Twycross Bypasser

An unseasonally warm day (about 13C) and no rain, although the roads were wet from a downpour overnight. Very quiet day at work, so I thought I’d take an extended lunch break and squeeze in one more ride in 2021. I took the Boardman, hadn’t been out on it for seven or eight weeks. I did a pretty standard Twycross Bypasser, 28.35 miles.

Really nice out there, occasionally sunny but a bit windy. The headwind was annoying on the climb up to Norton.

28.35 miles, 290 this month. And that’s a wrap for 2021, on 5040 miles.

Kirby Muxloe

The weather forecast for the last day of the year was better than all of the other remaining days of 2021, but with 24 still to do, I didn’t really want to cut it that fine. Today’s forecast didn’t look too bad – showers, supposedly – so I decided to go out and get the last two dozen done.

Set off at about 11:20. It was raining lightly, but I hoped it was a shower. It wasn’t, though. The rain kept coming. But it remained light and since I had decent clothing on and was resigned to cleaning up the bike on my return anyway, I wasn’t bothered. At least it wasn’t too cold.

I decided to do 15 or so miles of the southbound route then come back, but when I got to Bagworth, instead of turning right to go south down Barlestone Road, I decided to go left instead. I knew Markfield was over that way. But when I saw the left turn to Markfield a mile later, I ignored it and decided ust to keep going and explore. I just kept going straight on, through Merry Lees, Botcheston, Newtown Unthank and eventually Kirby Muxloe. Despite not being particularly far from home, I’d never been along this road before. It’s pretty flat and pleasant, I must do it again. Despite the rain I was really enjoying myself.

I came to a T junction. I was just about at the outskirts of Leicester at this point, at Kirby Muxloe.  The road signs offered Ratby or Leicester, neither of which particularly appealed. I recorded a quick video message for my Facebook friends, took this pic then turned back. I’d done nearly 13 miles now.

Thought I’d call in on Markfield on the way back. Hadn’t been since the Christmas holidays last year. So I took the first road signposted there. Usually a visit to Markfield involves a steep hill climb but from this approach, it didn’t. I came back the usual way from Markfield though, through Thornton and Bagworth. The rain dried up after Markfield.

After my DAB batteries died I used the BBC Sounds app so was a bit limited in my choice of listening. I settled on Radio Leicester. The presenter, a young Asian woman, was interviewing two young Asian comedians, mostly about being Asian. Very much BBC on-message but actually it was quite interesting.

Back on 30.84 miles which takes me past my 2021 target, with only four days to go! Don’t think I’ve ever cut it so fine. Despite the weather that was a really enjoyable run out, nice to have squeezed another minor adventure out of 2021.

262 done this month, 5012 this year.

Wet Twycrosser

Left work early and set off into the last of the daylight, hoping to do 25 or so. Nice and dry if rather cold, but the forecast threatened rain at about 7pm. I hoped to be back before then.

I opted for the cosy familiarity of a Twycrosser. Unfortunately a cold, persistent rain started to come down quite heavily at about 5pm, just as I was approaching Snarestone. I hoped it would be a shower, but it kept coming down until the last 30 minutes of the ride.

Decided to come home a quick way from Twycross, straight down the main road but somehow missed the Gibbet Lane turn in the dark, so I came back along Bosworth Road and through Carlton, Barton in the Beans, Odstone et al. Probably just as well I missed Gibbet Lane, it was muddy last time I went along there and it would have been awful in the wet.

Really quite uncomfortable. My fingertips were numb with cold not long after my gloves were saturated. But – 29.02 miles.

I’ve added 5 miles to my yearly target, now 5005 miles, which would beat my 2017 total. And on that basis – 24 miles to go. The BBC weather forecast has the rain symbol for every remaining day this year apart from the 26th and the 28th.


I’d hoped to go cycling today and even had thoughts of doing another Fondo, possibly. But the weather was damp and dank when I got up, and the roads were wet. I decided to drive to Northampton instead.

But I was back by about 2:15pm and conditions had improved quite a bit, so I fought off my urge to have an afternoon nap and went out on a bike. I set off up Wash Lane as if to go eastbound through Belton but I turned back along Church Lane and did a Twycrosser.

I realised that I’d forgotten to bring my phone after a couple of minutes but I wasn’t too bothered until Twycross, where my DAB AAs ran out and I realised that I’d forgotten to bring spares. Condemned to silence for the rest of the ride!

Another irritation was that my Garmin switched itself off and it missed a lot of the ride. I’ve repaired the track crudely in a GPX editor and uploaded it to Strava where I was awarded 23.85 miles, but it was actually 24.10 (I checked using a route planner and this total matches the magnet-based odometer closely).

202 this month! 48 to go and actually, the weather forecast looks dismal after Friday. But I think I’ll get there.

Out in the Mist

I decided not to bother cycling today after a brief excursion out of the front door to test the elements, but conditions had brightened slightly in the early afternoon. The roads were wet and the air was damp, but winds were light and it wasn’t that cold.

I set off on the Tricross at 13:21 without a clear plan except to do about 20. I pretty much followed my nose, and my nose took me up to Isley Walton, then west and up over Swarkestone Bridge, along the A road for a bit. Then I turned for home after 17 miles, but I came back the usual way through Melbourne.

Delighted to find that the single worst road surface on any of my routes – a stretch that regularly gets waterlogged through the woods between Melbourne and Coleorton, characterised by a gruesome collection of potholes, crumbly layers and haphazard lumpy repairs like massive blobs of grey blu-tack – has now been resurfaced with proper, smooth, luxurious tarmac. Beautiful.

The road west of Isley Walton has also been very nicely resurfaced, although only up to the Derbyshire sign, after which it’s business as usual. But it’s not nearly as bad.

Listened to a phone-in on LBC about the North Shropshire by-election result . Very frustrating to hear how many people have been taken in by the media spin and lies, although there were one or two rational callers thankfully. But before long we’re going to have to make sure there’s a media regulatory body with a commitment to genuine impartiality and fairness, that has teeth.

The mist really intensified after sunset, but I’d wrapped up warm. Had to clean the bike up back at base.

Back on 31.76 miles.

Eastwell Crossroads

I would have been unable to ride a mile yesterday, being wiped out from my booster jab on Tuesday. But I seemed to have recovered quite nicely when I woke up this morning and I had the day off work, so I decided to have a go at the December Fondo. I chose the time-honoured eastbound route to Eastwell, despite a light wind coming from the west. I estimated that the headwind on the way back would be less strenuous than the hills south of Melbourne on the westbound route (and it wasn’t bad at all, as things turned out).

Definitely wanted an easy bike today and conditions were eminently dry, so I was going to take the Cannondale. But when I opened the garage door I noticed that the Planet X had two frame packs attached already. So I decided to take that, out of sheer idleness.

Last time I was out on it I noticed that the saddle was quite uncomfortable, and when I got back to the garage I noticed that it had tilted up a bit at the front. It’s a single bolt design and had worked itself backwards a bit. I adjusted it back to the proper inclination and thought no more of it.

It was very comfy when I set off today, but 15 miles later it definitely wasn’t. I got off and inspected it near Cotes, and sure enough it had worked itself back to a rather uncomfortable angle. I didn’t have an Allen key on me but out of sheer bloody-mindedness I decided to keep on anyway. I had broken my own rule of never doing a long ride on a bike that’s just been adjusted. And it cost me dear. The rest of the ride was decidedly uncomfortable and the last 20 or so especially were an ordeal.

I shouldn’t really have done this. An ill-adjusted saddle can do all sorts of mischief to your nether regions, including compromising your sexual health. I’m not, I reluctantly admit, much given or sought after for Hunnish practices these days but I shall seek an opportunity to test the reproductive equipment later. I confess it doesn’t stay up as long as it did when I was younger, but I could dig potatoes with it on a good day. Briefly.

Apart from having my perineum ravaged that was quite an enjoyable ride, or it would have been. But I’m happy to have got the complete set of monthly Fondos for 2021. That was the 27th Fondo this year, five of them being 100+ milers.

Back on 62.43. 146 this month, 4896 this year.

Extended Lunch Break

I got up and started work at 0700 this morning. Sometimes I wake up early, remember that we aren’t in the EU any more, then I’m too excited to go back to sleep. But it was good timing for a well-deserved extended lunch break, because rain was due later in the day and on the whole I prefer cycling in daylight.

I wrapped up warm but it was a relatively mild day and I ended up too hot. I did a fairly standard Twycrosser. Nice diversion from work for a couple of hours.

26.32, 166 to do but I’m mostly concerned about getting the December Fondo in.

Damp Twycrosser

Dismal wet weather today but it stopped raining in the afternoon. The forecast suggested it probably wouldn’t rain again this evening. The roads were still properly wet when I stopped work at about 4pm. But since I hadn’t been out for a few days I thought I’d go out for a spin anyway. With the self-indulgence of owning too many bikes comes the responsibility of being prepared to sacrifice at least one of them to the elements. The second Boardman was selected for this task.

Unfortunately the rain started again about 20 minutes after I set off, but it didn’t last long. I must admit to being overcome by a “what the smeg am I doing?” moment as I pedalled toward Twycross, with wet leaves and sideways-moving rain blowing around my face. But later on the skies cleared to a lovely starlit night and in the end I quite enjoyed it. Quite a satisfying run out.

The road to Sheepy was closed for some reason so I came straight down the main road to Gibbet Lane. But I extended the ride a bit by detouring through Burgoland and Swepstone, then Ibstock.

Sad to see the Belper Arms at Burgoland with the lights off. Hope someone leases it soon. Nice place with a big beer garden.

25.27 miles. 

Cold Again

Very cold today, but I left work early hoping to tolerate 20 or so, to get the last month of 2021 off to a half-decent start. Despite the temperature (about 2C) it was actually very nice out there – bright winter sunshine until sunset.

I wore two pairs of gloves again with a thicker pair as the outer layer. My fingers and thumbs seemed to do a bit better this time, but not much. I also wore a new winter cycling top that I scored from Amazon – a bit like a hiking anorak in bright orange. Mountain Warehouse. Works well enough but doesn’t have side pockets, annoyingly. I bought size M and worried that the arms might not be long enough, because mine are a bit gibbon-esque. But they’re fine.

I set off towards Coalville with the idea of going over to Belton but changed my mind and did a Twycross Bypasser instead. Terrific view from Orton Hill of the skyscraper tops at Birmingham behind the horizon, just to the right of the setting sun. After sunset the temperature dropped another degree and by this time my fingers and toes felt like they’d been bathed in liquid nitrogen.

There were a couple of short stretches of icy road, most worryingly on a shallow downhill bend at Orton. I came round the curve very carefully. But the roads were mostly dry.

Ended up doing 32.06 miles, quite satisfying in those conditions.