Long Whatton

Much milder today. A bit blowy though, and the roads were damp. I went up through Coalville and Belton to Long Whatton, sharp left to Diseworth and back down Top Brand and Coleorton. Didn’t have much time, but I managed to squeeze another 21.74 miles out of November. Pleasant run out.

Quite a few puddles around but I missed them all. The road surfaces were mostly a bit moist, but not enough to kick up any water.

Listened to the PM’s press conference. They always lift my spirits.

And that takes me to a pleasing 433 miles this month, 4750 this year.


Tempting the Snow

I wasn’t going to go cycling today. But it was so sunny and dry out there that I thought I’d risk 20 miles or so, before a sprinkling of snow was due over. The BBC weather forecast page had the snow symbol at 2pm, which I take to mean likely to start between 1:30pm – 2:30pm.

I set off on a Twycrosser at about 11:20. I wrapped up very warm, so much so that I felt a bit like an astronaut embarking on a moonwalk as I closed the back door. I even doubled up the gloves, but within five minutes the cold was biting into the tips of my thumbs. Despite this I did quite enjoy being out in the bright winter sunshine, and I decided to take the Orton detour from Twycross.

I was about five miles from home, at Shackerstone, when the snow started to come down at 1:23pm exactly. Conditions had darkened a bit so I was expecting it. But it was extremely light, like very sparse white dust. Not enough to moisten the ground, or even make spots of moisture on the handlebars. I put my boot down a bit and fortunately it didn’t get any worse – until I was about 30 seconds from my garage door, when it started to thicken a little. It was snowing properly as I locked the garage door, and five minutes after I was back in the house, the air was thick with snow and it was starting to lie on the ground. Not bad timing.

Back on 27.06 miles, 411 done this month. Maybe another 20 on Tuesday depending on the weather.



I wanted to do 30 after work and I’d been looking forward to it all day. Managed to leave work early and set off 25 minutes before sunset, in cold winter sunshine. I had a vague, half-formed idea of going out through Coalville and going south, but a mile later I decided to turn back and do a Twycrosser instead. I took a left on Ashby Road and came back via Church Lane.

So I headed west instead. The onrush of cold air as I rolled down Alton Hill persuaded me to keep it shorter than 20 miles. Clearly, it wasn’t going to be an enjoyable ride. By the time I was approaching Snarestone my fingers were positively painful with the cold, so I decided just to come back the quickest way from there. I did detour slightly through Ibstock though, and do a circuit of the village to bump the distance up a bit.

Back on 19.39 miles. That was the third-shortest ride of the year. But – it does take me to less than 300 to go to the big 5K.

Not sure what the answer is, to the cold finger problem. I was wearing pretty decent, substantial gloves. Perhaps I’ll look into the possibility of acquiring some heated ones.


Twycross Bypasser

A very dry, mostly sunny day but a rather cold one, with a stiff wind blowing from the north. I only wanted to do 30 or so – I hadn’t completely recovered from Friday’s 65 miler, which was unusually climby by my own standards. Decided on a Twycross Bypasser.

Clear view of the skyscraper tops at Birmingham 20 miles away, from Orton Hill. Wished I’d brought binoculars with me.

Surprisingly I picked up a PR on a segment between Sheepy and the A444, despite a headwind over the first part of it – and usually I’d have had a tailwind over the second part, running west to east. I suppose riding a zippy bike helped but I certainly wasn’t trying to break any records. Odd one.

Back on 32.30 miles, 365 done this month. 4682 done this year so without wishing to tempt fate, that 5000 mile target for 2021 is starting to look nailed on.


Out West

A dry, mild afternoon with low winds from the west was promised, so I took the afternoon off work with the intention of getting another Fondo in, which would take a decent bite out of the remaining distance-to-go.

As the end of the year approaches, I’m conscious that I haven’t really done that many interesting rides this year. I’ve tended mostly to stick to tried and tested routes. I felt the need for a bit of an adventure.

I have, roughly speaking, three westbound routes. The first one which I used years ago for rides to Stafford and Wales goes through Appleby Magna, Clifton Campville, Alrewas and King’s Bromley. That fell out of favour partly because of the state of the roads and partly because it was a bit hilly, and I hadn’t done it for more than two years, maybe three. The second runs north of that and goes through Coton in the Elms, Walton-on-Trent. Barton-under-Needwood and Yoxall.

The third and most recent runs along the (beloved) Flat A Road south of Derby, to the north of both and that’s the one which is favoured now.

So: I decided to go out west to Abbots Bromley via the oldest westbound route, and come back via the second-oldest. I fashioned a route on Thursday night with a new stretch of road to connect the two routes at the western end. I replaced the first part of the outbound leg though with a section grafted on from a version of the Twycross Bypasser.

When I got to Abbots Bromley I stopped to get some food at the village shop there, then after lunch on the bench, continued a bit further to the west for a bit. The simple circular route would have seen me back on a bit less than the regulation Fondo distance. I must say the village looks like a lovely place to live.

This was a lovely day out on a bike. The oldest westbound route is a bit odd in that it starts to feel a long way from home quite early on; a territorial / psychological thing I suppose, but it adds to the sense of adventure. The stretch that I hadn’t done before, between Abbots Bromley and Yoxall was really nice, quiet with some terrific views. Getting dark by the time I made it to Barton under Needwood, but I’d seen all the new bits by then.

Listened mostly to 5 Live, but I finished off the Reacher novel as well. Quite a satisfying climax. Not sure what to listen to next.

One of the most memorable rides of 2021. I managed to recapture a bit of that pioneering spirit of 2016/17.

Back on 64.04 miles. Exactly 4650.0 done this year.


Up and West

A dry evening was promised, and I mounted the Tricross about 25 minutes before sunset. I wanted to do about 40, and the plan was to go up through Coleorton, over Swarkestone Bridge then along the Beloved Flat A Road for a bit.

However not long after I set off I decided I’d take the longer route to Swarkestone Bridge via Top Brand and Isley Walton.

A light drizzle started about a mile after I’d set off, but it only lasted three minutes. Nice and dry all the way after that. Really lovely out there just after sunset, and a full moon provided a bit of illumination on the stretches of road that would usually be pitch black, later on.

A few miles out from Willington on the outward leg, a van pulled up alongside me. The driver then parked up on the road. I stopped in the queue of cars behind him, waiting to pass when I noticed the driver get out. He was walking toward me.

He came up to me and wanted to know if I was going far, and did I know my rear light was very faint? Now I must admit I was using a pretty shitty little strappy flasher, only to run the battery down so I could put a new one in and have it as a spare. I did think it was adequate quite honestly, but nonetheless I thanked him and put the main rear light on; an undeniably bright, high performing AAA-powered unit. He seemed to ignore this completely. Would I like to put the bike in the back of his van, so he could give me a lift somewhere? He wanted to know. He just wanted to make sure I didn’t have an accident, he said.

By this point I was fairly sure he was taking the piss, and much as I was tempted to give it back I decided that the best course of action to defuse the situation was to accept his concern at face value, thank him sincerely and assure him that I’d be fine. I gave him a friendly wave as he passed, a minute or two later. Wanker.

Mostly listened to the Reacher audiobook until (annoyingly) the MP3 player ran out of juice. Then I listened to Lard on 6 Music. Earlier I listened to 5 Live but it was non-stop race-baiting; the cricket controversy of course. Earlier this month the BBC took Michael Vaughan off the air, supposedly to protect their impartiality and yet Rafiq, despite having made serious allegations, has been invited to repeat them ad nauseam without being challenged or held to account for a moment.

Back on 47.24 miles, a few more than I intended for a change.



Light winds today and coming from the east; an opportunity for an Eastwell Fondo. I got up fairly early despite a fitful sleep and after fuelling up with toast and porridge, I was rolling by 10AM.

Very slight drizzle for the first hour or so, not enough to make the bike, the roads or myself damp, or even to be particularly irritating. It was a nice, dry autumnal day after that and the sun even came out for a while.

Had to take a longer route out through Coalville than I normally would as one of the roads was closed for a Remembrance Day parade. I saw a lad (well he was under 40 anyway) in a smart army uniform with a string of six medals on.

Went all the way to Eastwell (sometimes I stop at the crossroads just west of the village) and took the turn for Stathern, for a bit. I turned back and came the same way home (apart from the detour in Coalville).

A lady driving a car at a junction in Thringstone beeped and waved at me as I passed, appearing to recognise me. It wasn’t mutual but I waved back pleasantly anyway. One of ‘er indoors’ friends possibly.

No particularly interesting sport on 5 Live so I listened mostly to the Reacher audiobook. I think I must have got through about five hours of it. Nearing the (no doubt) brutal climax now. The bad guys have crossed a line in a big way and they’ll be paying for it soon.

I did try LBC for a while but I was getting really bloody annoyed with the number of people phoning in who didn’t seem to understand the difference between MPs having a second job and receiving wads of used £10 notes in brown paper envelopes. So I didn’t bother with it for long.

Back about 15 minutes after sunset on 65.59, really a rather nice run out. 221 this month, 4539 this year.



Didn’t think there was a strong chance of rain and the roads were mostly dry, so after work I withdrew the X with the intention of doing about 30. As is quite often the case, I set off without a firm plan, but bearing in mind that there was a moderate wind coming from the west.

I went up through Coleorton and up Top Brand, thinking of going to Isley Walton then left to Melbourne and possibly over Swosser Bridge, but at the end of Moor Lane I turned left instead. I think the vague idea I was forming was to head toward Ashby and join the Twycross route, or one of them.

But not long after this a persistent, cold drizzle started to come down. To make matters worse, in a spirit of adventure I stayed on the Nottingham Road longer than I should have. Usually I’d turn off at Melbourne Road but I kept going past the junction there with the idea of coming off another side road instead. Unfortunately there wasn’t one all the way to the horrendous multi-lane double roundabout near Tesco, the main route to Ashby off the M42.

The drizzle refused to stop so I decided just to come home the quickest way, and yet – some impulse to add a few miles provoked me to come back through Packington and Heather instead. So I did.

Pretty dismal run out, awful really. Had to give the bike a good seeing to back at the garage. To make matters worse, I listened to Scotland vs Moldova, and Scotland scored. Still – 22.37 miles, I’ll take them.


Fenny Drayton

Managed to leave work 20-odd minutes before sunset, with the intention of dong the southbound route for 15-20 miles, then coming back the same way. Although there were a couple of puddles here and there and there was a faint threat of rain, I took the X. Three summer bikes is enough.

Stopped to chat to two friends who live in Ibstock for ten minutes not long after I’d set off, after I saw them walking toward me on the other side of the road. That ate up a bit of the remaining daylight of course, but I had plenty of lights.

When I got down to Kirkby I decided to cut across to Sutton Cheney, much as I did on Sunday, but from there I came home a much more direct way, up the main road past Sibson and along Gibbet Lane. Annoyingly I did get a few cars with full beam on trying to blind me, but I was using my most powerful head torch – the one with the external battery pack that goes round the back of your head – so I dished out some luminal punishment beatings. I swear that thing could light up the Moon during a lunar eclipse.

No rain, though I noticed some very faint drizzle in the beam of the head torch, right in front of my face. I wouldn’t have noticed it without that.

Home on 31.66 miles. 133 this month, hope to get that up to 200 on Saturday.


Extreme Reverse Twycross Bypasser

Dry and intermittently sunny today, and very mild to boot. Would have been the perfect opportunity for the November Fondo except that it was far too windy, and I’m on call. However I was determined to do 43, which would take me over 100 for the month, a decent tally for seven days in.

No clear plan. I did the southbound route (actually a slight variation with a detour round Bagworth) as far as Kirkby Mallory then cut across to Sutton Cheney at the eastern end of Fenn Lanes. I decided that I’d do a reverse Twycross Bypasser from this point. I wasn’t keen on facing the wind head-on along Fenn Lanes but it wasn’t as brutal as I feared.

I don’t think I’d ever done a Bypasser in reverse and I did get one of the turns slightly wrong near Kisses Barn Lane. Plain sailing after that though until the junction with Gallows Lane, which was coned off with a police car in attendance, with its blue lights flashing. So I took a right to come home via Swepstone instead.

I estimated that I’d be home on about 43.5 miles if I took my intended route along Gallows Lane, but since Swepstone was a bit of a short cut I took a detour through Ibstock over the last couple of miles.

Home on 44.07 so that worked out quite nicely. Earlier on in the ride I’d estimated that I’d be short by a few miles by doing that route.

Listened to Everton / Spurs but got bored so put my Reacher audiobook on. I hadn’t listened to it for weeks so I rewound 40 minutes or so to pick up the thread properly. Very enjoyable. Earlier on I listened to a brief interview with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein on 5 Live. Debbie was asked when the last time she cooked was, and she laughed out loud at this. And yet the next but one question was “when was the last time you laughed?”

I was nearly taken out at a mini roundabout at Ellistown. A driver to my right was turning right, but he didn’t even bother with the roundabout, just did a right turn and cut it out completely. Fortunately I came to a screeching halt in time to avoid being swept up by a Vauxhall estate.

Enjoyable run out though.