With the wind blowing from the east again and a dry day promised, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to do my favourite fondo, along the eastbound route. I set off at about 10:35. I took the S Works. I inspected and relubed it last weekend after the chain skipped a couple of times on its previous ride, so I was keen to see if it would behave this time (and it did).

About a minute after I set off, I noticed that my Casio GPS watch wasn’t recording elapsed distance. I realised that I’d left it on ‘Airplane’ mode. I stopped to fiddle with the menus and as I did so, an elderly gentleman strolled over for a chat. Lovely old bloke. Told me that he’d been a keen cyclist himself in his youth, and during “the year that peace was declared” (1945 of course) he’d cycled around Wales at the age of 14.

The headwind was pretty annoying on the outward leg of the trip, so I was very pleased to arrive at the crossroads at Eastwell, where I intended to turn back. I’d done slightly less than half a fondo distance and I intended to cut across to Wymeswold via Narrow Lane on the way back, which would cut about 0.3 miles off the trip, normally. But I also intended to make up the miles by detouring through Diseworth and down Top Brand once back over the Leicestershire border.

I had an impromptu picnic on the grass verge before I turned back.

As things turned out, I didn’t have to make up any distance because I missed a turn at Wymeswold and continued on to Hoton. I had to consult Google Maps to get back on track. Fortuitous though because that stretch of road is really quiet. It was lovely in the sunshine. I really must go that way more often. It probably saves a bit of climbing as well (I’ll check that).

I did detour through Diseworth and down Top Brand regardless.

I’d forgotten that my right cleat had slipped out of the pedal a few times on the last ride I did with the same shoes, and it slipped out even more often this time. Annoying. Just hope I remember to replace it before the same thing happens again.

Listened to 6 Music, then Spurs vs Chelsea. But I got bored with that fairly quickly so I listened to the second Rolling Stones album, the unimaginatively titled The Rolling Stones No. 2. Very similar to their debut, maybe a bit more light and shade. Definitely better recorded. But pretty basic R&B covers. It was released at the beginning of 1965. They were light years behind The Beatles in terms of imagination, songwriting, production, ambition, everything.

It was a real faff, yet again, to get the track off my Casio watch and onto Strava. I think I’ll give up on using that watch for bike rides.

Anyway .. back on 65.76 miles.  That one takes me to 516 miles this month and 1044 this year. Don’t think I’ve ever got to 1000 miles so early in the year before.



Another dry, sunny day so inevitably, I decided to ride a bike after work. My right knee was a bit sore after the last ride and I didn’t want to push my luck, so I decided that 25 miles would do. I taped it up before I set off, haven’t done that for a year or two. I decided to go out through Coalville and up Ashby Road for a bit, which wouldn’t involve any conspicuous climbing.

Took a left to Long Whatton from Ashby Road but rather than heading back I kept on from there to Zouch. Turned back homeward just over the Nottinghamshire border. Came back down Top Brand.

My knee didn’t give me any trouble, happily. I think taping it up does help, I should do that more often, at least on long rides. I only wish I’d kept my legs properly shaved like a good cyclist, the tape was a bastard to get off.

Enjoyable run out and nice to get out after work and be back before sunset. Cold out there. Would have been worse if I’d stayed out another half hour.

Back on 25.06 miles, so that was a pretty good stab at a 25 miler. 450 done this month.



I wanted to do about 30 after work. With the wind coming from the south a Twycrosser or Bypasser seemed in order, but within a minute of setting off I’d decided not to do that again, and I pedalled up Top Brand instead. By the time I’d reached the roundabout at the top, I’d hatched a plan to go west to Ticknall through Melbourne then home through Hatshorne, Woodville, Ashby. And I stuck to it.

I’d been looking forward to this one because it would take me past the 400 mile point for February, and also over 940 for the year, which would mean that I’d made up the difference between last year’s target (4200) and this year’s (4540). 340 miles over target for the first two months, in other words.

Back on 27 miles exactly, not as many as I wanted but more than enough for today’s purposes. 425 done this month.

A bit cold out there, and that was a substantially climbier route than a Twycrosser of similar distance would have been. But it’s nice not to do the same thing all the time.



Got up (relatively) early to do a fondo, and I’d set off by 08:45. With a moderate wind coming form the west, I’d decided to do the Lower Westbound route. Wasn’t sure whether to go up to Abbots Bromley or keep on west through Rugeley, so I deferred that decision until I got to the appropriate road junction, 24 miles in. I opted to go up to Abbots Bromley.

Really lovely out there – sunny and mild. Despite only having had a couple of slices of toast before setting off, I seemed to have loads of energy – perhaps I was using carbs provided by last night’s pasta and beer. I’d gone 29 miles before I ate any of the food I’d brought with me.

The first 30 miles seemed to fly by so I kept going past Bagot’s Wood; further than I’ve been before along that route. Eventually I came to Uttoxeter, where I turned back at a round about. Interestingly I was only about a mile, at this point, from the western end of the Upper Westbound Route. But there’s no sensible way to get to it from Uttoxeter, unless you count cycling along the A50 as sensible.

As soon as I turned back I hit a headwind, which was annoying. The wind direction must have changed so that it was coming from the SE. I was coming south at this point. Irksome, but I turned east again after Hill Ridware so I didn’t have to put up with it for long.

Bought some Quavers and a Fry’s Chocolate Cream at the Co-op at King’s Bromley and had a very nice picnic in the sunshine on the grass verge near Alrewas on the way back. I took the pic at Abbots Bromley.

I listened to 6 Music, United vs Leicester, the first Rolling Stones album (I’ve set myself a task of listening to all of them in order this year) and the final Clash album, Cut the Crap.

Getting a bit too warm and spring-like in the afternoon and I had to stow away my woolly hat an cycling overtrousers in my backpack with about 10 to go.

Saw a rather large buzzard perched atop a dead badger near Measham. It looked quite proud of itself but I think a road vehicle had probably done the heavy lifting there.

Glorious ride out. Back on 71.49 miles. 398 this month.



Didn’t plan to go out on a bike today since the weather was a bit damp in the morning, but the sun came out in the afternoon so, since the weather looks grotty for the next couple of days, I thought I’d do 30 or so. Might have done a few more, but I wasn’t able to leave work as early as I’d have liked.

Very mild out there, though a bit windy. I did a Twycrosser, with the detour to Orton.

Passed the little heliport (just a flat spot in the grass really) in the field along Gallows Lane just in time to see a helicopter take off from there. It took to the air in the rough direction of Birmingham.

Tried a different head torch, one that takes AAA batteries (and would therefore be useful potentially on a longer ride). I think I’ve tried it before. It was adequate, but only just.

Listened to the news on 5 Live, then Barcelona vs United.

Back on 31.68 miles, now over target this month at 327 miles. Looks like it’ll be a 400+ mile February which is not unprecedented, but not that common either.



A persistent thin fog clung to NW Leicestershire until the early afternoon but by 15:25 when I was able to leave work, it had given way to bright sunshine. A moderate wind was coming from the south and I’d decided to do a Twycross Bypasser.

I wanted to do 40 miles, which would get the February mile count up to 300. But the temperature dipped a bit sharply after sunset and I came home a quicker way through Sibson, rather than right down to Fenn Lanes as I’d intended.

Despite the sunshine the landscape was shrouded in a filmy mist. Looked spectacular in the open. I listened to the Reacher novel the whole way round. Nearing the climax now.

I trialled a new torch that takes a single AA as my front light. Works well. Adequate. Very compact. Very handy.

Back on 34.53 miles. 295 done this month, maybe I can get that up to 400.



A mild, dry day with a light wind from the south was promised for today; ideal conditions to ride down to Northamptonshire and tick another neighbouring country box, I thought. Well not quite ideal. A bit of sunshine would have been nice.

Just for a change I thought I’d go down the old route, through Enderby, Blaby, Foston and Husbands Bosworth. It involves more climbing and busier roads, especially where it passes through the outskirts of Leicester. But the worst thing about it today was that I had to pass a “road closed” sign by mounting the pavement on Welford Road, and the first mile of road after that was covered in bits of mud and grit. No harm done, though.

After I got to Welford and the Northamptonshire border I decided to keep going for a bit. But I turned round after a couple of miles. I came back via the usual (newer) route.

I didn’t get to the village shop at Gilmorton before it closed at 1pm, but there are plenty of shops and garages on this route, thankfully. I bought a bacon & stilton turnover and a Fry’s Chocolate Cream at the little supermarket at Husbands Bosworth.

I stopped at a farm gate 15 miles from home on the way back, and two horses came trotting over. Perhaps they’re used to being offered treats by passing strangers. I snapped off a chunk of oat bar and left it on top of the fence for the more persistent one, but he or she ignored it. So I threw it on the grass and it was hoovered up in about half a second.

I listened to another few hours of the Reacher novel. Possibly the best one so far.

Back on 70.64 miles, a very satisfying run out. Just Lincolnshire and Rutland remain of the seven neighboring counties and I can do those two in the same ride. Just needs a dry Saturday or Sunday with the wind coming from the east.



Decent weather again – sunny and dry, though cold and a bit windy. The wind was coming from the west. I thought I’d go up to Isley Walton then over Swarkestone Bridge to do the Beloved A Road for a bit, but as I rolled up Top Brand, I had the idea to go up through Castle Donington and along to Shardlow. I decided to go all the way into Derby and round my old neighbourhood. Went up through Chaddesden, back down Acorn Way.

Just indulging my own sentimentality, really. Nice to be pedalling along Nottingham Road in the the rush hour. I miss Derby sometimes.

I was going to come back via Swosser Bridge and I took a turn to Aston with that in mind, but I changed my mind and looped back onto the main road to Shardlow. Back to Donington from there, and back home the usual way.

As I paused at the lights near the airport, I heard someone call “hey” to my left. A coach driver was trying to get my attention. “More lights!” he said, leaning out of his side window with a facial expression somewhere between concern and disapproval. I could see he was trying to be helpful so I gave him an appreciative thumbs up just before I pulled away at the green light, but I examined my rear light carefully and it was flashing away pretty flippin’ brightly. Odd one.

Noticed a DHL plane on the tarmac with doors open and wingtip lights on, presumably ready to take off. What a life that must be, climbing into an aircraft on a quiet, dark runway a few miles from Derby then away into the night sky, off to another country.

I charged up my old smartwatch for the first time in a couple of years. Apparently Strava doesn’t support versions of Wear OS older than 3.0, and this has 2.something. But I installed the ridewithgps app onto it so I could use it to track the ride. It did basically work but there’s precious little info on the watch face – just pause, stop and resume buttons. I used it in “phone” mode, assuming it would use the phone’s GPS but also assuming there’d be some sort of useful interface on the watch. I’ll try “watch” mode next time. But it’s not as useful for that as a Garmin anyway. Just playing really.

I also didn’t set it up properly with Strava, so it didn’t upload the route there. This is what I got from the app:

I managed to export the track as a GPX from the ridewithgps site, so I uploaded it to Strava manually.

Another 46.1 miles done, that’s the main thing.



A dry, sunny day with a light wind. I’d been looking forward to doing an eastbound fondo again for a while; I hadn’t done one this year. The wind was actually forecast to change direction later in the day so that I’d have a headwind both ways, annoyingly. But I hoped it would be sufficiently light to put up with.

I set off just after 10:00. Would have been a few minutes sooner except that, for some reason, the mirror on the X needed adjustment. I hadn’t been out on it since November; of course I could have checked it yesterday but I didn’t. So I spent five minutes looking for the correct Allen key.

The headwind wasn’t too irritating on the way out. I arrived at the bench at Eastwell at 13:00 exactly. I’m actually on call at the moment. Usually I wouldn’t risk a “proper” fondo in which, at the furthermost point I’m a 31 mile bike ride from home. But it’s been very quiet recently. I was so relaxed about the prospect of getting a call that rather than turning for home as soon as I reached Eastwell, I had lunch there. A cheese & onion pasty on the bench, anyway.

Sure enough about 25 minutes after I set off in a homeward direction, I was definitely riding into a headwind again. But it wasn’t too bad and it seemed to die down a bit an hour later.

With 17 miles to go, I refuelled at Prestwold Park with two Christmas Cake slices that I had left over from the festivities in December. It definitely makes a big difference to get a sugar dose on the way home. The uphill stretch of Ashby Road just west of Zouch can be a drag but today it was a breeze.

Lovely ride. Cold when I set off (about 1C) but comfortable later. Sunny the whole way round. Back on 63.45 miles.

I passed through Nottinghamshire, so that’s another neighbouring county box ticked for 2022.

Started a new Reacher novel, One Shot. The one the first film was based on. Good stuff so far. Then I listened to Forest vs Leeds. I’ve started to believe that Forest will stay up.


Near Death Experience

Quite an eventful run out after work. I was going to do either a trip along the Lower Westbound Route and back or a Twycross Bypasser. I deferred the decision until I got to Gallows Lane, whereupon I decided on the Bypasser. Fifteen minutes later, I was nearly wiped out by a Roberts Travel coach.

On returning home I composed the following email to their contact address.

Dear Roberts Travel,

At 3:54pm today while cycling south along Measham Road, north of Snarestone, I was overtaken by one of your coaches, a silver grey model with your branding on the back. Your driver was going far too fast for me to make a mental note of the license plate unfortunately.

Visibility was good. This was a perfectly decent, wide road with plenty of space to overtake. The road was visible in front for at least 700 yards and there was no oncoming traffic.

Despite this, he or she decided to give me about a foot of clearance while passing at an unusually high speed.

In over 37,000 miles of road cycling this was the most aggressive and intimidating driving I’ve ever seen by a person in charge of a motor vehicle. It’s no exaggeration whatever to say that I was nearly killed.

My strong suspicion is that your driver thought it would be funny to frighten a cyclist out of their wits. There was absolutely no reason whatever to pass so closely. Your driver could have given me abundantly adequate space without even slowing down, at no risk whatever to anyone.

Either this or they simply weren’t paying attention to the presence of other road users.

In either case, we can surely agree that the person in charge of your coach this afternoon is clearly not fit to be driving a motor vehicle of any kind on public roads. I would encourage you to ask him or her kindly to return their driving licence to the DVLA, or to offer it to a shredder at an early opportunity.

In the meantime, I will do my best to raise awareness of this matter as publicly as possible – I do think that’s important when it concerns a company entrusted with the safety of its customers on the public roads, let alone innocent road users.


Then about an hour later just as I was approaching Ratcliffe Culey, both pedals jammed up very tightly as if they’d been spot-welded to the frame. WTF? I freewheeled to a convenient grassy spot and inspected the bike. There was plenty of daylight at this point (but by the way, this is why you should always take a head torch if you’re going to be cycling after dark – otherwise you might find yourself doing a narwhal impression with a torch sticking out of your mouth). A section of the chain had somehow got wrapped backward around one of the chainrings and jammed between it and the derailleur cage.

There was no play in the chain at all, no way to get it onto a smaller cog at the back to get a bit of slack to play with. I couldn’t budge it with a tyre lever. But I turned the bike upside down and by the judicious application of brute force, managed to free it by turning the pedals backward with my hands.

The bike seemed OK – it was certainly rideable and I didn’t have much trouble shifting gear at the front, but I did find I needed an extra nudge on the shifter to get it to change up once or twice. I think the cage might be slightly bent, or possibly the cable got stretched a tad. I’m sure it’ll be fine with a bit of fettling.

Went down to Fenny Drayton and came back along Fenn Lanes. Then back up through Bosworth and much the usual way from there. Back on 39.93 miles.

Nice out there – mild. The temperature didn’t seem to drop that much after dark. Windy, though.

I did enter Warwickshire briefly, not sure if I’ve done that already this year. Still haven’t ventured into Staffordshire in 2022.

Saw the helicopter in the field along Gallows Lane again. I must find out what that’s about some time.