A dry afternoon, didn’t leave work quite as early as I’d have liked but I thought I’d get another 30 or so in. For a change I thought I’d do 15 miles or so along the route to Wales, then come back the same way – a bit of the “lower westbound” route, in other words.

That all went very well until I found myself approaching Coton in the Elms, at which point I realised I must have missed a turn. But I’d already done 12 miles at this point so I wasn’t bothered really. I just followed a road sign to Walton, and kept on keepin’ on.

The thought did occur to me that I was in entirely new territory here, on a road that I’d never done before. I got as far as a queue of traffic for the narrow bridge over the Trent at Walton, then I decided to come back rather than wait to cross the bridge. I thought that trying to find the same way back by remembering the turns might be a bit of a challenge but it wasn’t, and I realised that I hadn’t been on a new bit of road at all.

Beautiful out there in the early evening sunshine. Glorious. I should do that route more often. For some reason I only really go that way on much longer rides, usually. It just feels out of my comfort zone, out of my sense of territory to go over that way. Daft really.

Anyway – back on 32.03 miles, which brings this month’s total to 273 miles, and that’s probably it for September. My target was 350 miles, and this is the first time ever that I’ve failed to hit a monthly target.

A cruel and unusual set of circumstances combined to defeat me. A holiday to Portugal and Spain at the beginning of the month. A dose of COVID took me out for a few days. A kidney stone wrote off one weekend. I had to go to visit relatives last weekend. And finally, it’s a 30-day month. I reckon that the absence of any one of these five factors would have seen me scrape through to 350 miles, but anyway as a damage limitation exercise, I’m pretty happy to have managed 78% of the target. 4130 done this year.


Swarkestone and Donington

It was a dismal day until 4pm or so, when the rain dried up and the sun came out. It was cold though and a moderate wind was blowing from the north.

I set off in the direction of Swarkestone Bridge, thinking of doing a bit of the Beloved A Road, then coming back through Ticknall – however after Swarkestone I decided I’d go east to Donington through Weston, Aston and Shardlow.

I wrapped up warm and it was actually quite nice out there, especially when I wasn’t pedalling into the wind. As I passed the airport it occurred to me that I very rarely see aircraft take off and land there when I’m going past. Just unlucky, perhaps.

My GPS bike computer ran out of juice after 20 miles so I had to use a GPS logger app on my phone to record the rest of the ride. I stitched the tracks together before uploading to Strava.

Properly dark by the time I got back. But of course, I’d brought lights. 33.51 miles. 241 this month.


Mechanical Failure Non-Fondo

Lovely afternoon, almost warm and mostly sunny. A light wind coming from the north. There can’t be many more days like this in the year so I took the afternoon off to do an eastbound fondo – the traditional, time-honoured route to Eastwell and back – except that I took a road called Narrow Lane on the way back; a lovely little stretch of road that I discovered on a fondo four weeks ago.

I was really enjoying myself until, eight miles from home on the way back, I noticed that my pedals didn’t seem to be engaging the back wheel. The chain was still properly attached at both ends. But the cassette was just spinning on the hub.

I stopped and examined it and the freehub was freely spinning both ways. I did manage to get it working briefly – but only very briefly; I got another half or mile or so out of it. So of course I called ‘er indoors and she came out to collect me. I walked the bike some of the way back, and even managed to roll down a couple of descents on it.

She was, I have to say, unimpressed. Naturally she wanted to know what I’d have done if it had happened in Wales or Norfolk. And it’s a fair question. I mean – statistically, proper mechanical breakdowns are very rare fortunately, but there’s no legislating against them.

Anyway the Internet tells me I may be able to fix the freehub by flushing it out with WD-40 then relubricating it. I’ll have a look next weekend maybe.

54.45 miles, 208 this month.


Twycrosser with Orton Detour

A nice afternoon, very mild, very dry, light winds. Left work as early as I could in the hope of cranking out 30-odd miles. Decided to take the Tricross, since it hadn’t had a run out since April. Despite its weight it did roll along very pleasantly.

I did a Twycrosser, with a detour to Orton from Twycross. Went right down to Witherley, but came back up mainly along the main road. Hadn’t done that for a while. Very nice out there.

Conditions grew a bit dim over the last half hour of the ride which would have been fine, except that my rear light needs new batteries, apparently. Plenty of light to see the road in front of me (and my blinky front light was working properly) but I definitely felt a little insecure about traffic coming up behind me over the last couple of miles. It was twenty minutes after sunset before I got home. Fortunately it was very quiet along Heather Lane. I think I only got passed by a moped.

Listened mostly to various analysts and commentators on LBC, giving their opinion on the prospect of a thermonuclear exchange with Russia.

Back on 33.62 and that’s a measly 153 this month, but 4010 done this year now.


Funereal Twycrosser

September had already turned into a sort of damage limitation exercise by the time I came down with COVID a week ago, but this bank holiday weekend was at least an opportunity to clock up 100 miles or so. Wasn’t it? Nope, a suspected kidney stone kept me out of action on the Saturday and Sunday.

But I appear to be back to my normal self mostly today – whether the kidney stone has passed, just moved somewhere more comfortable or never actually existed I am yet to find out, but I decided I would attempt 25 miles or so this afternoon. The worry was that the pain would flare up again and I’d be incapacitated, an inconvenient distance from home. But a shortish Twycrosser seemed an acceptable risk.

Very light rain when I set off and it only got worse, at least for an hour. Then it stopped for an hour. Then it came back. I pressed on regardless, driven mainly by bloody-mindedness. I listened to coverage of the latter stages of the Queen’s funeral, the Windsor instalment.

It was eerily quiet out there.

Bit cold later on, even when it wasn’t raining. Not the most enjoyable ride, but glad to have got out on a bike again, for only the third time this month.

26.45 miles.


COVID Exercise

Got up at about 0945, didn’t feel like I had a lot of energy but I thought it would be best to get some exercise. I mounted the Cannondale not knowing if I’d be able to manage much more than 5 miles. Felt a bit shaky over the first 100 metres or so, and a bit zombified over the first couple of miles – almost like a lucid dream.

However I found that I wasn’t having any trouble going up hills so I took it easy, pressed on and did a shortish Twycrosser. Came back along Gibbet Lane to keep it short as a precaution but as I seemed to be doing fine I stretched the ride a bit by diverting through Burgoland and Swepstone, then Ibstock.

I did have a coughing fit like an old hag after I got off the bike, but I’m fine.

Decent weather, a mix of light wind and cloud. Just warm enough for bare legs.

Naturally I was careful to retain an appropriate distance from other persons at all times, including the bloke who was leaning against the driver’s side of his van while it was parked on Measham Road. Gave him a very wide berth.

Anyway I did 28.42 miles. 257 still to do to meet my target for September and I don’t think I’ll be able to do it. Got other commitments next weekend and it’s a 30 day month.


Up and West

At last, an opportunity to get out on a bike in September. With the wind coming from the NE I decided a trip up over Swarkestone Bridge then west along the Beloved A Road was in order. What I wanted to do, at least roughly, was repeat my ride from the 3rd of August in which I’d got a fondo distance out of riding to a village called Marston Montgomery.

Very light drizzle when I set off but since the forecast was mainly dry I tolerated it, in the hope that it would go away. It didn’t though, it got worse. Persistent light rain by the time I was rolling through Coleorton. It lasted no more than half an hour though, and after that the temperature climbed a bit and I dried off fairly quickly in the warm breeze. I was too warm in the end actually. I’d opted for bare legs but had three layers on top. I took one of them off and stuffed it in my backpack, which helped.

I thought I’d be able to remember the route easily enough, but I failed to take a turn at Hatton and found myself in Foston. I had a break there, for a pasty – there’s a very comfortable bench next to a bus stop – and plotted a course back onto my intended route using Google Maps.

Since I’d added a couple of miles by unintentionally diverting to Foston, I didn’t go all the way to Marston Montgomery.

Rotter’s Rise, my regular nemesis south of Melbourne was a bit of a struggle. Whether that’s early onset of COVID, loss of fitness incurred by not riding a bike for 11 days or residual debilitation from ingesting an excess of alcohol on holiday, I don’t know.

I was waved at by a tiny tot, being held by her grandfather (I assume) at the front gate of a terraced house near Hatton. She was waving at all the passing traffic. It’s a hobby I suppose! Of course I smiled and waved back.

Back on 64.78 miles, a decent bite out of September’s modest target (350).