A Quick One

Quite a decent cycling day – cooler, but warm enough for bare legs. However I have a long day tomorrow and other things to do today so I only wanted to do 25 or so this afternoon. I’d intended to set off after the Artemis I launch, but when it was delayed I guessed it was probably going to be scrubbed for today, so I set off at about 12:55pm.

A moderate wind was coming from the east, but since I wasn’t going far I decided I’d do a Twycrosser. I was going to come back along Gibbet Lane but changed my mind and did a u-turn on Burton Road to take the route back through Carlton.

Listened mostly to Sangita Myska on LBC, sitting in for Shelagh Fogarty and I must admit I had steam coming out of my ears after about half an hour of it. She either misunderstood or laughably misrepresented every topic she wanted to talk about, as she entertained a series of hysterically moronic callers. I so wish everyone didn’t get to vote, only a very few of us really know what we’re doing in a polling booth.

I got rained on, but only lightly and only for a few minutes. Mostly cloudy but the sun came out for the last two miles.

28.17 miles, bringing the total for August to 557 and that’ll be it for this month. If I hit the (pretty modest) targets for the remaining months, 2022 will be my third best year so far in distance terms.


Slightly Compromised Fondo

I’m on call at the moment, but it’s been very quiet. So quiet in fact that I was tempted to do a fondo. Not the sort of messing-around fondo that involves a sort of orbital or criss-cross route intended to keep me within 15 miles or so of base, but a proper one, in which I cycle in roughly the same direction for 31 miles, then come back.

A beautiful day for cycling; warm and sunny with a light wind coming from the east. No risk of rain, according to the forecast. I took the S Works since I’d only been out on it four times this year and of course the Summer of 2022 is, alas, drawing to a close.

As a sort of gesture to fortune, I expanded the ride a bit over the first 25 miles or so – by taking the long way up through Diseworth and Long Whatton to Zouch, then by detouring through Wymeswold between Cotes and Six Hills. This would enable me to turn back a mile or two closer to home.

Wymeswold is an inexplicably complicated village to navigate, and by approaching it from an unfamiliar direction, I managed to get lost. Instead of exiting it along my usual route (East Road), I found myself on a very pleasant, leafy and quiet country lane. I had no idea in which direction I was headed at this point but in a spirit of adventure, I decided to just keep going and see where it took me. In fact three miles later it took me to my usual road out east, near Six Hills.

I realised then that I had pedalled along a road called Narrow Lane – I’d seen it on a map often, but I’d always ignored it because it’s not particularly useful. The usual route out of Wymeswold (ie the one that had eluded me) is more efficient. There’s only three miles of Narrow Lane and it’s a bit up-and-down-ish. But it is very quiet (unsurprisingly, because it runs parallel to a faster road going in the same direction) so I may well do it again some time.

I was of course, a little nervous about being a considerable distance from home and on call at the same time. The insistent voice of my conscience on my right shoulder (not really, this is a metaphor just to be clear) kept whispering in my ear: “What are you going to do if you get a call 25 miles from home, and it’s an emergency? Turn back now!” But the voice on my other shoulder reminded me that I almost never get a call on a Saturday afternoon, and anyway (it continued), I could always say my phone was broken.

So I kept going. In fact I kept going for about a mile past the half-fondo distance before turning for home, to give myself the option of taking a more direct route back. I did do Narrow Lane again (and stopped there to take the pic above), but I came through Wymeswold and Rempstone the traditional way rather than going down to Cotes. I also didn’t bother with the Diseworth detour on the way back. At Zouch I realised that I’d be back home a mile short of a fondo, so I detoured into the outskirts of Coalville over the last couple of miles.

I didn’t get a call, fortunately.

Listened mostly to footy chat on 5 Live. I’d been looking forward to Liverpool vs Bournemouth, the featured commentary game at 3pm, but Liverpool took the suspense out of it by scoring twice in the first six minutes. So I switched over to Gilles Peterson on 6 Music, a decision that I regretted later when I heard that Liverpool had scored nine goals. What that match lacked in suspense, it might well have made up for in entertainment.

Gilles had an interview with Kahil El’Zabar, a talented musician for sure but a bit of a hippy. He told us about “the vibration of energy” and that his saxophone player’s parts were “the expression of the universe through human configuration”.

Back on 62.26 miles and that’s the fourth (and last) fondo this month.


Infinity Park Way

Plenty of rain this morning but by 4pm I’d decided that the roads had dried out enough for a run out on a bike. The wind was coming from the west, very roughly, and I decided I’d do the Beloved A Road for a bit. Not long after I’d turned left onto it from Swarkestone Bridge, I had the idea of taking a right turn toward Derby then finding my way back to Swarkestone from there, perhaps via the ring road and down through Chellaston. I felt like indulging my inner Derby resident.

I took a right turn called Frizams Lane. This took me to Stenson and past a pub called The Bubble, where I used to go occasionally 30 years ago, and have been to once or twice on a bike in recent years. From there I followed a sign to Derby which took me, less than a mile later, to a very pleasant A road. This confused me a bit. Where was I? Why have I never been along this road before? But about a mile later I realised that I’d looped back onto the same (Beloved) A Road. All I’d done, effectively, was a sort of elaborate U turn.

No matter – I continued back to Swarkestone. I had a few options to extend the ride a bit from there. I could continue on to Shardlow, or to Isley Walton again for example. Instead I decided to keep going to the A50 roundabout then hang a left onto Infinity Park Way, a road on the very outskirts of Derby built to service industrial units and new housing, and which leads to the Rolls-Royce test facility (pictured below). I’ve just read that it was only opened last year, and yet I’m sure it was there when I last pedalled that way and I’m sure that was more than three years ago.

I turned back from here and came home the usual way from Swarkestone. I didn’t really fancy Rotter’s Rise after Melbourne, but it wasn’t too bad.

Stopped at a big log at the edge of Spring Wood near the Derbyshire border and ate a cheese pasty sitting there in the evening sunshine. Lovely.

Very nice run out. Nice to visit Derby again, even though I only penetrated her lightly.  I do get quite sentimental when I think about living there in the early ’90s, when it was still new to me.

36.33 miles, 467 this month. If I hit all of my (pretty modest) monthly targets for the rest of the year, I’ll end up doing more miles this year than last. No big deal, but nice to have. Actually I’m 484 miles ahead of this time last year.

I got another 2 hrs, 24 minutes from the AAs in my Roberts DAB before they finally died – bringing the total to an extraordinary 30 hours, 31 minutes.


Stoney Stanton

Rain this morning and mostly a pretty dismal day early on, so I was a bit surprised to discover that it was rather warm out there when I left the house. Almost scorchio, and the sun had come out.

Today’s plan was to do the southbound route for a bit, then come back the same way. I got to Stoney Stanton on about 18 miles and was about to turn back, when – on a whim – I decided to take the right turn at the roundabout and find a different way home. I’d come home that way a few times in the past so it was really just a question of remembering the route. Which I didn’t. Instead I found myself, after a while, on a fairly busy A road which I remembered from the days when I used to commute to Coventry by car, over ten years ago. I must confess that I used the cycle lane. I don’t usually do that as a rule, but it looked nice and clear of gravel and debris. And pedestrians.

I came to a big roundabout next to a Morrisons and I thought I knew the way from there from my old commute, but I took a wrong turn, through Stoke Golding. This took me to Fenn Lanes a few miles further on though, very familiar territory. I took the left turn off Fenn Lanes toward Shenton and sat for a while on the Judith Birch bench, munching a cheese pasty and idly watching the sheep in the field opposite.

The road from Shenton to Bosworth was blocked by a flood (as documented photographically below) so I backtracked and took a road signposted to Sutton Cheney at the previous junction. This was quite fortuitous as it took me along Albion Lane. I’ve done that a couple of times in the past and remembered it as being pleasant, but wasn’t sure where it was when I’ve thought of doing it again. So I found it without actually looking for it. It leads right to the junction where one of my favourite benches at Sutton is situated. I must remember that.

Back the usual way, or one of them, from there. Very nice run out, a nice adventure. I’ll try to devise a route that takes in the pleasant stretch of road near Stoke Golding while avoiding the A road with the cycle lane.

I overheated a little at first but was very comfortable later on. A thick layer of cloud rolled over before long and I thought it might rain, but it didn’t.

Amazingly my Roberts personal DAB has got another 4 hours, 22 minutes out of its first pair of AAs, bringing the total to more than 28 hours. I would have been happy with 10 hours, and surprised with 15. And the batteries aren’t done yet. I must remember to put a glowing review on Amazon.

42.59 miles which takes me to 430 this month and 35,000 since I started doing this regularly in January 2015.


Kirkby Mallory

A pleasantly warm, mostly sunny afternoon with a light wind coming from the west. My first idea was to do some of the Lower Westbound route and come back the same way. But when I got to the crossroads at Gallows Lane I decided I didn’t really feel like doing that, and I set off down through Twycross, thinking of doing some of the Dad’s Army route.

However I failed to take the correct turn for that at Pinwall Lane, and ended up going east along Fenn Lanes. From there I continued on to Kirkby Mallory and came back the usual (southbound route) way from there.

Really very pleasant out there, especially with footy on the DAB radio. I listened to Leeds vs Chelsea, very entertaining. Lovely to have that fixture back in the top tier, especially at Elland Road.

Noticed a couple of light planes and powered hang gliders parked up in the air field along Fenn Lanes, so I stopped to take a pic there. Must have been an air festival on this weekend, or something.

Passing a field near Kirkby Mallory I saw a miniature tornado whirling up bits of wheat chaff and dust. Never seen anything like it, quite remarkable. It had a really well-defined acute funnel shape, very narrow and pointy at the base where it connected with the ground. I stopped to watch it but unfortunately it had died before I could get a pic.

Astonishingly, my Roberts DAB personal has now given me nearly 24 hours from the same pair of alkaline batteries, and it still hasn’t finished them off.

Back on 39.60 miles, 388 this month.


Up and West Again

Another warm day yesterday and with a stiff wind coming from the west, I thought a trip after work along the Beloved A Road was in order. I went as far as Hatton, where I acquired a pork pie and a triple Bounty bar from the petrol station – then turned for home.

Just lovely on the way back in the warm evening sunshine with a gentle tailwind. I decided to atone for my short ride on Wednesday by extending the ride a bit. I had two options – either to continue on after Swarkestone through Weston, Aston and Shardlow then come down through Donington – or to hang a left at Melbourne for Isley Walton, then come down Top Brand. I opted for the latter. The Donington option would have added at least 6 miles (at a guess, I haven’t worked it out) but I thought I’d get at least 4 from detouring through Isley Walton.

No-one At The Bridge

In fact it adds a bit less than 2.5 miles. Still – back on 46.15 miles, happy enough with that.

There are some enormous farm vehicles on the roads at the moment. I had one coming toward me that literally took up 2/3 of the width of a decent sized road. No way I could have got past it in a car. And I was overtaken by a speeding fire engine along Ashby Road, just a couple of miles from home. I was slightly concerned to see it take the left turn for Ravenstone ahead of me, but I couldn’t see any houses on fire in the village when I arrived there.

Astonishingly, my new Roberts personal DAB got another 4.5 hours from the same pair of Alkaline batteries – that’s nearly 20 hours out of them, and they aren’t dead yet. I wouldn’t have to think about taking spares with me on a long ride. I could even take them out and use them in a front light over the last couple of hours, especially if I took high capacity AAs and used an MP3 player for some of the ride.

Anyway that’s 348 this month. More tomorrow hopefully.


Up the A6

Rain this morning. Dry, excepting a few puddles by the time I downed tools in the afternoon – but much cooler weather than the last few days. Almost cold! And windy, and overcast. Positively autumnal.

I put a pair of cycling tights on, bringing to end what must surely be the longest run of legs-out rides in my cycling career. I put several waist-up layers on as well, including a fleece. I was comfortably warm enough but I didn’t overheat.

Started off a bit indecisively up Ashby Road before turning back after a minute or so to start the eastbound route. I only had a vague idea of what I was going to do. I suppose (in hindsight) maybe Six Hills and back might have been well-suited to the conditions, with the wind coming from the NE. But I got as far as the junction at Hathern and decided to go up the A6, just to do something different. I assumed I’d find a left turn to come back toward Long Whatton or Diseworth but I’d done two miles of the busy A road before I found a suitable turn, to Donington. Shortly after that I found a left turn to Long Whatton. Quite an enjoyable stretch of road that, one I’d not done before. A bit twisty, and patchy in places but quiet.

Came home a time-honoured way from Whatton once I’d got my bearings (I took the wrong turn at the T junction there initially). Tried to extend my ride a bit by taking a detour along Breedon Lane, then detouring into Coalville for a bit. But I was still back on a disappointing 27.97 miles.

Following your nose and faffing about can sometimes cause you to do longer distances than you intended, but sometimes they can bring you home sooner than you wanted. And that was the case today. But I’ll try to do at least 40 on Friday.

Anyway, 302 done this month so the target 400 miles should be eminently doable.

I’ve now done more than 15 hours of DAB time on the same pair of Alkaline AAs. Very happy with that.


Shortish Twycrosser

Much cooler than yesterday, and we had some rain around midday – but still more than warm enough for minimal clothing and the roads were dry by the time I was able to leave work, at 4pm.

The rain was due back over in the form of thundery showers later in the evening (though as I type, they haven’t materialised yet) so I thought I’d keep it down to not much more than 20 miles. I did a shortish Twycrosser, coming up along Gibbet Lane.

By the time I got to Barton I’d decided it wasn’t going to rain anytime soon so I lengthened the ride a bit by detouring through Burgoland and Swepstone.

I brought the wrong pair of glasses with me somehow. Often on a short ride I’ll just grab a pair of old varifocals rather than my cycling glasses, but this time I brought reading glasses. I put them away in my jersey and made do with unassisted eyeballs, but I found I was able to read the bike computer and my watch, albeit with slight difficulty. And I didn’t mind the slightly unfocussed view of my surroundings. I did get a couple of small flies in my eyes though.

Listened to 5 Live, which marked the first anniversary of the Taleban taking over in Afghanistan, an event which to the BBC is only about girls being prevented from going to school. Also featured: Graeme Souness and his crime against humanity.

Back on 25.26, more on Wednesday I hope.


Eastbound Fondo

I was determined to do a fondo today. Unfortunately it was scorchio again, but I reasoned that if I set off at 3pm then I’d only be uncomfortable for a couple of hours.

I did the standard eastbound fondo, Eastwell and back via Burton on the Wolds. I took a 1L bidon with me but it was already near depleted by the time I got to the petrol station at Burton. I bought a lucozade and a Fanta from the fridge. Drank most of the lucozade on the spot (and what a joy) and decanted the Fanta to the bidon. I bought water and more Lucozade on the way back. In all I consumed about 2 litres of fluids, probably a record for me (and I gulped down a San Miguel as soon as I got back). Don’t feel great about ingesting all that sugary stuff, perhaps I should have bought more water and less Lucozade but hopefully I burned a lot of it off.

Had a headwind to contend with on the outbound stretch. It grew stronger as I made progress eastwards, though I knew it would as, unusually, I bothered to check the forecast over several points on the route rather than just for home. I didn’t mind it so much, though. It was a bit like being fanned.

I’ve bought a new DAB personal (the controls are a bit more intuitive and easy than the ones I already have) and so far I’ve got nearly ten hours out of a bog-standard pair of Alkaline AAs. Impressive. I listened mostly to Premier League footy – of special interest was Brentford vs Man United, and I couldn’t help thinking the London side had made a schoolboy error by scoring their four goals so early in the game – yet United failed to capitalise on their mistake.

Conditions grew more tolerable as the shadows lengthened and the day wore on of course, but I was still a bit uncomfortably warm at 7:30pm. I was also a little disconcerted to see the sun go down at about 8:30pm, but I hadn’t checked the sunset time. I did have lights with me, but I only used the rear. I was home by 8:55pm.

I heard a pronounced CLUNK coming from the transmission a few times when freewheeling. Happened to be looking down at the chainring when it happened the third or fourth time and what was happening was the chain was going slack, then twanging taut again – which can only mean, I think, that the rear Disraeli is sticking. Perhaps I didn’t lubricate it properly following cleaning, or perhaps something’s caught in it – I’ll have a look tomorrow.


62.81 miles; that’s the third fondo this month. Don’t know what my record is, perhaps I’ll check. Glad to have got 151 miles done in August already as I’m on call for most of the rest of the month.

Quite surprised to see four Strava PRs on a route I’ve done very many times. Must have been on the way back, with the tailwind. Or perhaps it’s Lucozade power.

Bypasser with Pit Stop

Another stinking hot day. I took advantage of the hot weather to wash the X. I gave it a very thorough clean and after I’d hosed out the last of the car shampoo lather, it took about four minutes to dry in the baking sun.

I then gave it a bit of a seeing to with GT85 and some lube in the garage. But I chose the Cannondale for a ride out this afternoon. I wanted to make sure all’s well with its latest inner tube, and the rear tyre only got about 9 miles on the last run out (not counting being wheeled along at walking pace).

I hoped that the sun had lost some of its ferocity by 3pm, when I set off.

I basically did a long version of the time-honoured Twycross Bypasser, except that I cut left to Sheepy after Sibson, so that I could visit San Giovanni for a pit stop involving a beer or two. I also asked for some tap water to refill the bidon. I’d brought my Magnum 1L one, not often that gets used. But I was going through water at an alarming rate.

By the time I left, the shadows were longer and the sun a little less hostile. I came back up through Twycross and Swepstone. Sort of a part-Twycrosser in reverse.

Happily, rear tyre and inner tube behaved themselves this time.

I was overtaken by a beautiful metallic silver E-Type Jag near Packington. And I saw a steam tractor pulling a trailer half a mile from home. Maybe coal power is a bit more economical now that diesel is so expensive.

Back on 40.48 miles, a bit debilitated from the heat and the beer (although I had another one as soon as I got back), but content. That’s 186 this month, the target is 400 but there’s a fair bit of rain in the forecast next week.