A cloudy afternoon, warm enough, dry, but very windy again. I wanted to do 30 or so, perhaps a Bypasser. But it was hard going pushing southward into the wind so I decided to keep it relatively short, and went straight down through Twycross rather than detouring off through Orton.
Much relief when I turned back northward, after Sibson.
After Carlton I veered off toward Nailstone, something I haven’t done for quite a while. I followed a sign to Ellistown from there. But when I got to the next junction, signage to Ellistown was inexplicably absent – so I followed a sign to Ibstock.
Back on 27.56 miles. 638 this month and looking at the forecast, that’s most likely it for June.
Listened to Andrew Marr on LBC, since I wasn’t particularly interested in what was happening at Wimbledon at the time. The prospect of a Scottish Independence referendum was the main topic. I was quite pleased to find that he took a relatively neutral approach – not as opinionated as some of the other LBC presenters.
I don’t usually cycle on consecutive days but with plenty of time on my hands and the weather looking a little iffy over the next few days, another run out seemed a good idea. My knees have continued to improve and they’re more robust than they were even a year ago so I felt sure they wouldn’t mind.
Far from ideal conditions though, with a strong wind blowing from the south. But it was warm enough, with very little prospect of rain. I set off on the southbound route at about midday.
I took a detour over toward Bardon Hill from Ellistown, past the big industrial buildings and the Amazon distribution centre, but I was back on the usual track three miles later. However – after Bagworth, on a whim I decided to take a left instead of the usual right, and go down through Merry Lees and Botcheston. I took this option during the Christmas hols in a spirit of exploration, but hadn’t done it again since. I took an earlier left to Ratby this time. I soon realised I was on the same road I was on a few weeks ago, when I ended up on the A50. So I was sure to take an early left turn to Markfield, to avoid doing the same again.
Back on 27.77 miles, felt like a lot of effort for a relatively modest haul. But it’s not just about the distance.
Since I hadn’t been out on the old faithful Boardman for a while, I took this one with about half a mile to go.
Quite a gusty wind blowing from the south and a threat of showers in the forecast. Not too warm. I thought of doing the southbound route, with no particular expectation of a distance.
I picked up a few spots of rain near Newbold Verdon. Then as I pedalled down Kirkby Lane, it started to rain properly. Another few seconds later and it was torrential, with hailstones mixed in – I was riding straight into the headwind, so they were clattering on my face. Without a doubt the worst conditions I have ever ridden in, so aggressive that I was nearly forced to get off the bike, but a minute later it was normal rain again.
I decided to cut across to Sutton Cheney at this point, and come back up through Market Bosworth. But by the time I got to Cheney I was rolling along a dry road, on a warm, sunny summer’s day. It was as if I’d dreamed it, except that the bike and my clothes were still a bit damp. But they dried off quickly. So I went west along Fenn Lanes instead, and did a partial Reverse Twycrosser with a detour through Barton in the Beans.
Quite a nice run out in the end, certainly more so with a tailwind and warm dry weather in the second half.
Listened mostly to Reacher. Quite enjoying it now. Plot unfolding nicely.
Plenty of time after work this evening, but rain was due over at around 8pm. Cloudy and cool as I set off. I regretted wearing short sleeves again initially, but soon warmed up. Actually very pleasant indeed, once I got going. Until the rain came down, not at 8pm but at 4:30pm.
Happily it only lasted 15 minutes or so, and the sun came out after that – after which it was lovely and warm, and the bike and I dried off rapidly.
I’m typing this at about 9:15pm and actually it hasn’t rained again, so I could have stayed out longer.
I did a Twycross Bypasser. I didn’t go as far as Warton because it was raining when I got to the junction at Orton, so I took the quick way to Sheepy.
Came back across through Upton, hoping to see two antique petrol pumps which are a revered local landmark. However I came through the village along the wrong road for that. Looking at the map, I’d need go down to Atterton Lane (which I do quite often) and head for Upton from there. I’ll make a mental note.
Listened mostly to 5 Live. Today’s Drive programme featured the Black Swimming Association.
Back on 33.84 miles, looking good for 600 this month. The forecast is for strong winds at the weekend, but otherwise decent conditions.
Today’s plan was to pedal up through Coleorton, take the Beloved A Road west until I’d done about 20 miles – then come back the same way. A very common choice for a ride after work, when the wind’s blowing from the west.
Warm and sunny out there, very bright. I did worry a little about my slightly-sunburned arms, but I smeared them liberally with an SPF30 product that I bought at Tesco yesterday. I did think of wearing a long-sleeved top, but bare limbs cycling days are so infrequent that I didn’t want to waste one.
It was after 3pm when I left so hopefully the UV levels had dissipated. The arms seem to have done OK. The outer layer of skin has started to flake off this evening, but I think it was due to do that anyway. Unfortunately I’ll be taking an occasional break to vacuum armdruff from my desk over the next couple of days.
This was actually the only time in my adult life I’ve ever used a sunscreen product. I’ve always relied on my natural dark-skinnedness, a product of my Iberian part-ancestry.
A lot of traffic out there, the busiest I’ve ever known it along the A road. A consequence of the rail strike, maybe?
I got to Hilton on 20 miles, then turned back. However when I got to Swarkestone, instead of turning right to come back the same way, I turned left to come back through Weston, Aston, Shardlow and Donington. Exactly the same as Sunday, except the other way round. I probably wouldn’t have done this except I was sick of waiting for a gap in the passing traffic to turn right.
I used my Casio GPS watch to track the ride. Did seem a bit easier to get the track off this time, maybe they’ve improved the app a bit.
It did occur to me in the heat and bright sunshine on the way back that I’d be doing most of that ride in the cold and dark, if I set off at the same time during the winter months.
Very pleasing run out. 48.11 miles. 509 this month.
Other things to do today but I had time for 30-odd miles. Much cooler today but the roads had mostly dried up after yesterday’s rain.
My first idea was to go up Top Brand, up to Isley Walton then hook a left to Melbourne then perhaps the Beloved A Road for a bit, but as I was pushing up Top Brand I decided to go right up to Castle Donington, then west to Shardlow. Wasn’t sure what I’d do from there – I briefly entertained the idea of going into Derby again – but in the end I came back down through Aston and Weston, to Swarkestone Bridge. Back the usual way from there.
A bit different, don’t think I’ve ever done that stretch between Shardlow and Swarkestone that way round before. Made a nice change.
Took the pic near Weston. Lots of poppies out today, and a few fields of lavender. Very pretty.
My nostrils were assaulted by a powerfully pungent smell on Top Brand. I noticed some sort of tanker spreading a noxious liquid on a field about half a mile upwind. I was very glad to get past it. I wonder if our farmers have been buying processed sewage from the Dutch again?
The dead deer I noticed at the side of the road south of Melbourne was a bit whiffy as well.
It was cool at first, and rather cloudy. Regretted coming out in bare legs for the first half hour. But conditions warmed nicely later, and the sun came out.
Too hot tomorrow and it’s going to rain all weekend apparently, so I booked this afternoon off work. I was going to Bingley Hall and back, but I changed my mind before I set off this morning. The wind was blowing lightly from the south, so I thought I’d do roughly the same distance along the southbound route.
Really warm out there. I had my absolute lightest cycling clothing on, including my lightweight meshy camo top.
I went right down through Welford towards Northampton. I did briefly entertain the idea of going right down there, but decided against it. I’d just about have enough light, but not much time for a couple of beers, a bath and a decent meal when I got back. It is, after all, a school night.
I stopped at the village shop at Gilmorton on the way down – nice to see that the table and chairs have been deployed outside again – and had some sort of bacon and chees pastry object, a coffee and a Magnum ice-cream lolly in the sunshine there. Very civilised. I was joined there by another cyclist whom I took to be roughly the same age as myself – he had a very smart Trek Madone with electronic shifting, and he admired my Roubaix. Told me he had three of them himself! We had a nice old chat about bikes, and long rides. I told him I was 61, and that I never would have thought I’d be doing long rides at my present age. He told me he was 74, and still did 8,000 miles a year. Made my day.
I’ve caught a bit of sunburn – my legs were pre-tanned so I think they’ll be fine, but my arms haven’t been exposed much this year and they’ve gone a bit sore. Ah well.
I stopped at Spratton on 41 miles, then turned back.
Listened to Colin Murray on 5 Live, sitting in for Naga. Then a few minutes of Nihal Arthanayake’s awful programme – he must be the most painfully woke, pitifully one-dimensional broadcaster on Earth. The first item in his show today was about lesbian parenting. I switched him off and listened to the Reacher audiobook for a few hours. It kept my attention but so far isn’t drawing me in so much as previous Reacher novels.
A little cooler and more cloudy later on, which was a relief. Stopped at the petrol station at Welford on the way back and gorged myself on a sandwich, a mini pork pie, a flapjack, and more coffee. I never even touched the cheese & onion pasty I took with me out of the fridge.
Anyway – 83.04, 429 this month which is over target.
Nice to go a bit further down to Northampton, I’ll go all the way down again one day this year.
A warm afternoon, bone dry, sunny and a light wind. I managed to escape work fairly early and set off to do a longish Twycross Bypasser.
It’s not often I set off in minimal clothing with short sleeves, but today was one of those days. However – within half a mile I was starting to regret it because it was cooler than I thought. I seriously considered going back for a long-sleeved jacket.
Another mile further on though, I’d warmed up nicely and later on I was too warm if anything.
I went right across to Kisses Barn Lane, along Mythe Lane (where I passed a group of seven ducks taking shelter under a roadside bench) and right along Fenn Lanes. I stopped at my favourite bench at Sutton Cheney. It was replaced a few years ago and it really was a beautiful thing then, smooth red wood with sharp edges. But it’s grey, cracked and weathered now, with all the edges worn down.
Back up the usual way but I extended the ride a bit by going through Burgoland, then Ibstock.
Listened to the cricket on 5 Live, I wouldn’t normally but the Drive programme mostly switched to coverage there when it became apparent that England were putting in something of a historic performance.
I passed one of these at Cheney. I guessed it was probably a guinea fowl, and I was right.
I was served guinea fowl in Dieppe once. Very similar to turkey.
Lovely weather again, apart from the wind (again). Blowing directly from the west. I had two ideas for a Fondo today – the first was to do one of the old westbound routes, Abbots Bromley and back – and the other was to go up over Swarkestone Bridge, then west along the Beloved A Road. It’s not easy to get 31 miles out of that so I knew I’d have to improvise a bit at the remote end.
I took the Beloved A Road option, because the fridge was a bit short of cycling supplies. There’s a very serviceable petrol station with a decent shop near Hilton.
So I battled the headwind to the petrol station, got myself a nice selection of snacks including an Ice Cream Bounty – then continued on to Foston, where I found a bench and consumed them.
I’d only done 24 miles at this point and I couldn’t go any further without going on the A50 which is never a good idea on a bike, so I turned to come back. Shortly afterwards I saw a left turn named Hay Lane. I wasn’t sure if I’d been along there before so I thought I’d explore for a bit. The road surface was a bit scrappy here and there. At Alkmorton I saw a familiar sign for a farm “honesty shop” and a bit later on, a tractor business with an odd Christmas Tree installation on the roof. I’d definitely seen these before so I assumed I must have done this road at least once. However I’d taken a different route there previously, along a parallel road as it turns out.
My hope was that I’d be able to find some other way back home by exploring, rather than coming back the same way. And happily, that’s what happened.
Just found my write-up of the last time I’d been along this way, here – complete with a pic of the odd Christmas Tree structure atop the building at Alkmonton.
On that occasion I came back the same way, but this time I plotted a course to Derby along a road called Long Lane. I definitely hadn’t been along there before. This was terrific fun. It was a decent but quiet road with lovely views, I had a tailwind now and I felt like I was having a bit of an adventure.
I continued on and into the outer reaches of Derby – Mickleover and Littleover, then onto the ring road. Obviously this was pretty urban but I didn’t mind weaving through the traffic. It was really nice to be back in Derby.
I turned off along Moor Lane to visit the old Rolls-Royce Leisure Association. I used go shooting there every Friday evening. I went right into the car park. I hadn’t been there since 1994. There are a lot of new buildings now but it’s still recognisably the same place. Really strange to think that I hadn’t been there for all that time and to think of everything that’s happened since, yet as I turned out of the main gate and onto Moor Lane, it felt like no time had passed at all.
I continued along the ring road until Allenton, then came down through Chellaston and back onto Swarkestone Bridge. I wouldn’t have done 100km if I came home the usual way, so I went over to Isley Walton and came home from there. The fields on my left, and occasionally on my right between Melbourne and Walton had been repurposed as car parks for the Download festival, and some of the young revellers were out and about. I counted three Motorhead t-shirts and it did occur to me that none of their wearers could have been born when I bought the raucous trio’s first record in 1977.
My four-miles-to-go landmark at Coleorton (a public footpath sign) told me that I was still going to be short of a Fondo, so I went half a mile or so in the direction of Ibstock before coming home. Back on 62.76 miles.
Listened to 6 Music, and the Grand Prix coverage on 5 Live, then Northern Ireland vs Cyprus. Quite an enjoyable game to listen to even though both sides were dire. I’m really surprised to have got about nine hours from the cheap rechargeable AAAs in my DAB over two rides, because I’d left them discharged for years. I only charged them up and gave them a go to confirm that they’d had it. But clearly they haven’t.
Possibly the most enjoyable ride this year. 62.76 miles and that’s 303 this month. That was the 13th Fondo of 2022.
Warm, sunny and no chance of rain. But a powerful wind was blowing from the south-west. I thought I’d do the southbound route as far as Stoney Stanton, but turn off there to go down Fosse Way for a bit. Hadn’t done that for quite some time.
But when I got to Earl Shilton, I decided to do something different and took a left turn, instead of a right. I have done this before, but I couldn’t remember were I ended up. So clearly, I was in for a bit of an adventure.
I ignored the first left turn, to Desford (which is probably what I did last time). I took a left fork at the next junction though I ignored subsequent left turns to Thornton and Markfield, wanting to press on in a spirit of exploration. I saw a sign to Ratby, and I took that.
I’d passed the Poundstretcher head office a few miles earlier. I must admit it makes me envious to see people working in offices; I could see people at their desks through the windows. The signage and branding there is very much in keeping with their brand philosophy, it looks very cheap. I’ve definitely passed that place on my cycling travels at least one other time. I must see if I can work out when, from a segment or something.
I had only a very rough idea where I was by this time. But I’d only done 20 miles or so and definitely not in a straight line, so I couldn’t be far from home.
I ignored another Markfield sign and continued on to Groby. Then I arrived at a junction with the A50. Regrettably, I had pushed my luck too far. I wasn’t going to turn back the way I came and in the circumstances, the A50 seemed to be my best bet for getting back home, so I took it. It’s one of the main roads west out of Leicester. I’ve done it many times in a car, but I never thought I’d be doing it on a bike. it was very busy and to make matters worse, it’s quite an uphill slog as well. My old Talbot Sunbeam used to struggle up there every weekday morning in the late ’80s and I didn’t fare much better myself.
But I got to Markfield. From there I took a relatively quick way home which meant rejoining the same busy road for a stretch, but not for long.
Something a bit different, certainly. But I sort of wish I’d just done a Twycrosser. Would have suited my Friday afternoon mood better.
Still – 35.25 miles and that’s 240 this month. Shame to waste so much evening light and come back relatively early but it was too windy for a long one. Quite annoying at times.
Curious that so many places on the outskirts of Leicester have names ending in ‘by’. Enderby, Blaby, Groby, Ratby. It’s Viking in origin, apparently.