Long Twycrosser

I wasn’t going to cycle at all today. I’d planned to have a hedonistic lazy day indoors, but since I only did 14.51 yesterday, and in honour of all those cold, wet days when I’ve pulled on tights, several layers, a balaclava and overshoes, I mounted the Cannondale and ventured out into the warm sunshine at about 4:40pm when the heat of the day had abated a bit, although the wind hadn’t.

I did a long version Twycrosser. I’d intended to come back up through Kirkby Mallory, which is an unusual feature of a Twycrosser – but took the wrong turn for that when I got to the A477. I turned right just opposite Cadeby, thinking I could get to Kirkby that way – but that road, though quite pleasant, only led to a quarry. I backtracked, then came back home through Bagworth  and Ellistown.

Lovely run out, really. On Atterton Lane a fox sauntered across the road about 100 metres in front of me, which I think is a first on a bike ride.

Anyway 40.48, which takes me to 677 this month and 2527 this year, which is 1189 more than I’d done in 2019 a year ago. I might see if I can get that monthly total up to 600 tomorrow, but even if I don’t that’s the highest monthly figure since Aug 2016.

https://www.strava.com/activities/3538207485

Casio

I took delivery of a new Casio G-Shock GPS watch yesterday, and used it to track a ten mile outing in the warm sunshine with ‘er indoors.

Unfortunately although my test track of roughly 3 metres distance made it to Strava, the actual bike ride – over to the Alpaca Farm and back, in lovely warm sunshine, didn’t.

Technology eh! However I think this was only because I set up the connection to Strava after I recorded the track.

Anyway –  10.2 miles.

The Casio Moves app is actually really impressive, very slick appearance and lots of features.

I went out again this afternoon to do a Twycrosser of 35 miles or so, but noticed a familiar, slight regular  ‘bump’ from the rear. The X’s rear tyre had developed the same bulge that it suffered on a run out to Stoke and back a few weeks ago. So I cut it short and came back through Snarestone, Swepstone and Heather.

I changed the inner tube out last time but clearly, it’s the tyre that’s at fault. I do have a spare so I suppose I’ll be swapping that out tomorrow, then.

https://www.strava.com/activities/3531040542

14.51 miles. 636 this month.

In happier news the Casio watch is set up nicely now, I have the data fields set up the way I like them (distance done most prominent with time of day and average speed also displayed) and it transferred the track to Strava without fuss this time.

It’s arguably a bit too warm and sunny for cycling today, anyway. Which I still can’t get used to. Also, I’m annoyed with myself for cooking my arms in the sun on Monday, because I had to wear a long sleeved top.

Northampton

Northampton and back is one of my classic long rides, but I hadn’t attempted it since returning to long-distance form following my knee overuse injury in 2018. When I’ve done rides in excess of 80 miles or so this last few months, I’ve planned them on relatively flat routes. The Northampton trip is definitely not one of those, with something of an uphill slog over the first few miles coming back.

On Monday morning though I had a warm sunny day off work on my hands, so I thought I’d give it a go. I set off at about 09:45. I took the newer route to Welford that goes through Dunton Bassett, Gilmorton and North Kilworth. From Welford, just over the Northants border, it’s a very simple run down the A5199.

I took my super-lightweight MP3 / FM player in addition to my DAB, as I was short of disposable batteries. I listened to a fascinating retrospective on 9/11, broadcast on 5 Live in 2011. Contributors were Menzies Campbell, Alastair Campbell and Christopher Meyer, Labour’s US ambassador at the time. I didn’t really disagree with much that any of them had to say except for Ali C of course, but doesn’t that list of names tell you everything you need to know about the BBC’s own political outlook?

After that I listened to a bit of Paul Stanley’s rather self-absorbed autobiography audiobook, read by the man himself. Then I reverted to the DAB for 6 Music and later, the witch trials at Downing Street.

Nice run down there in the bright sunshine, though the wind was annoying me somewhat. More of an oblique sidewind than a headwind. Arrived at Northampton at about 2pm and went into Waitrose at Kingsthorpe, to get more food and liquids. I have a strong sentimental connection to Northampton so it was nice to be there again. I hadn’t actually been in that branch of Waitrose since 1984.

As I started to attach my bike to a pillar, a bloke sitting outside the store on a chair offered to look after it for me instead, so I left it propped against the wall behind him. He was a Waitrose employee of some sort. I got the impression that he was employees to look after customers’ dogs as he was in charge of a large steel bowl with water in it.

However I was annoyed to notice that he’d come into the store, leaving my bike unattended, as I passed through the checkouts 15 minutes later. Fortunately it was still there. Just as well; I’m down to my last six road bikes now.

I didn’t go further into the town. The traffic was quite heavy. I turned back for home when I emerged from the supermarket.

The grim uphill slog north of the town just didn’t materialise. Sure there was a bit of a climb, but it was a lot less bother than I remembered, even with dodgy knees. I guess I must be at a better standard of fitness now. I did get my arms a bit sunburned, but at least my BSP tattoo was protected (by an armband). I now have crisp, high contrast tan lines on my legs to die for.

Stopped at a familiar bench at Welford and had a bit more food and a tinned Starbucks coffee. Very nice.

Slightly different route back nearer home, through Bardon and Coalville. Back on 96.57 miles. I did think of extending it to 100 of course but in the end the lure of a hot bath proved too magnetic.

https://www.strava.com/activities/3511404200

611 this month.

Kirkby Mallory

A windy day, but almost warm. Not the right conditions for a long one, but I thought to do 20 or 30. Since the wind was coming from the west I did the southbound route. I thought I’d go to the corner of Kirkby Lane and come back, but I ended up going along to Desford, then across to Kirkby Mallory. Then up the usual way from Bosworth, except that I came back through Swepstone and Ibstock.

The weather forecast had led me to expect that the risk of rain was very slight, but I did get hit by a couple of heavy showers. However both my clothing and the bike dried off fairly quickly in the high velocity (almost) warm air, which I found quite cathartic.

Quite enjoyable, something a bit different from the usual run down to (or round) Twycross. I took the X, as I wanted to test a modification I’d made to the angle of the bars. A bit more comfortable now.

https://www.strava.com/activities/3499441087

30.14 miles, 515 this month.

In other news: Strava’s route planner, which I use all the time, has undergone an overhaul. It’s now out of “experimental” mode and has some new features. It looks a lot different as well. Most significantly, it’s now a paid feature instead of free, which I guess is fair enough. I can’t edit any of the routes I already have set up in there. I can still export them to GPX files though, so all is not lost. There are a number of free alternatives so I’ll check those out before I invest in a paid Strava account.

Melbourne / Ticknall

Cloudy after I left work, but still very warm. Didn’t have that much time but I took the X out up to Melbourne, across to Ticknall and back through Ashby. Only 22.09 miles but pretty hilly, especially on the way back where I had to negotiate Bastard Hill* then Alton Hill to get home.

Beautiful out there, and so nice to be out in minimal clothing in a warm breeze.

https://www.strava.com/activities/3489985442

485 this month.

*made up name

Twycrosser

Lovely warm sunny day, so mindful of all the times I’ve been out in the cold this year I felt duty-bound to ride a bike after work. Out on the S Works, a pretty standard Ratcliffe – Sibson version of the Twycrosser. Went along Shenton Lane (pictured) to Bosworth which I should do more often – it’s really very nice along there.

30.36 miles, 463 this month and 2313 this year. I’ll aim to hit 2500 before the end of May.

https://www.strava.com/activities/3479085553

Sieg im Weston

I’d noticed while scrutinising a route that I’d done a week ago along the stretch south of Derby that it would take me to Stafford Bingley Hall in only another 17 miles, and could even be used as the basis for a trip to Wales. Which seemed odd, as I’d never really thought of Stafford as being that close to Derby, despite living in Derby for years. But I’m from Hartlepool. What do I know?

I had the idea of doing a long one on Saturday although the weather wasn’t entirely favourable, with a moderate wind blowing from the west. I did think I might just penetrate Wales briefly. Woke up on Saturday morning before 4AM and thought about getting up and setting off before 5 to invade Cymru, but decided against it. Better to wait for a less windy day, when proximity to other human beings is a bit less problematic and I can refuel in a shop.

Woke up again at 8, got up and set off on the direction of Bingley on the Cannondale. Hilariously I went wrong in the first couple of miles, pedalling up through Coleorton and onto Top Brand on auto-pilot. But I wasn’t too bothered as I wanted to do a bit more than the 80 or so that a simple there-and-back trip would entail. I took a left along Stocking Lane, a road I normally avoid because of the excess of dust on the road from the quarry there, then found my way to Lount to rejoin the route up through Melbourne and up over Swarkestone Bridge.

I got the headwind in my face as soon as I turned west, north of the bridge. But it wasn’t too troublesome.

After 45 miles I stopped for lunch at a place called Weston, at a bench there. I’d just removed my plastic lunch box from my backpack, when the chap who was mowing the grass a few metres behind me stopped his mower and insisted, from about four metres away, that I should move to the bench on the other side of the road. I must admit that I argued the toss initially as he was clearly performing his activities at a safe distance, and it looked as though he’d already done the grass around the bench. But he explained that he hadn’t, so I happily gave him his Sieg im Weston (I’ll be impressed if you get that reference without Googling it) and migrated to the seating opposite.

Back on the bike ten minutes later and a few minutes after that, I arrived at Bingley Hall (now “Staffordshire County Showground”) where forty years ago in my late teens I attended concerts by the likes of Motorhead, Rainbow and of course Rush. I loitered outside for a couple of minutes. A security guard on the other side of the railings not unreasonably wanted to know what I was doing there, but he was happy to allow me to take a couple of pics.

I took a few unplanned detours on the way back, just to bump the distance up a bit. I was determined to do at least 100. I went up the A51 in the direction of Wales for a mile or so. And I briefly visited Uttoxeter, where I stopped at a bench again. It was here that I discovered that one of the nylon straps on my backpack had started to unravel, and was hanging by a thread. I’d bought it at Tesco because it was extremely light. It only cost £3. Oh well. I effected a temporary repair with a safety pin that had been used to effect another temporary repair to a broken zip on my jersey. I’ve binned the backpack now.

Listened to the daily press briefing on the way back. Gavin Williamson, this time. I like Gavin, even though he reminds me of a CTO I used to work for which in this case is not a good thing. But there’s a certain emotional over-earnestness in his delivery that I don’t think does him any favours. A bit of media training might not go amiss there.

I got 108 miles out of the AAs in my DAB personal. The eTrex gave a low battery warning with two metres to go, as I pulled onto my drive. Its AAs had already done about 150 miles before this ride.

After Swarkestone I took a different route home, again to bump up the distance. Came back through (not the same) Weston, Aston, Shardlow and Castle Donington. The sun had come out again, something that definitely lifts your spirits a bit when you’ve cranked out more than 100 miles. It had been cloudy most of the day.

Back on 113.10 miles which takes me to 432 this month. That was the fourth 100+ miler this year. Happy to have those back.

https://www.strava.com/activities/3462741195

Loughborough

Wanted to do 30 or 35 after work since it was a beautifully sunny afternoon. Not warm, but not cold. A bit blowy. Set off on the S Works without knowing where I was going to go. Found myself pedalling up through Coleorton, almost on auto-pilot. Then I thought I’d head up to Donington and maybe go left to Melbourne .. but by the time I was halfway up through Top Brand I’d decided to detour through Diseworth to join the usual “out east” route.

I did that but by after Cotes I decided to go into Loughborough on a whim. I hadn’t been into the centre for over a year, even in a car and I thought I’d have a look around while it’s relatively quiet. I did that, but cycled right through onto the A6, after which I sort of got lost. I followed a sign to Barrow upon Soar though, and from there found my way to Cotes again. From there I came back more or less the usual way. Bit of an adventure.

Back after a very pleasant 41.03 miles, taking me to a pleasing 319 this month, 2170 this year. That’s not far short of twice the distance I’d done this time last year.

https://www.strava.com/activities/3451480404

Cold Twycrosser

Having been spoiled by some very pleasant warm and sunny weather recently I’ve been a bit reluctant to go out into the cold wind since the temperature dropped off a cliff at the weekend. But I told myself to man up, wrapped up warm with a woolly hat instead of a helmet and went out to do 30 miles. After all, dry roads and 11 degrees C would have seemed like luxury only a month or two ago.

I took the Tricross. There’s something about its robust, weighty stability that’s comforting in cold weather.

I did a fairly standard Twycrosser, with the Orton detour between Twycross and Sheepy. Through Ratcliffe and Sibson, back along Gibbet Lane. Stopped to take the following pic at the Gibbet Lane bench, then my phone battery died – which was unfortunate as I was using it to track the ride, so Strava didn’t get the whole story. But my bike computer said 30.90 and Google Maps agrees, so that’s what’s gone in the spreadsheet.

https://www.strava.com/activities/3441260237

Cloudy but bright, with a few patches of blue sky. Quite a nice run out. But I’d like the warm weather back.

Foston

Wasn’t really in the mood for a long ride this morning despite near-perfect conditions, and I struggled to think of a route I felt like doing. In the end I hit on the idea of doing the long A road going west, south of Derby. So I did that. I took the S Works. Up to Isley Walton, up over Swarkestone Bridge (where I took the pic) then west along the long, flat A road along the river.

The S Works was a joy today, it really rolls beautifully along decently surfaced flat roads. Miles of smiles, in the warm sunshine. A nice relaxed run out.

At Willington I took a right to explore, but that road only took me to a roundabout for the A38 and A50. So I turned back to the main road. Went further west than I have before, to Foston.

As I rolled over the bridge over the A38, I noticed it was pretty busy. Last time I was there it was near-deserted. Not today.

Nice to see all the Union Flag bunting out for VE day. I listened to anecdotes from people who remembered the actual day on 5 Live, some amazing stories. Churchill’s granddaughter was interviewed by Adrian Chiles and I couldn’t help thinking about the present situation, with the virus. I hate to think how Theresa May would have dealt with the virus, still more Corbyn. He’d have surrendered to it, probably. But at our country’s moment of crisis we have, and just in time, another brilliant national leader in the same inspirational, resolute mould as Sir Winston. I’m a rational person and not one to believe in destiny or fate performing magic, but it seems utterly remarkable. Or at least, very fortunate.

Anyway, really a glorious run out. Came back the quicker way through the centre of Melbourne and Coleorton. Back on 51.21 miles.

I must see if I can develop that route to go a bit further, perhaps toward Uttoxeter or Ashbourne.

https://www.strava.com/activities/3418713356