Maidwell and Cold Ashby

I booked today off work on Friday, after seeing a favourable weather forecast. In fact the forecast changed over the weekend with a likelihood of showers in the afternoon, but I intended to go south where I’d most likely avoid them.

The idea was to do either a fondo or a 100 miler, depending on the time I got up. And I got up at about 0715, so 100 miles it was! I thought I’d go down to Northampton and back. I set off at about 0805.

I had a change of plan after 36 miles and took a left to Naseby. I’ve been to Northampton a couple of times in recent months so I thought I’d give it a miss and do something different.

I’d been to Naseby before but this time I kept going, through places called Haselbech and Maidwell. About half a mile after Maidwell I found myself at the top of a long steep descent that I didn’t fancy coming back up, so I turned back. I’d only done 43 miles so I’d have to improvise a bit on the way back. I did. I took a turn to a place called Cold Ashby and just followed my nose. Really, really nice cycling territory over the next ten miles or so through places called Stanford on Avon and Swinford. I rejoined the usual route at North Kilworth (after a bit of reassurance from Google Maps), but still needed to make up some distance. I went exploring again, through Ashby Parva and Frolesworth – basically a detour around Broughton Astley.

I was still a couple of miles short though (having distance landmarks memorised is handy for gauging this) so after Kirkby Mallory, I kept on to Cadeby, then Bosworth then back the usual way from there, or one of them. Made up the last bit of distance by coming back a long way through the village.

Terrific day out on the bike. Had two very pleasant stops at the village shop at Gilmorton. Nice weather, no showers. Very mild. And I listened to another few hours of the Reacher novel.

Back on 100.42 miles and that’s a pleasing 479 done this month. Would have got the total over 400 even if I hadn’t taken the day off, which is nice to know.

1850 done this year and 45,011 since January 2015.


The forecast was for showers but I really want to get to 400 miles this month if I can, so I decided to put up with it and do 30-odd miles after work. The wind was coming from the east so I headed over that way. Thought I’d probably do Rempstone or Wymeswold and back. After Zouch though I had the idea of taking a left off the main route, to try to loop back round to Sutton Bonington.

I did this a few weeks ago but this time I took the left a bit later (through East Leake rather than West Leake). Followed a sign to Gotham, after a while I didn’t have a good feel for where I was so I cheated and had a look at Google Maps. This suggested a nice easy way to Sutton Bonington through New Kingston and Kingston on Soar. So I did that.

Good to explore new roads. Quite liked the stretch between Gotham and Kingston. I’ll make a note to go that way again.

Came back the longer way through Peggs Green and Coleorton. Listened to another couple of hours of the Reacher novel. Best one for quite a while. Familiar plot ideas, but nicely put together. I didn’t get rained on at all.

Back on 34.85 miles and that’s 379 this month, coincidentally the precise target for April. But I’d still like to end up with more than 400. At the moment Monday looks like a nice day and I’ve booked the day off work.

Flirting with Derby

A sunny, dry day but cool, with the wind coming from the north. So as soon as I could get out of work, I decided to go up toward Derby. I went up Top Brand, up through Castle Donington, west across Cavendish Bridge, through Shardlow, up to Borrowash and west again towards Derby. I stopped when I got to Spondon and picked up some food at a petrol station – which was very welcome as I’d brought none with me. I couldn’t find anything suitable in the fridge before I set off, must go to Tesco tomorrow.

I came back the same way until the turn for Aston. I’d intended to come back down via Swarkestone and Melbourne, but ridiculously, and I think I’ve done this before, I missed the turn for Weston and just looped back onto the main road at Shardlow. So I came back pretty much exactly the same way and ended up doing 41.47 miles rather than the 37 or so I was aiming for. But that puts me within two easy rides or a fondo of 400 this month. Unfortunately there’s rain in the forecast every day until May 6th, after tomorrow. I’m starting to take it personally.

Nice to come back that way in bright sunlight, the last time I did that ride or a close variation of it it was properly dark on the way back, at about the same time of day.

Listened to 5 Live and another hour or two of the Reacher novel. Unfolding nicely.

There’s an inviting little coffee shop along Shardlow Road now; unfortunately it’s always closed by the time I pedal past it after work. Makes me think that it would be nice not to have to work every day, so I could set off a bit earlier.

Nice out there, I overclothed and was a bit too warm.


A beautiful dry day, and we haven’t had many of those this year. Since I got up earlier than I expected I thought I’d do Buckminster and back, about 80 miles.

I went the “old” way through Rempstone since it’s a bit shorter and I wanted to make sure I arrived at Buckminster’s village shop before it closed at 1300. I got there at 1235, good timing. Had a bit of a feast on the bench outside – a cheese & onion slice, a packet of crisps and a Magnum ice-cream lolly.

On the way back just to make it more interesting I took a right turn at the crossroads at Waltham – to give myself an orienteering task. But I very soon found myself back on the usual path. Basically a three mile detour, partly consisting of a single-track lane.

Came back along Narrow Lane and through Wymeswold (where I took the pic) and Hoton on the way back, for a change. I have quite a few variations of the eastbound route now.  Noticed a number of tiny fish in the stream (the River Mantle apparently) at Wymeswold. Minnows?

Listened to the first couple of hours of the next Reacher novel, Worth Dying For. Very good so far, classic Reacher. Flowing along nicely and so far not tripping over its own plot, as they sometimes tend to do. Reuses plot elements from Killing Floor and Echo Burning. Then I listened to football, including a highly entertaining FA Cup competition between Man United and Coventry at Wembley. As I was putting the bike away in the garage Coventry scored what I thought was a consolation goal to make it 3-1 to United, but later I discovered they’d pulled it back to 3-3!

Conditions seemed warmer than the advertised 11C in the afternoon. Mostly sunny, as well. I took off my overtrousers with about 13 miles to go. I was definitely too hot with about 4 to go but didn’t bother to stop and part-unclothe.

Back on 80.69. Very enjoyable run out.

Cleat Failure

The forecast was for showers in the late afternoon but since it’s been such a thin cycling month due to the weather, I thought I’d just take the Tricross and accept the conditions. Actually the weather was rather nice when I set off, sunny and mild.

A couple of miles after setting off I noticed that I had a lot more lateral movement in my right shoe than I ought to. I tried to remove the shoe from the pedal, but couldn’t! The cleat was securely attached to the pedal, but clearly it wasn’t properly attached to the shoe. It wasn’t actually giving me any trouble though so I pressed on, hoping I wouldn’t need to release my right foot until I had a chance to stop and have a better look, which I did near Twycross.

The front cleat bolt was missing altogether and the two rear bolts were loose. I probably had an Allen key in the saddle bag though. Did I? I still don’t know, the zipper was corroded onto the zip and wouldn’t budge.

So: I decided my best bet was to remove the cleat (it was easy enough to unscrew the bolts with my fingers) so I wouldn’t lose it – and attempt to operate the right pedal like a conventional bike pedal. A mistake, probably. I’d been doing fine with the cleat loosely attached apart from the fear of not being able to unfasten my right foot. But without the cleat, my foot kept slipping off the pedal. It was just about workable though so I kept going but cut across via Little Twycross and Bilstone to keep it short.

Half an hour later, the rain came down. I’d expected showers, but this was 15 minutes of persistent cold rain. Naturally this made the right cycling shoe even more slippery on the pedal.

Only 23.53 miles, but I wouldn’t have gone out at all if I’d know it was going to rain like that. I’ve done 222 this month which I suppose is acceptable. And 1592 this year. This time last year I’d done 1800. Actually I’ve just noticed that I did a 120 mile ride a year ago today. It was the day I got two punctures near Bourne, a lovely warm day. How can that be a year ago already?


A pretty nice cycling day today, but I’m on call. Also, I was keen to try out my Planet X following its maintenance yesterday, which involved furnishing it with a new rear mech, hanger, gear cable and chain. Not wise to stray too far from home in those circumstances but I was keen to clock up a decent distance, so last night I planned a route that would take me down south-east to Kirby Muxloe, then west right across to Warton, taking in Fenn Lanes, then north-east back homeward. A decently interesting ride, without straying too far from base. I hoped.

I didn’t actually plot it out on a route planner, so I didn’t know the exact distance. I was going to improvise a bit, anyway.

I set off at about 0845. Yesterday’s forecast had threatened rain in the late afternoon, but I was pleased to see this morning that the meteorologists had changed their mind about that. Just as I set off, a gentleman with a striking resemblance to Boris Johnson strolled past and wished me a good morning. Surely a good omen.

Very happy to find that the bike was running very nicely – I’d half-expected the chain to skip for the first few miles, where I’d joined two lengths of chain. But all the gear changes were nice and smooth. I didn’t try any of the stupid combinations, smaller ring at the front and smallest cog at the back for example. But I try to avoid those anyway. I’m sure they wouldn’t have caused a disaster. I did regret choosing a route with a few steep climbs, not really what you want with an untested chain. But everything was fine.

The ride didn’t go exactly as I’d mentally sketched out, but I did roughly what I’d intended. I found myself at Ratby at one point which wasn’t part of the plan, but I visited the Co-op there and acquired a sandwich and some freshly baked cheese & onion rolls. Nice.

After Kirkby Mallory I took the wrong turn on the A444 and ended up at Stapleton instead of Sutton Cheney. But I followed a sign to Dadlington. I knew I’d find Fenn Lanes from there. This took me along a country lane that was a bit stony and ill-maintained, but it wasn’t too bad. I took the pic at Dadlington.

From Fenn Lanes I did a sort of reverse Bypasser with some deliberate meandering to clock up some extra miles. I was determined to do a fondo by this time. This involved coming along the fast road from Ashby for a couple of miles which was a bit hairy, but at least it was mostly downhill.

Back on 62.84 miles.

Mostly nice weather, cloudy in the morning but sunny later. I removed my new cycling tights at about 1100 and a fleece about 90 minutes later. My legs were a bit hairy and I was slightly embarrassed every time I glanced down, but I’ve given them a good seeing to with a razor in the bath since I got back.

Listened mostly to 5 Live which annoyingly was largely devoted to golf coverage, but there was a very good interview with Mark Knopfler on Patrick Kielty’s show. And I listened to the Prefab Sprout album From Langley Park to Memphis.

That was a really nice run out. Very happy to have the green bike available for use again.

Rear Mech

No cycling today, but: I did finally get round to sorting out the Planet X. New hanger, rear mech, chain and gear cable fitted. Only took about half an hour.

Annoyingly, the KMC 11 speed chain I’d bought was too short! So I made up the length with an unused bit of chain from the last KMC 11 speed chain I bought. They aren’t actually exactly the same – the new chain is shiny metal with black centre links, whereas the spare links are uniformly dull steel coloured.

I only had one quick link so I had to join them using a chain tool. I knew hoarding spare bits of chain would come in handy one day.

I was going to leave setting it up for another day but I went ahead and finished the job. The chain seems to be going round smoothly enough and doing all the changes properly on the stand, but I dare say it’ll need tweaking after a ride.


The warmest day so far this year I think, and dry as well for a change (mostly). Once again immoderately windy. Wish I could have got out of work earlier, but for my sins I had to give a Teams presentation at 1530. But I was off and away on a bike 53 minutes later.

I wanted to do more than 35, but didn’t have time for 40. My first idea was to go down the Lower Westbound but just as I was approaching Measham I decided to take the left turn down to Snarestone and do a Bypasser. I augmented it with an excursion down toward Old Grendon, then another one down to explore suburban Atherstone briefly. Not very interesting.

Just for laughs I parked the bike against a wrecked car near Warton rather than the usual farm gate or telegraph pole, for the photo. The rear window was completely smashed in and one of the front wheels was splayed out at a near 90 degree angle. Nasty.

First legs-out day of the year. I did take tights just in case but didn’t put them on. Picked up a few splashes of rain but only briefly. Back about a minute after sunset on 38.99 miles. Nice run out, wish I’d been able to set off an hour or two sooner.

136 this month which I’m not really happy with, hope the weather improves for the remaining 19 days.

The S Works Rides Again

A pretty nice day apart from a fierce wind and a threat of showers, so I abandoned my desk rather early and mounted a bicycle, in the hope of getting a fondo in.

I had the idea of going south at first, but I developed an urge to do a Bypasser. Could I somehow extend a Twycross Bypasser to the requisite 62.14 miles? Well I thought it would be fun to find out.

After Norton I thought of going over to No Man’s Heath, from where I could join the Lower Westbound route. I did that. After King’s Bromley I’d done more than 27 miles thanks to indulging a part-Bypasser and I decided to keep on going south past King’s Bromley Wharf rather than turn off for Abbot’s Bromley. Again, just in a spirit of adventure really. The headwind was shocking at this point and I was riding directly into it.

After about three miles I turned back, but I took an unfamiliar left turn shortly afterward to go exploring. This took me to Handsacre and I followed a sign from there back to King’s Bromley. However just to keep things interesting, from there I came back via what I might term the “Disused Lower Westbound Route”, through Barton under Needwood and Coton in the Elms. I remembered why I don’t really use that route now, it’s gritty and climby in places.

I stopped for food at a village shop in Yoxall. Nice place, very nice sandwiches. I wonder if I could fashion a useful route that goes through Yoxall.

After Netherseal it was apparent that I still had a few miles to make up so I came back a slightly indirect way after Measham, and detoured via Ibstock. The sun had set by this time, and I’d deployed lights.

However .. just as I was coming into the village, a friendly motorist emerging from his car flagged me down. “Did you have a red light on the back of your bike?” he wanted to know. Indeed I did, but not any longer apparently. “Because I passed one flashing on the road back there”, he continued. I thanked him, put a spare rear light on and went back a mile or so to look for it, but I didn’t see it. Ah well, it was cheap, and obviously a bit useless. The rubber strap was still attached, but the main body of the light had fallen off the mount.

Back on 64.27 miles. If not for backtracking to look for a missing rear light, I’d have been back in just over fondo distance so I’d managed the distance quite nicely.

Lovely out there apart from the wind, and obviously that only bothered me over the first half of the ride. Spring-like. I did get rained on, but only for five minutes. This was the first time I’d been out on the S Works since September and it zipped along beautifully on the way back.


Rain was expected at about 8pm, so I thought I could crank out 35 miles or so after work without getting wet. I did a Twycrosser With Orton Detour, 32.38 miles. I would have done more than that, but I did get rained on after the first hour.

Hadn’t done the Orton detour for a while.

Listened to Mike Stern’s Standards album which unfortunately is a bit inspid – he plays brilliantly but overall it comes across like lift music. Then I started a new audiobook, the Philp K Dick novel Martian Time-Slip which imagines a human colony on Mars in 1994. I found it really meandering and unfocused.

Anyway not quite as many miles as I wanted, but 32.38 more than I would have done if I’d known I was going to get rained on.