I would usually have a knee recovery day before riding a bike again,
but wanted to split my remaining 45 miles for June into two chunks, so I
went out on the Tricross after work. Cold, overcast and windy, but I
wrapped up warm. I did a 20.54 mile run around Diseworth, going up
through Thringstone and Belton, across to Diseworth, back down along Top
Brand and Coleorton.
The wind was bloody annoying,
especially coming down Top Brand, where it should have been more of a
sidewind, really. But at least there was no rain.
I must say, the Tricross rolled along really pleasantly – odd that the same bike can seem sluggish on some days and frictionless on others. Maybe the conditions suited it.
My knees are
actually a bit hurty now – nothing too serious but I probably won’t ride
a bike tomorrow. So I’ve actually defeated the object of my ride.
Still – 575 miles this month, which is over the official target. But I’d like to have done 600.
My ‘official’ target for June, as decreed by my spreadsheet, is 573
miles. However I was hoping to have clocked up 600 by the time July
kicks in on Wednesday, having done only 503 as of this morning. So I
wanted to do at least 50 today.
Mild weather with a
possibility of rain in the afternoon, and a powerful wind blowing from
the west. Not the best weather for it really, but I wheeled the X out of
the garage at 11:05.
One of the as-yet unconquered
counties of England is Gloucestershire, which would require a round trip
of about 115 miles. I wasn’t going to do that today, but thought to do
the first 25 miles or so, then turn back. Most of that 25 miles is a
familiar route going south, to Stoney Stanton.
So I did that. Unfortunately though the last 5 of those 25 miles would have involved riding right into the teeth of the wind, following a right turn after Sapcote – so after less than a mile of that I took a right turn and began exploring a bit. I found my way back to Stoney Stanton, but took a different route back to Earl Shilton from there. After Kirkby Mallory I decided to come back up through Bosworth rather than Newbold and Ellistown. I pushed the mile tally up a bit by continuing up through Newton Burgoland where I rested at a bench and took the following pic, and all the way up to Ashby.
Home on 51.51 miles.
changeable weather, I got rained on a couple of times but the sun came
out a few times as well. I had warm sunshine for the last 30 minutes or
so which dried the bike off nicely.
The Casio servers have deigned to pass the activity through to Strava this time. They still haven’t bothered with the last one.
Too hot for cycling really but I want to get 600 miles in before July and it seems rude to waste all those hours of daylight after work. So I left work early and set off on the X.
I’d only gone a
couple of miles before I realised I hadn’t brought a pump and although I
don’t usually, I started to feel faintly paranoid. So I decided to do a
sort of 10 mile lap round Packington and Heather, have a quick pit stop
at the garage and set off again. I did that. I gave the tyres a quick
seeing to with the track pump and picked up a mini pump, then set off
again – this time on the usual eastbound route, out toward Cotes.
tiring pedalling in the bright sunshine and stupid heat but a headwind
from the east took some of the unpleasantness out of it. I was enjoying
myself regardless. Got as far as the natural burial ground a mile or two
after Cotes, then turned back. But I came a longer way back, through
Diseworth and down Top Brand – as much as anything to avoid the tedium
of the long pedal along Ashby Road.
I saved the track from my G-Shock to the Casio Moves app, but it hasn’t made it to Strava yet. Whether that’s the Casio servers (I suspect it is) or the phone or Strava I’m not sure, but anyway I was able to get this image from the app. That’s all I’ve got to show for it, but I’m more about the spreadsheet than Strava anyway.
I’ll remember not to use the G-Shock for the Strava challenges.
A rare opportunity to use my Magnum enormo-bidon, and I’d almost drained it by the time I got back on 44.39 miles. And that’s 503 this month, 3031 this year. Nice to have done 3000 before the half-way point of the year. Not going on holidays has helped, but I won’t have that advantage for long.
Took this pic a couple of miles from home, near a pub I’m hoping to frequent again before too long.
Lovely sunny, warm late afternoon, yesterday. I set off at about 4:45pm
without a definite plan, but within a couple of minutes had decided to
make my way up to Melbourne then across Swarkestone Bridge, to ride
along the long, quiet A road that runs westward under Derby. I took the
Cannondale, to give the new tyres a maiden voyage. They seem to roll
along very pleasantly.
Within the first mile of setting off, as I
was leaving the village, I saw a big, long brown rat scurrying across
the road at top speed. A moment later a large bird of prey came swooping
down behind it – a buzzard I think – but the rat was into the hedge on
the right before it could pounce, and the buzzard had to pull up and
over the hedge. Perhaps it had better luck in the field on the other
side of the fence, or perhaps the rat had the sense to stay put in the
I was able to wear my skimpiest camo cycling jersey, but
wasn’t too cool later on. Really glorious out there. I got as far as
Willington where I decided to turn back, having done about 20 miles –
but on a whim I thought I’d take a left turn under the bridge there, and
explore for a bit. I didn’t explore far; I just went into a housing
estate where I got lost briefly, but managed to find my way out a few
minutes later and back onto the main road.
Annoying my Garmin
Edge 25 bike computer started displaying 6 digit numbers, apparently
randomly – but it turned out that it was attempting to pair with my
phone, which I’d switched on a few minutes earlier in Willington to
consult Google Maps. It’s never worked properly with Bluetooth, and I
wasn’t particularly bothered because it’s easy enough to get tracks off
it by hooking it up directly to a computer. But I’ve just put a new
battery in the phone and that seems to have improved its Bluetooth
performance no end.
I took a longer route back, through Weston, Aston, Shardlow (where I took the following pic) then Donington. Stopped at a bench at Weston for a cheese pasty, which had half-cooked itself in my back pocked. Back on 45.55 miles.
I scanned the roadside carefully for discarded underwear, so I could title this piece New Boots and Panties, but alas – I didn’t see any.
I claimed I wouldn’t worry about my knees again after the 200 mile
ride, I must admit I was slightly troubled after the first couple of
rides following that, because I seemed to have reverted my knees to the
condition they were in about a year ago. However they do seem to be
recovering properly now. Both my physios told me to keep pedalling
through the pain and I’m convinced doing 40 or 50 milers helps more than
shorter distances. Got to keep them busy. Worth buggering them a bit to
do 200 miles anyway, but I’m glad I don’t seem to have done any lasting
Decent weather forecast today, although a bit blowy. I wanted to do
at least 40. I really wanted to try out the new tyres on the Cannondale,
but as I left the house at about 1pm a few spots of rain turned up. I
went back in the house and emerged again 30 minutes later, having
decided to take the Boardman.
Because I’m on call I
didn’t want to stray too far from base so I decided on the usual
strategy of going north to Melbourne, then back down via Ticknall within
a few miles of home, then across to Packington to stitch on a
Twycrosser to the south.
Quite pleasant weather to
start, although I hit a couple of very light, brief showers on the way
up. But on the way down to Ticknall, a massive dark cloud started to
appear from the west. A few minutes later I was being lashed with rain. I
was soaked through. The rain continued, with a few brief respites, for
the next hour or so. Misery. I decided to come home a quicker way than
intended along Gibbet Lane – although happily the rain stopped not long
after that and the warm sunshine came back, so I extended the ride a bit
by coming back through Ibstock.
I’ve noticed a few furry black
caterpillars crossing the road – odd that they always seem to be taking
the most direct route straight across, almost as though they’re
When I stopped briefly near Twycross I
took the trouble to examine the rear tyre for correct rotational
orientation, and yep – it’s on the wrong way round. I think I fitted
that one not long after a puncture on the Wales trip of May 2017. I
pondered whether it was throwing more rain water up my bum than was
strictly necessary, as I navigated the wet roads north of Bosworth.
I did get a call from work 30 minutes before I made it home but I
didn’t hear the phone go off, and only noticed when I fired up the Casio
app to sync the track.
Took the Tricross out after work, on a Twycrosser. Didn’t have as much
time as I’d have wished but I got in a 26.85 mile version.
A few puddles around and a gushing water main near Barton in the Beans but nothing troubling.
game of two halves, this one. First half cloudy and a bit too cool with
a headwind, but the sun came out for the second half and the wind
mostly helped to blow me home.
Really lovely to come up through
the villages north of Bosworth in the late afternoon sunshine, and the
Tricross seemed to roll along very pleasantly despite the industrial
tyres. Took a nice pic of it leaning against a gate near Bosworth Marina
in the bright sunlight, but it was lamentably out of focus.
Listened to the footy on 5 Live, but I just can’t get any enthusiasm for it in those conditions.
It’s been a thin month for cycling so far, at least in the sense that I’d only been out on a bike five times as of this morning. Rain was due from 3pm-ish according to the forecast and I went out at 1:40pm, in the hope of doing 20 or so. I had a feeling that the rain might start later than that, but I took the Boardman anyway to be on the safe side.
sunny and humid again. I did a Twycrosser with the quick route home
down the A444 and along Gibbet Lane, 21.43 miles. Blue skies gave way to
dark and foreboding clouds at about 3pm and it did rain for a couple of
minutes not long after, but only lightly. Then the sun came out again.
However 40 minutes after I got back it was chucking it down, so I timed that quite nicely. Nice run out.
a lad walking an old-fashioned steel frame racing bike along Gibbet
Lane and slowed down to see if he needed any help. He’d had a puncture. I
had a pump and a spare inner tube on me, but he assured me that help
was on its way in the form of his dad.
I’d hoped to do 30 or so after work, but the forecast
threatened rain for the late afternoon. I settled for a lunch break run
out around Belton, a ride I used to do quite often when I was in the
more frequent habit of doing rides of less than 20 miles.
Sunny, warm, a bit humid. I took the X.
to see if my left knee had improved, and push myself a bit closer to
the monthly target. The knee definitely feels better, not quite back to
the new normal but the weather forecast suggests it won’t have much to
do until the weekend.
Received a pair of new tyres for the
Cannondale – Schwalbe Luganos. Only the rear needs replacing really but
they have white stripes so I think it’s better to match them. Should
look the biz against the black & white colours of the frame. They
feel quite light, as well.
Nice warm, sunny afternoon. I took the Boardman out, for the first time in a little over 10 weeks. Thought there might be a few puddles after a bit of rain recently, but there weren’t.
Interestingly, my left knee hurt a bit the whole way round, but the right one was fine. The right one has always been the troublesome one since I injured them. Before I set off on Tuesday I taped it up, but I didn’t bother with the left one.
I’ve never been convinced of the efficacy of using tape, but that’s a bit of evidence that it does possibly work. I’ve very rarely used it and I’m still on the same roll my physio gave me, which is black. I don’t mind using it under tights but it looks weird on a bare leg. I think I’ll look for some beige tape on Amazon.
I did a pretty run-of-the-mill Twycrosser. Quite enjoyable apart from an annoying headwind from the east, which blighted the stretch between Ratcliffe and Sibson in particular.
The knee didn’t get any worse over the 30.22 miles and I expect it’ll be fine in a few days. I’ll keep doing the odd 30-miler, anyway. I’m convinced that low intensity / moderate cycling does more good than harm.
In the summer of 2017 I rode to Norfolk and back, a distance of 179
miles. While I was happy with my achievement, in the days afterwards I
started to think to myself: if you’d only done another 21 miles, you
could claim to have done a “double century”. 21 miles isn’t much
further, is it?
It turns out it is a lot further, when you’ve
already done 179. Every mile in those circumstances feels like 5; they
did to me anyway. But more on that later.
So: since 2017 I’ve nurtured an ambition to do a 200 mile bike ride. To give myself a bit of motivation and to help raise money for a breast cancer charity, I started a JustGiving page at:
Thanks to the kind donations of some generous people, I raised £352 – not exactly Sir Colonel Tom standards, but I’m glad to have achieved it.
my ambition started to look like a forlorn hope from 2018 when I
injured my knees, and after that it became more important to me because
it had started to look like forbidden fruit.
However I’ve made
good progress on long-distance riding this last few months, and as the
days grew longer this year I’ve started to look at the weather forecast,
for a suitable day.
Tuesday this week looked like it. The
weather promised to be dry, not too warm, with low winds. A nice early
sunrise and late sunset, and in fact the forecast was predominantly
rainy for the following couple of weeks, after which the nights start to
draw in again. I wasn’t on call.
I felt the Hand of Destiny on my shoulder. And in my left ear, the Voice Of Destiny said: this is it, mate. You’re on. I booked Tuesday off work. I updated the JustGiving page, to announce that I was finally about to make good on my long-overdue commitment.
My original plan for a 200 miler was to
ride up to my home town, Hartlepool. But I can’t visit Hartlepool at the
moment, in case I knock my 92 year old mum off her perch with the
So I decided on Norfolk and back, again. On Monday
afternoon I strolled out to the garage to inspect the Cannondale, which I
have been using sparingly in reserve for just this occasion. On close
examination, the rear tyre was a bit cracked and past its best. I
deflated it to get a better idea of the state it was in, and yep – it
definitely needed replacing.
But I didn’t have a spare and I wasn’t going to mess about taking a tyre off one of the other bikes, so I settled on the S Works. I don’t think the riding position is quite as comfortable as my Planet X but it’s lighter, the effort:distance ratio is lower and it feels a bit smoother on rougher road surfaces. I gave it a careful look over; the tyres were nice and hard and in eminently robust nick. Everything else checked out OK.
I went to bed early, at about 10pm. I didn’t actually sleep for more than half an hour at most and possibly not at all, and I got up at 3:00 AM. It was 4:05 AM by the time I’d set off.
I didn’t much enjoy the first 40 miles. I’d kept the layers of clothes to a reasonable minimum to minimise weight and I was cold for the first few hours. Furthermore for reasons unknown, but possibly associated with lack of sleep, my neck was stiff and aching and I had a slight headache. I contemplated turning back after about 35 miles but decided that I’d probably feel better once the temperature climbed a bit. And I did.
I chose a partly different route to Norfolk than last time in 2017; one designed to get to the flat scenery in Lincolnshire in 50 miles rather than 60. It’s a very familiar ride for the first 20-odd miles, part of the usual eastbound route. I did start enjoying myself once I got to the unfamiliar part of Lincolnshire and I definitely chose a nicer route than last time; much quieter and more scenic while still decently surfaced.
I stopped at a shop at Sutton St James for fuel after 80 miles. I’d consumed most of what I’d brought with me already. Bought some Snickers drink, water, a sandwich and a cheese pasty. I had an impromptu lunch on a bench there then continued on my way, over Sutton Bridge and into Norfolk.
This part of the ride was familiar from last time, nice to be there again after three years. After the bridge I went up a busy A road for a couple of miles in search of a Welcome to Norfolk sign, then along Sutton Road to a village called Walpole Cross Keys. My original plan called for me to keep along Sutton Road toward Kings Lynn, but it had recently been resurfaced with sharp gravel and I didn’t fancy it much. I decided to turn homeward, and make the distance up to 200 miles by doing a bit of exploring along flat roads in Lincolnshire.
This was pretty successful – I pursued some long detours using the map display on my Garmin eTrex until I’d added the requisite distance, and I explored some pleasant cycling territory.
stopped at a bike shop, converted from an old petrol station, somewhere
near Spalding after 115 miles. I tried to buy some AAs but they didn’t
have any. I’d brought a front light that takes a single AA, but I’d left
it empty to save weight. So I bought a new LED torch type front light
instead. I was definitely going to need it; by this time I’d realised
that I wasn’t going to be back until at least two hours after sunset. I
carefully socially distanced myself from the guy behind the counter,
mainly because he stank of alcohol. I left the shop wondering if
airborne virus particles travel as well as beer fumes.
miles I had improvised the necessary distance to make it home on 200
without the risk of encountering an unwanted steep hill, something which
is not possible east of Manthorpe, where the flat lands of the Fens
meet England’s more usual terrain – and where I rejoined my intended
route, having merely flirted with it over the previous 50 or so.
I was starting to feel a bit weary of operating a bicycle by this time and my knees had started to hurt, most noticeably just after rest stops. But the sun was still up and I was still in good spirits. I was really starting to feel tired a couple of hours later though, after sunset. While it was still light I kept consulting my bike computer for the distance to go and typically, I’d managed to grind out about half a mile since the previous time I checked it. I forced myself to stop looking at it on the watched pot principle.
The temperature dropped
fairly quickly after dark and the last 40 miles were a real slog. It’s
not a lot of fun pushing yourself forward in the cold late at night when
you’re tired and low on energy. I was in a dark place, figuratively and
literally. Returning to more familiar territory west of Melton helped
lift my state of mind slightly, but every mile was hard won.
On top of this I was starting to feel sick from the quantity of flapjacks, gels, Snickers drink and chocolate that I’d ingested to keep me going.
I heard church bells ringing softly in the distance as I rolled back through the pretty little village of Cotes in the still dead of night, but I wasn’t sure what time it was. I couldn’t see my watch and I’d stopped operating the display on the eTrex to save its batteries (it was recording the track). I was 15 miles from home and I knew I must already have beaten my previous distance record by a few miles, but I was struggling now. My neck and my arms were aching and I was running on empty. I had to force myself to get on with it. I stopped at Whitwick to rest against somebody’s garden fence under the cold glow of a lamppost for a few minutes, and I was actually having to concentrate to stay on my feet. But I summoned enough strength and courage to grind out the last four miles and I arrived back at my garage door at 01:40, on 200.7 miles.
Just unfastening the velcro on my cycling shoes was an effort.
I have thought about the logistics of a 200 mile ride many times, this last three years. I’d sometimes imagined that I’d wait for absolute ideal circumstances, involving warm weather and a meticulous plan, with perhaps a rest stop at my brother’s place in Stamford on the way out and the way back, so I could pick up warmer clothes and supplies for the last few hours without having to propel them along with me for the whole ride.
In the end the circumstances I imagined were compromised
somewhat. I hadn’t had enough sleep and I wasn’t feeling 100% even when I
set off. I wasn’t on my first choice of bike and temperatures were
lower than I wanted in the early morning and late at night, forcing me
to wear heavier clothing. Furthermore I couldn’t stop at a cafe or a
pub, as I normally would on a long-distance ride. I had to make do with
cold snacks on a bench.
But I had my DAB personal and an ultra-lightweight MP3 player, and I listened to 6 Music, a Deniece Williams album, more of my Beatles bio audiobook and the news on 5 Live.
And I got away with it. I’ve achieved something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.
more than that – I have exorcised a ghost. Every time I’ve increased my
distance since my knee injury, I’ve worried that I might damage them
and give myself a setback. This ride was 85 miles longer than my
previous post-injury distance. But they are fine. A year ago I would
have suffered slightly climbing the stairs the day after a 40 mile ride
but on Wednesday, although I could certainly feel that they’d cranked
out some serious miles, I could get up and down the stairs without any
bother at all.
I don’t feel a need to do more than 200 miles
again in this lifetime, so that feels like closure. Redemption, even.
They are not a limiting factor and I won’t worry about them again.