Bike Computer Test

The bike computer on the Boardman had developed a bad habit, taking a few hundred yards before noticing that the front wheel was spinning when setting off, or after stopping for a while. I’ve had that one for over ten years actually so not a bad innings, but I hoped that a new magnet would fix it. I had a spare, and fitted it yesterday.

So i took it for a quick lunch time spin today, to see if the problem had been solved. Looks like it is working properly now; no dropouts. Curious that a magnet weakened by corrosion would start working after a few hundred metres fairly consistently. I can only guess that the current induced in the sensor literally warms it up slightly, and makes it more sensitive.

Stupidly forgot to start the GPS watch until I’d already done 0.19 miles, but I accounted for that on the spreadsheet. The Strava totals are still exaggerated anyway due to various errors.

Really nice out there – a few puddles here and there but the roads are mostly dry, it was warm enough for bare legs and the sun was out. Rain due over this afternoon but I was back in plenty of time. I did a sort of extended version of the old ‘Packington Pentagon’, albeit I was making it up as I went along. Not sure I’ve ever done the stretch between Packington and Snarestone in that direction, but that apart it was all familiar stuff.

13.68 miles which brings the September total to 396 miles.

With only 724 miles needed to reach my yearly target of 3750 and three months to go, it would be rude not to readjust it to 4000. So I’ve done that.

Part-Rainy Twycross

The weather forecast for today has been very changeable over the last couple of days. Yesterday morning it looked like I could get 50+ miles in before the arrival of rain in the evening. Early this morning it looked like rain all day. It did rain this morning quite a bit but by 3pm, the forecast was telling me I had a few hours to get a ride in without rain.

Since the roads were wet, I decided to take the hybrid. Once I got to the garage though I realised that I hadn’t brought non-cleaty shoes with me – I often forget that the hybrid has civvie pedals now. I certainly wasn’t going to do a Twycross in the Crocs that I use as temporary footwear between the house and the garage, where I keep my cycling shoes – so I decided to take the Boardman instead.

Twenty minutes after I set off, and against the best advice of the Met Office, the rain came down by the bucketload. It only lasted about 10 minutes, but left me thoroughly soaked.

Curiously, a few minutes after the rain stopped, I turned south onto Ashby Rd at Snarestone and the road went from soaking wet to bone dry in the space of a few feet. A heavy blob of rain must have passed over, just clipping Snarestone. It must have been possible to have stood on Ashby Road, remaining perfectly dry while watching the rain coming down a few yards away. Fascinating.

Just checked the rainfall radar for the time the rain came down and yep, it looks like that’s exactly what happened.

The roads were quite dry for the next 15 miles until the southern approach to Heather, which is roughly level with Snarestone. So the rain blob would have been travelling pretty much exactly eastwards, which makes sense of course. I was quite pleased to have taken the Boardman in the end.

I gave a celebratory fist pump as I chested the imaginary 3,000 mile finishing tape between Sheepy and Sibson. Since the roads were dry enough at that point and my clothes had dried off a bit I decided to extend the ride a bit by taking Barton Lane across to Barton in the Beans rather than coming straight up through Shackerstone. I love Barton Lane. So quiet and secluded, yet decently surfaced and some nice scenery as well.

Not an entirely enjoyable ride; my feet were a bit damp for the remainder of the ride after the downpour. My gloves were cold and damp as well, but I stuffed them into a bottle cage for part of the ride and made do with bare hands.

Pleased to have got a Saturday Twycross in, especially with footy on 5 Live, albeit Alan Pardew isn’t my favourite match summariser. A bit of a Saturday tradition.

The bike computer on the Boardman has developed a bad habit recently – it takes a few hundred yards before it notices that the front wheel is spinning when setting off, or after stopping for a while. I’ve had that one for over ten years actually so not a bad innings, but maybe a new magnet will fix it. I do have a spare somewhere, I’ll have a good look for it tomorrow.

23.72 miles done today and that’s 3,013 this year, 382 this month. Looking at the weather forecast, the September campaign may well be over.

I’m currently aiming for 3,750 this year and my monthly targets are based on that. Certainly it looks almost easy now, but could I possibly reach 4,000? Depends on the weather, I think. I do have some holiday still to take and of course there are some public holidays near the end of December, so perhaps it’s doable.

Lunch Break Twycross

The weather forecast encouraged me to believe I could go for a long lunch break ride without getting rained on. I decided on a Twycrosser, predictably.

Quite sunny and almost warm when I set off, but ten minutes later I was pedalling through moderate rain. Only for ten minutes, though, and not too heavy. The roads became markedly wetter as I approached Twycross, suggesting that the rain had been a lot heavier there. But after I took the road to Sheepy, the surface was completely dry. The rain must have just edged Twycross.

I did get showered on a couple of times after that but the last few miles were warm, sunny, and without rain albeit the roads were a bit damp.

I’d meant to do about 22 but ended up doing 27.15, returning to my desk half an hour later than I’d intended. But I got away with it.

I tried the new bottle I bought in London, even though the colour clashes shockingly with the red frame of the Boardman. Apart from being very light it’s also highly ergonomic – it slips in and out of the bottle cage very easily, by virtue no doubt of being a thinner and more malleable plastic – and the nozzle is very easy to operate. My only slight misgiving is that it might not be too secure in the cage.

Anyway. That’s 359 done this month.

I’d been hoping to do a 70+ miler on Saturday but the forecast is now for rain from mid-afternoon continuing right into Sunday. So it’ll be a shorter ride than that to finish off the September campaign, unless they change their minds again.

Short Twycross

Rain all day yesterday. But the roads were dry by early afternoon today, with more rain due over late in the afternoon. So I thought I’d take a longish lunch break and do a short Twycrosser, of 18-20 miles or so. And if I had done that, I wouldn’t have got caught in the rain. Instead I elongated it to 21.85 miles by going all the way down to Sheepy, and got rained on over the last two miles. Only lightly. Enough to be annoying but at least my decision to take the Boardman was vindicated.

Still – quite an enjoyable run out overall. Haven’t done a lunch break ride for a long time; used to do them all the time a few years ago but I’m all about longer rides than that now. Came back along Gibbet Lane and I haven’t done that for a few weeks.

Bit windy, mostly sunny until the last few miles. Glad to have got that one in because the weather looks dire for the rest of the month. And I’ve surpassed my September target (320 miles) now. 331 done this month.

I don’t like to listen to 5 Live in the afternoons when Nihal Arthanayake’s on – his show is a sort of awful parody of left-leaning, liberal drivel and he’s possibly the worst radio presenter I’ve heard in my life. So I tuned the DAB to 6 Music. Even on there, it wasn’t long before Shaun Keaveny’s guest came out with snarky remarks about Conservative voters. But the BBC will get theirs, one day. The writing’s on the wall already.

Speaking of the weather I must say I’ve been impressed by the Met Office recently. This weekend’s warm and sunny weather on Saturday followed by a rainy Sunday was forecast at least a week before it happened.

Apres-Work Fondo

I’d hoped to do a 70 mile ride this weekend. The weather looked prohibitive on Sunday but beautiful on Saturday. So with this in mind I attempted to arrange some out of hours work for Saturday morning, at 0930. Unfortunately the customer insisted that it take place on Saturday afternoon instead.

I could have got up early and got a 70 miler in before the specified time to be fair, but I decided to leave work early and do a long ride after work instead. So I prepped the X with the necessary lights and set off at 3:30pm. I took a light fleece and a pair of cycling tights in a small backpack with the intention of putting them on after sunset, when I expected conditions to cool down somewhat.

Decided to do Welford and back, thereby conquering another of the neighbouring counties. This would be a ride of about 64 miles in distance, not 70 – but enough for an after-work outing. Welford is a small town just over the Northamptonshire border and I’ve been down there on a bike a few times, but not via the newish route that goes down through Stoney Stanton. I had the route uploaded to the eTrex.

Sunny and pleasant weather as I set off. I faced a headwind from the south on the way down, as the many wind turbines I encountered reminded me – but I assured myself that this would be to my advantage on the way back, propelling myself northward in the dark.

After Stoney this route was completely new to me except for the last mile to Welford and I must admit, I didn’t enjoy the stretch through Broughton Astley – which felt more like an A road than a B road. Quite urban and quite busy at that time of the evening. I’m sure I’ll do a variation of this route again but I’ll rethink that part.

I stopped at a quaint and elegant village store at Gilmorton, with a table and chair outside – an absolutely perfect cycling rest stop. The young lady behind the counter was new and had to phone a friend to work out how to make an Americano. I also purchased an egg mayonnaise sandwich and a Fry’s Peppermint Cream. I stashed the chocolate in my backpack for later.

Duly rested and refreshed I pressed on and I arrived at Welford 8 miles later, just before sunset. I didn’t hang around there long; in fact I didn’t actually go into the village. I propped up the bike against the ‘Northamptonshire’ sign, took a quick pic and was on my way back a minute later, making the most of the remaining light. My hope was to cover another 10 miles or so before it was properly dark. The remaining 20 or so miles didn’t seem too much of a distance to cover in the darkness.

Really atmospheric out there in the open after sunset. This was my favourite part of the ride. I snapped the following pic somewhere near Kilworth.

It occurred to me around this time that although I’d propped the bike up against the Northamptonshire sign, I hadn’t actually pedalled beyond it and I may not even have crossed the county border! But I checked the map and the track carefully on my return, and yep – when I took that pic I had crossed the river Avon and was definitely not in Leicestershire any more.

Cycling in the dark a long way from home can take you out of your comfort zone but the friendly glow of the eTrex map on the handlebars to assure me I was still on the planned route and a bright front light made all the difference. I’m not sure how long a rechargeable battery lasts in the front light so even though I’d brought a spare, I used it on medium luminosity most of the time, saving the full on mode for the darkest little country lanes. Going through towns with street lamps, I turned it off and relied on a little flashy LED blinker.

I’d thought of listening to some more of the Beatles biography and had brought my MP3 player but decided that 5 Live would be better company, so I used my DAB instead. Quite pleased to get more than 5 hours out of a single charge.

Although I’d brought additional clothing I didn’t bother with it, so I could actually have left my backpack at home. What I should really have done is to put it on just after Welford. By the time I’d started to feel cold, about 10 miles from home, I decided I’d rather not take my jersey off and put a fleece on under it. But I wasn’t too uncomfortable. I suppose the backpack helped keep my back warm.

Stopped somewhere near Stoney for a wee and ate half the Peppermint Cream. I don’t normally allow myself such indulgences these days, so that was quite a rare pleasure.

I pushed a bit harder than I otherwise would to get home in the dark, but my knees did OK. At least as well as I expected. Quite encouraging, really. Certainly no problems with respect to general fitness and I seem to be over that virus now.

I saw a really big bird of prey on a grass verge near Dunton Bassett, not sure what it was but not a buzzard. Quite evenly dark in colour. Looked like it was standing over a bird it had caught but I couldn’t see clearly. Saw a hedgehog crossing the road at Earl Shilton, and a vole doing the same near Newbold Verdon. Apart from that, no wildlife sightings of note other than dead badgers.

That really was a lot of fun, something a bit different.

64.13 miles, and that takes me to 310 this month, 2940 this year.

Low Mojo Twycross

I left work scandalously early. But then again I started unusually early, and I did put in half an hour after I got back – so you could argue that today’s run out on the Planet X took place on an elongated late lunch break.

I actually felt really low on energy and mojo. I haven’t got over that virus yet and I had half a mind to have an afternoon nap instead of a bike ride. But I thought I’d see how I got on, and if I ended up just doing 10 or 11 miles, so be it. I’d really have liked to have done 33, to take the monthly total so far through the 250 mile mark. But I didn’t.

Decided to do a Twycross for cosy familiarity, although I only settled on that a few hundred metres after I’d set off. Went north along Ashby Rd and through Packington initially rather than through Heather and Swepstone, for a change. But I turned off to Sibson from Sheepy rather than pressing on to Ratcliffe.

I went an unusual way between Upton and Shenton. With the benefit of hindsight (and a map) a bit pointless, as it just runs south of Shenton Lane which would have been a better choice. But I was sort of busking it at that point. And I would have sworn that I’d never been that way before, except that Strava subsequently awarded me my third fastest time for a segment along there.

Stopped north of Bosworth to take a pic of the alpaca that lives along there. I did my best to beckon it over for a selfie but it was utterly indifferent.

Took the correct right turn this time north of Bosworth to avoid Heather Lane.

Listened to another chapter of the Beatles biography by Mark Lewisohn, covering the end of their time in Hamburg and return to Liverpool. Then 5 Live and an interview with someone from Labour who confirmed that if elected, they’d try to get a deal from the EU to leave, then campaign to remain. So it would literally be in their best interest to get the worst possible deal, which of course they would. I must stop listening to the news, it makes steam come out of my ears sometimes these days and it’s not conducive to relaxing cycling.

Good weather, a bit cloudy but sunny later on, warm enough and a gentle breeze.

28.05 miles, 245 this month.

Unusual Non-Twycross

Had an opportunity to leave work early, so I did. Substantial rain and drizzle overnight and this morning but by 3:30pm or so when I set off, the roads were mostly dry. I took the Boardman nonetheless.

I planned to do a Twycross of roughly 30 miles distance. But I decided to take the longer detour through Norton and Orton that (strictly speaking) avoids Twycross. I was a bit confused near Orton as it seemed from memory to be a fairly straightforward route to Sheepy, yet on following the road signs I seemed to be taking more turns than I expected. Turns out I did this:

.. instead of this:

Anyway I pressed on through Sheepy, Sibson and along Fenn Lanes where I took the left to Shenton that goes along a very quiet lane with a pleasant bench, although I only got off the bike there long enough for a wee. I continued on to Bosworth and up toward home along Barton Road as usual.

After Carlton though I decided I couldn’t face coming home along Heather Lane yet again, so I decided to take a right toward Ibstock and come home that way instead.

There are a number of right turns on the road north of Bosworth that take you to the A447, then up to Ibstock. I don’t use any of them often so I can never remember which is which.  Inevitably I took the one I hadn’t intended, but I wasn’t too bothered. Made a nice change and there was plenty of daylight left. Not only that, but the Sun came out and the temperature increased slightly. It had been a bit cold up to that point and I’d regretted not putting on tights.

Took a pic after the sun came out. The spire on the skyline just above the handlebars is at Ibstock.

I smiled wistfully when I passed a little delapitated bench near Nailstone, where I remember taking refuge from the Sun toward the end of my first 100 miler in 2016. Don’t think I’d been that way since then. I’d love to think I can do another one by next summer. Slightly troubled though to pass a rabbit on a grass verge that stayed put when I cycled past rather than scurrying off. I suppose the poor thing might have been ill or injured.

Home through Ellistown and Bosworth, and I ended up doing a few more miles than I’d intended, 36.60.

I must do the longer detour that bypasses Twycross more often. North of Orton looking west you can see for miles, right across Warwickshire and into Staffordshire.

More on Wednesday, hopefully.

Alpaca Farm

Had a ride out to the alpaca farm at Snarestone with ‘er indoors, 5 miles there, 5 back. There’s a nice caff there. We sat outdoors and had afternoon tea.

I was slightly put off by the large metal barrow laden with plastic sacks of “Alpaca poo”, allegedly “great for your soil”. Only £2 a go but also only a few metres from the tables. But it didn’t stop me finishing off my scone with clotted cream and jam.

A few other cyclists there and it would be an ideal rest stop if not for the fact that it’s only 5 miles from home.

A slightly cooler day and cloudy, but barely a breath of wind. Would have been ideal conditions for a long ride.

First run out on the hybrid for a couple of months. Summer is pretty much over now and I still haven’t got round to sorting out the gears, but it’s very usable as it is to be fair.

And that bumps up the September total so far to 181 miles.

Up and Down

On call, and still not 100% recovered from the lurgy. But I wanted to do about 45 miles. As is my usual practice, I stitched together two rides, one to the north (up to Belton), one to the south (a Twycrosser) so I could do that distance without being too far from base in case of an unwanted phone call.

Lovely day – warm, sunny and only a gentle breeze for a change. Nice run out. I’ve been slightly worried that while the right knee is improving slowly (I hope), the left one is getting a bit worse. But it was fine today over 43.85 miles.

And that takes me to 171 this month, not too bad considering I was on holiday for the first week. I may have a ten mile run out with ‘er indoors tomorrow, as well. 2801 done this year.

I took a pic near Bosworth.

I weighed myself when I got up this morning. 69.94 kg, which is a record low this year and for a 6’1″ bloke, probably a bit on the thin side. Undoubtedly whatever virus I’m getting over at the moment has overcome the enhanced calorie intake from my  week of lush living on the high seas.

I wanted to get my weight down to about 76kg when I discovered that I weighed 81.78kg in January, and I suppose I’ve gone too far, without trying very hard.

On the other hand – that body weight I was carrying in January is nearly equivalent to my present weight plus a backpack containing five two-litre bottles of water. That’s a lot of dead weight to be pushing up the hills between here and Bosworth.

I don’t want to lose any more, though. I’m starting to look like Harold Steptoe.

Twycross / Shenton

Wanted to do about 30 after work. Sunny and warm. But rather windy unfortunately. Set off to do a Twycrosser, without a particular version in mind. Decided to do the Triangular Orton Detour when I got to Twycross. Was tempted to do the full Fenn Lanes version since I was enjoying myself fairly thoroughly, but decided I’d keep it down to 30 or so after all and have a bit more time at home this evening. I took the Sibson / Shenton / Bosworth route.

At the crossroads at Bosworth which is 8 miles from home I realised I was on course to do a bit less than 30. So I extended my ride by pushing on up through Newton Burgoland and coming home via Swepstone. This adds 1.6 miles, which I call the “Burgoland Benefit”. Paradoxically, the 0.58 miles that I can add by coming home through Coleorton rather than Thringstone is known to me as the “Coleorton Cost”. It just depends how you look at it. But it’s all about the alliteration.

Less blowy in the second half of the ride. But the sunny conditions disappeared over the last 10 miles, to be replaced by overcast skies and a slight gloom. I even felt a couple of spots of rain in Swepstone with about 3 miles to go, but it didn’t start to rain properly.

127 done this month and three weekends left so I should hit this month’s target; 320 miles.