Dodging Lightning

Apparently today was the third-hottest English day on record. Despite that, I did, after all, decide to go out and do 20 miles or so. Because I only did 30-odd yesterday I guessed my knees wouldn’t mind a short ride, and they didn’t. Normally if I cycle two straight days I expect a bit of knee trauma on the second day, but nothing at all today. Felt like I hadn’t pressed them into service for a week.

I wonder if the heat has something to do with that? If it does then maybe cycling long distances in the winter isn’t very clever. Perhaps I should investigate heated knee covers.

The weather will be a lot more suitable tomorrow, but I’d rather go out on Sunday than Saturday. Got into the habit of pottering around the house being idle on Saturdays.

Anyway it wasn’t as bad out there as I feared. Certainly the heat was a bit oppressive, but the 13mph wind was worse. A bit like being being accosted by a giant hairdryer.

I went down to Desford on the X, going along Wood Road on the way. I sometimes come back that way but this was the first time I’d done it in an outward direction (I think).

To my surprise a heavy cloud rolled over and it started to rain lightly, near Newbold Verdon. That stopped after a few minutes but half an hour later conditions grew very gloomy again. Then a few spots of rain, then thunder and lightning! Some of it quite spectacular. I think this was the first time I’ve been out on a bike while being frightened that I might get struck by lightning. I put my boot down hard and came home the most direct way, up the A447. I set a PR on a 1.25 mile segment over the last couple of miles, a stretch that I’ve done 68 times recorded by Strava and probably at least a dozen more than that. Got rained on for the last ten minutes but although I feared a downpour, it was moderate.

22.05 miles, and that’s 503 this month.

Twycross Bypasser

My Tuesday / Thursday / Saturday strategy is serving me well this week, with unusually hot weather (32C!) due in tomorrow. And it was a lovely warm sunny day today, but not overly hot. About 25C. Nice enough for my favourite, lightest camo cycling jersey.

I wheeled the Cannondale out at 15:45 to do a ‘Twycross Bypasser’, using the detour to Orton on the Hill.

Rather than Fenn Lanes I took the turn off the A444 for Upton, and from there to Bosworth from Shenton. I’ve only taken that road from Upton to Shenton a couple of times. Nice and quiet, the sort of road where you have to pull in to the left to allow oncoming cars to pass.

Came home through Burgoland and Swepstone to add a bit of distance. 35.73 miles, which takes me to 481 this month. I didn’t think I’d hit my target of 458, so I’m pleased with that. I think that’s it for July.

3583 this year.


I left work early and had plenty of time to do the remaining 45 miles to my monthly target, but a strong-ish wind from the west robbed me of the motivation. Nonetheless I wanted to make some decent progress at least, so I propelled the X round a fairly standard Twycrosser of 31.67 miles’ distance.

A bit annoying when riding into the wind but enjoyable when it was pushing me along, especially when the sun was out. Listened to the Drive programme on 5 Live, which reported on the PM’s initiative to get overweight people cycling. About 20 minutes later I saw possibly the fattest cyclist I’ve ever seen in proper cycling gear, standing talking to another cyclist near Bosworth Marina. I hope he’ll be getting out on his bike a bit more often.

I trialled another new bit of equipment on this ride, a Xoss G GPS bike computer that I bought on Amazon last week for £26.99. Now admittedly another GPS device was the last thing I needed, but I like trying new gadgets and at that price I couldn’t resist. And although I’ve been stung in the past by unreliable cheap stuff that ended up in the bin, I did a bit of research on this and it seemed to be a decent product.

Certainly, it worked well today – easy and straightforward to use, the screen is nice and clear, it synced over Bluetooth without a problem and the app uploaded the activity to Strava without fuss.

Whether it actually has the claimed 25 hour battery life while tracking I don’t know but the battery indicator was still reading a full four bars after nearly 3 hours. Perhaps best of all it came with two Garmin mounts and I was after another couple anyway for my Edge (which would probably have cost more than £10 in any case). One of them is a typical plastic mount that attaches with two rubber straps but the other one is a very solid metal unit, designed to bolt onto your stem faceplate. No brainer.

Down Fosse Way

With an immoderate wind from the west, I’d planned to do the southbound route down over the Northamptonshire border today, to Welford and back – however while perusing the route from the Strava route planner yesterday, I had an idea to take a different turn out of Stoney Stanton, to go exploring down Fosse Way – which as educated readers will know, is one of the many things that the Romans did for us.

So I did that, going straight over the crossroads at Stoney to explore new roads after 20 miles or so.

Fosse Way is very straight mostly, although it does have a few minor twists and turns through villages along the way. The first few miles of it especially was very nicely surfaced, and quieter than I expected. Really very enjoyable. I followed the old Roman road down to a nice little village called Stretton on Dunsmore where I stopped after 35 miles. I leaned the bike up and donned a face mask to enter the village shop, where I bought a sandwich, a bag of crisps (I only ever eat them on long bike rides), a cold coffee drink in a bottle and a Bounty bar. Another customer was being served at the counter, and I noticed that he wasn’t wearing a face covering. But perhaps he had an exemption.

After a brief friendly chat with the proprietor, who reminded me strongly of Martin from Friday Night Dinners, I left the shop in search of a bench. He closed the shop as soon as I left. Good timing.

After a pleasant lunch I turned to come home the same way. However after another four miles, I noticed a sign to Nuneaton along a B road, nine miles away. I certainly know my way home from Nuneaton, so I thought – why not? However after three or four miles the signs to Nuneaton seemed to dry up, so I stopped to consult Google Maps at a village called Shilton. I plotted a course from there that would join the original route after another seven miles. Interesting diversion though, quite pleasant.

Back on 73.12 miles. That was easily one of the most fun rides of the year – really nice to explore a new route. Fosse Way goes a lot further south than I went, so I’ll go a bit further down that way some time.

Listened to more of my audiobook on my natty AAA-powered MP3 player, then – of course – the last day of the Premier League on 5 Live.

413 miles done this month, 45 to do to hit my target. Rubbish weather tomorrow but the rest of the month looks OK, so it looks like I will hit that target after all.

Kirkby Mallory Twycrosser

Out on the bike again after work yesterday, anxious to bite another chunk out of the remaining distance to my July target. Decent weather, warm enough for minimal clothing though mostly cloudy. I decided on a Twycrosser. Wanted to do about 38, which would get the remaining distance ask down to 120.

After Ratcliffe I decided to take the A5 route to Fenny Drayton, involving half a mile of brutal A road. The alternative Atterton Lane option is eminently more suitable for cycling, being leafy, secluded and quiet. I just fancied a change. But at least the A5 was quick. It had recently been resurfaced so it was nice and smooth, and I wasn’t hit by a passing lorry.

After Sutton Cheney I realised that if I took the usual route home up through Bosworth I’d end up on only 35 miles or so, so I kept on going across the A447 to Kirkby Mallory. Back home through Bagworth, Ellistown, Donington Le Heath. Had to take a detour only a mile from home to avoid some roadworks. 39.82 miles.

Felt a couple of pin pricks of rain once or twice but it didn’t rain properly.

For some reason I’m seeing spent CO2 cartridges in the road every now and then this last few weeks. I can’t imagine people are holding roadside 1970s style dinner parties with soda syphons so I’m guessing there’s been a surge of interest in air rifle shooting? Odd.

I started reading a Jack Reacher novel on holiday in Norfolk at the beginning of the month and was quite enjoying it, but I never seem to find the time to read unless I’m on holiday. So I bought the audiobook version on Thursday, and listened to it on the phone using my Audible app on the bike. That worked quite well, except that the voice of Jack Reacher – it’s a first person narrative – is not really how I imagine it. In my mind’s eye (and ear) Jack is a sort of 6’5″ Tom Cruise. Also, either the guy who does the narration does female voices uncannily well, or they’ve applied a voice changer for the female characters.

Another 70 or so tomorrow, I hope.


Another nice day yesterday. Left work at 16:45, with a mission to do at least 45 miles, to get my monthly total up to 300. Decided to go up through Melbourne and over Swarkestone Bridge, then a nice long run west along the river south of Derby, which would give me a bit of a headwind on the way back.

I took a longer route on the outward leg, up Top Brand and through Isley Walton. Intermittently cloudy and sunny, but really lovely when the sun was out. Having done the necessary mental arithmetic, I turned back at Hatton. Came back the usual way after Swarkestone Bridge, this time.

I listened to the footy on 5 Live. Nice to hear that Liverpool were giving it a go against Chelsea – I suppose they didn’t want to receive the trophy immediately following a defeat – but the real highlight was the final night of the Championship, with various clubs slipping in and out of the promotion and relegation places on the “as it stands” table every few minutes. Unbelievably, Nottingham Forest were beaten to a place in the playoffs by a goal difference of 1 by Swansea, having been 5 goals in front on that basis at the beginning of their games.

Kind of hard to keep up with it all while listening to the radio on a bike. If I’d been at home I’d probably have been nerding out at my computer, keeping abreast of it with several browsers open on two screens.

Back about 15 mins before sunset, by which time it was beautifully quiet out there.

46.15 miles, 301 done this month – 158 to go. The weather looks immoderately windy but otherwise OK on Sunday.

M69 and Back

Couldn’t leave work until 5pm, but it was straight on the Boardman for 30-odd as soon as I downed tools. I changed the front tyre yesterday, and wanted to be sure all was well.

I took care to ensure that I was fitting the tyre in the correct rotational orientation. But I still managed to put it on the wrong way round. I’d thought the bike computer magnet was on the left side, but it’s on the right. It would be easy enough of course just to take the wheel off, flip it and relocate the magnet. I won’t bother.

Wasn’t particularly in the mood for a Twycrosser, so with a light to moderate wind coming from the west, I took the southbound route – down through Kirkby Mallory and Earl Shilton. I stopped north of Stoney Stanton on a bridge over the M69, where I took this pic:

.. then I turned back for home, having done about 17 miles.

The Boardman felt a bit heavy and lumbering after recent outings on the X and S Works, but it rolled along pleasantly enough. I didn’t feel its mis-oriented tyres trying to roll backwards.

Only intermittently sunny early on, but the sun shone steadily for the last hour or so. Really lovely out there in the open in the evening sunshine.

254 done this month, not too bad given I was away for the first week but I still doubt I’ll hit my target of 458. There’s some rain in the forecast for the weekend.

Swarkestone / Barlestone

Despite being on call I was determined to do at least 60 miles today, to give myself an outside chance of hitting my 458 mile target this month. Realistically that meant at least 62.14, as I also have an informal target to do 24 Fondos in 2020.

A moderate breeze from the west and cloudy, but not cold. I employed my time-honoured on call strategy of going north, then south so I was never more than 15 or so road miles from home (and mostly substantially fewer than that). I started by going north-east to Long Whatton, then turned west through Donington and Melbourne and north over Swarkestone Bridge. I was going to do the usual A5132 thing along the water south of Derby, but on a whim I decided to go exploring and took a left just before leaving the causeway.

This was a road running to a place called Ingleby and proved to be a poor choice. The road surface was awful. From Ingleby though I took a road signposted to Ticknall, and that one was fine. I hadn’t been along there before and I quite enjoyed it, but I’m not sure I can incorporate it into future routes. From Ingleby I can take a road going to Milton and if that’s as bad as road between Swarkestone Bridge and Ingleby, I won’t bother. Perhaps I’ll check it out on the Tricross some time.

Anyway – from Ticknall I came back down the usual way down through Smisby and Ashby. The big disadvantage of this route is the need to negotiate a steep climb known to me as Bastard Hill. Weirdly, I was so engrossed in my thoughts about how to transfer some of my on call responsibilities to other teams at work, that I didn’t even notice it. I started mentally gearing myself up to grit my teeth and suffer, and realised that it was already behind me. Sheer resentment about being on call one week in two since my team was decimated must have propelled me up the hill.

After Ashby, having done about 31 miles I turned right to Packington, to tack on a Twycrosser. Conditions grew somewhat crepuscular not long afterward on the way down to Twycross and I felt a couple of spots of rain, but no more. Through Sheepy and Ratcliffe as usual then I took the turn to Sibson, then down the A444 for a bit and along Fenn Lanes. I took the turn for Shenton and stopped at the bench with a plaque dedicated to Judith Birch.

I was annoyed to notice that my rear tyre has a shallow lateral cut, about 15mm long. It is a Mavic Yksion Pro with similar Mavic branding to the carbon rims, but fortunately they aren’t particularly expensive. Looking at reviews online it seems that they are particularly prone to picking up holes and cuts, and don’t last that long.

I took an unusual detour home, through Barlestone to add a bit of distance. Conditions warmed up nicely for the last couple of hours, but I got rained on coming through Ellistown a few miles from home. Fortunately it had stopped by the time I was rolling through Hugglescote and the warm breeze had nearly dried off the bike (and rider) by the time I reached the garage. But I gave it a good seeing-to with GT85 anyway since it was due a lube. I’ll do that tomorrow.

Reverse Twycrosser

Set off on the X after an early exit from work yesterday with the same brief as Tuesday, to do 30 or 40 miles. Pleasantly warm, cloudy, bright. But a moderate to stiff breeze from the west.

Thought I’d go down the southbound route for a bit, then make it up as I went along. When I got to Kirkby Mallory I had the idea of going to Sutton Cheney from there, then pedalling home from there on a typical Twycross route, but in reverse. I did that. Nice run out. 36.29 miles. Will do another 70 miles or so tomorrow, all being well.