Beyond Burton on the Wolds

Today’s mission was simple, to do 40 miles and get the February distance total over 300. The wind was blowing from the south-east, so even though I did the eastbound route on Friday I thought I’d do the first 20 miles or so again. It’s not as if I do it that often.

However I thought I’d go up through Coleorton and Peggs Green rather than Coalville and Thringstone. The latter route is more efficient in terms of distance and elevation but it’s nice to change things up a bit.

I was annoyed that I couldn’t use my usual wee stop, a few metres off the road at the edge of Prestwold Park. Some sort of event was taking place there and people were walking to and fro near my cosy little secluded spot.

I’d done just less than 19 miles when I decided to turn back. I thought I’d make up the distance by detouring through Long Whatton and Diseworth on the way back. This was a bit unfortunate in one respect because it meant that I had a very unwelcome headwind coming down Top Brand. Wasn’t sure I’d quite be back on 40 miles (I think I would have been, looking at the map) so I added a bit of distance by detouring along Breedon Lane.

Beautiful day today. I took my phone out to take a pic of Boardman II, resplendent in the afternoon sunshine near when I stopped near Cotes. Alas, I was distracted by a WhatsApp message and it looks like I didn’t. Or at least I can’t find a pic from today on my phone.

Back on 40.94 miles, that’s 302 this month.

Very handy to have a few days of good weather at the end of the month. It’s been a pretty successful cycling weekend; I got the Feb Fondo in, got the distance tally over 300 miles and ticked off the last two neighbouring counties.

Unplanned Rutland and Lincolnshire

The forecast promised a sunny, dry day. I took the afternoon off with the idea of doing 80 or so, to bump up the February mileage tally and get the Fondo done, having left it somewhat late in the month.

The wind was blowing from the west as usual but I decided to break my rule of not returning home into a headwind, and go east. I wanted to do part of the Norfolk route. The roads east of Eastwell through Waltham and Buckminster are my Cycling Happy Place. And the wind was supposed to dissipate a bit later on.

I didn’t really want to turn back after 40 miles, it was so nice over there – sunny, scenic and quiet – so I kept going. I hit a Lincolnshire sign not long after Buckminster, then a couple of miles later, a Rutland sign! So I’ve ticked off the two remaining Neighbouring Counties of Leicestershire for 2022 without having intended to.

I’d intended to pursue the Norfolk route but missed a turn for South Witham. I ended up there anyway though, somehow. Then I turned back for home after 45 miles and came back the same way.

Usually my DAB personal radio would be pretty good company on a Friday bike ride with Elis & John on 5 Live, then the film review show. I believe Kermode has been sent on an impartiality course. However today it was just wall-to-wall Ukraine news all day. I got Ukraine fatigue eventually; I know that’s an easy thing to say from this safe distance but it was pretty much the same news cycling round for hours.

I listened to the new Sea Power album on my MP3 player, then – unusually – I did silence for a bit.

I’d had to take a layer off earlier in the day and stuff it in my backpack but the temperature dropped just before sunset. I was still 30 miles from home when the sun dipped below the horizon, but I’d brought good lights.

Two teenage girls waved at me from the back of a car I was stuck behind at some roadworks in Waltham. I waved back of course. This only seemed to encourage them and I was quite relieved when the lights changed and they pulled away.

Terrific run out, 90.56 miles, 261 this month which gives me a decent chance of 300 before March. Really looking forward to going further on that route, on a longer and warmer day.

Up and West Again

A decidedly windy day but it’s been slim pickings so far this month so – since it was at least dry and sunny, I felt I should try and do at least 25. For some reason though, the wind didn’t seem so bad once I was underway, even going directly west.

I went up through Coalville and Belton to Isley Walton, up over Swarkestone Bridge, west along the Beloved Flat A Road. I was feeling unusually thirsty for some reason so I decided I’d go as far as the garage near Hatton and buy a drink. I didn’t have a lot of water with me. Chilled Lucozade. Lovely. I also ate a cheese & onion pasty I’d brought with me before I mounted my bike to come back the same way.

The return trip, with a tailwind and having fuelled up a bit, was a real joy. Until I stopped for a wee near Willington, and dropped my phone. The screen cracked, rendering it inoperable, and making it impossible for me to send a message to say I’d be later than expected. Even worse, I was using it to listen to the PM’s press conference on 5 Live because my DAB batteries had died – and I didn’t want to use the spare AAs in case I needed them for the front light. Worst of all, ‘er indoors started ringing me and it was impossible to answer calls.

Needless to say she was irate when I returned, and my explanation only placated her partly. But Lib Dem supporters can be impervious to reason, sometimes.

That was a really nice run out apart from writing off my phone. 47.30 miles, but felt more like 35. Beautiful starry night, with all of Orion clearly visible. The fields near the river at Swarkestone Bridge were waterlogged like lakes which was actually quite a beautiful scene.

Only 170 done in February so far. Would really like to get that up to 300 if I can, but it’s a short month.

Almost Willington

The weather forecast promised a day off from the rain and it was sunny when I set off on the Boardman this afternoon. The roads were a bit wet, but nothing too troubling. A strong wind was blowing from the west. I decided to go up and west, along the A road for a bit.

I went out through Swannington, unusually. I used to go that way often, but it fell out of favour. It’s a bit rattly on the long downhill stretch.

Up to Isley Walton, then west. The flags outside Donington Park were flying dead straight in the direction I was coming from. The wind was gusting strongly, like an invisible hand lunging at the brake levers.

Not long after I crossed Swarkestone Bridge, the rain started to come down. It only lasted a few minutes. But it came down again fifteen minutes later. As I stood at my favourite rest stop near Willington munching a cheese & onion pasty in the pouring rain, I decided to turn for home. Very nice to have the tailwind coming east.

I came back the quick way through Melbourne and Coleorton.

Despite the wind and the rain I remained in good spirits, and even ascending the North Face of Rotter’s Rise in the dark didn’t piss me off. Much. By then the rain had stopped again.

Had an extraordinary view of the Moon looking huge just above the horizon near Coleorton, with a streaky cloud in front of it – it looked like a ghostly huge Saturn.

I was listening to Drive on 5 Live, and people were texting in their anecdotes for Random Act of Kindeness Day. Here’s one to melt the hardest heart. I’ve just listened to it back on BBC Sounds so I can transcribe it:

Ten years ago my teenage daughter was new to both cycling and London. One very cold winter Sunday she found herself with a puncture to fix at the side of the road with fingers so cold she couldn’t do it. A stranger stopped his car and fixed it for her. A third party saw what was happening and posted a picture on social media – of Mark Cavendish fixing her bike.

Feel like I’m leaving the February Fondo a bit late, but next week looks OK weather-wise and I won’t be on call.

Back on 31.76 miles, 123 this month.


So having fitted a new seat post to the X, a test ride seemed to be in order. It was very nice weather for cycling on the whole this afternoon – dry, sunny, a bit windy and cold but not bad enough to spoil the fun.

I faffed around a bit near home before deciding what to do, then I decided to go up Top Brand to Isley Walton. From there I went west to Melbourne as I often do, but rather than going up over Swosser Bridge I decided I’d turn for home there, but come the long way through Ticknall, Hartshorne, Boundary and Ashby.

I set the seat post slightly too high but apart from that it was fine. I must admit I didn’t pay careful attention to the saddle position before I dismantled the old seat post but the riding position felt very comfy. I got the impression that it was a slightly more comfortable ride than usual but that could be psychological, or possibly just a different saddle angle than before.

I also used my Olight torch as a front light. Despite being small and light (it takes a single AA) it’s adequately bright, but the battery didn’t last that long. I turned it off at some traffic lights for road works near Ashby to save juice, but when I turned it on again it wouldn’t come on. I assume the battery was low. Would be ironic if it’s a fault as it’s one of the very few LED torches that I own that’s a reputable brand rather than an anonymous Chinese product.

Had a beautiful view of a half moon in a clear blue sky just before I set off. Didn’t notice any stars after dark, though. Actually I did get 15 minutes of rain near Ticknall so it must have clouded over after sunset.

28.17 miles, 91 this month. Enjoyed that one.

I used my Xoss bike computer and I was delighted to discover that the phone app now has a feature to replay your route as a 3D aerial view – a bit like that Relive facility that was popular a few years ago. It saves the video to your phone’s gallery, but I uploaded this one to YouTube. You can alter the perspective while the track is playing but if you do, it will record your changes to the video (it works as a sort of screen capture function, hence this would have worked better if I’d been holding the phone in a landscape stylee rather than portrait).

Stanton under Bridge

Not much cycling so far this month, but I was able to leave work reasonably early and set off at 4pm. Cloudy with a hint of dampness in the air, but the forecast reassured me that rain was highly unlikely.

I was going to go up over Swarkestone Bridge and west along the A road for a bit, but I took a longer route to get there, up Top Brand and to Isley Walton. Not long after I took the left turn at Walton though, my saddle started to feel oddly uncomfortable .. a bit low at the back and erect at the front, exactly like it did on a Fondo to Eastwell and back a few weeks ago.

I stopped at Stanton under Bridge to have a look, and yes – it had shifted back again. No worries I thought, I’m sure I left the appropriate Allen key in the frame pack .. but nope, I must have taken it out.

It wasn’t too uncomfortable but I didn’t fancy going too far, so I turned for home there and then. However rather than take the turn to go south through Melbourne (ie the quick way home), I came back the way I’d come, through Isley Walton.

Stopped to eat a cheese & onion pasty at the top of Top Brand, and a miserable, cold drizzle started to descend. But it only lasted 20 minutes. Took this at Peggs Green.

On a whim I came through Swannington rather than Coleorton over the last couple of miles – something I’ve only ever done four or five times, since it involves a long, steep climb. I stopped about half way up and could feel my ticker beating like the clappers. Not sure how great that is really for an older gentleman like myself, but it didn’t give me any trouble. I do have a friend who had a heart attack while cycling about ten years ago; something I do think about from time to time.

I’d definitely tightened the saddle down properly so I shall look for a new seat post for the X. You can see where the clamp on the seat post has shifted. The single bolt design ones are rubbish.

Back on 25.65 miles, a modest 63 miles this month.


Another mild day with the wind coming from the west. No chance of rain, but the roads were a bit wet. Mostly cloudy, but the sun did come out from time to time.

I thought of doing the Dad’s Army route as far as Dordon. I hadn’t been quite that far along it (as far as I recall) since I first used it on a run to historic Worcestershire and back, about eighteen months ago.

It’s mostly the Twycross route until you get to the junction with Pinwall Lane, then it goes west. I’d forgotten what a rubbish little road Dordon Hall Lane was. Narrow, hilly, heavily potholed and covered with a thin film of mud. I’ll take a longer way round next time. I narrowly avoided getting liberally doused in muddy water when an oncoming Land Rover went into a deep puddle in the ditch, though to be fair he only hit it because he was trying to give me room to get past.

Anyway – I went as far as Dordon, then came back via the second part of a Twycrosser, so in fact this ride ended up as a Twycrosser with an extension to the west at the bottom. Took this pic near Dordon, a few minutes after sunset. Nice view from there, looking back toward Orton and Twycross.

I really want to go a bit further next time, at least as far down to Kingsbury Water Park which I remember was really nice. But I’ll devise a better route.

Listened mostly to 5 Live Drive. Lots of talk about Hormone Replacement Therapy, and I must say a conversation about “vaginal atrophy” made me shift uncomfortably in my saddle.

Back on 37.29 miles.