Kirkby Mallory / Twycross

I felt miserable today. Not sure why really, just a black mood. I’m a person with quite a lot of interests, but I couldn’t really summon up the necessary motivation for any of them.

So I decided that despite the damp gloom, I should get out of the house for a bit on a bike. I set off on the Twycross at 12:35.

Noticed that the front tyre was slightly soft. Something to do with the valve coming right out when I unscrewed the cap on Tuesday. Perhaps I’ll grease the threads and reseat it, but for today I settled for pumping it up to pressure before I set off.

The roads were wet, it was slightly foggy and it was cold. But at least it wasn’t windy, which gave me the luxury of heading off in whatever direction I fancied. I was going to go up to Belton and east from there, but by the time I was in Coalville I’d decided to go down to Kirkby Mallory instead. So I kept on going all the way to Bardon and approached Ellistown from there. Hadn’t done that before.

The usual way down to Kirkby, through Bagworth and Newbold Verdon. From Kirkby I went west to Sutton, and from there I performed a Reverse Twycrosser, along Fenn Lanes.

Listened to Footy on 5 Live. United allowed Southampton to dominate them in the first half and conceded two goals, but as I expected they turned it around in the second half, easily overcoming the South Coast side. More interesting was the news that Celtic were getting beaten by Ross County in a cup competition. I wouldn’t think Neil Lennon will last much longer in that job.

Conditions brightened up a bit along Fenn Lanes, but by sunset the clag had descended again. Despite iffy conditions, quite an enjoyable run out in the end. 39.73 miles, leaving me with 328 to do.

531 this month so far and that’s a personal November record, surpassing November 2017’s tally, 524.

Hilton and Castle Donington

A day off work today. Just using up my remaining annual leave entitlement but I did my best to choose a dry day, and the weather forecast was as good as its word.

I woke up early and might will have got up and set off before 07:30, except for the thought that I’d be too cold. I only wanted to do 40 or 50. Better to wait an hour or two for warmer conditions.

So I fell asleep again. I dreamed of a villa in Spain from which I had a spectacular view of the Post Office Tower, only a few hundred metres away. I ended up setting off at about 10:45.

A light wind was blowing from the west so I decided I’d head over to Isley Walton then take the sharp left to Melbs, up over Swosser Bridge and cruise west along the A road. However I was confronted by a ROAD CLOSED sign at the left turn, so I continued on to Castle Donington, took a left at the A50 roundabout and approached Swarkestone via Shardlow, Aston and Weston instead.

I actually took the wrong left turn at the A50 roundabout briefly, and found myself on course for joining the A50. Fortunately I was able to backtrack safely the wrong way up the slip road. I’d only come down it a few metres.

Got as far as a queue of traffic for a level crossing east of Hilton – and decided that I’d come far enough, so I abandoned the queue and turned back.

I wasn’t going to pedal all the way back to Donington, so I came back the quick way from Melbourne, despite having hoped to avoid the grind of a hill coming south out of there. I haven’t yet thought of a derogatory name for it, like Bastard Hill a few miles to the west of there. Maybe Scumbag Slope. Or Rotten Rise.

Back shortly after sunset, which today occurred at 15:58, on 51.63 miles.

I had a cinnamon bun for breakfast and interestingly, I didn’t feel like eating during the whole ride. I had to force myself to eat a cheese and onion pasty after about 35 miles.

I started a new audiobook – Anthony Horowitz’s Forever And A Day, which is a James Bond ‘reboot’ set in 1950. In the first Fleming novel Casino Royale, which I read many years ago, Bond briefly refers to his first two kills, the second being a Nazi double agent whom he killed with a knife, and which earns him his ’00’ status. In the first couple of chapters of this one we accompany James on this mission, and it’s pretty cold-blooded, brutal stuff. Something of a moral question mark as well – as far as I can tell M sends him to do this as an execution for war crimes, rather than for any useful practical purpose in the present day.

In Casino Royale I got the impression that this was supposed to have taken place during the war but here it takes place in 1950, just before James embarks on his first mission as 007. The excuse for this is that the final damning evidence takes a few years to come to light.

It’s really well done, I must say – the detail and the period atmosphere evoke the Fleming novels very nicely.

I listened to the first few chapters of that then decided to put my DAB radio on. Not sure what to listen to at that time of the afternoon, really. 5 Live now has an obsession with race politics and I didn’t feel a need to flagellate myself with white guilt, so I put 6 Music on. Shaun Keaveny. A smug and amateurish broadcaster who imagines himself to be considerably more amusing than he actually is, but I decided to put up with his witless Northern monotone for the sake of the music. The first record I heard him play referred to “male, white corporate oppression” and ten minutes later he was playing a tune called B***K (asterisks not mine, I’m happy to type “black”), all about how we whiteys “fear the power” of black people.

Shaun reinforced this drivel with a brief and no doubt deeply-held personal message himself, once it had mercifully concluded.

I’m so sick of it now. I can only assume there’s a cabal of ethnic minority managers at the BBC with chips on their shoulders, no doubt propelled there by positive discrimination rather than any conspicuous ability or talent, intent on lecturing white people endlessly about their skin colour crime. I ended up listening to Talk Sport.

Oh well! I’m not going to pay another licence fee penny in this lifetime.

Anyway – 491 done this month now. I think I’ll probably do one more ride this month, on Sunday. After that I’ll only have about 330 miles to do in December to hit my target of 10,000km.

Hilton and a New Record

Dry again. Cold, but not nearly so cold as Thursday. I wrapped up very warm though – decided to try wearing my old hiking trousers over cycling tights, as an experiment. I also wore an improbable number of layers on top.

I left the garage about half an hour after sunset, on the Tricross.

I did stay very warm. I had to tuck the bottoms of the hiking trousers into my socks as I couldn’t find my old cycling clips.  But a loose layer over my tights definitely helped insulate my legs.

Trialled some new winter cycling gloves and they worked a treat as well, so I was very comfy the whole ride.

I’d actually intended to take the Tricross out on Sunday but when removing the Presta valve cover on the front tyre to pump it up to pressure, I managed to unscrew the whole valve. But it had managed to maintain pressure for over 24 hours after pumping it up again, so I assumed it was safe enough for a ride out today. And it was fine.

I went straight up through Coleorton, up over Swarkestone Bridge and left along my beloved long, flat A road as far as Hilton. Then, having done 20 miles, I turned and came back the same way.

I allowed myself a celebratory fist pump after 21.72 miles, because that meant that I’d beaten my previous yearly record (5776 miles, 2016). Took this pic a couple of miles later near Swarkestone.

Arrived back at Coleorton but was surprised to see the road closed in front of me. I managed to sneak round the barrier and out onto the main road at the T junction, only to find a number of work persons (they weren’t all men) standing around in hi-vis jackets and hard hats. The main road was also closed off in both directions. I was essentially in a large T-shaped roadworks with no way out.

One of the workmen approached me and asked where I was going. I told him I only lived a mile or two away and asked if I could get past the barrier at the western end, to turn off for Ravenstone. He said yes, but insisted on escorting me out of their site himself. Nice chap, very friendly. I had to push the bike for the 400-odd metres that I was on the main road, so I’ve subtracted that. Home on 40.27 miles.

439 miles this month, I think I can probably do another 70 at least in November.

Diseworth / Twycrosser

A relatively mild Sunday and no rain forecast, so I thought it would be rude, despite being on call, not to do at least 50. As usual I adopted a strategy of going off in some direction or other, coming back near home then heading off in another direction – in order to stay within a reasonable distance of base.

Started off going up toward Belton and east over to Diseworth, then west to Melbourne. On another day I’d have liked to have gone west along the A road next to the river for a mile or ten, but having had a call from work once already today – at 04:00 no less – I was a bit sensitive to the possibility of getting another one.

I’d forgotten how annoying that road through Lount on the way to Melbourne is. It’s like a rollercoaster of hills. From Melbourne I headed to Ticknall where I was disappointed to see one of my favourite pubs boarded up and offered for lease. Up Bastard Hill and down to Ashby, where I was ony 4 miles or so from home – then through Packington to perform a Twycrosser.

I came back via Ibstock and from there, did a few more miles around Ellistown and Donington le Heath. Back a few minutes before sunset.

The roads were a bit damp but it stayed sunny throughout, really quite pleasant. I finished the Reacher audiobook. One disadvantage that the audiobook has over the usual format is that, near the end, you discover the gender of one of the main characters where you wouldn’t in the regular book, which sort of gives the big plot twist away. But I was pretty much expecting it.

I think I’ll take a break from Reacher for the next one.

I used my Casio GPS to record the track and it didn’t give it up without a struggle. It took a firmware upgrade and a phone app upgrade and a lot of patience, but I got the data off the watch in the end.

58.70 done, 399 this month. I should be able to do another 100 in November, looking at the weather forecast.


Well I wanted to do 40 after work and I managed to get out at about 3:50pm, while it was still light. Started off by going up through Coleorton and up Top Brand to Isley Walton, then west to Melbourne. I was thinking of going up over Swosser Bridge again but decided to come straight back down again. By this time it was dark of course, and very cold. I decided that 30 miles would do. By the time I’d hit Coleorton I was colder still, and I’d decided to make do with the 21 or so that I’d have done by the time I made it home by the quickest route.

But I did do a few more around Coalville. Back on 26.76 miles.

I’ve been annoyed by inconsiderate drivers in oncoming vehicles blinding me with both barrels of full beam headlights recently, so I bought a new head torch which I’ve named The Punisher. Unlike ordinary head torches which are powered by a couple of AAAs or an internal rechargeable, this one has a separate battery pack containing two big old 3.7v lithium batteries, and by God it’s bright. I was illuminating roadside trees 200 metres further down the road. And it can be used as a weapon with just a subtle uptilt of the head, and a careful aim.

I noticed what appeared to be a police cyclist emerge from a side road in front of me near Lount. He or she had a brightly reflective vest with a chequered pattern, flashing front and rear lights on his or her helmet and what I thought at first was the word POLICE in white on a dark background on the back of the vest. But on closer inspection, it actually said POLITE.

Just done a bit of googling and I think it was one of these or very similar:

Certainly highly visible and my head torch lit it up like a Christmas tree. But I don’t think I’ll be joining the Polite Force myself.

Diseworth / Twycrosser

On call at the moment, as is so frequently the case these days. But I was able to leave work while it was still light, albeit not for long, and not very light, either. A very gloomy day, yet one which carried a very low risk of rain, according to the meteorologists.

Didn’t have a clear plan in mind when I left the house, except to do about 40 miles without straying too far from home. I went up through Coleorton and Belton, very much enjoying myself as it was rather mild and I had a light tailwind. Then I looped sharp left to Diseworth and came back down Top Brand, fighting the same gusty breeze from the south in headwind mode. Turned right at Alton Hill, only about a mile or so from home and tacked on a Twycrosser, to the south.

Back on 43.46 miles.

Quite enjoyable. Being right out in the sticks in the dark in a strong wind takes you out of your comfort zone a bit, but the sense of doing that is quite satisfying, even if the experience isn’t. But of course some of the ride was through decently lit villages as well.

Listened to the Drive programme on 5 Live until they started up with the one-sided race politics yet again. They’d invited a black woman to pontificate on the subjects of institutional racism and “white privilege”, without any opposing, balancing viewpoint being represented of course. The BBC is a bit like a broadcast version of Ebony magazine at the moment. After that I switched to 6 Music.

314 done this month.


An unexpected break in the rain for a few hours appeared late this morning and I was off out on the Tricross at about 11:20am. I’m on call at the moment and couldn’t go far, but I wasn’t expecting to get out at all so I was very happy.

However, not more than a minute after I’d set off, I had a sudden thought – had I actually remembered to bring my phone? I reached round to my back pocket. I had a slice of pizza, a small pork pie and some garlic bread in a plastic sandwich bag and a small torch, but it appeared that I didn’t have a phone.

Well, fuck. Statistically though, the probability of being called on a Sunday was low and I wasn’t going to go back for it. I pressed on. Perhaps I’d do twenty miles and come back, or maybe I’d do ten, go in for it and do another ten or fifteen.

The thought that it might have gone off at home, a harbinger of some calamity at a customer site that I would appear to be casually ignoring played on my mind as I pedalled, until I stopped for a wee break at my usual off-road spot near Twycross. I scoffed the pork pie and put its wrapper into the side pocket of my nylon outer layer. Hallelujah! The phone was in there.

So I pressed on down to Sheepy, up Burton Road to Gibbet Lane and up through Congerstone, Barton, Odstone, Swepstone. I detoured Heather Lane via Ibstock, since it was covered in mud the last time I’d been along there (in a car).

Home on 30.10 miles, a fairly typical Twycrosser. Nice and sunny for the first hour or two, really quite pleasant. The wind was fairly strong but not too annoying. Getting gloomy and colder over the last few miles, and less than five minutes after I’d put the bike away the rain started to come down. Beautiful timing.

Continued listening to the fourth Reacher audiobook, I think I’m most of the way through now. Good stuff though it could do with an editor.

270 done this month, 5625 this year.

Pretty Random

I really wanted to do at least 40 after work. I was able to get out reasonably early, it was dry, it wasn’t too cold. I set off at 4pm on the Boardman. Wasn’t sure exactly where I’d go but I was on call so I couldn’t stray too far from base. Started by going out through Donington le Heath and Ellistown, then I doubled back after about 4 miles, to the south-east. The early evening traffic was pretty heavy along there; it wasn’t the best idea.

Not long after this, I checked my phone. I hadn’t had a call but I checked MS Teams, in case someone had tried to contact me. I’d left an issue half-resolved, hoping that I could finish it off tomorrow but nope – a colleague was asking for help. I decided I’d return home but continue my ride after I’d sorted it out.

A few miles later I leaned my bike against our front wall, entered the front door, dived into my man cave, did five minutes of server admin in full cycling gear and dispatched a quick email. About seven minutes later I was off out into the dark again.

Having done roughly 11 miles at this point I decided I’d do a Twycrosser. But I only did a relatively short one. I’d done 31 miles by the time I was back round at Ibstock, and I decided I’d had enough. Home on 33.10 miles.

No good excuse for it, really. I wasn’t particularly tired. I wasn’t cold. It wasn’t raining. I just fancied kicking back and listening to the footy or watching something on the telly. I just hope I don’t end up having to make up for it in the snow or rain in late December.

I may do a few miles tomorrow, though. 619 to go.

I was quite surprised to see Strava award me a personal best for a segment that I must have done dozens of times, towards Packington. Certainly I wasn’t trying to go any quicker than usual. I can only assume it’s a fairly new one.

OK I’ve just checked, it’s not a new one. Strava has recorded four times for me on that stretch of road, the first in August 2017. But I have done it dozens of times. I don’t get it.


I wanted to do 50 after work, ideally. Couldn’t get out until 5pm unfortunately and it was already dark, but I took powerful lights and spare powerful lights. I’d given the Boardman a relube at lunchtime today, so I took that.

It was at least fairly mild, and dry. I went out through Coalville, Whitwick, Thringstone, Belton to Long Whatton, where I turned for Melbourne then up over Swosser Bridge and west along the long, flat A road.

Stopped and turned back near Hilton, having done about 29 miles. Came back the quicker way from Melbourne. I would have arrived home on a little more than 48 miles, so I stayed out for another two between Ravenstone and Coalville.

Back on 50.53 miles.

Not sure I’ve ever done 50 miles after sunset. Certainly I’ve set off in the dark before, and I’ve done long rides with the last 30 or 40 in darkness. But I think that was my dark distance record. Warm clothing, a personal radio and a powerful front light make all the difference. One nice feature of the route I did tonight is that it has a couple of street-lit stretches, where you can turn off the main front light to save juice if you want to.

207 this month, I’d like to do another 250 before December kicks in if I can. It’s only the 10th so probably achievable.


Another day off work today. The forecast was for dry weather, and I decided I’d give the Planet X a run out, for the first time since August. Wanted to do the November Fondo, and I chose to do what’s pretty much the default Fondo route, wind direction permitting – the eastbound route to Eastwell and back.

I set off at about 10:10. The X felt extremely agile after weeks of only using the Boardman and Tricross, I must say. Very zippy. Conditions were bright, but a couple of minutes after setting off I glanced across the fields to the rest of the village and was surprised to see a light fog obscuring the view. As I made it through Coalville and up to Belton it became highly noticeable in the view of the road in front of me; proper foggy conditions. Not really the best weather for a Fondo but I assumed it would lift, ignored the thin frost of moisture building up on my clothes, and pressed on.

It had lifted a bit by the time I stopped to take this pic, near Cotes. Disappointingly, just out of shot there was a small pile of beer cans, firework packaging and spent fireworks. Do people imagine that these things will just dissolve in the rain, or not give a toss that other people have to clear up after them?

By the time I hit Burton on the Wolds it had lifted nicely and the sun was out, but I had a different problem – my intended route was closed off by a large set of roadworks. I managed to find a detour on my own initiative, although this involved pedalling along a footpath by a stream that was about a foot wide, if that.

I kept on keepin’ on to Eastwell, where I’d intended to turn for home. But I took a turn at the crossroads there to go exploring for a bit. I hadn’t gone far before I started to descend the slope that runs downward, to the north, for miles north of my route. I didn’t really want to climb back up it so I turned, for the bench at Eastwell. Ate a pleasant lunch there that I’d brought in my backpack. Then homeward.

From Six Hills I decided to take the old route back through Wymeswold and Rempstone, rather than detour the road works at Burton again.

Cloudy and cooler later, and misty nearer home. Just before sunset I had a glorious view, just back in Leicestershire, of bright sunshine lighting up the mist on the hills and slopes in the distance. Incredibly picturesque. I tried to capture it with my phone but didn’t do it justice. I wish I’d had a decent camera with me. Here it is anyway:

Home on 64.08 miles; that was the 27th Fondo of the year. 156 miles this month, 703 to go.

Listened to the US election coverage where I could find it, and more of the Reacher audiobook. Nice run out and especially nice to be out on the X again.