I wanted to do one more ride to close out 2020 and the weather seemed a little more favourable today than tomorrow. Cold out there though, so I had to wrap up warm again.

I like to make a sentimental journey over to my old house in Markfield over the Christmas hols each year – it’s become a sort of tradition – so I did that. I took a more direct route than I normally would, through Ibstock and Ellistown. I’d planned to take a short cut along a narrow road called Old House Lane, but I had to turn back and take the long way round as it was covered in slush and ice.

Apart from that the roads were fine. Wet here and there, but not slippery.

I came back the usual way, through Thornton and Bagworth. Pleasant run out. Lovely day all round. Krishnan Guru-Murthy was doing Emma Barnett’s programme on 5 Live. Emma has gone off to do Woman’s Hour and I’m not sure if Krishnan has got her old gig permanently, though he’d be an ideal appointment from the BBC’s point of view since he’s an ethnic minority left-wing activist pseudo-journo – but he interviewed, or argued with a very happy Peter Lilley, a lifelong Eurosceptic of course. Nice to hear. I can report that Krishnan was at least polite.

23.18 miles. And that’s 426 done this month, 6311 this year.


I’m sorry to say that I got hammered last night on Scotch and ersatz Bailey’s, made with Welsh whisky. Not only did this guarantee a hangover, but I collapsed on the way back into bed from a 4AM visit to the loo, and gave my left thigh muscle a nasty bruise.

I got up at about 10:45 with no thought of cycling today, but the forecast was dry and by the afternoon,  it was beautifully sunny out there. I also wanted to see if my bruised thigh would prove a hindrance to operating a bicycle. It was certainly giving me a bit of pain climbing stairs.

I left on the Boardman at about 13:40. I didn’t think I’d be able to do more than 20 in that state so I didn’t take a proper front light. However I ended up doing a reasonable-distance Twycrosser, 32.03 miles.

Cold out there but I wrapped up warm. It was supposed to be windy but I didn’t really notice that, for some reason.

By the time I was approaching Heather it was getting properly dark and I had a bit of a dilemma. I had decent rear lights but only a flashy LED blinker on the front, not nearly powerful enough to illuminate the road. Should I come home straight down Heather Lane, or detour through Ibstock? Heather Lane had the advantage that I’d get home a bit sooner. But although it would be five minutes later by the time I came to do the last two miles going through Ibstock, and consequently darker, the road surface would be better. And I reasoned that there’d be a bit of traffic going both ways, to illuminate the road in front of me with headlights. So I did that, and I got away with it. I was a bit annoyed with myself because all I had to do was stick a head torch in a pocket.

I could certainly feel my thigh muscle complaining as I pedalled, but it didn’t prove a real hindrance. Neither did my hangover really, although it didn’t go away. But a chunk of chocolate and a caramel bar at Twycross seemed to improve my condition a bit.

Anyway – that’s 402 done this month and 6288 this year.

Christmas Eve Willington and Ticknall

A dry afternoon, a sunny one, but a cold and windy one. Had the afternoon off. I didn’t feel hugely motivated to go out on a bike quite honestly, now that I’ve hit my yearly target – but somehow I didn’t want to waste decent cycling weather, so I set off on the Tricross at about 11:10.

The wind was coming from the north which of course means lower temperatures, but it does give me a decent range of route options. I went up through Coleorton and west along the ‘A’ road south of Derby, toward Willington.

I’d got up stupidly early this morning and was tired so I stopped after 15 miles and turned back. I intended to come back through Shardlow, Donington and Top Brand which would have seen me home on about 36 miles (at a guess), but instead I decided to come back through Ticknall and Ashby. This meant the double whammy of Bastard Hill followed by Alton Hill, but I hadn’t done it for a while.

Very, very light rain coming through Ticknall. It wasn’t substantial enough even to leave slight droplets of moisture on the handlebars and I wouldn’t have noticed it if the bright sunlight hadn’t caught it.

I stopped at the bottom of Alton Hill to take this pic.

I’m guessing the phone camera has some sort of multiple exposure blending going on, because I aimed the camera right into a sun only slightly obscured by clouds, and the bike and fence should have been a silhouette. Nice!

I digitally removed some litter in the foreground.

I listened to 5 Live, mainly interested in speculation about the imminent trade deal with the EU. As I hosed the bike chain with GT86 after returning to the garage, the historic news came through that the deal was done – and that Boris Johnson had cemented his reputation as one of the two great post-war Prime Ministers. Probably. I certainly won’t be scrutinising the small print myself, but will eagerly await the verdict of the ERG Star Chamber.

Back on 31.99 miles (the GPS watch didn’t start for the first 0.15 so I’ve done the maths). And that’s 370 this month, 6256 this year. I’ll get that up to 6300 before 2020 expires.

Through the 10,000km Barrier

I needed to do about 33.5 miles today, to reach the 10,000km (6214 miles) finish line that is my most recent, and final yearly goal for 2020. I’ve moved the goalposts a few times having originally just wanted to match my 2019 total (4305 miles).

Earlier in the week the weather forecast predicted light showers for early this morning, then no rain for the rest of the day. By this morning though, the light showers were expected around midday instead. But I exercised unusual diligence and checked the weather to the north, and to the south – and it turned out that to the south, no rain was expected Furthermore a moderate wind was coming from the south – so I thought I’d head in that direction to avoid the rain, then come back up once it had passed over.

I didn’t have a clear route in mind. I mostly made it up as I went along, but I came up with a pretty coherent sort of highly extended reverse Twycrosser. Not too enjoyable heading south for the first part of the ride but very enjoyable in the sunshine with a tailwind, coming back up.

I stopped to take this pic shortly after hitting my 10,000km target, not far from Snarestone:

I didn’t get rained on.

Back on 43.59 miles. 338 this month, 6224 this year.

Up and Down

I wanted to do at least 40 after work, really – to get the remaining distance to target down under 30 miles, because opportunities for cycling at the weekend are likely to be time-limited by scheduled work and the weather.

On call again so I couldn’t stray too far from base, yet again. It was a little bit dank out there, and annoyingly windy. The roads were wet. Consequently my heart wasn’t really in it, but I set off at about 15:40 regardless, on the Tricross.

I went up along Top Brand to Isley Walton, skirting the airport at the southern end then east through Diseworth and Long Whatton, coming back down through Thringstone and Belton. The original plan had been to go right down to Kirkby Mallory and maybe west along Fenn Lanes then back up through Twycross and Snarestone, but I didn’t. I decided to come back up home after Bagworth, via Wood Rd, Battram and Ibstock.

I did start enjoying myself a bit over the last five miles or so but by that time I was already determined to come home.

I wore my Tesco joggers with the cycling pants over them, as a sort of cosmetic exterior cladding. Seemed very effective.

Noticed powerful searchlight beams tracing the night sky, as if searching for Heinkel bombers, a few miles to my east as I came up from Ibstock. No idea what that’s about.

Back on 35.60 miles. 6180 done this year, 295 this month. 34 to go, though I expect I’ll do another 100 or so before 2021.


A rain-free day, not too cold. I took the afternoon off to do the December Fondo. A moderate wind was blowing from the south, which made the choice of route difficult – the usual eastbound and westbound routes both involve coming south-ish over the last few miles, and I didn’t fancy a headwind after 50-odd.

So I did the usual southbound route, all the way down to Welford. The wind wasn’t too annoying on the way down although that route actually goes more south-east than directly south, so it wasn’t a full-on headwind.

Took this pic at Welford:

then I pedalled a few hundred metres into the village and turned back for home.

As I left the village I noticed that the Wharf Inn pub had a sign outside saying “CLOSED – see border sign across the road”. Apart from Welford Marina, it is the only part of the village currently in Tier 3, and literally opposite a “Welcome to Leicestershire” sign. Very unfortunate for the proprietors of that place, because I would guess that the majority of their clientele are from Welford on the other side of the border in Tier 2, presently able to eat Scotch Eggs and drink to their heart’s content in Welford’s other pub.

But you’ve got to draw the line somewhere.

I fuelled up at Gilmorton Village Store on the way back. A couple of sandwiches, a chocolate orange bar, a bag of crisps and insipid coffee, all consumed on the bench on the other side of the road. By the time I’d finished, it was dark and a bit colder. But I wasn’t uncomfortable.

Encouraged by the success of my Tesco joggers, I bought some proper cycling pants and wore them over my tights. Much lighter material, and more water-resistant I’m sure. But not actually quite as warm. Also, they have zip side pockets that aren’t much more than the zips – I couldn’t even fit a debit card in there. Just for show I assume. Weird.

I made the mistake of coming back through Donington le Heath a few miles from home. I always forget how wet the roads can be along there. Having done my best to avoid puddles the whole ride, I managed to fling up obscene quantities of muddy water on the downhill part, and ended up having to wipe and GT85 the bike back at the garage.

Very nice run out though. Nice to go down that way again, hadn’t done it since October.

I listened to Talk Sport and 5 Live. Saddened to hear of the death of Gerard Houllier, and disconcerted to hear Matt Hancock refer to a new variant of the virus at the press briefing. Quite nice that we won’t see Beth Rigby at one of those again, though.

Back on 65.52 miles, and that’s 259 done this month – not bad for half a December – and 69 to do.

Hatton Again

Horrible dank, damp morning and I didn’t think I’d get a run out today, but conditions improved in the afternoon. I set off on the Tricross at about 2pm.

A moderate wind was blowing from the west, so I thought another run up to Melbourne then out west was in order. Pretty much the same as last time, except that I came back through Coleorton (I was pretty sure I’d be back before the roadworks closed off the junction at the bottom of Coleorton; I think that starts at 8pm). I took a left along Station Road through Hatton toward Tutbury and turned back at the roundabout there, something else I didn’t do last time.

I’d checked the weather forecast for Derby as well as for home for a change, and noticed that no rain was predicted there. I hoped therefore that the roads might be less wet as I headed north, and sure enough they did dry up nicely as I approached Melbourne. Dark by the time I was coming back through Willington again, but of course I had good lights.

I listened to 6 Music mostly. Gilles Peterson played some really good stuff today, I must say. I’ve lost interest in the Bond audiobook. I enjoyed the first part in which he gains his 00 status by slaughtering a Norwegian wartime double agent in his bed, then is introduced to his new desk, his secretary and Moneypenny. But I lost interest in his first mission proper.

Quite a pleasant run out overall, though the stretch coming back from Melbourne is becoming a bit of a grind.I suppose I’ve done it a bit too often recently.

Pleased that the front tyre is maintaining its pressure nicely. Reseating the Presta valve with a bit of grease and a pair of pliers did the trick.

45.53 and that leaves me with 135 to do this month.


I had a couple of beers and turned in late, last night. I didn’t really fancy propelling myself around on a bike after work but it was a dry afternoon, and there aren’t a lot of those in the forecast at the moment.

I decided that I needed to do 41 miles, because I’d calculated that the remaining distance requirement could be fulfilled by four 41 mile rides and a Fondo. The wind was blowing from the west, though not powerfully. So I headed up to Melbourne through Coleorton, up over Swarkestone and hung a left to take the long, flat A road that runs along the water. I really like cruising along that road for miles without having to push up hills. The only catch is that there’s no sensible way to get there that doesn’t involve a fair bit of climbing, either near Ticknall or Melbourne.

Anyway – I did 21.12 miles and decided to turn back. I wasn’t too cold. I had to wait  at the level crossing near Hilton both ways, but I didn’t mind. I quite like watching the trains go past.

I ate a large bowl of porridge before setting off – it seems to keep me going very nicely, especially in cold weather – and I didn’t bother with the snacks I’d brought with me. Then when I got back to the garage, I noticed that the second bottle cage was empty. I assumed my pod containing a pork pie, a cheese roll and two boiled sweets must have rattled out. Then I noticed it on the bonnet of my car, which I use as a sort of bike stand and equipment table. Apparently I’d left it there when I set off.

Anyway – 42.40 miles which means I’ve done 6034 this year and 148 this month. 180 to go.

The forecast is for rain on Saturday but only in the morning. I might do the December Fondo in the afternoon.

Cold, Dark Twycrosser

It certainly was cold out there when I mounted the Boardman at about 5pm, but to make matters slightly worse, the forecast had added mist and fog to the mix. But I’d wrapped up warm so I thought I’d see how far I’d get.

I set off on a Twycrosser, but detoured Heather Lane by going down to Ibstock. Sharp right from there to Heather and from there, the standard route down to Twycross. I went all the way down to Pinwall and Ratcliffe, which I haven’t done for a while.

I was quite pleased to find that my tactic of wearing humble Tesco joggers over my cycling tights was definitely helping to keep me warm. Also quite pleased that the fog and mist were very light. Enough to catch the beam of the front light, but not enough to hamper visibility or make my clothes damp.

Up the A444 from Sibson as usual and I was thinking of taking in Gibbet Lane but on a whim, I decided to take a left to take me back to Sheepy. From there I did my ride to Sheepy in reverse. Back through Ibstock again, though I took Pisca Lane instead of Mill Lane.

Really enjoyed that one. Feels like a bit of an achievement to do 33.42 miles at 1 degree C in the dark.

Perhaps I’ll do a wholly post-sunset Fondo before long. Lord knows the sun sets early enough at the moment.

I listened to Drive then the Monday Night Club on 5 Live. Always enjoy Chris Sutton’s contributions. And I was decently entertained until the inevitable, inevitably one-sided discussion about BLM, which would have made my blood boil if I hadn’t been so cold.

106 done this month. 5991 this year.

Diseworth, Twycross

Better than expected weather, when I checked the forecast this morning. The threat of rain had been removed. Temperatures were forecast to be no higher than 4C though, so I didn’t expect to be able to do more than 30-odd.

I wrapped up warm, of course. I’ve given up on the nylon overtrousers I bought from Amazon. Instead I’ve bought some common-or-garden jogging pants from Tesco and I put those on over my cycling tights. I secured the ankle ends with elasticated velcro bands (thinking these would be more secure than cycling clips) and put my neoprene overshoes on over them. They were a little bit restricting, but I do think they helped to keep my legs warm. Success.

Left the garage on the Tricross at about midday. I couldn’t even remember the wind direction from the forecast, so I just decided to follow my nose. My nose went up through Coleorton, up Top Brand, across to Long Whatton then back down through Belton and Coalville. By this time it was obvious that I wasn’t going to be too cold. I was quite comfortable. So from there I went west and did a Twycrosser. I was on call, so yet again taking care not to stay too far from base. And I did get a call actually, but fortunately I was able to palm it off onto our network team.

My employers have provided me with a new phone, and I used it to take this sunset pic near Barton in the Beans. I’m guessing I need to spend a bit of time with the settings, because the foreground was in focus instead of the line of trees in the distance that I was pointing at. Also it displayed a message saying “stand within 1.5 metres of subject”. I guess it must have been in some sort of portrait mode.

Rain started to come down a few miles from home, as I approached Heather. I came back through Ibstock and was pedalling uphill along a road that had become a shallow stream along Station Road. And yet the roads were dry two miles further north, when I returned home. It hadn’t rained here so I suppose the weather forecast, in that respect, was not wrong.

Saw a few pheasants while I was out, including two being carried by the neck, post-mortem, by a cheery group of people in Barbour jackets and flat caps carrying shotguns at Diseworth. They waved pleasantly as I passed, no doubt in good spirits following a successful shooting trip. I returned the favour. I used to disapprove of people killing things for sport, but in this case – where’s the harm, really? They don’t die for nothing. They leave this world quickly and they get eaten, so their fate is no worse than that of any frozen chicken you’d find at Tesco.

I tried a new LED front blinker, which I bought to save me migrating the one off the Boardman when I use the Tricross. It’s rechargeable. It switched itself off without human intervention near Carlton. I switched it back on and it was fine for the rest of the ride. But it came with a matching rear (red) light, and I’d be concerned about that one switching itself off, because I probably wouldn’t notice.

Back on 45.93 miles, which takes me to a pleasing 72 this month. A decent knock for 5 days in, considering how poor the weather has been this last week. I only need to do another 256, so I’m ahead of the game. I think should be able to do that before Christmas.

Despite the rain, a nice run out and I’m pleased to have taken a decent bite out of the December distance requirement.