Toward Donington

A long, mid-afternoon lunch break once again. But this time rather than embarking upon another Twycrosser, I headed over toward Belton through Coalville. From there, over toward Donington, from where I nostalgically came (most of) the old way home from the office.

Sunny and dry, but cold and blowy. Nice ride out though, apart from The Void, which is the name I have borrowed for a section of the route home from Donington that takes you along a boring, uphill section of the A453. There is a Star Trek: Voyager episode in which the crew become depressed and demotivated, due to travelling through an expanse of space which they name The Void, empty of stars and a black nothingness for millions of light years. Admittedly the A453 Void is only about a mile long. I decided to capture it for posterity (below).

I took the X. Although the roads were dry, they were liberally covered with large chunks of mud, here and there. On the short stretch of the A512 that takes you into Gracedieu Lane the surface was absolutely covered in a slippery-smooth layer of flattened mud. Was actually worried I’d start to slide on it.

My right knee has been hurting this last couple of days but the ride hasn’t made it much worse.

Must have stopped Strava recording on the phone when I took the pic, as the track ends abruptly at the same point. I can’t be bothered stitching on a synthesised section of track for Strava and there was nothing particularly interesting about it; just the usual way home down Top Brand and through Coleorton. So I have measured the remaining section of the ride using a route planner, and the whole ride comes to 23.19 miles. That agrees closely with my bike computer, so it’s good enough for the spreadsheet. Strava will just have to stay wrong.

That’s almost certainly it for October; a pleasing total of 459 miles. Hoping I’ll get a mild, dry Saturday or Sunday sometime soon so I can do an 80 miler, though my knee will have to recover a bit first. But it will.

3485 done this year.

Moderate Twycrosser

Another sunny day. Took a long, late lunch break and did a Twycrosser. The roads were mostly dry so I decided to take the X. I wanted to do about 23 miles and made it up as I went along with that in mind, but ended up having done 26.84.

Rather cold later on, when the clouds came rolling over. I was back about 15 minutes before sunset.

My knees were a bit painful the whole way round, interestingly. Maybe because I didn’t do all my exercises at the weekend, or perhaps the saddle height on Boardman II, on which I did 22 miles yesterday, had something to do with it. I would normally have taken a rest day today but thought that a moderate distance over a flat route wouldn’t necessitate one.

I noticed last time I came back the same way that there’s a new crash barrier at the top of the hill just south of Heather. The two tall poles in the following pic are holding up overhead electricity lines. Not sure what the two truncated ones behind them are for. Old poles, just replaced perhaps?

My knees will most likely get a couple of days off now anyway.

That’s me on 436 this month, which is more than I’ve done in any other month this year except June. Not bad considering the weather. I may yet be able to wring another 20 miles or so out of October.

To the Tees and Back

Spent the weekend up in Hartlepool, where it rained rather a lot (and it did here in the East Midlands as well, to be fair). But this morning, the sun was out and the roads had mostly dried out, so despite a moderate hangover induced by consuming too much Drambuie last night, I extracted Boardman II from its hangar (my mum’s garage) and put it to work on a run out to the Transporter Bridge and back, before driving home at lunchtime.

Yes, Drambuie. It’s remarkably moreish.

Nice to be re-acquainted with my other Boardman. It does feel a bit different from the red one. And it is indeed different in a few respects – a different stem, different wheels (the stock Mavics), different seat post and a carbon front fork – not counting handlebar tape and the colour scheme – but it does feel a little bit more agile. Might just be the route, to be fair. The route out of the town and round the coast is very flat.

I was annoyed with myself for not having remembered to bring a mirror up for it. I need to bring an Allen key with me next time as well, the seat is just a shade too low.

Very pleasant pedalling along next to the sea at Seaton Carew in bright sunshine, before turning inland along Tees Road to Port Clarence and the Transporter Bridge. Wasn’t too cold.

The road takes you through a wildlife reserve over the last mile or so to the bridge, and there were quite a few twitchers out with their tripods and telephoto lenses. I didn’t see any notable wildlife myself, just Canada geese and a few other unremarkable species of water bird. Personally I find the industrial landscape along there more interesting – the various chemical works and oil refineries, and the enormous concrete cuboid that is Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station.

Wanting to extend my ride a bit, I took a left along Seal Sands Road toward Cowpen Bewley on the way back, but turned back to Tees Road after a couple of miles. Came back home a slightly different way, coming along Clifton Avenue. In my late teens I often used to walk home from the town centre that way, sometimes clutching a long-coveted LP like Live and Dangerous or Physical Graffiti, newly acquired from one of the town’s numerous record shops. The past, as they say, is a different country. They do things differently there. But Clifton Avenue remains as pretty and leafy as ever, its trees turning autumnal shades of amber and brown.

Probably the flattest 22.11 miles I’ve done for a long time. And that takes me to 409 miles this month and 3435 this year.


A defiantly dry day yesterday, so I withdrew the Planet X from the armoury and deployed it on a medium-sized Twycrosser, after leaving work early. Didn’t have an exact route in mind but wanted to do at least 20. Extended it a bit from the usual start by going up to Packington first, and did the Orton detour when I got to Twycross. That’s a really nice stretch in the late afternoon. Back from Sheepy a relatively quick way, along Gibbet Lane – where I took the following snap.

Gibbet Lane was a bit muddy unfortunately, but mostly compacted by passing traffic.

Really nice to be out on the X again. As much as I’m fond of the Boardman, the green one does make lighter work of the distance put in front of it.

Back just on sunset. A week from now though the sun sets at about 16:40.

26.19 miles which takes me right through my target for October of 362 miles, to 386. I think I can get at least another 60 or so in this month, although the weekend weather looks pants.

Out East Again

Wanted to take advantage of a dry Sunday after all the rubbish weather, especially with the clocks going back next weekend and the daylight hours shrinking rapidly. I didn’t really have the motivation to plan something more interesting, so with the wind blowing in the same direction as Friday, I pretty much did the same route again. Once again the idea was to head out east in the direction of Belvoir Castle until I decided I’d done enough, then come back the same way. I hoped to do at least 50.

Set off at about 10:00, after wiping yesterday’s excess lube from the Boardman’s chain. I just squeeze a rag dampened with GT85 round it, and turn the pedals a few times. A bit cool and cloudy at first, but the sun came out later on. Really quite pleasant weather for cycling, mostly.

I went a bit further than on Friday, stopping after 28 miles. Quite a bit cooler and blowier from that point, and I briefly considered adjusting my tubular headscarf to hijab mode, but didn’t.

Listened to 6 Music initially to avoid the rugby on 5 Live which I find about as interesting as chewing cardboard, but Cerys Matthews was playing a right old load of tosh today so I tuned to LBC, where I found the Nigel Farage show. None of Nigel’s contributors, all of whom were staunch Brexiteers, seemed enamoured with Boris’ deal. Interestingly the most irate Brexiteer caller was a Scottish woman who was emphatic that Boris had sold out to the EU. Others took a more pragmatic view; that while it’s not perfect it’s a big improvement and probably a good idea not to let Brexit out of our grasp. I think I’m in that camp as well.

After Nigel’s programme concluded I switched to the Beatles biography audiobook, to learn of the Fab Four’s return to Liverpool from their second stint in Hamburg, and Paul taking over bass duties from Stu Sutcliffe.

I stopped at the Greyhound pub at Burton on the Wolds on the way back – I’ve lunched there a few times now on cycling expeditions – and had a ham & coleslaw ciabatta with perfectly golden brown chips, with a coffee. Perfect. I asked for ketchup and was provided with about 2/3 of a cupful in a bowl. Possibly enough for me to have smothered the whole meal until none of it was visible under a layer of tomato sauce. Naturally I used about 3% of it, if that. Bit of a waste.

I’d been feeling a little bit worn and low on energy at that point, despite glooping down a gel half an hour earlier. But the pub lunch perked me up no end and I felt like I could do another 50 after that. After the pub I decided to leave the Beatles bio for a bit, and tuned into the Ohana Rock Club’s stream on my Android Internet radio tuner. I’ll be DJ-ing there myself on Tuesday evening at 8pm, if you care to listen. Search for ‘Ohana Rock’ on TuneIn at

Ominously, I picked up a few spots of rain near Stanford, then a bit of drizzle ten minutes later. But that faded away. Always nice to see spots of moisture on the handlebars drying off, to reassure me that I won’t need to douse the bike’s bits in water repellent on my return.

After Zouch and back over the Leicestershire border, I decided on an impulse to take a right and come home through Diseworth, then down Top Brand. The long stretch of Ashby Road between Hathern and Griffydam can be a bit of a boring slog.

Home on 59.18 miles. I’d tweaked the bike computer just before setting off and it claimed 59.2 exactly, so I shall stop tweaking it now. Not going to get it much better than that and minor variations in front tyre pressure can introduce a bit of error anyway. As usual I removed the portion of the track representing my clogging round the pub garden and into the bar using a GPX editor before uploading to Strava.

And that’s 360 miles done this month, just short of my target of 362. That’s 12 in a row on the Boardman, 447 consecutive miles.

Saw a formidable-looking sparrowhawk on the way back, a few miles from home. Looked like it was standing over something. But it flew off when a car overtook me, and I didn’t see its victim, if there was one. I also saw a large brown rat near the edge of the road at Burton. Quite a fat little bugger, just sitting there minding its own business.

Encouraging to see quite a few other cyclists out there in October, including a couple of young ladies with pigtails. Quite a nice look in cycling gear, I think.

My knees were a bit uncomfortable for most of the ride; nothing new or troubling. But they seemed somehow to improve over the last 15 miles or so. Weird. Perhaps the rest stop at the pub helped. I’m starting to think I possibly could get away with 100 miles if I’m careful with the route, exercise thoroughly in the week or so beforehand, and take it easy. But I won’t be putting that theory to the test until the spring at the earliest.


Left work early yesterday hoping to do at least 40 or so, to take advantage of a benign weather forecast that promised no more than a couple of light rain showers late afternoon. With the wind pointing downwards, a trip out east seemed to make sense – I thought I’d do the Belvoir Castle route as far as I felt like it, then turn for home after 20 miles or so.

Cold and a bit windy, but I wrapped up warm enough. I’d decided to turn back after 22 miles, but remembered that my monthly tally stood at 249 – so I pushed on a bit, to get it over the 300 mark. I turned back eventually near Wartnaby, and put the lights on not long after that.

I thought I’d evaded the light rain showers (I refer the reader to my first paragraph). I’d had a minute of drizzle and a few spots of rain on the outward leg. Nothing unttoward. But as I neared Burton on the Wolds, heavy rain descended from a pitch black sky. I guess the ground is pretty saturated at the moment, because the roads were flowing with water in no time.

The stretch between Cotes and Stanford on Soar is well-surfaced but narrow and very quiet, with some steep-ish, curvy descents. I’d had to take my glasses off because they were spattered with rain and even with a bright front light, I couldn’t see much of the road in front of me in the blackness. What I could see was flowing with water, but it was very difficult to see how deep it was at any point. Not much fun coming down a bendy flume of water in the darkness, being pelted by rain, cold, soaked through and scared to put the brakes on in case I came a cropper (and the braking surfaces were soaking wet in any case). I unclipped my shoes, tried to maintain my balance and hoped for the best. Hellish.

I was very grateful to reach Stanford, then Normanton and Zouch where at least the roads were level and I had a bit of light now and then. Not that the rest of the ride was a lot of fun, the roads were still running with water and I had a cold wind blowing through wet clothes. I gritted my teeth, cursed the weatherman and got on with it.

Took the following pic when I reached the main road near Zouch.

I was flagged down by a motorist emerging from a parked car near Belton – my rear light had stopped working. Annoying, but I had a spare. Might have been that it was low on power; modern rechargeable LED units do just turn themselves off sometimes rather than gradually growing dimmer. This one has been brilliant, I bought it at Tesco a couple of years ago and it’s comfortably bright enough to be visible from the Moon. Possibly I should have charged it up first.

Shame there’s no easy way to tell if your rear light is actually illuminated. Maybe some sort of Heath Robinson mirror arrangement would do it but it hardly seems worth it.

I gave the bike a good wipe down and thoroughly hosed the chain / gears etc with GT85 when I got back. I’ve relubed it today.

Anyway. 52.14 miles, the last 18 or so definitely hard won. That must have been, in the end, the most character building ride I’ve ever done.

301 this month, 672 to go before I hit my 4000 target. I’m sure I can do another 100 or so this month, which will leave me needing substantially less than 300 in each of the two remaining months.


I took the afternoon off yesterday, in the hope of making the most of a day without rain and doing about 60 miles. But although it didn’t rain, the roads stayed soaking wet all day and a cold damp clung to the air long into the afternoon. I just stayed at home and watched old Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes.

It turns out that today was the one I should have picked for an afternoon off work. But I left work early anyway to make up for yesterday’s disappointment a bit. Hoped to do about 40. I was going to do a long Twycrosser, but within a minute of leaving the house I decided not to do that. I headed in the general direction of Coalville, and a few minutes later had hatched a plan. I’d basically repeat Saturday’s ride, with the exception that I wouldn’t miss the proper turn to Swarkestone Bridge from Aston and end up pedalling along the ring road in Derby, which wouldn’t be a lot of fun during a weekday rush hour. Also, I’d come home the usual way from Melbourne, without going down to Swarkestone.

A bit cold, slightly blowy but otherwise quite pleasant. I took the Boardman again on its tenth consecutive run out. I knew I’d be back after dark so I took lights.

That stretch between Aston and Swarkestone is really nice, especially in the late afternoon. I’d like to incorporate it into my rides more often but it’s not really possible to get to it from the east without going over a busy, large roundabout over the A50.

When I got to Swarkestone, I decided to pedal along the road to Willington for a bit, and come back. Really quite a pleasant, flat stretch even though it’s notionally an A road. I actually went all the way to Willington before coming back. Turned on the basic lights at a farm gate somewhere near Twyford not long after sunset then after crossing the bridge, added a head torch and the proper tarmac-melter LED torch on the handlebar. The head torch is great for checking the bike computer, watch, gear indicators. Not easy to pair one with a helmet, but I was wearing a woolly hat.

Took the following pic near Twyford.

Properly dark by the time I got to Melbourne. I took the following pic just south of there opposite a pub. Beautiful view of a low Moon over the lights of Coalville, a few miles in the distance, about a mile from home.

Disposed of another mouse body in the garage before setting off. Another very clean kill. That’s about 18 since I started my Rodent Final Solution extermination initiative.

My knees were a bit painful throughout the ride. I have a suspicion that not cycling for a few days (in this case due to weather) makes them worse. They feel a bit sore now. That’s just the way it is now. Perhaps I should start using the turbo trainer again when it’s raining to keep the joints moving.

Annoyingly I didn’t remember to start the GPS watch until I’d gone 1.04 miles. I’ll just leave the track as it is on Strava, but I have of course done the maths for my spreadsheet – and that’s 249 for October so far. I’d like to think I can get another 150 or so in this month. Perhaps a 50+ miler on Sunday, though it’s likely to be cold.

Up to Derby

A decent day yesterday, with no rain expected until after sunset and the roads mostly dried out from the previous day’s precipitation. I was on call, but wanted to do 40 or 50. I set off with the general plan of going north of base for a bit, then to the south, then home. The usual strategy for doing a reasonable distance while minimising the risk of being too far from home if I got a call. But I didn’t have a specific route in mind.

Went up to Belton to start, then since I was feeling fairly relaxed about the prospect of getting a call, continued on east along Ashby Road. Turned left toward Diseworth with the thought of maybe going across to Melbourne from there, but decided to press further north to Castle Donington. I decided to go right through Donington to the A50 roundabout, where I’d take a left through Shardlow, Aston and Weston, to Swarkestone Bridge then back down through Melbourne.

So anyway I pedalled through Donington and Shardlow – nice to be cycling through Shardlow again, I used to drive that way to work 30 years ago. I took the left to Aston but missed the turn to Swarkestone Bridge, because I ended up back on Shardlow Road again. At this point, sentimentality and nostalgia overcame my fear of being called, and I decided to continue on up to Derby, take the ring road to Allenton then turn left at the “Spider” roundabout as it’s known to Derby folk, and come south to Swarkestone Bridge that way. This was especially nostalgic because one day in 1990, I cycled home to Markfield from my place of work in Derby, and I took the same route to Swarkestone Bridge. That’s about the only aspect of that route I remember, unfortunately. I’d dearly love to know how I got to Markfield from there, but apart from tiny snippets of fading memories, there’s no way for me to know.

Must admit I did feel slightly disconcerted cycling around Derby while on call. It’s not even the nearest city. But I got away with it.

Anyway. I came the usual way down from Melbourne until I got to Rempstone Road, then I cut across Farmtown with the intention of joining the Twycross route, or one version of it, at Packington. From there I’d do the southern leg of the route. I was slightly wary of coming through Farmtown as there’s a stretch through the woods there that I expected to be a bit muddy. It was a bit. But I have a theory, untested and not carefully considered, that a bit of mud on your tyres protects them from the road and stops them wearing out.

I got as far as Snarestone though, and decided I’d turn left for the caff at the Alpaca farm. I was served with a coffee and a scone with jam by a delectably plump young wench. I’d actually ordered clotted cream as well, but they didn’t have any. She didn’t offer a refund for the cream. I’m sure she would have if I’d pressed the matter. But I just let it slide.

I just headed home from there, through Swepstone and Heather. It was an enjoyable run out, nice to visit Derby again. But these contrived “orbital” routes don’t feel like a proper long ride, and I decided I’d do something else with my Saturday afternoon rather than chasing miles for its own sake. I’m fairly confident of hitting my target for the year now.

Home on 48.07 miles. 205 done this month.

Another Twycrosser

I was going to do 50 or so after work tomorrow night; a nice little night-time adventure illuminated by bike lights. But the weather forecast this morning told me that I wasn’t going to do that.

So, with dry weather on the cards this afternoon at least, I thought I’d leave early today and do a Twycrosser. I’d normally give my knees a day off the day following a ride, but I only did 18.6 yesterday and only planned to do about 25 today.

Nice weather for it, not too blowy and not cold. Conditions very dry. I would have taken the X probably but wanted to check the accuracy of the new wireless bike computer on the Boardman now I’ve calibrated it.

A fairly standard route of intermediate length. Nice run out. Stopped to take a pic between Sheepy and Sibson.

The bike computer did good. It recorded the track at about 27.46 miles, compared to the phone’s 27.40. Nonetheless I should be able to get it a bit more accurate. One thing I do like about these Chinese touch screen units is that you can set the wheel circumference in mm.

It’s currently set to 2126mm, so I need to set it to 27.40 / 27.46 * 2126 = 2121 (rounding to the nearest mm).

That’s 8 in a row on the Boardman now.

157 this month, decent progress so far. The weather looks mostly iffy for a while, though.

Brief Post-Work Twycross

Hoped to do 20 or so after work, but while I was at Tesco an hour or so before I intended to set off, the rain came down in bucketloads. That seemed to be the end of that idea, but I returned home, three miles from there, to dry roads and sunny skies.

Interesting how micro-climate-ish it is around here. I’m sure my native Teesside is nothing like that.

Careful scrutiny of the rainfall radar told me that if I stayed to the south of Ashby I’d avoid rain or wet roads. And that was always the intention anyway, so I set off on a Twycrosser at about 4:30pm. The forecast threatened a shower at 6pm-ish. As things turned out, that didn’t happen but I took the Boardman anyway.

Left the house quite quickly, so as to make the best of the remaining daylight hours – both of them – and forgot to bring the new bike computer out with me. I’d had it in the house to calibrate it. No biggie, but it meant that I didn’t have a record of the distance done until I’d finished. Was recording the track on my phone.

Since I was trying to keep it short, I took the lovely Bilstone Road to, er, Bilstone from Twycross, then Barton Lane.  Beautifully quiet crossing the little hump back bridges between the fields. I didn’t see another road user the whole way from Twycross to Barton.

Cool and rather blowy, but not enough to spoil the fun.

Quite a few pheasants (or is it grouse?) around, some of them dead.

Thought I’d have ended up on about 22 miles on returning home but nope, 18.6. There are so many permutations of the Twycross route that it’s impossible to memorise the distances. Getting a bit dim as I returned home, a few minutes after the Sun went down. Nice view of the two-thirds Moon, even before sunset.

More on Thursday I hope, when the weather is slated to be rather mild temperature-wise (15 degrees in the afternoon), but rather windy. But I can’t go too far, I’m on call again.