Loughborough

I felt rough this morning. Low on energy and washed out. Took me until 10:40 to get out of bed. But with rain forecast over the next couple of days I thought I should go out and do 30 or so. I’m on call so I couldn’t do a long one anyway.

With the wind coming from the north-east, I thought I’d do the eastbound route for a bit and come back. When I got to the A6 junction though I pondered the road sign to Loughborough and thought – why not? So I took the A6 into Loughborough.

My visit to the celebrated Leicestershire market town mostly consisted of cruising along its dual carriageways, but at least it was quiet. I did take a brief detour into the suburbs though to visit my ex-girlfriend’s parents’ house, where I stayed a few times in the late ’80s when I was still living in Hartlepool. I don’t think they’ve lived there for many years, but it was a nice sentimental excursion along memory lane.

After that I was faced with the choice of coming back homeward along the main A road, which I didn’t think would be particularly safe, and the more urban route along Snells Nook Lane and Copy Oak Road, which I knew would involve a tedious uphill slog. I settled on the latter. At least it made a change. I could just have come home the way I’d come of course but I probably wouldn’t have remembered the way.

Picked up a few spots of rain in Ibstock, but only for a couple of minutes.

Back on 27.24 miles, seemed like quite a lot of work for that distance but I was already over target for May.

It was unusually cold so I wrapped up warm, with my Union Jack dutt. Lots of flags out for the Platinum Jubilee so I must have blended into the surroundings quite nicely. Saw a couple of persons of colour out on their bikes and I made a point of giving them a friendly smile and a wave – because cycling is for everyone, and our flag stands for respect and inclusion.

When the sun came out I overheated a bit. Nice run out nonetheless. Something a bit different for a Sunday afternoon.

https://www.strava.com/activities/7222565594

Just noticed that I have 2112 miles to go, to hit my yearly target (4200 miles).

Bypasser

Another warm, sunny afternoon, but too windy again. Undeterred I left work early and did a Twycross Bypasser. Wanted to do at least 31 miles to hit the May target (400 miles), but I did a bit of an excursion down the Dad’s Army route, and ended up on 36.01.

Came back through Shenton, I should do that more often. Lovely along there.

Saw a helicopter taking off near Measham again. A red one, looked very shiny in the sunshine. I have no idea why there’s an ad-hoc heliport in a field next to a B road near Measham.

Nice ride apart from the irritating occasional headwind.

https://www.strava.com/activities/7212307672

Return to the A Road

Showers were forecast for the late afternoon but dry conditions were promised later. I had a feeling I was wrapping up a bit too warm as I prepared for the ride, but after I set off I was glad to have tights on, and three layers on top. The westerly wind was surprisingly cool.

I decided to go up over Swarkestone bridge then west along the Beloved A Road. I did that, then turned back after 22.5 miles. Encountered a drizzly shower going over the bridge but it only lasted for seven or eight minutes. After that it was dry all the way, and the sun came out.

Really a joy coming back along the A road in the sunshine with a bit of a tailwind. I seemed to be flying along. And the temperature seemed to have climbed a bit as well – I was actually a bit too warm by this time.

I like to do this particular ride in the dark; it’s a lot easier in daylight of course but I miss those post-sunset rides.

I listened to 5 Live Drive, which this evening was mostly about how the police are racist, and the criminal lack of gender equality in musical festival lineups.

45.04 and that takes me to 370 this month, 2025 this year.

https://www.strava.com/activities/7196966844

Twycrosser with Orton Detour

Not sure I’d be in the mood for cycling this afternoon, following a 230 mile drive back from South Wales, where I spent the last few days – but after a 90 minute rest and a bit of lunch, I felt well up for it. Rain is forecast for tomorrow evening and I wanted to make a bit of progress to this month’s target (400 miles).

Lovely afternoon for it – warm, bright (not quite sunny) and light winds. I did what I think I once termed a “Twycrosser with Orton Detour”, a bit like the “Bypasser” route except that it goes right into Twycross.

Came back up through Sibson, which similarly I haven’t done for a while, then Gibbet Lane.

Took this pic of the bike and some Alpacas at Packington. Hadn’t seen them there before. They didn’t seem at all bothered by the bike, or their photographer.

I was having a fine old time cruising along, taking it easy and listening to the drama of the final day of the Premiership on 5 Live, until I seemed to run out of juice. I bonked, coming down the hill from Sibson. Mental fatigue from the drive, the ill-effects of too many cocktails over a long weekend and failure to feed myself properly today all caught up with me. I could feel my legs pedalling under me, but they seemed to be running on empty. I went a bit numb and seemed to be zoning out!

But I made it to the bench at the Gibbet Post where I consumed a flapjack I’d fortunately brought with me. I gave it ten minutes to kick in before I set off again and I was fine after that.

The footy was high drama. I got the results I wanted at both ends (Liverpool didn’t win the league and Leeds stayed up). But I yanked my right earplug cord on my thumb while adjusting my jacket zipper and broke it. I only had audio in my left ear, but that was fine for football commentary. When I was a kid I had a little transistor radio with a single earplug so it was just like old times.

Anyway – 30.12 miles.

https://www.strava.com/activities/7187036480

A Bit of Southbound

Warm out there, but the BBC weather forecast had rain starting on the 8pm slot – which I take to mean any time between 7:30pm and 8:30pm.

I left work early enough to do about 40 miles before getting rained on, and with a stiff wind coming from the south I decided on the southbound route. I did about 21 miles, then turned back and came home the same way.

And I did get home before 7:30pm, but unfortunately the rain started coming down with 20 minutes to go. Actually though it felt quite refreshing. Much worse when it’s cold. I was annoyed at having to wipe down and water-repel the bike on my return though.

Listened mostly to Drive on 5 Live, which in classic BBC style was mostly a propaganda broadcast about acceptance of migrants, before degenerating into an anti-government opinion piece. Perhaps I’ll write and suggest that they spend a similar amount of air time talking to people who have to live with the negative consequences of immigration. I’ll let you know what they say.

Anyway I did enjoy that ride despite the precipitation. Hope to go further down that route soon, when I have time.

https://www.strava.com/activities/7159913673

42.72 miles, 294 this month. Need to do at least another 106 before June.

Random Saturday

On call again today and I did get a call at 0150 this morning, so I wasn’t in the most enthusiastic mood for cycling when I got up. But it was a lovely warm day. I thought I’d do 40-odd at least. I’d undoubtedly have done a Fondo if I hadn’t been on call, but I couldn’t stray too far from base today.

No firm plan in mind, I set off on the southbound route to start off. When I got to Ellistown I thought I’d take a detour along Beveridge Lane, but I got lost on the industrial estate there. Ended up looping back to where I’d taken the detour from, four miles later. Quite interesting to see those places, though. There’s a huge Amazon distribution centre and some other massive blocky buildings. They must be visible from the Moon.

Anyway from there I continued on the southbound as normal, went down just beyond Kirkby Mallory then did a sort of partial Reverse Twycrosser from Kirkby, although I bypassed Twycross and came home the quick way through Bilstone and Shackerstone from Sheepy.

Really nice to do the bit along Atterton Lane and Mythe Lane again, especially in that weather.

So nice out there and I’ve topped up my tan lines quite nicely. Listened to more of my Cyberman audio adventure. Gripping. Just the fourth part left now. Can the need to resist a common enemy bring peace between humanity and the androids? Or will the Cybermen slaughter all the androids and convert all the humans into emotionless automata?

Then the buildup to, and start of the FA Cup. I set myself a target of getting home before Liverpool scored their first goal, which turned out to be easier than I thought.

46.19 and that’s 251 this month, 1907 this year. Last year it took me until the end of May to get over 1900.

https://www.strava.com/activities/7142686145

Bypasser

I’d been looking forward to doing a Bypasser after work and the weather was nice enough today – dry, partly sunny and warm enough for exposed legs. Too windy, though. But hey ho.

Nice views into Staffordshire going along Orton Lane.

My left cleat wouldn’t clip in. It was hooking in nicely at the front though, so I tolerated it. Will replace it tomorrow. It was fine last time I wore those particular shoes (I choose them at random in the garage), but probably used on a different bike.

I listened to 5 Live Drive, which was mainly concerned with the news that Deborah James, the podcaster who was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer five years ago, is now receiving end-of-life care at home. There was a recorded interview with her.

Listeners were warned that it would be a tough listen, and it certainly was – not only because Deborah was audibly scared and upset, but also because Tony Livesey, who interviewed her, was improbably gushing and mawkish. But since he’s something of a personal friend of the poor woman, I forgave him.

I certainly counted myself lucky, as I pedalled the rest of the way round, to have a decent probability of another twenty or thirty years myself.

31.04 miles and that’s 206 this month. Happy with that for ten days into May.

https://www.strava.com/activities/7120464079

Just looking at the forecast and Saturday looks a terrific cycling day – if I timed it properly I could do a Fondo with a tailwind both ways, albeit a very light one. But I’m on call.

Imperial Fondo

Lovely day for cycling with a light wind coming from the east. I wanted to do an Imperial Fondo, a term I’ve just coined for a 100 mile ride, and the Norfolk route, or part of it, seemed the obvious choice.

I was slightly concerned, when I got to Waltham, to find that both shops there were closed. I’d only brought a cornish pasty and a flapjack. But I stopped at a bench there and ate the pasty anyway, in the hope that I’d find a place open later on. Happily the village shop at Buckminster was still open for another half hour (good timing) so I stocked up on goodies there, and ate some of them at the bench outside. I particularly enjoyed the ice cream choc lolly.

I like that place, but when I inspected the chicken sandwich I’d bought there about 25 miles later, I noticed that it had a “Use by 5th May” label. Bit of a black mark.

I wore tights and three layers on top as it was definitely a bit cool when I set off, but the tights and an upper layer came off at Waltham. I was fine for a while after that but definitely still too warm for a couple of hours later on.

I confess I have not been maintaining my legs in the proper cyclist fashion and some of my leg hairs are alarmingly long now. I think it’s an age thing. I must sort them out soon.

I took a different route after Buckminster than last time I went this far, although I have been the same way before. I hope to do Norfolk and back again this year sometime and I think today’s option is a bit better. Better road surfaces and I think a little less climbing, though I will check that.

Nice sunny warm day, really nice day out on a bike. I was back about an hour before sunset and I did feel a bit guilty for not doing a longer ride. I didn’t set off particularly early either, about 09:10. But I didn’t have time to do the whole Norfolk shebang and just doing another 20 or 30 miles in that direction feels a bit pointless.

I went a bit further than 50 miles though which gave me the opportunity to take a slightly quicker route back (through Wymeswold and Rempstone again) to change things up a bit.

Listened to part two of the Cyberman audio series, Fear. Brilliant stuff. Also footy on 5 Live, although Arsenal took the suspense out of their game against Leeds somewhat by scoring twice in the first 10 minutes. Man City committed a similar offence later on against Newcastle so I flipped to Radio Leicester to listen to Leicester vs Everton which was a bit more interesting.

100.36, 174 this month.

https://www.strava.com/activities/7110306227

Long Lane

Thoroughly decent weather was forecast for today, so I came up with a plan last night to do something a bit different. Attentive readers might recall that on Tuesday, I tried (but failed) to navigate my way to Long Lane, over near the border with Lincolnshire.  So I planned a route to do that from Eastwell, then to take a road called Redmile Lane north-east to the the Newark route that I’ve done a few times and come back that way. I made a slight modification, to come back through Rempstone rather than East Leake.

I loaded the route into a GPX app on my phone, which I mounted on the stem. Worked very well. It’s a pretty serviceable alternative to my eTrex I must say. As long as you only flip the screen on for brief periods, it doesn’t wear the battery down too much. Might even be adequate for a much longer ride.

Nice to reacquaint myself with Long Lane. I love the view of Belvoir Castle in the distance from there. Great to do the Newark route again on the return part as well, I’ve only done it a couple of times and not for over a year. The only bummer is that the roads in Nottinghamshire are really rough in parts; scrubby and weather-worn, and patched up with tarmac like big lumps of black chewing gum.

But I was glad to be coming back a different way. Typically on a long ride I come back mostly the same way, and the sense of adventure and fun drains out of the ride on the way back. But today I was looking forward to seeing landmarks on the old Newark route that I hadn’t seen for a long time.

I stopped to buy some food at a village shop at Stathern, on the part of the ride that I hadn’t done before. This turned out to be a cyclists’ dream village – there was another village shop two minutes further on with benches and tables, and an inviting looking pub with a beer garden. But I was happy enough with the bench I found there. Only 33 miles from home so it would be well worth making it the end point for a Fondo, except that it’s at the bottom of a long, steep hill.

I listened to the last half hour of The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. It has a pretty ambiguous and meaningless ending. It doesn’t really conclude, it just dies. It’s a phenomenally imaginative work and certainly thought-provoking, but not coherent. After that I listened to the first two instalments of Scorpius, a Big Finish audio production concerning the Cybermen. A bit like a radio play with some thoroughly creditable acting performances and impressive incidental music and sound effects. Brilliant! Very focused and really draws you in. Earth is in a war with a race of human-created androids in the Orion system. The androids are winning.

The Cybermen offer to help. They have the military power to destroy the androids easily. But what do they want? I loved it.

I trialled a backpack that I’ve had for about three years but never used, my only dedicated cycling backpack. Narrower, with a stiff back and chest and waist straps. Not that voluminous. Quite comfortable though, I don’t really see an advantage over a simple generic light backpack but I’m sure I’ll use it again.

Anyway – 74.12 miles and that’s my 10th Fondo this year.

https://www.strava.com/activities/7077188658