A6 and Back

Today’s mission, should I choose to accept it – and of course, I did – was to squeeze another 30 miles out of November at the last gasp. This would see me over the 6,000 mile mark for the year, and make this month the highest-scoring of 2023 (beating September’s total, 628).

I was pretty much ready to go by the time an afternoon meeting reached its welcome conclusion, and I was away by about 1505. With the wind coming from the north-east, the plan was to do the Eastbound route, with the same detour I did last time through Isley Walton, across to Rempstone or thereabouts, then come back the usual way (sans detour).

However the traffic was really heavy on the A6 before I crossed it and I knew some of it would be turning off through Zouch, so I decided to turn back there and then, and come back using the same detour. I did that.

I wasn’t completely sure I’d come back the same way. I don’t navigate well backwards. And I couldn’t see the bike computer in the dark, so I did a bit of a run along Ashby Road and back to add a couple of miles when I got to the crossroads at the bottom of Top Brand.

Really cold out there, about 3C. Colder than that after dark and a bit uncomfortable.

For some reason I forgot to take a head torch. Not a big problem I thought, as I had a decent torch mounted on the handlebars and a flashy blinker. But the torch ran out of juice about four miles from home so I had to make do with the blinker! It does actually spill a bit of light on the road though so it wasn’t too bad.

Listened mainly to Matt Hancock’s evidence to the COVID enquiry, then tributes to Shane McGowan.

Back on 31.16. 6005 done this year and only 308 to do in December.


Augmented Eastbound

Decent cycling weather today, if a bit cold. So, with a few days annual leave still to take before the end of December, I took the afternoon off with the intention of doing a fondo. Actually I wanted to do a bit more than 64 miles, to take me to 600 for November.

A very light wind was coming from the west but contrary to my usual protocol, I decided on the eastbound route. I extended it though by taking a detour up Top Brand and past the airport on the way out – which added 4.6 miles (I noticed that I’d done 14.6 miles at my usual 10 mile point, the crossroads with the A6 near Zouch).

Went the usual way after that, and turned back at about 38 miles – more than enough, my mental arithmetic told me, to see me back on 64 miles. I came back the usual way and I’d done 64.92 by the time I got back.

Nice out there in the sun but as soon as I turned homeward I realised the headwind was going to be a bit more annoying than I expected. It didn’t really impede progress but it was cold, noisy and a bit in-yer-face.

The temperature dropped quite sharply about half an hour before sunset. I was glad to get home.

I listened to Can’s debut album Monster Movie, a Benny Sings album called City Melody and LBC.

601 done this month. Just 338 to reach my target now and I think I should be able to bag another 25 miles or so on Thursday, although the temperature is forecast to peak at 2C.


Rear Mech

New rear mech arrived. It looks exactly like the old one, got to be a good sign!

The new hanger should arrive tomorrow. I’ll leave it until temperatures in the garage are more accommodating before I sort it out, though. March or April, maybe.

Hinckley Road

Got called from work early this morning, went back to bed then got up later than I wanted. I’d hoped to get going by about 1030 but in the end I set off an hour later than that. But I didn’t want to do a long one anyway. Too cold, and rain was threatened by about 4pm.

A light wind was coming from the south. I decided I’d do maybe 15 miles down the southbound route, then come back.

On the way down I took a large detour toward Bardon from Ellistown. After Newbold Verdon, I decided I’d take the “old”southbound route that goes through Desford, for a change. Then after 16 miles when I came to the crossroads with Hinckley Road, I decided to turn left rather than going straight on to Enderby. That was quite useful; a nice, flat, well-surfaced road that helped me clock up a bit of distance.

Two miles later though, I decided to come back. Having suffered a mechanical failure on my previous ride, I’d started to consider the consequences of another one in the freezing cold, 15 miles from home with ‘er indoors in Thailand. And in any case I’d started to penetrate the outskirts of Leicester by this time; the traffic was getting heavier and the surroundings were growing distinctly more urban.

The purpose of the exercise was mainly to accumulate some more distance to bring the target for December down a bit, but I did quite enjoy myself apart from the last couple of miles, when a very cold drizzle descended more than an hour before it was supposed to.

Listened to football and tributes to Terry Venables on 5 Live.

Back on 34.92 miles. 536 done this month.



Had a closer look at the bike this morning and I’ve taken the rear mech and hanger (pictured below) off.

I was worried I’d deformed the frame or ruined some threads in it but the threads for the hanger are in the hanger itself, and the frame is unscathed. The spokes in the wheel that the mech collided with all seem fine, as well.

The hanger definitely needs replacing. Although it’s not obvious from the pic, it’s properly bent out of shape. Fortunately I’ve found one here https://www.rearmechhanger.com

£13 including delivery. I don’t know what a new mech will cost yet! But at least I’m not going to have to convert the X to a fixie.

Moderate Disaster

I booked today off work. A sunny, dry day was promised, albeit it was likely to be cold, with a stiff wind from the north. The plan was to set off at about 0930 and do 75 miles or so. A nice big bite out of the remaining distance requirement.

However at 0845 as I lay in bed pondering the day ahead, I received a phone call from work. Would I please take part in a Teams meeting with a customer? Now? Please?

So in the end I didn’t pedal away from my garage door until 1055. I decided to make do with the fondo distance. I was tempted to try a route I worked out last night which would take me up north-east of Derby, but in the end I plumped for the easy familiarity of the time-honoured Upper Westbound route.

That all went very well. Very nice out there in the sunshine. I’d wrapped myself up a bit too warm but I stuffed a layer into my backpack. I turned back near Cubley to come back the same way.

I stopped at the petrol station at Hatton for a sausage roll and a Fry’s Chocolate Cream. But just as I was about to rejoin the road, I went over the handlebars. I’m not completely sure what happened but I think the front wheel had got caught in a drain grille. The bike and I both smacked the road. I was OK – I banged my right knee but it’s very superficial. I also hurt the wedding ring finger of my left hand somehow and it’s a bit swollen, unfortunate from a guitar-playing perspective but I think it’ll be OK in a few days.

I inspected the bike carefully. The rear mech was bent inward and fouling the spokes. Uh oh. But I bent the rear mech back outward, very gingerly. Clearly it was still out of alignment but it looked rideable. The right hand shifter / brake assembly was also banged out of alignment, but it was working OK. I got back on the bike and rode homeward. Fortunately the gears were still changing fine. But I made a mental note not to downshift too far at the back, in case I fouled the spokes with the rear mech.

All in all I wasn’t too unhappy. I could easily realign the shifter and I probably just needed to give the rear hanger a careful bend, perhaps with the mech removed, to get it back to spec.

I made it up Rotter’s Rise without shifting onto the bottom gear at the back. Alas – at Newbold, with about four miles to go, my concentration must have slipped. I operated the shifter incautiously and the rear pulleys went right into the spokes, bending the rear hanger quite emphatically and breaking the pulley assembly. All the tension went out of it and the bracket that the pulley wheels connect to was snapped.

I took a quick look by the roadside with the bike upside down but it was clear that I was walking the remaining four miles. I managed to pull the rear mech away from the back wheel again at least. But there was no way the pedals were going to make it spin round.

So I pushed it home from there, wheeling the bike in the road while I clogged along the pavement or the grass verge in cleats. To be fair I did mount the bike and freewheel down some of the descents.

I’m not sure what the extent of the damage is. I’m hopeful that a new alloy hanger can be attached to the frame. It’s the Planet X, so it’s carbon but as long as the frame itself is OK the hanger can be replaced, I think. And I’ll need a new rear mech, assuming the frame isn’t a write-off.

Ah well! At least I’m not short of bikes.

58.78 miles, then.


Lower Westbound

Another mild, dry afternoon. With the wind coming from the south-west, I decided to do some of the Lower Westbound route. Again, I wanted to do at least 45 miles. Usually I’d be happy with 35 or so on a dark evening after work, but I’m determined now to equal my 2020 distance tally so I need to put a bit of an effort in.

Went out through Packington on the way out. I’d forgotten to bring water with me so I stopped at the petrol station at Measham to get a bottle of Fanta. And just out of sheer indulgence, I brought a sandwich and a flapjack as well. Just as well I did, because on arriving home I noticed my cheese pasty and oat bar still on a kitchen surface! I’d forgotten to pack them.

I took the customary left turn at Kings Bromley, but rather than take the right turn after that, to Rugeley or Abbots, I decided to keep going straight on. Nothing particularly interesting, but it was a nice, well-surfaced flat road and not too busy. I turned homeward a couple of miles after that anyway.

Saw a large owl near Croxall and was buzzed by a bat near Alrewas.

I listened to 5 Live for a bit, then another three hours or so of My Effin’ Life, which has proved to be a very absorbing listen.

I was bothered several times by drivers with full beam headlights. Fortunately I was sporting my most punishing, dual-lithium-rechargeable powered head torch and a quick blast of that to the offender’s windscreen works wonders.

Back on 49.28. 5815 done this year now, which is more than my previous second-best year (2016).



Left work early. Wanted to do at least 45, having been robbed of a pretty good cycling day on Friday by illness. Fortunately I seem to have recovered now.

I did a Twycross Bypasser, with a long detour south-west down to Old Grendon and back. The roads were a bit damp but there was no rain apart from a bit of drizzle over the last half hour. Mild out there, which is always welcome in the dark.

Listened to Geddy Lee’s My Effin’ Life throughout. Some really eye-opening insights.

Back on 46.17 miles. 5766 this year, and if I can do another 545 before January, I’ll have equalled my 2020 (all time) record, 6311. So I’ll try and do another 130 this month if I can.


Odd Bypasser

Bit of a strange one. Nice dry day, colder than of late but still reasonably mild. I sneaked out not long after 1430 with the intention of doing some of the Lower Westbound route and coming back on 45 miles or so.

But – I was so engrossed in the audiobook I was listening to (Geddy Lee’s My Effin’ Life) that I took the turn down Gallows Lane, as if doing a Twycrosser or Bypasser, on auto-pilot. So my options for doing more than 40 miles or so were a bit limited. I did a bit of the old Dad’s Army route down as far as the A5, then went down toward Atherstone, through Ratcliffe then west to Sheepy, after which I came home via a part-reverse Twycrosser.

Home on 43.15.

Nice run out on the whole, the only really annoying thing was having to cope with copious quantities of mud in great big chunks along Sibson Road. It was fine last time I went along there a few days ago; clearly some large farm vehicles have come and done their stuff. It was so bad that my own road bike tyres were flinging off chunks of mud like tractor tyres, and the wheels were slipping. Not what you want in the dark. I stopped a couple of miles later and was pulling huge clumps of earth out of the front fork, jammed under the front brake.

More on Friday I hope, might take the afternoon off work.