Willington and Wilson

Probably the last rain free-day of the month so I left work a bit early to do 34 miles or a bit more, to get the April distance tally past 600 miles.

The forecast told me that a moderate wind was coming from the west. It also told me that the temperature would be 13C, so I went with the bare legs option. Possibly a little too cool for that in practice, at least early on.

I did the Upper Westbound Route as far as Willington, except that I went up along Top Brand and Isley Walton, and came back down through Wilson (to avoid Rotter’s Rise).

Really a rather nice run out, especially later on when the temperature climbed a couple of notches and the sun came out.

Very pleased with the new handlebar tape on the S Works. Seems very comfy, if a bit drab-looking.

I regretted stopping to take this pic on Swarkestone Bridge, because I had a long wait for the necessary gap in the oncoming river of traffic to get going again.

Back on 36.72 miles. 603 this month.



Not a bad day at all, very dry, cloudy but bright and very liight winds. Unreasonably cold for late April, but I wrapped up warm.

Today’s mission, after work, was to do at least 40 miles, to bring me within plausible reach of getting to 600 miles in April on my next ride. I thought I’d go up into Derby for a change.

I took the Boardman, to give it a post-service check.

I went up Top Brand, past East Midlands Airport where I had a nice view of a Learjet 45 taking off, through Donington, over Cavendish Bridge, through Shardlow and up to Borrowash, where I took a left turn toward Derby.

I decided I’d go up to Oakwood via Spondon, but I took the wrong right turn the first time. I ended up with a choice of joining the A52 during the rush hour, or turning back. So I turned back to Derby Road and took the correct right turn, along Willowcroft Road.

Kept going until I saw Sancroft Road, which I recognised as being part of my way home to Oakwood when I lived there and had a girlfriend in Spondon, 32 years ago. I used to cycle that route sometimes on my old Raleigh Routier as well, so it was quite a trip down Memory Lane.

Got to Oakwood, came down Acorn Way. Then I came home via Aston-on-Trent and Weston-on-Trent, through Melbourne and home the usual way. I didn’t enjoy Rotter’s Rise but it wasn’t too punishing.

I really enjoy my cycling visits to Derby and I’d do them more often if not for having to negotiate a busy roundabout over the A50, either at Swarkestone or Donington. Going through Aston and Weston avoids that to be fair, but it’s a very indirect route.

The bike is running nicely following its service. I did tweak the front Disraeli thumbwheel a bit, but that’s fine. But what did annoy me a little is that the stem hasn’t quite been put on straight. The handlebars are angled at about 93 degrees from the line of the front wheel.

Still – it’s an easy enough fix. And an excuse to swap out the old steel rear stem bolts, which have a bit of surface rust, for some titanium ones. The faceplate bolts have already been swapped out. I’ve got some new handlebar tape for it, as well.

Back on 46.17 miles – 566 done this month. Should be able to get another 34 miles in on Friday.



The weather forecast for today improved quite a bit as the week progressed, to the point where the BBC were promising that it wouldn’t rain until this evening.

I didn’t want to use up too much of my Saturday cycling but since, at the moment, the next dry day looks to be Tues 25th, I thought a 30-odd miler was in order.

I did a Twycross Bypasser, coming back along Gibbet Lane – and with a little excursion down Grendon Road and Spon Lane (a short way down the old Dad’s Army route, in other words).

Actually very nice out there – cloudy but bright enough to cast shadows of the bike onto the road. Almost sunny. And not too cold. Very pleased with the way the second Boardman is running on the repaired wheels inherited from the Cannondale.


Back on 35.14. That’s 520 done this month, very satisfying after a disappointing March. I expect I can squeeze another 80 miles out of April.

Listened mostly to 5 Live, including most of the first half of Chelsea Ladies vs Barca.

Bar Tape

The colourful black / red bar tape on my S Works had started to look a bit frayed and tatty, so I have replaced it with some generic and cheap dark grey tape from Amazon.

I didn’t do a perfect job and it doesn’t look as good as the old tape did before it wore out. But it’ll do for now. I used red insulating tape to finish it off as a sort of cursory nod to the colour scheme.

Please excuse the weeds, they belong to a neighbour.

Leake Lane

The weather forecast over the next week or so is a bit dismal so I wanted to do 30 or so after work today, while it was sunny and dry. Quite a strong wind coming from the east though. I set off on the eastbound route with no definite plan.

I did the eastbound route for eight miles, then turned left along Smithy Lane. But when I got to the T junction at Long Whatton I just turned right and joined the southbound route again.

I must say the headwind really was annoying, not only in that it made me work harder, but also in that it made the bike a bit unstable. Quite a stiff breeze.

At Stanford I took a left turn I’d been meaning to try for a while. Nice to do something a bit different I suppose but it was not a pleasant experience overall – an uphill climb combined with a poor road surface and a headwind, and surprisingly popular with the motoring community as well. That took me to Ashby road where I turned left for home. What a relief to have a smooth road and a strong tailwind.

I came back through Long Whatton and down Top Brand. Quite a nice run out in the sunshine over the second half.

I listened to 5 Live, then a Corduroy best-of album called In Mini. Some of their tunes sound a bit like game show theme tunes, but that’s part of the fun.

Back on 32.52 miles.


The Bourne Bicycle Puncture

The weather outlook for today was very promising on Friday, so I booked the day off work to do a long one. The forecast deteriorated a bit over the weekend, but I was undeterred.

I wanted to do at least 100. With the wind coming from the east and the sun due to come out earlier in the day over that way, I decided on the eastbound route. I was up early and I set off at 0745.

On recent long rides I’d suffered cold conditions earlier in the morning to avoid carrying extra clothing with me in a backpack, but I wasn’t going to do that this time. Instead, I adopted a new tactic. I wore overtrousers and a nice warm fleece, but I removed them and hid them behind a hedge next to a public footpath after 30-odd miles. I wrapped them in a sealable plastic bag I’d brought with me for this purpose, then uprooted some long grass to make a sort of camouflage net. This worked very well; in fact when I picked them up on the way back I had trouble seeing the bag for a moment.

I went through Corby Glen and Grimsthorpe this time. Sometimes I take a lower route through Little Bytham and Witham, although I haven’t been that far along the eastbound route many times. I went all the way to Bourne, then onto South Fen Road, onto the Fens. I was quite impressed with myself for finding my way through Bourne without consulting Google Maps or taking a wrong turn.

South Fen Road is an odd sort of place. You feel like you’ve left civilisation, on the normal, non-Fens part of England and crossed into the Cursed Earth. It’s really badly surfaced in places, though not so bad where I took the pic below. It feels a bit desolate, though I quite like that.

I’d done more than 59 miles by this time. I decided I’d keep going until I’d clocked up 60, then turn back. However about two minutes after I took the pic, I noticed that the steering had become a little skittish .. yep, a puncture.

I stopped, upended the bike, removed the front wheel and wrestled off the tyre. Replaced the inner tube, wrestled the tyre back on, pumped it up. I was more than happy with the performance of my mini-pump – although it doesn’t have a gauge I’m pretty sure I got at least 80PSI into the tyre. I didn’t pick the best spot to get a puncture; the grassy area to the side of the road was in reality more heavily populated by nettles than grass, and I had the unwelcome tingle of stings induced by hostile vegetation all the way back home.

I decided to turn back there and then of course, but I was feeling quite pleased with myself until I got to Bourne, and noticed that the tyre was soft again.

What now? I didn’t have another spare inner tube, of course. So I propped the bike up against Boots the Chemist, then did a search for “bike shop” in Google Maps. A bicycle repair business called All Geared Up was located only about a mile away. I pumped more air into the tyre and set off to find it.

As I neared the location, I realised that it wasn’t a traditional bike shop but a regular house on a residential road. I arrived there and rang the doorbell. No answer. WTF was I going to do now?

But a minute later, a friendly chap emerged from a side gate. He explained that he’d been mowing the lawn. Could I buy a couple of inner tubes from him? No problem! He didn’t take cards, but I managed to bank transfer the £12 payment from my NatWest app.

I asked if I could borrow a stirrup pump for 15 minutes, but he opened the door to his garage workshop, told me to put the bike on the stand and fitted one of the new inner tubes for me himself. I must say he managed it a lot quicker than I had, half an hour earler. What a lifesaver. I thanked him and he returned to his lawn-mowing duties.

Fortunately the new inner tube made it all the way home.

The weather was beautiful in the afternoon; warm and sunny. I had a feast at the bench outside village shop at Buckminster 39 miles from home and bought more fluids – my bidon had run dry by this point, so a cold Diet Coke was very well received. I bought myself some chocolate as well, to consume about 15 miles from home. Definitely helps with the gradual homeward climb over the last ten miles.

Back on 120.32 miles, seven minutes after sunset. And that’s a very healthy shot in the arm for the April distance count, which now stands at 453 miles. 1800 done this year.


Over 38,000 miles of riding a bike, I’ve only had a puncture about four times. And yet two of them have been within a mile of the most distant point of unusually long rides, the other one being the first Wales and back trip. That’s unfortunate, isn’t it?

Welford Road

I’d intended to go up toward Newark today, a ride I’ve only ever done a few times. But the weather forecast deteriorated overnight. My best bet for avoiding rain showers was to go south it seemed.

So I decided just to do the southbound route. Fortunately the wind was light enough that I wouldn’t suffer a stiff headwind on the way back. Actually the wind direction was forecast to be unusually changeable today so it was a bit of a lottery in any case.

Cool and cloudy when I set off, but the sun came out intermittently later on. I’m on call at the moment but it’s been very quiet, and I risked doing a half-fondo distance before turning back for home. I offered a conciliatory nod to being on call by turning back at Welford Road rather than going right down to Welford.

The weather was really nice later in the afternoon, making me think – again – that I should have stayed out longer. But at least I didn’t get rained on.

I made a slight modification to the route by taking a longer way through Dunton Bassett. Makes the route a bit simpler and avoids a steepish hill.

Listened mostly to 5 Live, and the Beatles album Help!

Back on 63.68 miles, and that’s a very satisfying 332 done this month so far.


Freehub Test

With rain due over this afternoon I decided that a shortish ride over a long lunch break was the best plan today. About 20 miles would do. Just the right sort of distance to test the new (as in inherited from the Cannondale) wheels with newly-repaired freehub now attached to Boardman II.

I did a shortish Twycrosser, 22.50 miles. Sunny and pleasant when I set off, then cloudy later, then about 15 minutes of light rain. Then warm sunshine again. Quite an enjoyable run out, but more importantly – everything’s working properly on the bike. Gear changes nice and slick, freehub engaging and disengaging properly. Very satisfying to do your own modifications, repairs and maintenance when it all works.

The bike does feel a bit different on the Fulcrum 5s. Not faster, not lighter, but a bit more solid. Could be psychological but it does feel like an upgrade.


Stoney Stanton

I didn’t particularly want to do more than 40 miles. A few days ago I was entertaining the possibility of doing a long ride, but the wind was a bit strong for that – and apart from that, I just wanted to kick back and relax this afternoon.

With the wind coming from the south, I naturally set off down the southbound route. When I got to Stoney Stanton after 18 miles, I went straight over the crossroads rather than turning left. I did entertain the idea of going down Fosse Way for a few miles, briefly. But when I got to the main road I turned left to rejoin the southbound route and came back up.

Stopped at the petrol station on the main road to get a packet of Quavers and noticed that they are owned by Walkers, now. I did look for a different potato snack product, just out of a visceral loathing for Gary Lineker, but I couldn’t find one. They all seem to be owned by Walkers now. Oh well.

I also bought a vanilla latte in a can. Turned out to be a bit yuck.

Anyway back home on 40.85 miles. I did feel a bit guilty on the way back not to be doing more in what were very pleasant conditions by then – nice and warm, though I didn’t bother removing my tights – but I’ve done 246 miles this month now and that’s not bad for nine days in. The weather looks a bit unsettled for the next couple of weeks, though.


Upper West Fondo

Sunny day, light wind from the north-west. A bit cool when I got up, though. On a different day I might have attempted another 100 miler, but I may do a long ride on Sunday instead – so I decided a fondo would do.

The wind direction seemed to dictate the Upper Westbound route. Not the most imaginative or adventurous option but I decided to make it more interesting – slightly – by diverting through Wilson on the way back. Not only because it would be a bit different, but because I’d avoid Rotter’s Rise after Melbourne.

Very nice out there and the roads were pleasantly quiet until the A515, going north toward Ashbourne. Bank holiday traffic, I assume. Eventually I got caught in a traffic jam going up a hill, possibly due to roadworks further ahead – but I’d done 30.8 miles by this time, so I turned back.

Stopped for some snacks at the petrol station near Scropton.

What will happen to all the petrol stations once there are no more diesel or petrol vehicles on the road? They’re much handier for cyclists than village shops, because they tend to be open all the time.

Anyway – I came back through Wilson as intended, and unlike last time I didn’t take two ridiculous left turns trying to find my way home. Back on 64.12 miles, and that’s 205 this month already. That was this year’s tenth fondo.

My personal DAB conked out after about 9 miles, just as I was coming into Melbourne. I was surprised, because I thought there was at least another five hours in the rechargeable AAs. So I put two new alkaline AAs in it (I always take spares). Those died after about 30 seconds. I did drop it in the garage but it only took a mild knock. Have I broken it? Will test it later.

I had a new phone with me, one I haven’t installed BBC Sounds or other radio apps on yet, so I put its MP3 player app to work. I listened to

Talc: Licenced Premises Lifestyle
Earth, Wind & Fire: The Best Of, Vol 1
Judas Priest: Stained Class
Style Council: Confessions Of A Pop Group
The Beatles: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

I doubt I’ve ever listened to five whole albums in the same day before! The Beatles album especially gave me goosebumps. Every time I listen to it, I try to imagine its impact on popular culture on its release. Some of the music journalists of the time had started to suggest that the Fab Four had run out of ideas, that the creative well had run dry, in the months leading to its release. Yet they followed even the brilliant Revolver in the most devastating manner possible by crafting the first progressive music masterpiece. Every single progressive music record, by King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, whoever has Sgt Pepper DNA in it.

I stopped for a bit of a picnic at a lovely spot next to the quarry near Breedon. By this time I was too warm so I removed and backpacked my fleece and cycling tights, making this the first legs-out ride of the year – albeit only about 10% of it was done in that mode.

And I spotted the first discarded knickers of the year, about a mile from Melbourne. Lacy, very brief and a sort of mahogany brown colour. Unusual colour for ladies’ underwear, I thought.

Lovely run out. More on Sunday I hope.