiet. Got to Handsacre on 24.4 miles and decided to keep on for a bit since I was enjoying myself, pedalling along at a leisurely speed and listening to the women’s football on 5 Live. Stopped at Hill Ridware where I took the following pic:

Kept on keeping on for another few miles. I was convinced that I was on a road I’d never propelled myself along before, although I wasn’t particularly bothered, until I came to a pub that I recognised, called the Bull and Spectacles. I decided to turn back at that point, concerned that it would be a bit late (and dark, and cold) by the time I got back. I’d done a bit more than 27 miles.

I took a wrong turn at Alrewas, about 8 miles later. But I realised I’d done that within a few hundred yards, so I wasn’t bothered. Parked the bike against some railings next to the Trent & Mersey Canal and consulted Google Maps, before backtracking to the route proper.

It was still daylight at 10pm, albeit the sun had gone down of course. I’d put my little LED lights on by then. Home at about 10:30pm, when it was still quite light enough to see the road ahead and the landscape. Although I’d been warm and comfortable for most of the ride, I was uncomfortably cold by this time.

54.74 miles which gives me 440 this month. More tomorrow.

I’d thought that I’d done a 52 mile ride a week or so ago and that I’d extended my distance by about 2 miles, like I’m supposed to. But in fact it was 50.24 miles. However my knees feel OK today and I’ve clearly got away with it. Just a couple of months ago, 25 mile rides were hurting them more than this.

In any case – I’m not sure that extending ride distances by two miles a week is the best strategy at this point. If it makes sense when you’re doing distances of about 20 miles, maybe three or four mile increments would be better when you can do 50 miles. And if I’m going to get back to doing 80 miles reasonably regularly as I hope, I sort of doubt that I’ll be doing 56, 58, 60, 62 .. all the way to 74, 76, 78, 80.

But perhaps I should. I’ll see how it goes.

Down by the Anker

The forecast is dry for the next few days in NW Leics. The weather for a Thu-Sat-Mon pattern looked a lot more promising than Wed-Fri-Sun and today in particular was rather cloudy and cool. But of course the forecast can change, so I took my chance while it was there.

Rainy this morning and I anticipated a few puddles so I took the Boardman yet again. I’d decided to do a version of the Twycross that actually bypasses Twycross itself to the west, taking in a village called Orton on the Hill before joining the usual route just north of Sheepy Magna. This new section was variously a bit lumpy and gravelly, and really startlingly quiet. I mean post-apocalyptic. Actually slightly creepy. I might do this again but it probably won’t be a regular feature. One nice thing though was a section just near Orton where the terrain to the side of the road dips sharply, with miles of open landscape visible.

I heard the loud noise of a jet engine or engines overhead suddenly near Orton. Thought this was odd given I was at least 15 miles from East Midlands. Looked up and saw what I think was a Jet Provost; a small jet with straight wings and wingtip tanks anyway, painted grey.

Once back on the normal course I took the road that goes through Witherley as usual of late, but was halted by a flooded road.

A tributary of the river Anker, itself only about 50 feet from the road where I stopped, passes under the road at that point. But today some of it was passing over it, as well.

Decided I’d get my shoes rather muddy walking round it, so I backtracked to Ratcliffe and did the Sibson Road version instead, going down to Fenn Lanes via the A444. Because I was getting sick of pedalling into a monstrous headwind along Fenn Lanes, I took a left along Shenton Lane to take what is effectively a short cut to Bosworth. Since I didn’t get my usual bench opportunity at Sutton Cheney I stopped for a break at the bench at Bosworth instead.

Back the usual way. Quite enjoyable despite the cooler weather and blowy conditions. At least it didn’t rain.

35.94 and that’s 386 done this month. 1742 done this year so I shall aim for 1800 before the end of the month.


Checked the weather forecast at 3pm to make sure Wednesday was still expected to be dry, only to find that today was now expected to be dry as well – rain having been forecast for this afternoon. So I left early and decided to do a Twycross. Thought I’d do at least 25, possibly a bit longer.

A bit warm and muggy, intermittently cloudy and sunny and I took the Boardman in case of rain. But not a spot of rain descended from the skies. I did the recent version that takes in Witherley and Atterton Lane. I thought of stopping after 22 or so and returning the same way, but in the end I kept on and came the usual way home. The road north of Bosworth is quite atmospheric in the evening.

Stopped at my favourite bench at Sutton Cheney for a few minutes and did some exercises.

Also trialled a new GPS watch to replace my old Forerunner 25 which I’ve given up on now; the internal battery is just too knackered and you can’t get decent rechargeable replacements. The new one is a Forerunner 35. I really like it a lot – it’s very light and unobtrusive, could easily be worn as a regular watch, and has a delightfully clear, sharp, high contrast screen that’s easily readable even in low or very bright light. It syncs up to Garmin Connect via bluetooth to your phone, and from there to Strava, automatically. Also has a 13 hour battery life (while tracking) or more than a week if just used as a timepiece.

The only bummer is that it doesn’t show time of day alongside distance done while riding. My Soleus does that but it’s much more of a faff to get tracks off it. I’ve set it up to show speed, distance and stopwatch time but I’d rather have ‘clock’ time.

Anyway that’s another 33.24 miles in the bag; a very nice run out on a warm, light evening. 350 this month.


Lovely day for it and despite being on call, I wanted to do 49 or 50. As usual I devised a rough plan that wouldn’t take me too far from home.

While investigating routes on the Strava planner I’d found a stretch just south of Derby that was remarkably flat and wanted to check it out, so I did. Went up to Swarkestone Bridge through Melbourne, turned left and followed the road along to Stenson, where I took this pic at the Bubble Inn.

Hadn’t been there since 1992, when I dated a girl called Julie. Difficult memories, but we needn’t dwell on that here.

So from there I turned back but kept on the same road past Swarkestone Bridge, along to Weston-on-Trent, where I stopped at a bench and consulted Google Maps. It looked like the best route homeward was back the way I’d come. But mindful of the need to build up the miles a bit without venturing too far, I pedalled along the flat road over to Stenson again, before turning back once more and going back down over the bridge.

The flat road is quite pleasant – an A road, but not too busy. Not my favourite sort of cycling but enjoyable enough. Certainly well surfaced and free of climbing hills.

Took a deviant route around Melbourne where I stopped again for a few minutes. Then after Coleorton and back in my on call comfort zone, I did a run up over Belton way, part of my old “Belton Figure of 8” route.

Took a long detour over the last few miles to get the distance up to 50. Home on 52.25 (the bike computer said 52.22, so very pleasing accuracy). That’s the longest distance I’ve done for over 13 months.

Felt a bit knackered after that, but I think that was possibly the heat and the brightness. Also perhaps because the S Works has a slightly less comfortable riding position. It’s been comfortable enough since I flipped the stem but the bars are still a touch lower than the other bikes and I hadn’t done more than 32 on it before. Also, I didn’t find a suitable wee stop for the whole 50 miles.

It was a proper short sleeves, warm day. I wore a cap rather than a helmet to keep the sun off my eyes. Couldn’t help noticing that every other cyclist out today was wearing a helmet, but I have to consider the number of miles I’ve done over the last 4.5 years (17287) against the number of times my head has collided with something heavier than an insect (0) and conclude that I’m fairly safe.

I did enjoy that. Would have been a bit more relaxed if I hadn’t been thinking about the possibility of my phone going off, and if I’d had a spare inner tube. I don’t own one with a valve long enough for the Cosmic rims. I must fix that.

I was passed by a couple on a tandem a few miles after I set off, in Coleorton. The rear rider had a laminated sheet pinned to her backpack announcing that they were doing – if I remember correctly – a 190 mile ride for a charity in a single day. Would love to know where they’d set off from and where they were going, but they don’t feature in my Strava FlyBys as yet.

That’s 317 done this month which is over the adjusted target of 292, but still a bit under the original target of 329 for June.

Railway Bridge

The forecast for today was for dry weather, but as I opened the door to the Tesco lady I couldn’t help noticing, as she unloaded the Foie gras and Bollinger from the side of the van, that it was raining very heavily. Proper biblical.

But a forensic examination of the rainfall radar data later revealed that a single blob of intense rain had passed over, no more than a few miles wide. The roads were reasonably dry by the time I set off at about 16:40, and a couple of miles out of the village, there had clearly been no rain at all. Rather nice weather for a ride in fact, not blowy, mostly sunny and decently warm. I sort of wish I’d taken the Tarmac instead of the Boardman as I’ve been itching for another run out on it for a while, but I played it safe.

Wanted to do at least 40 but I also didn’t want to stray too far from home, as I was on call after 6pm. So I adopted the time-honoured strategy of going north first, then south. This time I went up to Melbourne then down through Ashby through Ticknall – a route I used to do often a year or two ago, but have been avoiding since injuring my knees due to Bastard Hill, north of Ashby. It was a strain today admittedly, but it didn’t hurt my knees.

From then I came down through Ashby and did a fairly typical Twycross.

Took a couple of pics at the bridge over the old railway line, a few miles from home.

As you can see, the tracks are long gone but their imprint on the landscape remains. The line was closed to passenger services in 1931, and to freight traffic 40 years later. Three miles along the track there was a little railway station that now simply does not exist; demolished completely for a housing estate.

Back home on 38.97 miles. 267 this month. Would love to do 48 or so on Saturday but I’ll still be on call so I’ll have to think about that.

Oh yes, and how could I forget? Discarded female underwear sighted in the grass verge between Swepstone and Heather. White with black lace trim and polka dots.

Cloud Trail Failure

So I saw my physio again yesterday and got my MRI results and they are pretty positive – there’s some minor aggravation, but nothing (she assures me) that should stop me from doing the 100+ milers again eventually. I just have to keep increasing my distances, and doing the exercises. Allegedly.

“I’ve seen five people with cronky knees already today”, she told me. “And you aren’t one of them”. She also told me to keep cycling, whatever I do. So with a view to obeying orders, since it’s going to rain tomorrow anyway I decided to man up and go for a ride in the rain.

Dry enough when I set off on the hybrid in wet weather clothing including a helmet cover, and for a while I thought I’d got away with it. Cloudy, but warm and dry. But an hour later it was chucking down. I didn’t mind in the least though as I’d been warned and actively expected it. Made a nice change.

I set off in the general direction of Belton through Coleorton, but decided on a whim that I’d see if I could find the Cloud Trail – a flat cycle route from Worthington to Derby. I followed the signs but apparently not carefully enough as I didn’t find it, and ended up on a road between Worthington and Breedon that I hadn’t done before. A bit hilly. But a nice view of the church on the cliff edge at Breedon.

From there I pedalled off to Donington, where they were dismantling tents and clearing up after Download. Took a left to Melbourne and back the usual way from there. Quite a nice run out albeit a fair bit more climbing than I intended. And the hybrid certainly feels like a lumbering heavy old carthorse of a bike now.

Hosed it down with WD40 when I got back then gave it a wipe down with an old rag.

22.26, 228 this month.

More on Thursday probably. I heard this morning that a prolonged spell of dry weather isn’t expected for weeks! But at least the next few days look OK at the moment.


I woke from my afternoon nap to find pleasantly dry and sunny conditions making themselves obvious through the bedroom window. So I rose, quaffed a post-nap coffee and scrutinised the rainfall radar.

The weather seemed to be travelling in a NW direction, with a sort of corridor of dryness passing over NW Leics for what looked like a few hours.

Normally I take at least a day off after a ride of any substantial duration but the forecast looks a bit iffy still for the next week or so. Furthermore I’d stuffed myself at a local hostelry a couple of hours earlier, and I’d opted for a fairly gratuitously unhealthy dessert – so I took an opportunity to do a short ride. I set off intending to do at least 15, with the option to extend a bit if I decided my knees were happy enough. And they were, so I did 21.83; a medium Twycross.

Really nice out there. Blowier than yesterday but the wind was coming from the south, so I wasn’t bothered by it on the second half of the ride. Intermittently sunny and cloudy. Decently warm. I did get rained on very lightly near Sheepy, but only for a few minutes. I’d taken the Boardman anyway, just in case.

Stopped at the Gibbet post a few miles from home.

It seems to be the time of year when you often see beetles scurrying across the road in front of you while out on a bike. And here’s the odd thing: they always seem to be travelling directly across the road. They seem to take the shortest route to the other side, quite deliberately. Can you even see the other side of the road at that distance from the ground? Do they actually appreciate the danger on some level?

Quite a lot of corvids out and about at the moment, mostly magpies and either rooks or crows or both (I can’t tell them apart).

I also had an opportunity to see a goldfinch up close; the poor bugger had been squashed by a car. Actually having just had a look on the RSPB site, it might have been a hawfinch. Had orangey plumage.

That’s 205 done this month, pleased enough with that given the weather. And I see that I’ve passed the 1500  mile mark for the year, which means half-way to target. 1562 done.


I wanted to do about 45 today. I did 45 last Sunday and that seemed to go OK, but I’d done a couple more than I intended. I thought of doing a run down to Stoney Stanton and a couple of miles south of there, but that one needs navigation assistance and I couldn’t be bothered transferring the track to my Garmin.

So I thought of doing Grimston and back. I gave myself a bit of a setback a few months ago by doing nearly 50 miles there and back. I’d been looking to being able to do it again.

However the more usual route there and back is only 47.5 miles and it involves less elevation than the last ride I did, so I decided today was the day.

Nice and sunny when I got up at about 08:00 but a bit cloudy by the time I set off at 09:20. Rain was threatened by 15:00ish and although I was sure I’d be back by then, I took the Boardman.

Quite an enjoyable run out mostly. Got rained on a few times, despite the forecast. The weather was very variable, ranging from a bit too cool and cloudy to warm-ish and sunny with on and off light rain. Consistently blowy, but not excessively and no bad headwinds.

The pub was still closed when I got there but I made do with a mini pork & pickle pie on the bench at the village green, and I was happy enough with that.

It rained particularly consistently over the last couple of miles but not heavily. I ummed and (indeed) ahhed over whether to repel any residual moisture from the chain with GT85 on my return. It still has the original factory lubricant on it. I decided that was enough to protect it and let it dry off. I did give the frame a wipe down, and hosed the gear parts and cables with GT85.

Right knee is a little bit hurty now but I’m sure it will be OK by Monday. Nothing troubling.

Glad to have done that one again and I’d like to think that by August I can keep going along that route all the way to Belvoir Castle and back, like I used to a couple of years ago.

47.51, quite a nice boost to the June distance tally which now stands at 184 miles.

Belton / Twycross

Wanted to do 42 or 43 today – as much as anything to reassure myself that my knees were OK, or what passes for OK now, following their unplanned exertion on Monday night. I really wanted to do Stoney and back again as that’s my favourite 40+ route at the moment, but I’m on call today and that would have taken me a long way from home at the most distant point. Shame as it was nice enough weather and with the footy on 5 Live that would have been bliss.

So I thought I’d do a run up to Belton and back, turn homeward, then tack on a run down through Twycross and Sheepy then back the same way. That had the advantage that I’d be able to get my distance fairly precise, since I’ve memorised the distances to home from a few landmarks down that way.

So – I did that, but I decided it would be more interesting to turn left along Watery Lane toward Bilstone and come back that way. So I had to sort of busk it from that point to get the right distance.

Stopped at the wooden bus shelter at Odstone having done about 34, had a break and consulted my offline map with landmarks and distances. The bus shelter was 4.7 miles from home by the usual route. So I decided to take a long, looping  route home that would allow me to cut across quickly if I got a call, but should see me home on 43-ish. Or so I thought. Actually it was 45.60.

A few more than I wanted then but my knees coped OK and I’m fairly reassured. I didn’t get any calls and actually the challenge of getting the right distance, albeit I didn’t manage that particularly accurately, was a bit of fun.

Lucky to have a dry day today, it’s rained pretty heavily here for the last few days and there were a few puddles so I took the Boardman. I was itching to take the Tarmac out for a run but that will have to wait. And actually the weather looks fairly wet for the next week, according to the forecast.

I wrapped up a bit too warm overall – legs out but three layers on top – and was a bit sweaty in the sunshine, but comfortable enough during cloudy periods.

Just noticed that according to Strava I did more than 2,000 ft of elevation, and it’s been a long time since I did that. More than a year apparently.

That’s 136 this month, 1492 this year.