For (probably) the last gasp of January, I wanted to do 27 or a bit
more, to get the monthly total to the 350 mile mark. I’m entertaining
the vague idea that it might be nice to aim for 350 as a minimum for
Left work at about 3:30pm, having started early and
missed a lunch break. Took the hybrid, since I wasn’t going far. Nice to
get a bit more use out of it, I thought. I was going to do a
Twycrosser, but after about 6 miles, instead of taking the turn down to
Snarestone and Twycross I decided to keep on to Measham, then head out
west. The wind was blowing from that direction, so I’d have a bit of a
tailwind on the way back. As it happened I didn’t particularly notice
the headwind, or the tailwind.
I made my way out past Netherseal
and through Coton and eventually to Walton on Trent, a bit further than I
intended. Really nice out there after dark in the open; so atmospheric.
And not that cold either; unseasonally mild. I haven’t quite got that
route memorised yet so navigating my way back by remembering the turns
I’d taken was fun.
trialled a new front light (LED torch really) that I acquired as a sale
item from Tesco. It came as part of a set with 5 AAA batteries and a
rear light, for £3! The batteries alone would have cost a couple of quid
and I do use them, so – rude not to. And while the front light isn’t
quite a tarmac melter, it’s thoroughly adequate. Quite nicely made as
well, with a polished aluminium body.
I think that was the most
enjoyable ride of 2020 so far. I may go out that way again at the
weekend, although I’ll be on call. Really looking forward to the long,
warm days now.
Went out to the garage at lunchtime, and did a bit of prep on the
Tricross – fitted a handlebar extender so I’d have a bit of space for
lights, bike computer, eTrex mount and whatnot, gave both shifters a
good squirt with GT85, gave the top right brake lever the same
treatment. Put some lights on, ready for a run out after work.
3:30pm came around and having togged myself up in full winter cycling
gear, prepared an oat bar and a bidon and all that, I walked out to the
garage. It started to rain. I decided I wasn’t having it so I went back
in the house. But half an hour later I glanced out of the window and not
only wasn’t it raining, but the sun had come out! Fortunately I hadn’t
bothered to change so I got the Tricross out and did a medium-short
length Twycrosser. Interestingly the roads were dry-ish only two miles
Cold out there but an enjoyable run out under the
stars. Nice crescent Moon clearly visible and an unusually bright Venus
The brake lever does feel a bit rough still and you can
still get it to jam up the rear disk if you pull hard enough, but you
can unjam it by pushing the lever the other way! So there’s that. In
practice though I just won’t use it.
More positively, the left
gear shifter behaved properly throughout so it looks like the GT85
treatment has cleared the fault. I suppose I should spray a proper
solvent cleaner up there first. I’ll give it a few more goes to make
sure it’s flushed out the gunk and dirt properly anyway. Still no sign
of the squeak from the rear so I think that’s cured now, must definitely
have been the brake pad rubbing. And the bike computer is calibrated
nicely now. Recorded the 23.40 GPS-recorded distance as 23.38. Good
Anyway .. 323 this month which is over target and 145 more than this time last year.
I’d hoped to a bit more than 50 today, to meet the January monthly
target of 303 miles. Maybe even another January Fondo. But after getting
up reasonably early this morning I looked out of the bedroom window,
then took a few tentative steps outside the front door, to gauge
conditions – and decided I wasn’t having it. Just too dank. The ground
was uniformly wet, and a thin mist clung to the cold air.
couple of hours later though – I took a long, hard look at myself in the
mirror. And after reassuring myself that the trademark firm jawline and
penetrating hazel eyes had lost none of their magic, I bullied myself
into going out. What, I asked myself, was the point of having three
mediocre weather bikes if I wasn’t prepared to be a mediocre weather
cyclist? I had no answer to that of course so I pulled the Tricross out
of the garage at about 11:15, with the idea of doing at least 30 or so.
chose the Tricross over the Boardman because I’d just fitted a
magnet-driven bike computer yesterday (another trusty Cateye Cyclo 7)
and wanted to calibrate it. I also wanted to reassure myself that the
adjustment I’d made to the rear disk brake (I backed one of the pads out
a touch using the handy thumbwheel) had made the squeak go away.
Set off intending to do a Twycross but it didn’t seem so bad out there by this time so I headed south, which had been the original intention – since the wind was coming from that direction and didn’t want a headwind on the way back. I took pretty much the usual route down to Stoney Stanton then continued on to Sutton in the Elms and Broughton Astley. I’d thought to go at least as far as Gilmorton, but encountered a Road Closed sign after Broughton, with no useful detour. So I took a side road and looped back the way I’d come. I’d only done about 21 miles at this point but I thought I’d probably find a sign to some unknown village on the way back, and go exploring for a few miles. As it turned out I didn’t, though I did take a turn to Desford through Peckleton from Kirkby Mallory which added a mile or two. I also took a different turn out of Desford than I normally would, in the hope of adding some randomness. But I ended back on the same road after only about half a mile.
Got to Newbold Verdon and took a left turn there, to have a
look round the village. But again, that looped back onto the usual
route before long.
Back home on 46.78 miles, which brings my 2019 total so far to 299.
I’m pleased to say that adjusting the rear brake does appear to have made the squeak go away; there was no sign of it over the whole ride. However – not long after setting off, I tested that it was still working properly using the top-mounted lever, and this actually jammed the brake closed! I came to an abrupt and wobbly dead stop, and had to uncleat sharpish to avoid coming a cropper. Fortunately, it’s only the top lever that does this – the one I normally use on the front works fine. I will give it a good hose out with GT85 tomorrow and if that doesn’t fix it, I just won’t use it. I don’t have a top-mounted lever on any other bike so it’s not a habit.
The left shifter, for the front derailleur, doesn’t catch on the down-change sometimes – it’s infrequent but it did happen three or four times, though it was always fine on the following attempt. Just Googled this and it seems that old grease or gunk can cause this. Again, GT85 may come to the rescue tomorrow.
I was also slightly irritated that I’d left the bike computer set to km instead of miles. I thought it had gone a bit mad at first. It measured the ride at 74.20km = 46.10 miles. I’ll do the maths and recalibrate it later.
I left work early, harbouring thoughts of doing 30 or 40. No rain for a
couple of days now but the roads are still fairly wet – possibly from
thawed frost? I took the Boardman.
I set off at about 3:15,
thinking of doing a Twycross. But I changed my mind after the first few
yards, and decided to head south instead. Had to go through Hugglescote
rather than Donny Le Heath to avoid a closed road, which meant an
annoying wait at traffic lights. Down through Ellistown, Bagworth,
Newbold Verdon as usual. As I neared Newbold I realised I hadn’t brought
a phone with me, which meant I’d be somewhat stuffed in the event of a
mechanical failure. It was also getting a bit cold. So I decided I’d
keep it down to 20 miles or so.
Rather than taking the right along Kirkby Lane I continued on to Desford, and turned back from there.
a beautiful sunset. The only bummer apart from starting to feel a bit
icy was the rush hour traffic at Ibstock on the way back. Overall quite a
pleasant run out.
Was surprised to see some frost on the pavements at Ibstock; didn’t think it was quite that cold.
half-heartedly clearing up in the garage at the weekend I came across
the old Cateye Velo 5 bike computer that I’d removed from the Boardman,
because it had developed an occasional habit of cutting out for the odd
couple of miles. I decided to give it another chance and put it back on,
after cleaning the contacts. And it did behave itself on this ride.
Very accurate too; agreed with the GPS to within 0.01 miles over 21.71.
put some titanium stem bolts on too; the steel ones I’d put on there
only a few months ago had already started to develop a bit of surface
rust. Annoyingly, one of the six bolts in the set I bought had been
machined differently somehow, with a small round hole instead of a
hex-shaped socket for an Allen key! I was only going to use four of
them, but I’ve contacted the supplier anyway.
No rain today, although it rained quite a bit yesterday and the roads
were wet. I took the Prof out again, partly because I wanted to reassure
myself that the squeak from the rear wheel had definitely disappeared,
and partly because I’d re-angled the handlebars yesterday and wanted to
test the new configuration. I also replaced the steel stem bolts with
titanium ones, though I was fairly sure they were secure.
the house just before 1000. The general idea, since a wind was blowing
from the west, was to pedal up toward Donington, take the sharp left to
Melbourne and from there continue on to Shardlow and head east toward
Derby. I’d only hatched this plan shortly after leaving the house, it
wasn’t properly prepared and as it turned out, it was nonsense. I was
sure you could get get onto the road from Shardlow from that road and
thought I’d done so before, but looking at the map now – clearly, I
hadn’t. I must have gone through Donington to do that.
Thus I found myself at the northern end of Swarkestone Bridge having a What Now? moment, but decided to take a left, west along the long, flat road that goes to Willington. Not been along there for a month or two and it’s a pleasant run, despite being an A road. I decided I’d go as far as Hilton, which I’ve only done once before. So I did that. Very pleasant out there in the sunshine, and not as cold as I’d expected. I’d decided on a two sock strategy without overshoes as I haven’t adjusted the pedals on the Prof yet and the overshoes would have made clipping in a bit tricky.
I must get some new ones. I did have a splurge of
retail therapy on Amazon yesterday and bought a couple of inner tubes
(didn’t have any spares for the new bike so I’ve been taking a bit of a
punt going out on it), a supposedly lightweight cycling backpack that
isn’t particularly lightweight, a pair of new ultra light and
inexpensive bottle cages and a new, simple bike computer (a Cateye Velo 7
– tried and trusted). And some more titanium bolts.
Anyway – I
arrived at Hilton and spotted a pub on a little retail park on a
roundabout. I had a quick lunch there, sausages and mash and a half
lager. Not a particularly inviting place, with a view of a Tesco Metro
and a roundabout, but the staff were friendly and the food was fine.
Took a bit of a chance leaving the bike outside – I couldn’t find
anything suitable to fasten it to! My lightweight bike lock was too
short to tether it to the table or bench. But I only left it unattended
while I was ordering the food and got away with it.
a look at Google Maps on my phone as I finished off my Carlsberg
Export, and decided to head back as far as Willington then come back
through Repton and Hartshorne, to Ashby – I’d had an idea to try that
route months ago but never got round to it.
Annoyingly, the bloody rear wheel squeak made a reappearance shortly after I set off.
is a very picturesque little town and home to a prestigious public
school. But I don’t think I’ll do that route between Willington and
Ashby again, or at least not between Willington and Hartshorne. It’s
very rural and quiet and almost reminiscent of the lake district, being
lined by hills. But it’s too climby.
At Hartshorne I stopped at a bench and examined the rear wheel closely. I prodded it a bit and tugged gently at the spokes and after that, the squeak vanished again. I have a theory that it’s the rear disk fouling one of the disk pads. It does disappear for a few seconds after braking. From peering intently down the gap between the pads, it looked like that might be the case. Why it doesn’t do this for the first 20-odd miles, and never when I don’t have my weight on the saddle I have no idea. But I’ll adjust it anyway. Apart from that I’m very happy with the Tricross – it is a little bit more sluggish than the Boardman but it’s comfortable and feels very dependable. It definitely absorbs road bumps and buzz better.
up on 39.17 miles. Should have come back the way I’d gone; I’d have
done another few miles and they’d mostly have been considerably flatter.
But an enjoyable run out nonetheless, and something a bit different.
used the Garmin Edge 25 that I bought a couple of months ago to track
the ride. I’d never got round to trying it. it sits nicely on the stem
and works well except that I couldn’t get it to pair with my phone for
some reason. But it shows up as a mass storage device when you hook it
up to a computer so it’s easy enough to get the track off that way.
No rain today. The roads were a bit puddly from yesterday’s
precipitation but since I hadn’t been out on two wheels since Saturday, I
wanted to get 20 miles in or so.
I was also keen to reassess the
rear wheel squeak situation on The Professor. I did take it for a 50-60
yard spin to check it out on Monday and was surprised to find that the
squeak had gone. I did a bit of Google research at the weekend, which
suggested that spoke rub can cause it – so I carefully applied a small
squirt of GT-85 to the points where the spokes are in contact with each
other on the wheel, before setting off.
Whether that was what did
the trick, or whether it’s just one of those things that disappears of
its own accord, I don’t know. But I didn’t get the squeak at all over
20.18 miles. Very happy about that because it was loud, persistent and
bloody annoying. I’ll check that none of the spokes are loose next time
I’m in the garage; I do have a spoke wrench somewhere.
a cold day and I didn’t bother with overshoes. My feet did suffer
slightly but not enough to bother me. I need to get some new overshoes
anyway; the ones I have can interfere with clipping in and out. Speaking
of which, the new pedals are a bit too tight, I’ll have to adjust them.
Bikes, eh! You’re never short of something to do.
Got back a
good 15 minutes after sunset and didn’t need to attach a front light,
although I had one in my backpack. So I made good use of the additional
half hour of afternoon daylight since the nadir in December.
So – I had a vague plan to do a Fondo today. The weather looked
alright-ish, with a strong wind blowing from the south according to the
BBC weather site – so I thought a trip out east would work quite well. I
was keen to try out my new winter bike, having set it up with new
pedals on Friday (Shimano PR-R540s, white ones since they were cheaper).
I got up at about 0800, made breakfast, visited Facebook and found the awful news that Neil Peart had died. Since I was due to ride the Tricross for the first time about half an hour later, I decided I’d name it Neil. Or The Professor. Or both. I decided to do 67 miles in his honour.
having consumed adequate toast and coffee, I removed Neil from the
garage and set off at about 0835. I hadn’t tried or adjusted the pedals.
I just hoped they’d work OK. They clip in a bit tight, but they’re
fine. I took an Allen key with me in case I wanted to make a saddle
height adjustment and I did do that, after about 4 miles, in
Thringstone. I decided my legs weren’t extending properly on a
downstroke, so I raised it a few mm. Seemed fine after that.
First impressions : it rides very much like a road bike. Certainly, it doesn’t have the zing or zip of the Cannondale or the S Works, but it rolls along comparably to the Boardman. Maybe a shade more sluggish. I’m not sure. It does feel different – the bigger tyres (32Cs) give a more cushioned ride, and it feels sturdier somehow.
Strangely, the right brake lever operates the rear brake, rather than the front.
I’m not a fan of the secondary brake levers on the top of the bars, but I’ll just leave them. They remind me of a similar arrangement on my old Raleigh Routier 30 years ago, although they were physically joined to the levers out front. These are separate, although they share the same cables. Quite a clever design. The gears (Sora) are changing very smoothly and positively. Feels a bit more refined than the Boardman’s Claris groupset and quite honestly not much different than the 105 groupset on the Cannondale.
Had a very pleasant run out east. I
was pleased to see that the standing water on the football pitch at
Normanton on Soar has drained away now, though there’s still water
running across the road at the usual wet spot near Cotes. One thing I
really like about the Tricross design is that the cables that would
normally run under the bottom tube are housed within the frame, so they
don’t pick up splashes.
Got to Eastwell, where I took this pic,
after about 31.5 miles. I continued on until I’d done nearly 33, then
turned back – my reasoning being that if I came back through Coleorton
rather than Thringstone on the last few miles, I’d add about a mile. I
was wrong about that, as it happens.
Shortly after I turned for home came the Oh Fuck moment as I found myself riding into a bastard of a headwind. I really had to struggle to get home. I was actually only one up from the granny gear on a longish downhill stretch at one point, and tempted to change down. The other highly annoying thing was that about ten miles from Eastwell, when I turned 5 Live off on the DAB, I noticed that the rear wheel had a pronounced and constant squeak. Dry bearings, perhaps. I’ll take it back to the bike shop and have them sort it.
I decided a Rush album would be an appropriate listening choice on the way home, for a period of reflection. I chose 2112,
which although not my absolute favourite record best represents the
Rush I fell in love with aged 16. After that, I listened to United vs
Norwich on 5 Live.
I did get a bit of respite from the headwind here in there in parts of the route well sheltered by trees, or when the route meandered in a different direction for a stretch – but mostly I had to push hard to get back, sometimes battling fiercely for a few yards. I was absolutely bollocksed after about ten miles of it. Not unsurprisingly this took its toll on my knees as well, which became fairly sore and feel a bit beaten up now. Not a setback though, I don’t think. I’ll just have to rest them for a couple of days.
To top it all, over the last ten miles I had to put up with a gloomy cold drizzle as well as a headwind. Grim.
been thinking of stopping at the Greyhound on the way back, but didn’t.
I stopped at a bench a few hundred yards further on instead and had a
As I got to Coleorton and pedalled past the Kings Arms pub I realised that I’d be about half a mile short of 67 miles on arriving home. So I did a sort of short circuit of nearby roads to push my distance up.
Very much a game of two halves, that one. I can’t say I enjoyed it overall.
Anyway 67.63 miles and that takes me to a fairly decent 172 miles in January, only about 6 less than I did in the whole of January 2019.
Rain due this evening but I took an extended lunch and deployed the hybrid on a moderate Twycrosser at about 2pm. Not too windy, or too cold. A bit damp. Puddles here and there. Back before sunset which is now a slightly more tolerable 16:09.
I used my ageing Garmin 310XT for a change and for some reason the ANT+ app that transfers data from it has stopped working properly. I resorted to starting up my Windows laptop to get it onto Strava but that didn’t work either. However the watch says 21.68 miles and I’ll knock off 0.01 for getting off the bike at a wee stop.
I’ll just stick to the Bluetooth watches or the phone, what a faff. The 310XT probably needs a reset.
Anyway 104 miles this month, well ahead of where I was this time last year (60 miles).
Seemed a bit cold out there, but I wrapped up warm and took the Boardman
out, hoping to do 40 or 50. On call again alas, so once again I applied
my usual strategy of doing an elongated route, with home roughly in the
centre. I planned to go south first, then up north, possibly over
Swarkestone Bridge and over Derby way, then back home.
to go down through Ibstock, Ellistown, Bagworth – but I absent-mindedly
missed by turn at Ibstock. Rather than turn back in Ibstock I decided
I’d busk it and find my way to Ellistown without backtracking. But I got
lost and ended up back on the A447, so I went that way instead. No
I went down as far as Kirkby Mallory then turned across
for Sutton Cheney, with the intention of coming back up along the
Twycross route the “wrong way”. Pretty much like I did a week ago,
except that I went the right way at the junction with the A447 this time
and didn’t take a detour to Stapleton.
Started to feel very cold suddenly though, cycling west along Fenn Lanes – probably because I was cycling into a headwind. Definitely the coldest I’d felt on a bike for months, and at this point I started to harbour thoughts of heading straight home and having a cosy Saturday afternoon in. However once I turned north for Twycross I seemed to warm up slightly and the Sun even came out briefly – so I decided to press on. I realised that the road I was on would take me to Measham in a few miles, so I decided that I’d head west from there for a bit, rather than going up all the way up over Swarkestone Bridge. I thought I’d go to Coton in the Elms and back.
a few miles from Coton I saw a signpost to Lullington, so – since I was
only going to go a few more miles before turning back – I thought I’d
go there instead. I did. The last half mile or so to Lullington was
obscenely muddy though, so I decided to try to come back a slightly
different way to avoid it. I followed a sign to Coton, intending to
return the usual way from there – but came unstuck at a junction when I
took a wrong turn. This took me to unfamiliar territory – Linton, High
Cross Bank and a village called Castle Gresley. At this point I thought
I’d better consult Google Maps, which suggested that my best bet was to
come straight down the A444, turn off for Moira then come home through
Ashby. So I did that.
a thoroughly enjoyable run out, with the challenge of attempting to
navigate home from unfamiliar surroundings giving it a nice, adventurous
Near Kirkby Mallory I saw two crows (I assume – largish
corvids anyway) pestering a buzzard, which was sitting on a post. The
buzzard didn’t seem that bothered but the crows were swooping around it
and dive bombing it. I assumed they were trying to get it to go away and
I’ve just googled this behaviour – “mobbing”, apparently.
One day in early January 2015 a friend called Rob (aka ‘Moving Target’) started a thread on the old (now sadly defunct) Counterparts message board for Rush fans, suggesting a sort of Counterparts “cycling club”. I think I said I’d aim to do 500 miles in 2015.
I only had the hybrid at
that time and although I’d used it for the odd 7 or 8 mile run out in
previous years, I hadn’t used it for over a year – possibly two. I went
for my first cycle ride of 2015 on January 7th, took a wrong turn onto a
farm and got bitten by a dog. But I wasn’t deterred. I found the
practice of recording my distances on a spreadsheet and sharing my
experiences with like-minded people quite motivating. I bought a proper
road bike and ended up doing 2702 miles that year and 5775 the next,
increasing my distances gradually.
And since I set off on that cold day in January 2015, I’ve now cycled a total of 20,001 miles. Here’s to the next 20,000.
Didn’t entirely feel like cycling today but since conditions were decent-ish, I though I’d get the cycling year off the ground with a Twycross. Since my strategy for this year is partly to try and stay ahead of my year-younger self, I wanted to do at least 25 to build up a bit of a lead (this time last year, I’d done 22 miles on my first ride of 2019).
I left work at about 3:30pm and set off not long after. Only half an hour before sunset and it was already getting dim as I withdrew the Boardman from the garage, but I had excellent lights with me. I wore a decently powerful head torch, but had a handlebar-mounted torch as well. Both work quite well but the head torch is excellent for checking a GPS watch.
Definitely cold and very blowy on the early part of the ride, facing into the wind coming from the south. Nice to have a bit of a tailwind on the way back.
Really dark out there in the country after sunset. Pitch black. Very atmospheric.
Did a typical Twycross route of moderate distance; 30.16 miles. A decent start to the cycling year, and to the January campaign.