Lincolnshire and Rutland

Today was forecast to be the warmest day of the year so far by quite some distance, so I took the afternoon off for a longish ride. I planned a route that would take in a bit of Lincolnshire then descend through Rutland, to tick off the remaining two neighbouring counties for 2021.

The idea was to follow the route I’ve taken to Norfolk a couple of times as far as South Witham, just into Lincolnshire – then pursue a route I haven’t done before, right through Rutland to join my usual route to that county and back at the other end.

I started work at 06:50 this morning so I could leave early and I was away before 1100. Lovely day. I’d got the clothing strategy about right with bare legs and a long sleeve top under a short-sleeve top and a long sleeve jersey. I had to take off the bottom layer and stuff it in my backpack at about midday when I started to feel too warm and was comfortable after that.

I’d uploaded the part of the route from Asfordby across to South Witham then back through Rutland to Asfordby to my eTrex, but I thought I’d probably find my way to South Witham without any trouble and didn’t bother turning it on until I realised I’d missed a turn. But I found my way to Wymondham and the route proper easily enough. I was interested to see that a pub near Wymondham was doing a roaring trade on takeaways, and people were using the tables and chairs in the beer garden. It looked very much like an open pub. I suppose they weren’t selling alcohol to take away, though.

Normally a visit to Rutland involves pedalling half a mile at most over the border then heading home but today’s ride took in eleven miles of England’s smallest county. It really was beautiful in the warm sun; idyllic villages and scenery and very quiet. This, more than anything is why I own a bike (or several). It’s alright doing loops of Twycross and Sheepy Magna and I do enjoy that usually, but exploring new places a decent distance from home in glorious weather is a joy.

To be fair the stretch of East Leicestershire east of Saxby is rather nice as well. Nice and flat. It’s just a shame you have to climb a bunch of hills east of Melton Mowbray to get there.

I stopped at a sort of roadside cabin advertising food and drink near Great Dalby and strolled in, expecting to be greeted by a shop assistant but it was an unmanned farm shop with service provided only by vending machines. There wasn’t a great deal of choice unfortunately – I’d hoped for a cheese sandwich, some chocolate and a bottle of water or orange juice but one vending machine provided only milk (dispensing it directly into litre bottles) and the other only had cake and milkshakes in glass bottles. I bought what I thought was a piece of chocolate cake and a milkshake. The milkshake was really just gloopy pink coloured and very sweet milk and the cake was a strange confection made of chocolate, crushed digestive biscuit and bits of mints and sweets. I consumed all of the gloopy milk and about half of the chocolate mint object at a bench just outside. Wasn’t sure what to do with the glass bottle but I didn’t want to bin it so I just left it on the table. Hopefully someone will recycle it.

Took this pic at the Lincolnshire / Rutland border. I didn’t see a Lincolnshire sign today.

I raised the saddle a few mm before setting off and the riding position is spot on now, I think. It was a nice smooth ride; it doesn’t feel as sharp and agile as the Cannondale or the S Works but it was really comfy. Until the last 30 miles or so by which time I was pretty saddle sore. I think it needs a new saddle, this one definitely doesn’t suit my bum.

I listened to 5 Live until they interviewed the girl who read the poem at Biden’s inauguration and I started to get annoyed. In itself it wouldn’t be so bad but I know they would never bother with an artist who had tried to capture the values of the other side, unless perhaps they were BAME or LGBT and it just seemed to be so emblematic of the one-sided left wing liberal groupthink at the BBC now.

So I switched to 6 Music, but within ten minutes of tuning in to Lesley Anne Hobbs’ show, I was listening to an artist extolling the virtues of taking power from the police, to give it to the “neighbourhoods they terrorise”, ending “all forms of imperialism” and taxing the rich “until they’re impoverished”.

The BBC is something like a running sewer of stupid ideas, now. So I decided to start the next Reacher audiobook. While hitching a ride out of a small Texas town where he’s just chinned a police officer who picked a fight, Reacher is picked up by an attractive woman in an expensive car. She needs his help with something. It’s pretty undemanding stuff but it’s well written for what it is, and it does draw you in. Just the thing for a bike ride.

Anyway – back on 86.66 miles. 425 done this month, well over target. And 1020 done this year which tells me I’m on course to do 4,000 in 2021. That was the sixth Fondo of the year so I’m on course for my target of 24 over the year, as well.


Two new quick links arrived from Amazon yesterday. I fitted one of them to the Roubaix this morning. I checked that it was pivoting freely. It was very slightly stiff, but no worse than you’d expect from a newly-fitted link and it wasn’t making the jockey wheels jump on its way round when I operated the pedals by hand.

So I took it out for a test. Also wanted to check that a new mirror was fitted correctly. All good, no problems, no skipping gears. I think the saddle could do with being a few mm higher, I may sort that tomorrow.

Not a bad day – sunny, and the roads were dry despite overnight rain. Quite a strong wind from the west, though, and a bit cold. I made do with 20.46 miles, up Top Brand and up to Diseworth, across to Isley Walton and back down.

Warm sunny weather with a southerly wind forecast for Tuesday – I may take an afternoon off and do Rutland and back.


I examined the dodgy chain link on the Roubaix earlier today, and it turns out that the quick link is actually composed of parts from two manufacturers, ie the outboard half is not the same as the inboard half. It fits together properly but at one end, the shaft is a bit too large for the hole.

Anyway, I’ve ordered a couple of 11 speed quick links and they will arrive tomorrow. It’s not as if I’m short of nice bikes to ride in the meantime.

And with that thought in mind, I withdrew the S Works from the garage after work, having pumped up its tyres and given it a bit of a dusting down at lunchtime. I hadn’t been out on it since September.

I did a Twycrosser. Nice afternoon for it, except that it was a bit breezy. Sunny the whole way round and the bike was an absolute joy, especially with a tailwind. The carbon wheelset makes a big difference, I think.

27.71 miles, which takes me over the March target, to 318 miles. 913 this year, which is 247 less than this time last year. But I’m not bothered about that.


Breezy this afternoon, but sunny. Took the Roubaix out for its maiden voyage. Just 25 miles or so to see if I’d set it up properly. I did a fairly standard Twycrosser, except that I took a detour to the main road at Odstone, because the usual road from there to Heather was closed. Came back home through Ibstock.

First impressions – it rides nicely. Feels sharp and quick, but it’s certainly a comfortable riding position. The shock absorber inserts don’t make a dramatic difference i suspect but it’s a decently smooth ride. The saddle was possibly a little hard and unforgiving. May be just a case of wearing it in, or possibly my 100 mile ride on Saturday had something to do with it.

I noticed a jarring CLUNK coming from the cassette every now and then. I thought it was performing phantom gear changes and tried to adjust it in flight using the thumb adjuster in front of the handlebars, until I realised that it wasn’t actually changing gear. It just felt like the rear gear was slipping for a moment. But shortly after realising that it wasn’t actually performing unsolicited downchanges, I realised that I’d had the same experience before, on the Boardman, with a bent chain link.

Sunset by the time I got back and light was fading in the garage a bit so I didn’t inspect the chain closely, but I mounted the bike onto the wall hanger and spun the pedals. Sure enough the lower jockey wheel was giving a pronounced kick on every cycle of the chain. Definitely a dodgy chain link. Quite pleased really because it will be easier to fix than adjusting a rear Disraeli, although I suppose I’ll have to check that as well after fiddling with the cable tension.

Anyway I shall fit a bar mirror to it, provide it with a spare inner tube and a pump, and take it out again soon hopefully.

26.28 done, 290 this month.


Not a bad day for cycling – dry, low winds, mild and I was not on call. I intended to do at least a Fondo today but woke up early, got up early and decided to do a 100-miler.

The wind was coming from the west and slated to grow a bit stronger over the course of the day, so a westward trip was decided upon. I thought I’d take the Wales route (or one of them) for 50 miles then come back. I really should have taken the eTrex but I thought I could probably wing it, and I didn’t bother mounting it on the handlebars.

I took the X.

Things went fine until I got to Kings Bromley then took a road signposted to Alrewas – which I hadn’t come to yet, and which I thought was on the route. But I’d already bypassed it several miles previously, so I ended up homeward bound, without actually intending to. I thought it was odd that I’d passed the works at Orgreave (not the one made famous in the Miners’ Strike) on the wrong side of the road.

Anyway I did a U turn when I realised what I’d done, and continued on my merry way. I’d done a pointless 8 miles but at least they were flat. And the aim of the exercise was to do 100 miles, not go anywhere in particular – so I wasn’t bothered.

I decided to take the A513 to Stafford rather than continue on the A51 on the intended route – just to do something a bit different. This was a bit hilly unfortunately, but otherwise pleasant. I arrived at the outskirts of Stafford having done about 44 miles. I had a pleasant lunch sitting on a surprisingly comfortable crash barrier at the edge of some little industrial property then went exploring suburban Stafford a bit, then decided to turn back. The further I went into Stafford, the further I was descending a hill and I didn’t want to bother climbing it. I decided to make up the miles by exploring somewhere else on the way back, maybe near Abbots Bromley or Barton under-Needwood, where it’s nice and flat.

As it happened though I took a preposterous wrong turn near Handsacre. I recovered several miles later after consulting Google Maps by taking a road through Hamstall Ridware to Yoxall. This was unfortunate as it was strewn with mud, stones and grit for miles, but – I got away with it.

I hoped that this error would have added enough distance to save me messing around, but it hadn’t and I ended up tacking on a Twycrosser at the end of the ride.

I made the mistake of letting a queue of cars behind me overtake me past some roadworks controlled by traffic lights when the lights went green near Milford. This ultimately delayed my own transit past the roadworks, to the point that the lights had already gone green at the other end before I’d emerged and I found myself dodging oncoming motor vehicles in a single lane of traffic demarcated by traffic cones. I won’t do that again.

Good run out, I don’t go over that way often. Nice to do some new roads, even as a consequence of navigational errors. But I’ll take the eTrex next time.

100.41 miles, the first 100-miler of the year and a handy shot in the arm for the March campaign, which has been a bit thin. 264 done this month. Another 41 to target.

Willington and Weston

Another dry afternoon. I had mounted the X by 4:30pm. With an immoderate wind coming from the north-west, I decided it would be quite nice to go up over Swarkestone Bridge and west along my beloved long A road next to the river. This usually involves going straight up to Melbourne first, but when I came to the crossroads near Lount, I encountered a ROAD CLOSED sign.

To be fair I’d encountered exactly the same sign while driving to Derby on Friday, to be vaccinated. I’d just forgotten about it. So I took exactly the same detour that I made up as I went along on Friday, bypassing Ashby and going through Smisby and Ticknall.

Quite enjoyed myself but I stopped for a wee about a mile short of Willington and noticed that my rechargeable rear light had run out of juice. Not a huge problem as I had an AAA-powered spare, but actually I did wonder if that was nearing the end of its current-battery lifetime as well. So I decided to turn back. However by the time I’d reached Swarkestone I’d decided to press on, through Weston, Aston and Shardlow, to come back down through Donington and Top Brand, where I took this pic. The orange dot is a church on a hill at Breedon that’s illuminated at night.

Not cold. Really quite nice out there. Listened mostly to the Monday Night Club on 5 Live.

A young lady emerged from a side road on one of those battery-powered scooters on the A road, near Barrow on Trent. I assumed I’d be overtaking her over the next minute or so but nope, she left me for dead! I wasn’t pushing hard and there was a bit of a headwind but even so, I was surprised. Those things must be very handy for commuting. I might get one to propel myself around the West End when the pandemic is over. Easy enough to take on a train.

Back on 42.90 miles.


Dry afternoon, wasn’t sure I was going to bother with a bike ride after work but the weather forecast is a bit iffy over the next few days, and by the time I’d downed tools for the day I quite fancied going for a spin.

I’d intended to take the S Works but its tyres were soft when I checked them. It hasn’t had a run out since September. I couldn’t be bothered to pump them up, so I took the Tricross.

First thought after I set off- what a joy to be using Shimano gears again. I’ve got the SRAM setup working fine with the new cable on the X now but it’s still such a clunky thing to use. Just the finger pressure required to change down at the back would consume about half an oat bar’s worth of energy over a long ride. But the Sora gears on the Tricross are so slick and effortless in comparison, even if it is a relatively low-end solution.

Really nice out there. Not quite mild, but not too cold. Sunny when I set off. Quite a bit cooler after sunset. I did a Twycrosser, going through Sheepy Parva, where I took this pic near the restaurant there.

As I came to turn the rear light on, a few miles earlier, I found that the bolt keeping it upright had come loose and it was flopping down. I didn’t have a screwdriver on me but I managed to fashion a sort of suspended support for it by tying a headtorch strap round the saddlebag. That worked a treat, as I think you can see in the pic.

Also visible in the pic, on the left hand side of the handlebar, my new Ledlenser P5 torch. Usually I buy relatively inexpensive Chinese-branded items from Amazon, but this time I’ve splashed out on a reputable brand. Expensive, but worth it – very light and compact and uses a single AA. Ideal for longer rides. Very bright indeed for the size, not as bright as some of my LED torches but more than adequate. Result.

I even caught a rabbit in its beam near Shackerstone, but – in a departure from the popular stereotype – it didn’t freeze, but hopped into the hedge.

Back on 27.19 miles, enjoyable run out.


A dry day, low winds and I wasn’t on call. Cold, though. I wrapped up warm but actually it wasn’t as cold as I expected. I set off on the X (again – that’s 5 in a row) at about 10:15. I would have taken the Boardman probably but I still haven’t replaced the rear mech and chain.

I wanted to tick off one of the neighbouring counties boxes, either Rutland or Northamptonshire. I decided on Northamptonshire shortly after setting off. Shortly after Newbold Verdon, on a whim, I decided to keep straight on for Desford and do the “old route” down to Welford, through Blaby and Foston then down Welford Road. It fell out of favour about three years ago when I devised the “new route” and I soon remembered why. Apart from being partly based on main roads and a bit urban round the bottom of Leicester, it’s annoyingly hilly.

Some time in 2020, I cycled through Hinckley on a Saturday afternoon during the first lockdown, and I was creeped out by how dead it was. It was like a Sunday in Hartlepool when I was a kid, before the Sunday Trading Act. But as I passed through Blaby this morning, it was pretty much like a normal Saturday in Blaby. Plenty of traffic, pavements milling with people, lots of shops open. As I queued at the lights I noticed that even the corner coffee shop was open, albeit people had to take their drinks away with them. If anything it seemed busier than last time I was there in 2018.

I wasn’t going to stop at a shop on this ride but by the time I’d reached Husbands Bosworth I realised that I was going to be short on hydration, so I went in the little supermarket there, leaving the bike leaned up unlocked outside but within view of the counter, and I emerged with a packet of Hula Hoops, a Malteser bar and a bottle of Lucozade Sport. I had a pleasant lunch at a bus stop bench there. I had a cornish pasty and a couple of mini pork pies with me already.

Rocked up at Welford about 15 minutes later, took the pic, pedalled into the village briefly then turned for home. I came back via the “new route”. I actually took a wrong turn not far from Dunton Bassett, but I came to a village called Ashby Magna with a signpost to Broughton Astley about half a mile later, so I was back on track in no time. The road to Broughton was closed to traffic a bit further ahead due to roadworks, but I managed to bypass that on the pavement without dismounting.

Back on 65.57 miles. Good run out.

Listened to 6 Music and 5 Live, then switched to my MP3 player for a collection of absurdist short humorous essays by Woody Allen entitled Mere Anarchy, narrated by the man himself. Absolutely brilliant, what a writer.


Nice and dry again this afternoon. Cloudy though, and colder than I expected. I’d been fermenting thoughts of doing an adventurous apres-work Fondo, perhaps over the Northamptonshire border and back. But a couple of minutes out in the cold air put paid to that idea. I decided to do a Twycrosser instead.

I’d intended to take the San Giovanni turn at Sheepy which would have seen me home on about 25 miles, but I continued on to Ratcliffe Culey on autopilot. Back on 28.26 miles.

I’m used to farmy smells by now. In fact I quite like them but the stench going south a few miles north of Twycross was overpowering. Like being forced to inhale next to a diarrhetic cow’s rear end while it was doing its unfortunate business. I could see some sort of spraying going on in the field to my left so I assume that was it.

I trialled a new torch as a front light. I have to admit I now have something of a fetish for LED bike lighting. This one is stunning – I’m convinced its beam could be seen from the surface of the Moon. A little bit bulky though.

Not altogether enjoyable in the cold and dark, but I’m glad to have got out. Perhaps I’ll do Northamptonshire and back at the weekend. At the moment the forecast says Saturday will be colder, but Sunday will be windier.