Cold, Dark and Wet

The roads were less wet than last time, I’d left work earlier, it was a couple of degrees less cold and the sun was due to set a couple of minutes later. Big smiles all round! I took the Boardman out, partly since it had only had one run out this year, and partly because I hadn’t relubed the Tricross since its last encounter with the GT-85 squirter.

I was on call and I didn’t really feel a need to do that many. 25 or so would do, I thought. Set off on a fairly standard Twycrosser, except that I took the detour via Orton from Twycross to Sheepy.

I like the road between Twycross and Orton. It’s quite scenic, well-surfaced and quieter than a French vaccine clinic.

And I was enjoying myself even after running into light drizzle near Sheepy. Unfortunately that turned into light rain, then moderate rain. Pretty awful in the cold and dark. Came home the quickest possible way from there but still ended up with a few more miles than I expected, 28.33.

So – it’s not the most dismal cycling January on record. Seven rides and 244 miles. But I might do a few more on Sunday, although I’ll have to relube one of the bikes first.


A much milder day and most of the snow had cleared. Overcast, and the roads were wet. I took the Tricross (I seem to have stopped calling it ‘Neil’ now, perhaps it was a silly affectation) out after work. Still a decent bit of light left in the day when I set off at about 4:05pm.

I wanted to do about 25. It wasn’t the most enjoyable weather for a run out on a bike. I went up to Belton then through the village to the top of Top Brand and back down again, by which time it was getting dark. The idea was to tack on a Twycrosser from there, but as I descended Alton Hill I ran into thick fog. My head torch was actually making it worse. I decided to keep it short. I didn’t fancy turning back and having to come up Alton Hill so I pressed on to Packington then took a road that I don’t often use, that goes from there straight to Heather. I took Pisca Lane to Ibstock from there rather than coming up Heather Lane.

At times I could only see a few yards in front of me and I had to point the head torch right down in front of the front wheel to get any visibility at all.

Back on 23.14 miles. Nice to get out again despite the fog. 216 this month, not a lot so far.


A decent day – cold, a little blowy but dry , save a few puddles. I’d been feeling under the weather for the last couple of days, but wanted to get out and do at least 20 or so. It’s been a fairly dismal cycling month (and year) so far due to awful weather.

I started off going up through Belton, thinking of going up to Diseworth then back down Top Brand, but on a whim I decided to take a right to Shepshed along Hallamford Road. I did this about four years ago – it must have been four years ago because I was listening to a radio programme about George Michael, who’d just died – and promised myself I’d do it again, but never did.

However this time when I got into Shepshed I took a left to Hathern, along a road I’d never tried before. Quite nice, nothing special but interesting to do something new. This took me the A6, a few hundred metres south of the usual road junction I take on the eastbound route. So I thought I’d take a quick opportunity to go east into Nottinghamshire for a bit, and tick another neighbouring country box.

Back through Long Whatton, Diseworth, and down Top Brand. Quite a nice run out, 27.07 miles.

Augmented Twycrosser

Rather nice to get out today, having been frustrated by horrible weather for a week. Managed to finish my scheduled weekend work by about 13:10 and ten minutes later I was mounting the Tricross.

Wanted to do about 40. I’d like to do 300 miles this month so I needed to make decent progress. On call again though, so I was careful not to stray too far from base. I went north up to Belton and across to the top of Top Brand and back down, then west toward Packington along the A511. Normally I would use the much quieter road that runs parallel to the A road, but the traffic was pretty quiet today and the A road avoids a steep dip and a climb.

From Packington I tacked on a Twycrosser, going down to Sheepy (where I took this pic) and back along Gibbet Lane. Nice to be pedalling along there in daylight after 4:15pm; a few weeks ago it would have been dark.

The building on the right in the distance is home to a restaurant named San Giovanni. Looking forward to a Margarita under a sun umbrella there in the summer, unless of course it goes bust in the meantime.

Back on 40.28 miles and that’s 166 in January so far.


A cold morning but no rain forecast, light winds, it was sunny and I wasn’t on call – all of which added up to an irresistible case for doing the January Fondo.

As I ate breakfast I had a quick look through my Twitter feed. My MP, the redoubtable Andrew Bridgen, was urging people to “stay local with your exercise”. Two of my fellow constituents were given £200 fixed penalty notices after driving five miles to take a walk at Foremark Reservoir, just a few miles from here.

I set off at 10:24, a bit later than I wanted really. But I got up later than I expected, I couldn’t find my cycling glasses (ended up using an old pair of varifocals) and I had to lube the Tricross before I set off, having neglected to do that yesterday.

The plan was to go up through Coleorton, over Swarkestone Bridge and west along the trusty, flat A road, keep going until I’d done a bit more than 31 miles, then turn back and come back the same way. However I don’t usually go much further west than Hilton or (less often) Hatton, and this route called upon me to remember a couple of turns before pedalling through a village called Marchington. As it happened though I missed a turn near Sudbury. Didn’t realise I’d done this until I found myself running out of proper road and having to take a cycle path adjacent to the A50. But I wasn’t overly bothered as I’d done about 30 miles by this time anyway, so I just needed to keep on for another mile and come back the same way.

The cycle path joined a proper road going into Uttoxeter. I’d done 31 miles now so I decided to turn back at the next roundabout.

However, the next roundabout had a sign to Marchington – so I thought I’d follow that, and come back the way I’d originally intended. A bit of an adventure. I did that. A bit hilly but really a lot of fun doing impromptu navigation on hitherto undiscovered roads.

I had to use the phone a few times to find my way through Marchington itself, but after that it was pretty much plain sailing. Sunny and pleasant for the first few hours, but about an hour before sunset a damp murk descended and the roads were a bit wet. I thought I might be back after dark and I was, so I’d brought lights.

No pub stops of course and I didn’t use any shops. I took a backpack with plenty of food in it including a very sticky cinnamon bun that I bought at Tesco yesterday.

Back on 64.39 miles. Really a nice bit of exercise. Ticked another ‘neighbouring counties’ box as well, Staffordshire.

Cold Melbourne

It was a dry afternoon, although the roads were a bit wet. I set off about 20 minutes after sunset, which was a slightly more tolerable 16:07 today. No fixed idea on where I wanted to go. I thought of going up over Swosser Bridge and west, but by the time I’d done the first few miles up Top Brand, I’d decided to keep it down to 20 miles or so. Too cold and damp. I went as far up as Tonge, then turned left along Nottingham Road to come back down.

As I reached the turn off for Melbourne though, I thought to myself – why not tick the Derbyshire box?

I thought I’d go up toward Melbourne as far as the Derbyshire border, scoot over it for a few metres then come back. I knew there was a ‘Derbyshire’ sign along there. And yet – I pedalled past it without noticing it. By the time I’d reached the top of Rotter’s Rise I knew I must be in Derbyshire but out of bloody-mindedness I decided to go down it and right into Melbourne anyway. Then I turned back, and came back the usual way.

I noticed the Derbyshire sign on the way back easily enough. How I’d missed it, I have no idea but as it happened coming back up Rotter’s Rise wasn’t too bad. I seemed to warm up a bit as well and I quite enjoyed my run out to Melbourne in the end.

Back at about 7pm and it was definitely below freezing by then, with a layer of frost having formed on car windscreens.

I used a rechargeable head torch that I’ve had for a couple of years and I must say it’s really impressed me – it’s very light, has a powerful beam that lasts for hours and it wasn’t expensive, either.

25.44 miles.

Twycross with Warwickshire Extension

Nature abhors an empty spreadsheet, so with that in mind, I mounted the Tricross at 12:45, to get the 2021 campaign off the ground. I thought I’d do 30 miles or so. I quite like that my average ride distance is 43 miles over 2020, and I’d like to keep that going. But the weather wasn’t great (cold and a bit windy) so 30 seemed a decent enough start.

I decided on a Twycrosser, with a slight extension to the west, to take in a bit of Warwickshire. One of my recurring yearly goals is to do all of the neighbouring counties. As it happens I take in Warwickshire dozens of times each year without particularly trying to, but I wanted to tick the box early.

The Warwickshire detour involved me ascending the “ski slope” at Austrey, which I hadn’t done before. It looks worse than it is. Slightly more demanding than Alton Hill but nowhere near as bad as Bastard Hill near Ticknall, or Rotter’s Rise south of Melbourne. You can just see it on the skyline in the following pic.

Came back through Shenton and Bosworth, which I haven’t done for a while. It was sunny early on, but an unexpected heavy drizzle descended north of Bosworth for about 20 minutes.

Listened to Newcastle vs Leicester on 5 Live.

Gave the bike a bit of a clean and GT85-ed out the chain when I got back. I’ll have to lube it tomorrow or on Tuesday. Back at about 4:30, roughly 25 mins after sunset. Considerably lighter at that time than it would have been a couple of weeks ago – the daylight hours have started to stretch out a bit.

Despite the drizzle, an enjoyable run out. 35.54 miles.

Just had a thought – could I devise a route that would take in all seven neighbouring counties of Leicestershire in the same ride? I’ll have a look.