Wet Twycrosser

The weather forecast warned that rain was due over at around 6pm. I took a long lunch break at about 2:15pm, thinking that I wouldn’t get wet if I was back by about 5.

I got showered on for five minutes near Sibson after 18 miles and I hoped I’d get home without attracting any more precipitation, but nope – after a brief respite it was mostly persistent rain all the way home.

I trialled a new cycling jacket – really a perfect fit, nice and tight, but the pockets – especially the rear one – aren’t quite as big as I’d like. The sleeves are just the right length though, which is unusual for me as I have abnormally long arms. It did resist the moisture quite nicely, as well.

I listened to Nihal Arthanayake’s programme on 5 Live, which today was about how Mugabe’s behaviour in Zimbabwe was really the fault of the British.

Had to give the Tricross a good wipe down to get the moisture off when I got back, but at least it looks cleaner now.

29.42 miles, 557 this month which is 207 over target. Looks like I’m on course for about 5350 this year. 4687 so far.



Rain this morning but a very mild day – almost warm – and the roads dried off eventually. I decided to make the most of the unseasonal weather and set off at about 3:15pm under strict orders from myself not to do less than 36 miles, which would take me to 530 this month.

I was going to take the red Boardman but found the rear tyre a bit soft. I thought I’d probably get away with 30-odd miles if I pumped it up but I decided not to risk it. It must have a slow puncture and I’d probably have worried about it for the whole ride. So I took the X instead.

Really remarkably nice out there considering we’re on the cusp of November, especially early on when it was sunny. Late-summer-ish.

Today’s plan was to do a Twycross Bypasser as far as Kisses Barn Lane, then take a right instead of a left to explore new parts in the approximate direction of Tamworth.

So I did that. Despite a bit of climbing, the road toward Tamworth was very pleasant. I kept going until I was in the suburban outskirts of Tamworth itself, then came to a roundabout with no appealing options except to turn back, which I did. However on the way back I decided to take an unplanned turn signposted to Shuttington – just to see if I could find my way home from unknown territory. I knew I’d seen Shuttington on a map but couldn’t remember where it was.

Before long I saw a sign to No Man’s Heath, which was on one of my regular routes years ago, so I followed that one. However I arrived at a T junction, at which I assume I was supposed to guess whether to go left or right, because No Man’s Heath wasn’t signposted from there. But I could see the Lichfield transmitter in the distance to my left, so I turned right. No Man’s Heath was about a mile further on and I took a time-honoured route home from there.

I’d expected my adventurous orienteering to knock my distance up considerably, but nope – I’d only done 31 miles when I got to Heather and although I could have added a mile or so by detouring through Ibstock, I didn’t bother. Back on 33.0 miles. 527 this month.

Listened mostly to footy on 5 Live, Brighton vs Chelsea. Highly entertaining, although every time Brighton scored, you’d think the match commentator (Ian Dennis) had had an electric cattle prod stuck up his bum.


Stoney Stanton

A dry, mild afternoon and I was able to leave work early – at the cost of having to work later this evening – and mount a bicycle at about 3pm.

The wind was blowing fairly powerfully from the south. I left with the intention of doing a southbound fondo. However by the time I reached the T junction at Potters Marston after 17 miles, I’d decided not to do that. The headwind was annoying me. And besides, I thought – who really gives a toss if I do five fondos in the same month? It would be a personal record, but I decided I wasn’t that bothered about it.

So I decided to go left instead of right, explore for a couple of miles, then turn for home.

However – by the time I’d reached a village called Huncote I’d come down a longish, steepish descent that I didn’t really fancy coming back up. I kept going until I hit Narborough, on the south-western outskirts of Leicester – then I followed a sign to Stoney.

This wasn’t a great idea really because it took me along a pretty busy B road in rush hour. Funny how B roads can be bigger and badder than A roads, sometimes. Three or four miles later though I found myself on the usual southbound route, so I followed it home.

It was getting dark by the time I rolled through Stoney, so I put my lights on. By Ibstock, the rechargeable rear light had run out of juice (I might not have noticed this for a while, but a passing motorist tactfully drew my attention to it). Not to worry, I’d brought a spare of course. A little clip-on flasher. I clipped it to the hem of my cycling jacket at the rear.

A mile later I got beeped at again. I reached behind to check the clippy red flasher was still there; it wasn’t. Fortunately the rechargeable cell in the main rear light had recovered sufficiently to see me home and I only had a couple of miles to do at this point, though I was a bit nervous in the pitch-dark coming up from Ibstock before I reached the street lighting at the outskirts of the village.

Nice to have a bit of an adventure on a new stretch of road but the rush hour traffic spoiled the party a bit on the way back.

Back on 42.29 miles, 494 this month. More than happy with that, but perhaps the weather will permit another run out before November. Currently the forecast claims rain every day for the rest of the month.



Torrential rain yesterday and the roads were a bit wet again, but a high probability of a dry afternoon was promised so I thought I’d do 30 or so after work. Didn’t want to go much further than that because I’d been feeling a bit tired and frazzled from a beer-enhanced gig followed by a late bedtime last night.

I did a Twycross Bypasser, starting off by going down through Heather. I don’t usually do that, but on this occasion I’d actually intended to go out west through Measham but changed my mind when I reached the turn for Swepstone. The cosy familiarity of a Bypasser just felt more appealing.

It was getting gloomy by the time I reached Sibson and I reached down to turn on the rear light, only to find that it wasn’t working. I remembered that I’d had exactly the same experience last time I took the Tricross out after dark. And I never got round to fitting new batteries.

Luckily though I’d brought a spare head torch that takes the same (AAA) batteries so I stopped and swapped them in. Just as well because it was properly dark for the last half hour of the ride.

Really nice out there in the Autumn sunshine and not too cold. I picked up a few spots of rain near Sibson, but nothing to speak of.

I listened to the Drive programme on 5 Live, which mostly concerned itself with the result of the Tory leadership election of course. Geeta Guru-Murthy was sitting in for Clare McDonnell. It became obvious from the first few minutes that she holds similar views to her brother Krishnan, although she didn’t call anyone a cunt.

Back on 30.44 miles. 452 this month and I’ve more than made up for the September shortfall now.


Repairing a Freehub

I decided to have a go at fixing the freehub attached to the Fulcrum 5s that were on the Cannondale. You may remember that it stopped working on a long ride a few weeks ago, preventing the pedals from engaging the back wheel.

So .. I bought some freehub springs from Amazon and fitted one.

Actually a pretty simple job once you’ve taken the freehub off the wheel – you just wrap the spring, which looks like a slightly oversized cheap keyring, around the groove in the freehub body. The pawls are designed so that the tension in the spring makes them stick out and engage the hub when not freewheeling. I’m no mechanical engineer but I reckon that using a single spring for this is a poor design.

The remaining springs in the pack are shown here:

I gave the innards a good wipe round, and relubed the pawls and the hub. Fortunately the Fulcrum 5 rear wheel has sealed bearing units so I didn’t have to bother with regreasing little steel balls.

Working nicely now.  Some freehubs have independently sprung pawls. like this:

.. and that’s surely a better design.

Still to do: swap the 8 speed cassette off Boardman II and put it onto the Fulcrum 5 rear wheel. It’ll need spacers because the Fulcrum freehub is designed for a 10 speed cassette.

Down Fosse Way

A dry day was promised after a few days of persistent rain. Handy for a Saturday. With a moderate wind coming from the south, I thought I’d do my “other” southbound route, which differs from the usual one in that it turns off down Fosse Way after Stoney Stanton.

Pretty mild out there. I set off just after 0900. The roads were wet from yesterday’s rain for the first hour or two, so I took the Boardman.

Cool for the first couple of hours but I got the clothing strategy just right. I stuffed a fleece and a nylon outer layer into my backpack after Brinklow, while I gorged on a sausage roll that I’d bought in the village shop there. Brinklow is also the home of the Lost Deli, but it wasn’t open when I got there.

I hadn’t been down this route for quite some time – I think I’ve only ever done it four or five times – and I did manage to take a wrong turn, down Watling Street (also known as the A5). Fortunately it narrowed to a single carriageway after about half a mile so I was able to do a U turn.

I went down Fosse Way as far as a place called Princethorpe – I don’t think I’ve been down that far before, I’d done 36 miles at this point – and I took a left to go exploring. I found myself on a very pleasant, well-surfaced and delightfully flat stretch of road. I did about three miles of this then I came to a T junction with a very busy road, so I decided to turn for home. As it turns out I was a few miles from the south-western outskirts of Rugby.

I took the above pic at the High Cross monument, which marks the centre of Roman Britain at the intersection of two great Roman roads (Fosse Way and Watling Street). You might remember that it was featured in Great British Car Journeys a few years ago.

Just found this old bit of film from 1966 in which it’s featured, as well, about 30 seconds in:


I listened to 6 Music for a bit, then I started the next Reacher audiobook, The Enemy. The last one (Persuader) featured some flashbacks to Reacher’s time in the army, and I suppose Lee Childs must have got the taste for it because this one is set wholly in Reacher’s army days. Makes a change, I guess. Written in the first person again. I prefer the third person ones. Annoyingly the audiobook MP3s were a bit quiet even with the volume right up but I can fix them.

Back on 79.36 miles, which makes this possibly my first Quadruple Fondo October. 422 done this month, which is 72 miles over target, and about five miles short of target + last month’s deficit.

That was a really nice run out, I must go down that way more often, especially the flat stretch near Rugby. Probably one of my five or six favourite rides this year.


Twycross Bypasser with Ski Slope Diversion

I went over through Norton Juxta Twycross in Twycross Bypasser stylee, but I turned right instead of left, thinking of going over through No Man’s Heath and Clifton Campville. Then I remembered how rough the roads are over that way and I didn’t fancy doing that on two nice new road wheels, so I followed a sign to Orton. A few minutes later, I realised what I’d done. I was following a road that would lead me, inexorably, to the wrong end of a curvy hill known locally as the “ski slope”. I’d made this mistake before. Actually it wasn’t too strenuous.

I must say the views over there, with the fields bathed in late afternoon sunshine, were glorious.

After Orton I came back via a typical Twycross Bypasser route. I was tempted to come back along Fenn Lanes, but since I was road testing new parts and I didn’t have a proper front light, I thought better of it and took a mostly direct route home along Burton Road and Gibbet Lane.

Everything working nicely on the bike, thankfully. Does it feel a bit more zippy with the new wheels? No, it feels pretty much the same but I’m happy enough with that. Objectively the wheels are a bit lighter. I get the feeling the rolling resistance is a bit higher but that’s probably because the tyres (Conti Ultra Sport) are new (they should harden up a bit over time and resist a bit less).

Back on 32.74 miles, 342 this month which is only 8 miles short of target. But the rest of the month is predominantly rainy, according to the forecast.


Wood End

Didn’t want to go too far today as I was feeling a little worn down from the combined effects of a fondo on Thursday, a gig in Stoke last night and two overnight jobs at work earlier in the week. Minimally though I wanted to do 34 miles, to get the October mile count up over 300.

I thought I’d do some variation of a Twycross Bypasser, with an excursion down the Dad’s Army route at the bottom. The wind was coming from the south-west, ideal for this route.

I wanted if possible to go right down to Kingsbury Water Park, which I hadn’t done since I first did this ride just over two years ago. I didn’t upload the route to a GPS app or anything like that, I just hoped I’d remember it. I wouldn’t be overly troubled if I didn’t. One change I made was to join the A5 earlier, to avoid the twisty, climby, gravelly little narrow track near Dordon. A case of a choice of two extremes, neither particularly desirable.

I turned off the A5 after two miles of it. A mile later I was convinced that I’d taken the wrong exit, or missed a turn somewhere, because I didn’t recognise where I was at all. In fact (as I discovered later by scrutinising the track on Strava) I was on exactly the right road, and if I’d stayed on it another four or five miles I would have arrived at Kingsbury Water Park.

But I didn’t. I decided to take a left turn signposted to a place called Wood End. Half a mile later I was confronted with a uncompromising-looking hill. I’d done 22 miles at this point, so I opted to turn back. I rejoined the Bypasser route five miles or so later, and continued home through Sheepy, Bilstone, Barton in the Beans, Odstone and Heather.

Took the above pic on the A5 on the way back.

Saw a very large number (a murder?) of crows in a field near Barton, about half of them airborne. Something seemed to have agitated them. And there was a beautiful partial rainbow visible from Gibbet Lane, with all the ROYGBIV constituent colours clearly distinguishable. I was going to take a bike pic with it in the background but by the time I’d found a suitable spot, it had faded a bit. So I didn’t bother.

The roads were a bit wet from overnight rain when I set off, but soon dried off. I did hit a patch of wet roads again on the way back near Heather, though I hadn’t picked up a spot of rain on the ride. I’d guessed that might happen when I saw the rainbow segment hovering over that general direction.

Back on 43.20 miles which takes me to 310 this month. Another 117 to do to hit this month’s target + last month’s deficit.


Southbound Fondo

A sunny, mild day with a very light wind coming from the south, a moderate temperature and no chance of rain, according to the forecast. I was tired, from having to stay up until 0215 last night (and the night before) to perform scheduled work for a customer that took (literally) all of ten seconds each time. But I wanted to do a fondo nonetheless, especially since I hadn’t found the time to ride a bike for a few days. Perfect conditions for the southbound route.

I left work as soon as I could. I wanted to take the Cannondale as a test ride, since it has two new wheels. But as I examined it in the garage I noticed that the front tyre was completely flat. Now – it may well be that I let all the air out myself to fit the front wheel on through the brake pads, but I certainly wasn’t going to take the risk. So I took the X, also due a test ride since its recent service.

It’s not really a great idea to do a long ride on a newly-serviced bike, just in case one of the new cables haven’t been fitted properly, or the headset hasn’t been tightened properly, or a bolt hasn’t been torqued correctly. Or whatever. However I was keen to verify that all was well with it (and in particular that the freehub had been fixed; it had been sticking). So that was a risk I was prepared to take.

Really nice out there. I stopped at my favourite village shop at Gilmorton on the way down and treated myself to a bit of a feast there. Warm enough to sit at the table outside. And it was here that I realised that I hadn’t brought my LED torch, which I’d intended to use as a front light. I did have a head torch with me, and a flashy blinker – but I wasn’t sure that this particular head torch would be adequate to light the country lanes in front of me on the way back. I’d done 25 miles at this point. It would probably be wiser to turn for home, once I’d finished my coffee. But I decided to go for the fondo distance regardless and hope for the best.

I didn’t go all the way down to Welford and the Northamptonshire border, as I normally would. I turned back as soon as I’d done the requisite fondo mileage (factoring in that I would take a slightly longer route on the way back by going along Wood Road a few miles from home).

It all went well. No problems with the bike, it’s rolling very nicely, the freehub isn’t sticking any more and all the gear changes were fine. It would be an exaggeration to say that the head torch was adequate, but I got away with it. Very enjoyable run out except for the idiot in a beanie hat near Stoney, who, while overtaking another oncoming vehicle, decided to aim his car at me and swerve away at the last minute for a laugh.

Saw a bright yellow helicopter hovering maybe ten metres above a field about 200 metres away near Newbold Verdon. It was there for at least two minutes, can’t imagine what that was about. And I had a lovely view of a glider coming in to land at Husbands Bosworth airfield.

Back on 62.56 miles, that was the 24th fondo of the year and the third this month. It could well be a quadruple-fondo October!



Definitely a fondo day today. With the wind forecast to come from the west, I plotted a route last night that would combine the Upper Westbound route (up over Swarkestone Bridge, west along the Beloved A Road) with the Lower Westbound route on the way back, the two being joined by a route down through the A515 and Abbots Bromley.

I set off at 10:05. I was tempted to take the X so I could check it out following its service, but that would have been unwise for a long ride. So I rolled out the Boardman again.

A few puddles but nothing unavoidable. Unfortunately rather than going straight up to Melbourne I drifted up through Peggs Green and up Top Brand, on autopilot. I just wasn’t thinking about what I was doing. I got back on track by taking a detour through Breedon and Lount for a change, rather than Isley Walton and King’s Newton, which would be my usual method to get to Melbourne from there.

And when I arrived at the aforementioned Derbyshire town which shares its name with Australia’s second-most populous city, I realised that my misnavigation had added more than 6 miles onto my ride. I compensated for that by coming straight down to Yoxall on the southbound part of the ride, rather than all the way west and south (respectively) to Abbots Bromley and King’s Bromley. This meant that I came back through Walton and Coton rather than Alrewas, Croxall, Edingale and Lullington as I’d intended, but oh well – still a nice route.

Really a nice day out on the bike apart from an uphill slog for a mile coming down the A515. Cool in the morning, especially when the Sun disappeared behind a cloud but it was much warmer, and consistently sunny in the afternoon. I’d brought a backpack to stuff layers of clothes into, fortunately.

I judged the distance pretty well following the navigation hiccup and the compensatory short cut later on; just had to take a detour through Ibstock over the last couple of miles to finish on the fondo distance. Back on 62.56 miles. 204 done this month, target is 350 but I hope I can tack on the deficit from last month.