Foggy Fondo

I wanted to do about 40 miles today, though as I observed in my previous post, I wasn’t sure the weather would permit it.

Cold and foggy when I withdrew the Boardman from the garage at about 0930, but I hoped the fog would lift. I headed out East again, following the Belvoir Castle / Lincolnshire route. Pretty much my default route for a longer trip these days. It has the advantage of being pleasant and decently surfaced, and I’ve memorised the route. It has a cracking pub stop 18 miles from home, as well.

This time I went out through Coleorton rather than through Coalville.

After about 10 miles, with a film of frosty mist forming on my glasses, gloves and clothing, I decided I’d turn back for home after about 15, to clock up 30 miles. But by the time I’d reached the 15 mile point the sun came out, and the temperature climbed a degree or two. The fog was still persisting but I hoped the sun would burn it off. It did seem to thin out slightly and a few miles later I did emerge into bright sunshine. I decided to press on and do at least 50 miles. A few miles later I’d decided to keep going until Eastwell, and rack up another Fondo.

Unfortunately a few miles from Eastwell I ran into more fog. I could actually see it in the distance a few miles ahead, smothering the landscape like a ground level cloud, which I suppose is exactly what it was. I kept on anyway and turned back in the middle of the village.

Must admit I didn’t feel particularly safe cycling in those conditions and I didn’t think my rear light was making a lot of difference. I was disconcerted to see a cyclist emerge from the fog about 35 feet in front of me, coming the other way. I’d had no idea he was there at all until then. Didn’t really fancy materialising in similar circumstances in front of an overtaking car.

Sadly, the patches of bright sunshine and clear conditions that I was looking forward to reacquainting myself with on the way back had somehow vanished, but it wasn’t consistent thick fog all the way. Conditions varied from pea-souper to vaguely misty. At times it was literally like riding into and out of a cloud.

Stopped to take the following pic a few miles after turning back and as I did so, an old bird on a bike pedalled past with the words “it’s right thick up ‘ere, in’t it?” I do use the term “old bird” with a degree of humility as she could well have been my own age. She wasn’t wrong. As I set off I thought of overtaking her and riding a few metres in front, so that she’d absorb the impact from a vehicle coming up behind us. But she was going a bit too slow for that.

I stopped at my favourite pit stop 18 miles from home, the Greyhound pub at Burton on the Wolds, and ate inside this time. As I ordered my customary ciabatta at the bar, I found that my powers of speech had been degraded. My voice didn’t seem to be obeying my brain and my speech came out slurred and slow, as if I had a mild case of cerebral palsy. I was more than slightly concerned by this but I seemed to be able at least to think straight.

I was fine a few minutes later when I exchanged a few friendly words with one of the bar staff. When I got home I mentioned this to ‘er indoors and she laughed, saying that she’d had the same experience a few times when her face had been exposed to low temperatures for a prolonged period. I’d never experienced it before myself. Or heard of it.

Another thing I’d never heard of – a “fog bow”, near Six Hills. A sort of thick rainbow, but fuzzy white, and appearing much closer – the end of it appeared to be in the field I was cycling past. Wikipedia confirmed for me that these are a thing:

It occurred to me as I entered the Greyhound that I’d done 46 miles without a snack of any kind; not even a bite out of an oat bar. Not sure I’ve ever done that. I’d only had a couple of slices of toast and coffee for breakfast, as well. Didn’t even feel particularly hungry. Odd.

The temperature seemed to drop a bit after I left there and I was a bit uncomfortable from that point, but still in good spirits. Quite happy to have got in another Fondo. Probably haven’t had a triple-Fondo November before. I was actually pleased when the daylight dimmed a bit from 3:30pm or so, because that made my rear light a bit more conspicuous and I felt safer.

Because my glasses got covered in moisture from the fog fairly quickly I had to ride most of the way without them on but apart from not being able to see my watch, that was OK. I could make out the distance on the bike computer.

Home a few minutes after sunset.

The roads were a bit wet here and there but no road-wide puddles or running water, apart from the section near Cotes that always seems to be like that. I assaulted the bike with GT85 again on my return. Bit annoying as I only lubed it yesterday.
Was quite pleased with how well my knees did; they’re still slightly ruined but they coped fine with 64.65 miles. My sense is that they’d do 85 or 90 at the moment without too much bother, but I can’t imagine I’ll be testing that theory in the next month or two.

That’s it for November then, 416 miles. 3901 this year. I thought that might be my only 400+ mile November, but apparently I did 524 in Nov 2017.

Cold, but Sunny

Well – I’d been intending to do at least 40 miles tomorrow, although I don’t know if the rather cold conditions will permit that. But I can’t resist a sunny afternoon so I thought I’d go out and do 15 or so today, as well.

The roads are a bit wet and muddy, partly from thawed frost I think. It’s cold out there but at least it’s not windy. I used my Garmin watch but annoyingly it took a long time to locate itself from the satellite signals, so much so that my patience ran out and I set off before it was ready. I think that GPS devices use previously cached data to pick up their position more quickly, so it’s probably normal for a new one. I must have a read about how that works.

Anyway it locked onto the satellites after about .15 miles. I’ve added that to the spreadsheet.

I took the hybrid again since I intended a short ride. Apart from that I’d just cleaned out and lubed the chain on the Boardman and didn’t want it getting wet and muddy immediately afterwards. I did a sort of truncated Twycross. Really nice out there apart from the temperature.

17.91 miles. I will go out tomorrow as well, hopefully the roads will be a bit less wet and mucky. Perhaps a pub stop to warm up a bit is in order.

Truncated Twycrosser

It stopped raining this afternoon and the Sun came out for a bit, so I took a long lunch break and went for a Twycrosser. I took the hybrid this time. The roads were pretty wet and I don’t want to overwork the Boardman. It had done 7 in a row, it’s my only winter road bike and there’s quite a lot of winter left! Also, I haven’t lubed it since the last time I hosed the chain and gears out with GT85.

Not that cold, but a lot blowier than the BBC had led me to expect. Seems you can’t trust them for anything these days.

The hybrid is a heavy old carthorse of a bike really but it rolls along pleasantly enough if you take it easy, which of course I did. I had a quick look round the newly built housing estate not far from Slim Towers on the last half mile. Just being a curtain-twitching nosy neighbour really, but it did have the effect of padding my ride out just over 20 miles.

Back after sunset and I only had flashy blinkers on, but it was still light enough to see the road.

20.12, 333 this month.

Out East Again

The weather has been dismal this last few days but the forecasters promised no rain today. I wrapped up warm and set off on the Boardman at about 10:20, in the hope of doing 30 or so. To my pleasant surprise, it wasn’t as cold as I’d expected out there. Damp and a little foggy. So rather than doing a Twycross I turned in the direction of Coalville and Thringstone, to head out East. After a few minutes, I decided I’d do 50 or so.

Although the roads were a bit wet, the fog lifted and the Sun came out for a bit after 11 AM. I hoped the roads would be a bit less flooded, and in particular I hoped that the flood that had closed the road under the bridge at Six Hills had gone. Thankfully, it had – not even a puddle. I think they must have unclogged a drain. I encountered a bit of shallow water flowing across the road near Cotes, but other than that the roads were fine.

By the time I was cruising along Six Hills Lane, I’d decided to do a Fondo. I already had the Strava Fondo badge for November, but thought another one wouldn’t hurt. I turned back the way I’d come about a mile short of Eastwell. Would have gone all the way there, but was conscious of the need to get back home while there was still a bit of light, as I only had flashy blinkers on the bike.

I now memorise the Fondo distance in miles, 62.14 – by thinking of the start of the Beatles’ chart career (’62) and the start of the First World War (’14).

I did come back exactly the same way for a change rather than detouring through Diseworth or Coleorton.

5 Live switched from its Premier League show to the Prime Minister’s speech at the Conservative manifesto launch at 2pm, and I was just buzzing. He hit just the right energetic, enthusiastic, can-do note, I thought. Just so much more positivity and optimism in the party than Theresa could ever have generated, and he managed a couple of zingers. Carbon-neutral by 2050, and Corbyn-neutral by Christmas. Brilliant.

My DAB battery ran out not long after that, so I fired up the MP3 app on my phone and listened to The Yes Album, which was a bit of a Sunday afternoon tradition in my teens, all those years ago.

Unfortunately a heavy drizzle descended, two miles from home. Shame I didn’t get up half an hour earlier.

I bought a new GPS watch from Amazon on Friday, a Garmin Instinct. Gave it a trial run today. Stylistically it’s quite like a G-Shock, but very light on the wrist. Has a lovely hi-res, high contrast LCD screen and a long battery life. You can customise the data visible on the screen while you’re riding – I have clock time, elapsed time, battery status and (of course) distance done. It syncs to Garmin Connect, and thereby to Strava, by bluetooth. Very handy.

I didn’t actually need it of course. Just one of those things that’s nice to have. I’m a sucker for gadgets.

Home on 62.43 miles which takes me to 313 this month. I’m happy enough with that but the weather looks a bit more accommodating toward the end of the week so perhaps the November campaign isn’t done yet.

Twycrosser Of Modest Duration

I’d thought of doing 30 or 40 after work today, but the weather forecast suggested it might be a bit too cold after dark. So I took a long lunch break and settled for a Twycrosser of Modest Duration.

I thought that 22 or 23 miles would probably make best use of the available time. Started off by heading north toward Ashby to elongate the ride a bit at the top, but cut across to Congerstone just short of Twycross along the lovely Bilstone Road, then along Barton Lane to Barton in the Beans, where I took the pic below.

I think that was probably the coldest ride so far this autumn. But only 23.27 miles. And that’s 251 this month, 3736 this year.

Back just on sunset which today occurred at 16:05 round these parts.


Another dry day, and sunny to boot. I took the afternoon off and withdrew the Boardman again shortly after noon, for a run out East.

The road to Coalville was closed, so I made my way to Ashby Road and past Belton via Swannington. I used to go that way often but I do that rarely now, mainly because it involves a long, fast descent along a none-too-smooth surface, followed by a similarly long climb.

I was halted by the same watery obstruction as Saturday, but this time rather than just coming back, I took a road to Wymeswold called Narrow Lane, after which I joined the “old route” out East that’s fallen out of favour now, but at least isn’t flooded.

I decided to take a right after 30 miles and attempt lunch at the Black Horse in Grimston. But it was closed. That made me think of coming back through Burton on the Wolds to eat at the Greyhound Inn, but I’d have to detour round the flooded road again. I didn’t bother. I just made do with an oat bar at a farm gate, and came back via the time-honoured original route through Wymeswold and Rempstone. I’d love to say that it was nice to do that route again after all this time, but nah. It was a bit of a tedious slog and that’s why I’ve stopped doing it.

Once again I took a detour through Long Whatton and Diseworth to come home.

Cold, especially after the Sun went down not long after 4pm. Even in winter, bright sunlight on dark cycling clothing has a pleasingly warming effect. But I put on my balaclava for the last 15 miles in proper darkness and I was comfy enough. Home on 56.16 miles.

Quite a nice run out and a bit of a distance boost for the November campaign which now weighs in at 228 miles.

I must admit though it was a bit lazy just repeating that run again, albeit with an unfamiliar detour. It did occur to me during the ride that it might have been nice to do something less familiar – I’ve been meaning to do a run up to Belper in honour of my old mate and work colleague Shaun Appleby, who lived there. Or I could have done another run out toward Stafford. But that would have taken a bit of planning and I’m lazy. It was a spontaneous afternoon off though, to be fair.

Six Hills

No rain today, though the roads were mostly fairly wet in places from overnight rain and waterlogged here and there. I took the Boardman out yet again, hoping to do 40 or 50. Decided to go out eastwards, in the direction of Belvoir Castle.

I wrapped up very warm but conditions weren’t as cold as I expected. I was actually quite comfortable. I’d done 21 miles when I was confronted by a flooded section of road under the bridge at Six Hills:

Shame, because I was quite enjoying myself and would have done another five or six miles before turning back. I couldn’t really think of an alternative route from this point, and the road to Barrow from there was also closed. So I turned for home.

Interestingly the three vehicles under the bridge were stationary, two with hazards on. I took the pic from behind a barrier – had they ignored it and got stuck?

Stopped at my favourite pit stop, the Greyhound Inn at Burton on the Wolds on the way back. Sat outside, to keep an eye on the bike and had my usual ham & coleslaw ciabatta with chips and a half San Miguel. Once again about a half-cupful of tomato ketchup was provided.

Once back over the border into Leicestershire, I extended my ride a bit by taking a right after Hathern through Long Whatton and Diseworth. Long Whatton was on the local news a few days ago due to flooding, but it was fine today. The only place I had to pedal through water (only about 2cm deep) was near Cotes.

Listened to 6 Music. Liz Kershaw had Pete Townshend on, talking about his new novel and Live at Leeds which was this week’s nomination for her “All Killer No Filler” feature. She asked why he thought it had gained such iconic status as a live record, and he replied that it might have something to do with the simplicity of the recording. He mixed it at his own studio apparently, using a valve compressor made by a friend to “pump it up”.

Liz played Young Man Blues, and you can definitely hear echoes of it in the live version of (my favourite band) Rush’s Working Man, I think. Especially in the bass.

I used my Garmin Foretrex 401 for a change; I don’t think it’s had a run out for more than a year. One nice thing about it is that you can just switch it off to pause a ride; I did that just before going into the pub. Switched if on again just before I resumed pedalling. My Forerunner 35 has a “pause” function but in practice it times out and saves the ride, so you have to start again to “resume”. Another good thing about the Foretrex is that it takes AAA batteries, so you can effectively “recharge” it out on a ride, again without interrupting your track. Ideal for a longer ride of course; if I ever do Wales and back or a ride of similar distance again it will come in handy.

Interestingly the firmware seems to have a feature whereby it doesn’t record a new waypoint unless you’ve gone a significant distance from the last one – so you don’t get those squiggly bits of track from walking to a farm gate at a wee stop.

Anyway .. 44.49 miles, taking me to 171 this month. Pleased enough with that with two weeks left before December kicks in.


No rain today. Rather cold though, but I withdrew the Boardman from the garage after leaving work at 3:30. Headed out through Coalville and Thringstone with the rough idea of heading out East toward Belvoir Castle for 20 miles or so before turning back.

But I hadn’t quite got as far as Zouch, 10 miles after setting off, before I decided I was going to keep it short. It was dark at this point and although I’d wrapped up warm the chilly temperatures had started to penetrate my shoes and gloves. My legs felt uncomfortably cold as well, in just one layer. So I took a left through Long Whatton to Diseworth then came back home along Top Brand and through Coleorton.

22.68 miles, not as many as I’d hoped but there’s no point chasing miles if you’re not really enjoying yourself. Having said that I did mostly enjoy my run out but I’d had enough by the time I got back. A Twycrosser would have been nicer over that distance though, really. The best part of the route out East starts after Zouch.

Still a lot of water on the roads, especially near Diseworth.

I trialled a new torch that I bought on Monday on a whim in Chelmsford, as my front light. Very bright but the beam is a bit over-focussed. However it works fine, especially in conjunction with a head torch. It’s a little bit heavier than my usual front light torch, but it takes two AA batteries which is convenient for resupplying out on the road. My usual one uses a rechargeable 18650 cell.

Having lost the lid off my black dummy bottle on my previous ride, I took my identical white one to carry spare batteries, an oat bar and a small pork pie, none of which I used. Incredibly, the lid came off in exactly the same fashion between Whitwick and Thringstone. I must have used these things dozens of times. Have I just got in the habit of screwing the lid down too loosely? Fortunately it was easy to locate this time so I tracked back, picked it up again, screwed it down quite tightly and continued on my way.

That’s 127 this month so I’m about on track to do the 300+ I’m hoping for.

Earl Shilton Fondo

A day without rain, for a change. Sunny, even. I assumed it would be rather cold for cycling but since, as of this morning, I’d only done 42 miles this month and hadn’t been out on a bike for six days, I wanted to do 40 or so. Decided to do a long version of the Twycrosser. Started by going up toward Ashby, rather than through Heather. Down through Twycross to Sheepy, then to Ratcliffe Culey, then down the A444 a bit to Fenn Lanes and past the exact centre of England (depending on how you define that, of course).

Took a snack and rest stop at Sutton Cheney, where I took this pic:

I had a miniature pork pie, and a Mr Kipling apple pie that had been transformed into a miniature apple crumble by being stuffed into my dummy bottle. But it was in a plastic bag and I managed to consume all of it. Really rather nice.

Somehow the lid of my dummy bottle shook itself off coming down Alton Hill, less than two miles into the ride. I heard it clatter on the road and backtracked a couple of times, but couldn’t find it. However the contents managed to stay put over the rest of the ride, despite the absence of the lid.

I think I have three of them, so it’s no great loss. To be honest I can’t imagine why I bought a second one, let alone a third.

From Cheney, rather than taking the road up to Bosworth and the usual way home, I decided to cross the A447 and make my way along Bosworth Road to Kirkby Mallory. I wasn’t nearly as cold as I’d expected, although I’d wrapped up with four layers on top. And I was rather enjoying myself, trundling along in the autumn sunshine. From there I did part of the Stoney Stanton route, but only as far as Earl Shilton. I was on call and getting a tad concerned about the prospect of receiving a call a couple of hours from home. So I turned tail with the intention of following the Stoney route home, a fairly direct route back to base – but I’d changed my mind by the time I got to Newbold Verdon, where I hung a left back to Bosworth. I’d decided by this time to see if I could get the November Fondo in.

I can never remember exactly how many miles 100km is. I was sure it was more than 61, but less than 63 (it’s actually about 62.14). But I reckoned that if I went back the way I’d come from Fenn Lanes, I’d probably just about cover it.

I didn’t come back exactly the way I’d come; I actually took a shorter route to Sheepy. And I reached home the usual way through Swepstone and Heather rather than up through Packington. But I ended up on 62.49 miles, just enough to achieve my goal.

There’s a road sign bearing the text “7.5T” (“no goods vehicles over 7.5 tonne” I believe) that’s very handily 7.5 miles from home along the usual Twycross route, so by the time I passed that, I knew that going home via Swepstone and Heather would do nicely.

I did feel a bit worn out over the last 6 or 7 miles. It’s that time of year when the whisky bargains kick in at Tesco, and I took advantage of that yesterday. Had three or four last night. But I’d been fine until then. My knees also started to suffer a bit over the last 7 miles or so, but oh well. It is what it is.

I’ve never seen more standing water on the roads around these parts but it didn’t prove too bothersome. Usually I managed to negotiate a channel between deep puddles stretching from the side of the road toward the centre. Once or twice I had to pedal through water maybe 2/3 of an inch deep, but I was on the Boardman anyway and not that bothered. It takes some of the mud off the tyres if nothing else. Near Ratcliffe the Sence had broken its banks and made a lake of the surrounding fields, but it didn’t encroach onto the road.

My main concern was that I’d be caught out next to a deep puddle at the same time a motor vehicle passed through it and get soaked, but I managed to avoid that – partly by luck, and partly by careful timing.

I was overflown – I was going to type “buzzed”, but that would be an exaggeration – by a magpie a couple of times along Kirkby Lane. I was slightly concerned by this as I wasn’t wearing a helmet, and was unsure whether my balaclava and woolly hat would offer sufficient protection in the event that I was assaulted by it. They do like to engage cyclists in physical combat sometimes, and you can find abundant proof of this on YouTube. However it didn’t attack. If I’d been wearing a helmet and it did want a fight I would have angled my mirror so I could see it coming up behind me, then an instant before the moment of impact, I’d have reverse-nutted it unconscious.

Interested to see swarms of midgies by the roadside here and there – bit late in the year for those, isn’t it?

I listened to my Beatles bio audiobook for the first hour or two, then footy on 5 Live.

Nice run out on the whole. Certainly I’d have preferred a run across to Rutland or Belvoir Castle rather than the meandering and haphazard route I did today, but that wasn’t an option. And anyway making it up as you go along can introduce a sense of adventure.

That takes me to 104 this month, which considering the weather (and that I’ve been on call this last week) is not so bad. Happy that I’m doing my monthly Fondos again.

No Go

Decided to leave work early yesterday and try for 30 or 40 despite a cold wind blowing. But as I left the garage during a break, having pumped the tyres up to spec and affixed newly charged lights to the Boardman, a dismal drizzle descended and I decided to stay in and watch old Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes instead.

I thought I might find a dead mouse in the garage given that the cold weather seems to draw them in there, where they meet the Grim Reaper in the person of a carefully prepared mouse trap. I didn’t, but I did find a dead bike computer mount. It seems that the low temperatures in there caused the bit that loops round the handlebar to contract, and it simply snapped. I hadn’t overtightened it.

As the old saying goes – buy cheap, buy twice. I hope I’ve finally learned my lesson not to buy cheap Chinese bike computers off Amazon. The actual tech tends to be pretty good; accurate with lots of features. But they make them out of horrible flimsy cheap plastic.

I can probably find a way to mount the actual unit onto the bars with a rubber band or something.

Looks like I’m not cycling today either. Already nine days into November and I’ve only been out on a bike twice.