One More for July

Didn’t think I’d get another one in this month, but early this afternoon the forecasters withdrew their threat of rain this evening and by the time I unloosed my wage slave shackles, the roads were mostly dry. Unfortunately just before I set off, the forecasters reinstated their threat. But it was supposed to be short-lived light rain, so I withdrew the Boardman and off I set.

I was annoyed to see that I hadn’t turned the rear light off last time, so it had been blinking away for about 48 hours. But it was still going strong.

Cooler than of late and I wore a couple of long-sleeved layers up top and tights which kept me comfortable quite nicely.

Predictably, I did a Twycross, down to Ratcliffe Culey where I turned eastward the old way through Sibson to avoid the watery unpleasantness near the Anker, a bit further south. I decided to take a short cut to Fenn Lanes along Upton Lane, but on a whim – regular readers will know that I’m highly prone to them – I kept going straight instead of taking a right along Stoke Rd. I was vaguely sure that doing so would take me to Bosworth through Shenton. And I was right.

About four miles from home, the usual way from Bosworth, the rain started quite abruptly. Not heavy, but sharp and persistent. Fortunately it only lasted about 10 minutes.

Decided (another whim) to take a detour through Ibstock from Heather, haven’t done that for a long time. I get tired of Heather Lane and it can be a bit muddy in the wet.

That’s 31.28 and 350 this month.

As things stand I’d only have 789 miles to do to reach my 2019 target of 3000 miles, so I’ve notched it up to 3600.  I suppose 4000 isn’t out of the question.


Fair play to the weather forecasters. They predicted a weekend of constant rain followed by a dry, warm, sunny Monday – and that’s exactly what happened. I withdrew the Boardman from the garage not long before 6pm last night.

I’d planned another hybrid route, stitching together the first 12 miles of the route down to Stoney Stanton to the first 20-odd of the Twycross route by means of a brief jaunt west along Bosworth Road, from Kirkby Mallory. The Twycross route part would be performed in reverse, therefore.

Perfect cycling weather, and although I’d wrapped up a bit too warm to guard against the temperature dropping later on, I wasn’t uncomfortable. The dismal urban stretch through Ellistown and Bagworth at the tail end of the rush hour was well invested for the opportunity to pedal along the quiet rural part down through Newbold Verdon to Kirkby Mallory. Hung a right from there to Sutton Cheney on my usual Twycross route, then backwards along Fenn Lanes.

Unfortunately, when I got to Witherley, I was confronted by this:

So I consulted Google Maps. A brief diversion along the A5 into Atherstone was necessary, but only for a few hundred yards. A couple of minutes out of Atherstone though, I arrived at another watery obstacle:

I tried carrying the bike round it, but it was too deep. I was genuinely about to remove my socks and cycling shoes, stuff them up my jersey and wade through it as I believed I was out of options at that point, but I checked Google Maps again anyway. To my relief, it turned out that I’d missed a turn and didn’t need to be crossing the River Anker at that point in the first place. So I backtracked 1/3 of a mile and took the correct turn along St George’s Rd.

Up from there through Sheepy, Twycross, Snarestone, Swepstone, Heather and home.

I was out later than I’d intended due to my enforced orienteering adventures and the daylight started to diminish quite quickly after Twycross. But I had a decent rear light and a head torch. Sadly the strap on my new head torch didn’t quite want to stretch round my helmet, but I cocked my helmet back a bit and it fitted quite snugly on my forehead. I was quite pleased with it; a nice bright light on the road ahead and enough scattered light to be able to read a watch or the dashboard instruments without pointing the beam. Rechargeable. The only annoying thing is that it lights up little flies and midgies right in front of your face, and at one point near Swepstone they were coming at me like stars on the viewscreen when the Enterprise goes to warp speed.

Anyway that turned out to be fun in the end although I wasn’t home until about 10pm. 39.71 miles and that’s 319 this month; 2180 this year.

Must remember to avoid the area around Mythe Lane when it’s been raining for a couple of days.

Unusual Twycross

Left work at 4:30pm yesterday. The forecast threatened light rain at about 7pm, but I wanted to get about 35 miles in. I took the Boardman, partly because of the threat of precipitation and partly because I’d noticed yesterday that the rear Disraeli is slightly loose on the hanger – the Allen bolt is nice & tight but there’s a little bit of play, as though a washer is missing.

I had no idea how or when this happened but wanted to check things, in case it’s a recent turn of events. As it turns out, the rear gears are still changing up and down very nicely. I’m guessing it’s probably something that’s gradually worn loose over time. Perhaps I’ll swap it out next time I replace the chain.

Anyway – I did a Twycross. I sort of wish I’d done something a bit more interesting as the weather looks rubbish for a few days and of course the daylight hours are shrinking now, but I just defaulted to my usual route. Conscious that I’d been a bit unimaginative, as I neared the turn to Ratcliffe I decided to keep on going down across the border into Warwickshire, and to Atherstone. I’ve been down through Atherstone a few times but to get back on the usual track from there you have to negotiate a cobbled stretch. I didn’t fancy doing that again so I pulled up short of the town centre and with the help of Google Maps, negotiated a short cut, along a road called St George’s Rd. A brief suburban interlude.

Back onto Atherstone Rd from there and along Mythe Lane, Atterton Lane as usual. I thought of trying another detour ten minutes later as I pushed along Fenn Lanes, perhaps to take in Stoke Golding – but I was unsure whether I’d have to negotiate steep climbs, and I didn’t fancy that. I must check that later, for future reference.

Back home the usual way except that I pressed on to Burgoland and approached Heather through Swepstone, rather than along Newton Road. That gave me a bit more distance and avoided a tedious hill south of Heather.

Very nice to be out in very light clothing, a short-sleeved top and shorts. Warm, certainly. And yet I spent a lot of the ride feeling grateful that it was so much cooler than the previous day. I felt a few pinpricks of moisture descend from the sky shortly after I left the house but that only persisted for about ten minutes. The last half hour of the ride was blighted by light, spotting rain. Apart from that it was dry.

I managed to break the Boardman’s mirror recently, and trialled a new one on this ride – a more upmarket model by Cateye, pictured below slightly out of focus.

I didn’t have high hopes because the mirror surface is closer to the centre line, hence I thought the rear view would be obscured by my right thigh. But in practice it works really well, perhaps because it’s slightly convex. The internal clamp that expands into the bar is very solid so it’s highly secure, and the reflected image is very steady. The only bummer is that it’s a little bit heavier. I’d be loath to fit one to one of the lighter bikes.

I was passed by a beautful E-Type Jag on the road to Twycross. Red, in near showroom condition.

So anyway – that’s another 35.38 miles in the bag, which takes me to 279 this month and 2140 this year.

Bottle of Brown for Boris at the Bubble

There aren’t many days when I can go riding in my camo jersey, because it’s the thinnest and lightest cycling top that I own. But today was undoubtedly one of them. One of those days when you swing open the back door and feel like you’ve opened an oven. I felt the heat on my bare arms as soon as I stepped outside.

Today’s plan was to go up through Melbourne, across Swarkestone Bridge then west to Stenson, where I planned to have a cold beer at a table outside the Bubble Inn. So that’s what I did. I took a slightly longer route than last time I did this a few weeks ago. I went through Isley Walton to elongate the route a bit, and to make it more interesting. And I intended to come back the same way but got waylaid in Melbourne. Had to consult Google Maps a few times and ended up coming a quicker way home, through Wilson. That way took me past the quarry at Breedon which I try to avoid normally, as the road along there (Stocking Lane) is always coated with dust from the quarry traffic.

From there, back home the usual way down Top Brand which I also used to avoid coming south as it was a bit of a bone shaker, but it’s been nicely resurfaced now.

So warm out there. And very sunny. A bit cloudy later on mercifully, but the temperature didn’t seem to drop much.  Really nice to be out on the Cannondale; it just feels so light and zippy. And nice to know all’s well with the new stem bolts.

I teamed my camo jersey with a retro yellow cycling cap, to keep the sun out of my eyes.

I’d thought to do about 40, but the shorter route back robbed me of a couple. 37 miles (I knocked off .19 for clogging around outside the pub) and that’s 244 this month. Probably no cycling for me until Friday though; I have other plans for Thursday and it’s going to be scorchio (32 degrees)!

Profiterole-Powered through Peggs Green

I’m on call today, so I did my usual thing of stringing together two routes, one north of home, one south – so as not to stray too far from base.

I had in mind doing 30-35. Started with a trip up through Melbourne. I was thinking of going over Swarkestone Bridge from there and going to Stenson like I did a few weeks ago, but I didn’t. I took a right through Kings Newton past Donington race course to Isley Walton, and from there down through Belton, Griffydam and Peggs Green, where I stopped at a bench and had a modest lunch consisting of a small pork pie and two profiteroles. I would normally take an oat bar rather than cream and chocolate-based pastries, but ‘er indoors had a few left over from entertaining guests yesterday. They kept me going quite nicely.

From there I devised a route to get me over to Packington that took me through Farmtown, along Corkscrew Lane. I used to use that route quite regularly back in 2015 but it fell out of favour; probably because the wooded section just north of Farmtown is not really road bike territory. Very twisty, with sudden ups & downs.

Anyway – I went down nearly as far as Twycross, then took the very pleasant and secluded Bilstone Road over to Bilstone. Came back from there through Shackerstone, Burgoland, Swepstone, Heather.

Ended up having done 40.84 (I knocked off 0.03 for a small amount of walking over roads and grass verges to benches etc) but I was quite encouraged by the state of my knees, they seemed to do fine. Pleased about that as I thought I’d given myself a setback a couple of weeks ago. It my well be that having two days off helped, as well. But I’ll see how they feel tomorrow.

A bit blowy, but warm and intermittently sunny.

I fancied a trip out on the Cannondale really, partly to make sure all’s well with the new stem bolts. But I wanted to give the X’s new bike computer a test drive and check the calibration. It reported 40.61 miles at the end of the ride, compared to the Garmin’s claim of 40.87. More than acceptable of course. But my calculator tells me that if the wheel circumference value was set to 211cm instead of 210 it would have reported 40.80, which is obviously closer. So I’ll do that.

I came up behind possibly the most heavily-laden cyclist I’ve ever seen, struggling up a hill near Isley Walton. He had a large backpack on with two additional packs, one attached to either side of it, possibly a sleeping bag and a small tent. He also seemed to be wearing dark brown tights under his shorts which I thought rather odd given the weather, until I realised that he was black.

Nothing but golf on 5 Live so I listened to 6 Music. Quite an interesting programme featuring space-themed music and a discussion between Brian Cox and Brian Eno, to mark the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.

A lot of cyclists out today, often with a swanky bike and all the gear but carrying a lot of extra personal weight. What do these people think their expensive racing team jersey looks like when it’s struggling to contain a big gut spilling out over the waistband of their shorts? And if you’re serious enough about cycling to invest in a carbon frame, top brand helmet and all that, why wouldn’t you try to get your weight down a bit?

Anyway – mostly made up as I went along and no new roads, but a nice run out. And that takes me to 207 this month. I think another 100 before August should be doable, looking at the weather. Having said that it might actually be too hot to ride a bike far on Tuesday, round here anyway.

New Stuff

Just fitted a new Cateye Velo 9 to replace the bike computer on the Planet X that broke a few weeks ago. I would have bought a Velo 7, which looks exactly the same and has two less functions, but the 9 came up on an Amazon sale and worked out a bit cheaper.

I like these. They’re very accurate once calibrated, easy to read at a glance and simple to use. I only actually need the distance function.

Certainly, I can’t see myself using the ‘calories burned’ and ‘carbon offset’ functions that I now have. I doubt I’ll find myself wondering how much carbon dioxide I’ve spared the atmosphere from by cycling instead of driving a car. Because I don’t cycle as an alternative to driving, 99% of the time. It’s all about doing time and distance on the bike, not getting from A to B.

But just for fun I calculate that, if I’d used a car instead of a bike since January 2015, in doing so I’d have burned something like 1850 litres of petrol, which at £1.20 a litre comes to about £2225. But I’d certainly have saved some time.

In other news, I’ve fitted the Cannondale with new titanium stem bolts. The old steel ones had a hint of surface rust and of course – these ones are lighter. They’re beautifully machined, I must say.

I’m not sure how many grams lighter the Cannondale is, for having new aluminium cage bolts and titanium stem bolts. 40 maybe? Not many. But it’s more of a hobby really, shaving small quantities of weight off your bike.


I left work early, having hatched a plan to do something a bit different – a sort of westward extension of the Orton detour from the Twycross route, going to a place called Polesworth in Warwickshire, then coming back east to rejoin the Twycross route near Pinwall.

So that’s what I did. I took the Boardman, since I wanted to test the new stem. I took the necessary Allen key with me, just in case. I’d also adjusted the saddle slightly.

Dry, warm and sunny but annoyingly blowy from the moment I set off. Had to contend with a persistent, nagging headwind for the first half of the ride.

Enjoyed the new stretch of road over to Polesworth despite it being a bit hilly – some nice views. Polesworth itself is somewhat dismal and urban though.

My knees hurt a bit the whole way round. Why, I don’t know. But if anything they seemed to improve after 10 miles or so.

Always nice to do the quiet stretch of road north of Bosworth on a sunny evening. I stopped at a bench at Carlton and glooped down an orange gel. I’d run out of cycling snacks, must get some more oat bars next time I’m in Tesco.

The bike felt a shade less comfortable on the longer stem at first but I got used to it fairly quickly. I’m certainly not going to change it again. I’ve repurposed the surviving red aluminium stem bolts as cage bolts on the Cannondale to replace the steel ones, thereby shaving a sliver of weight off. And they look nicer. The spoke nipples on the Cannondale are red so they go quite nicely.

Anyway 32.61 miles which takes me to 2027 this year. My original target for 2019 was 2112 miles (currently it’s 3000) so I’m pleased about that. I suppose 3000 miles is starting to look a bit too easy now. I’ll think about that over the weekend.


I did end up sawing through the shaft of the bolt in the gap between the stem and the body, to remove the aluminium bolts I unwisely used as stem bolts. The slot I’d sawn into the head of the first bolt wasn’t wide enough to take a screwdriver blade.

Before the hacksaw blade had made it the whole way through the shaft, the tension the bolt was under snapped what was left of it and the hex head pinged out of the faceplate like an aluminium bullet!

At that point the other shagged bolt magically loosened itself and I was able to remove it without any trouble. So I’ve binned the old stem. It was a replacement for the original Boardman stem that was far too long. And I’ve put on the stem that came with the X originally, which is 10mm longer but I think it should be fine. I’ll have to adjust the saddle a touch, I expect. But actually it should be closer in geometry to the Cannondale, which really suits me. Might improve the handling a tad as well.

So ignoring inner tubes, bar tape, bottle cages and tyres, the Boardman has now had:

  • three stems
  • two seat posts
  • two front derailleurs
  • two wheelsets
  • about four chains

Twycross with Minor Orton Detour

Left work early, took the X for a Twycrosser. Decided to do the Minor Orton Triangular Detour once I got to Twycross. I must give the Major Orton Less Triangular Detour another go sometime soon, as well. That one misses Twycross completely.

Wasn’t sure whether I wanted to come back the same way (perhaps omitting the Orton detour) once I got to Fenn Lanes, but decided to press on the usual way home through Bosworth, Carlton, Barton, Odstone.

Stayed resolutely dry throughout. No sign of the light rain threatened around 7pm, though the skies did seem to threaten it once or twice. Mostly cloudy, but occasionally sunny. Lovely weather, really. Warm and not much wind. I overdressed slightly up top, but wasn’t really bothered.

Ended up doing a few more than I expected – 34.29. But no problems.

I was impressed with the oncoming cyclist near Ratcliffe who literally wagged his finger at a driver who’d just overtaken me, not giving either of us a great deal of clearance. Also saw a young chap on a red Boardman Road Sport like mine, don’t see that many of them. Speaking of which – I had an idea to remove those aluminium stem bolts. I’ll saw slots into the heads and see if I can get them out with a screwdriver. If that doesn’t work I’ll saw through the bolts between the face plate and the stem body – there’s a bit of clearance. If I do that I’ll end up replacing the stem though that’s not a big deal, it wasn’t expensive and I could use the one I took off the X.

Relubed the Cannondale on my lunch break and perhaps it’ll get a run out next time.

The weather looks OK for Thursday and not bad for later on Saturday (rain forecast for the morning).


Fitted some inexpensive stem bolts to the Boardman. The old ones had a bit of surface rust. The new ones are red aircraft aluminium. They go nicely with the frame. Very light of course.

However an hour or two later I read some conflicting advice on the wisdom of using aluminium stem bolts, including the comment to one person who’d done this that “I hope you have a good dental plan”.

The consensus seems to be – only use steel or titanium for load-bearing connections like the seat post or stem. I think I’ll take them off again and put some steel ones on from a spare stem. Perhaps I’ll use the red ones for a bottle cage.