Not a bad day, warm enough and dry. On another Sunday I might have done a fondo, but I seem to have a lot more time on my hands now and I’ve done three already this month. With a light wind coming from the west, a Bypasser seemed a good idea.

I did a longish version, right down to Fenn Lanes. Fortunately Mythe Lane wasn’t flooded this time. I took the left from Fenn Lanes along Mill Lane to Shenton, which I haven’t done for a while. Nice to see that Mill Lane has been resurfaced, though I don’t remember it being particularly bad before.

Listened to the Reacher audiobook all the way round. Not one of the best, but good stuff. I could have done without the ten minute sex scene though. I completely forgot that the men’s final was on at Wimbledon or I’d have listened to that, but fortunately I got back in time to see the last few games on the telly.

Back on 40.30 miles.


For years I’ve had a vague intention to do a bike ride to Kilburn, an unremarkable village about eight miles north of Derby. I’d probably never have heard of it except that, in the early ’90s, it was in one sense the location of a (bizarre) love triangle I was caught up in, and the geographical focal point of a lot of emotional turmoil.

So, with the wind blowing from the north unusually, I decided I’d give it a go today. I set off at about 0950.

Up Top Brand to Donington, over Cavendish Bridge, up past Elvaston Castle. The intention was to head towards Oakwood, where I used to live all those years ago, then take what was my usual driving route to Kilburn back in 1993. Or one of them.

I tried to take a short cut through Spondon on the way to Oakwood, partly to avoid the busy ‘ASDA roundabout’. But I ended up on the A52, which – being a fast dual carriageway and the most popular road into Derby off the M1 – was considerably worse. Oh well. I put up with a mile of it, then I ended up on the ASDA roundabout anyway despite my attempt to avoid it.

At the next roundabout I took a right turn to go up Acorn Way. I was happily pedalling around it in the usual clockwise fashion when a learner driver decided to join the roundabout right in front of me. I had to apply brakes pretty sharply to avoid colliding with the driver’s side of his car. Perhaps the youth behind the wheel thought that right of way on roundabouts only applies to motor vehicles. Needless to say I gesticulated aggressively, but he looked very nonchalant about it. Would be quite funny if he was on his test, but somehow I doubt it.

Familiar roads from that point up towards Kilburn, albeit I hadn’t been on some of them for over three decades. Nice to see some familiar places, odd somehow that they’re still there after all this time.

Not long after Morley I decided to take a detour after seeing an idyllic-looking left turn. To the left, a long, quiet, straight, narrow but decently surfaced road beckoned, lined by trees. Very nice, but it didn’t last long and the next turn saw me rattling downhill along an uneven and grotty country lane. Ah well – it’s good to explore.

Got to Kilburn, had a look round. I decided to go back down to Derby the other way, down Derby Road. It had clearly been resurfaced recently – gravel bound with tar, but no white lines or road markings. This was a really pleasant stretch of the ride. It’s a big road and yet quiet, presumably because it’s parallel to the A38. It goes through a pretty village called Little Eaton. And all of it is gently downhill until you get to Derby.

I stopped at a bench in Oakwood, not far from my old house, to eat some food I’d brought with me. It bore a sign saying “Happy to Chat Bench – sit here if you don’t mind someone stopping to say hello”. Fortunately, I didn’t have to glare at anyone. Then I headed home through Spondon, Borrowash, Elvaston, Shardlow. After Donington I took the longer way home through Diseworth and it was even longer than I intended because I hit a ‘Road Closed’ sign on the turn to Belton. But I thought I probably needed to add a mile or so anyway to get up to fondo distance, so I continued on to Long Whatton then came home the usual way from there.

There’s now an elegant little caff along the main road near Shardlow, and I stopped there for a sausage roll, a fruit scone and an Americano. Very nice but it came to £8.30 and although I wouldn’t have thought twice about that a few weeks ago, I wonder if I should really be doing that now I’ve turned the money tap off. I should probably have brought more stuff with me.

Cool for the first hour or two. Warm later on when the sun came out but cooler again later when the clouds rolled over. I wasn’t tempted to take the legwarmers off. I got rained on slightly over the last mile.

Listened to more Reacher, Adrian Chiles and Wimbledon coverage on 5 Live and the Who album It’s Hard.

Back on 65.53. Nice run out, a bit of an adventure. I’ll have to do that one, or something like it, again.


Dry again today but I had things to do around lunch time and this evening, so I wasn’t going to do another fondo. The wind from the west was a bit too strong for that anyway. I was slightly debilitated from drinking Japanese whisky last night, as well. So I thought I’d do a longish version of the famous Twycross Bypasser route. About 40 miles, perhaps.

Pretty comfortable out there, about 16C I think. I was going to go down to Fenn Lanes via Witherley, but Mythe Lane was flooded where the stream passes under the road. I’ve seen this quite a few times now, but somehow didn’t expect it today. So – I backtracked back to Ratcliffe Culey and went east via Sibson and Shenton then up through Market Bosworth.

Gloomy from 1800 and I picked up a few specks of rain near Odstone so I came home the quicker way through Heather (pronounced Hee-ther by the locals by the way) instead of Swepstone. Fortunately I didn’t get rained on.

I forgot to bring a phone with me somehow so I couldn’t make any progress with the Reacher novel. I listened to coverage from Wimbledon.

Saw a huge swarm of pigeon-sized birds near Orton. Not sure what they were. Seemed to be thousands of them. Crows maybe. They were silhouetted against the sky so I couldn’t really make out their colouring.

Back on 36.11.


Another dry day and, with the wind coming from the south, I took an opportunity to get a southbound fondo in. My usual route, except that I took a longer deviation round the Earl Shilton bypass, to avoid the hill you have to navigate to go straight through.

Stopped when I got to Welford Road after about 32.5 miles, and came back the same way.

I stopped at the village shop at Gilmorton on the way back. Alas, the Google Pay app on my bloody phone wouldn’t work so I had to put the Magnum ice cream, egg mayonnaise sandwich, bottle of Lucozade and Milky Bar I’d plonked on the counter back where I’d got them. Annoying. I always take an actual debit card with me on longer rides, perhaps I’ll do that on short rides as well now.

Fortunately I didn’t really need them. I’d already eaten a rather nice chunk of Fortnum & Mason pork pie that I’d brought with me and with uncertain economic fortunes ahead of us now, perhaps I shouldn’t be purchasing superfluous goodies on relatively short bike rides.

Really nice out there, warm and sunny later on. I backpacked my fleece and tights after about ten miles. Perhaps I should use my legwarmers more often; I always feel a bit inconspicuous wrestling tights off while propped against a farm gate. I must look like an old woman about to take an impromptu leak.

I started the next Reacher novel, The Affair. Good stuff so far although it’s in the first person, which is not my favourite Reacher mode.

I would have done a longer ride, but rain was forecast for the late afternoon. It never happened.

Back on 65.87 miles for a pleasing 188 this month. That was this year’s 21st fondo.

Dad’s Army

A few years ago I rode to Worcestershire (the historic version) and back. I refer to this ride sometimes as my “Dad’s Army route”, because I spent most of the ride listening to old recordings of the BBC Radio version of the famous sitcom about the fictional Walmington-on-Sea division of the Home Guard.

I’ve often thought of doing it again. The main deterrent has been the necessity to do about three miles of the A5 west of Atherstone. It’s a fast dual carriageway, and not the sort of thing you really want to be negotiating on a bicycle. I did try to do it spontaneously a couple of months ago, but hadn’t planned the route and I messed it up.

I thought I’d have a go at it today. I didn’t upload the route to my eTrex, but I did memorise the turns carefully with the help of Google Street View.

Roughly the first half of the ride to the destination is part of my usual Twycross route. Then the A5, then south-west toward Kingsbury, then down to Coleshill.

So – I did that. I didn’t go right down to the border with Historic Worcestershire, because it’s depressingly urban after Coleshill. You’re pretty much in the outskirts of Birmingham after that.

I stopped at a garden centre on the way down to look for a caff. Didn’t find one, but they did have a butcher’s shop situated in a sort of prefab hut, so I bought a chicken samosa there. Very nice. Also stopped at a friendly village shop at Kingsbury on the way back for a sandwich and a Magnum ice cream.

Came back the same way as far as Grendon Road. Then I came home through Sheepy, Congerstone, Shackerstone, Heather. So the whole ride was in essence a Twycross Bypasser with an excursion south-westward at the bottom.

Actually the worst part of this ride is having to negotiate the big roundabout on the A5 near Hockley on the way back. It’s a lot scarier going round it clockwise than coming off at the first exit on the outward leg.

Despite that, nice to do it again. I didn’t listen to Dad’s Army this time, I listened to 5 Live – and I got another 4.5 hours out of the Duracell Plus AAs in my DAB, for a total of roughly 36.5 hours. Amazing.

I have to say though I didn’t quite remember it as the same ride I did in 2022 .. I seem to remember a few views and scenes that somehow weren’t present today. I’ve checked, and I definitely did the same route. Must be my memory playing tricks.

Nice run out though. Pleasantly warm and sunny in the afternoon. Back on 53.67 miles. I’ve done 122 already this month; I guess that’s the retirement distance dividend.

Upper / Lower Westbound

My usual route to Wales is an extension of the Lower Westbound route, but a while ago I devised a route that would extend from the Upper Westbound route, instead.

A critical component of this new route is a mile-long stretch of cycle path running along the A50, about 30 miles from home, leading into Uttoxeter.

So, on a dry day with the wind coming from the west, I thought I’d go and check out the cycle path, go into Uttoxeter for a mile or so then come back the same way. Usually I don’t like to use cycle paths. They can be poorly maintained sometimes, with indifferent surfaces, thorny vegetation, sharp stones and bits of broken glass. But sometimes they’re OK if there’s no alternative. And certainly, the A50 itself is not an option. The coroner would probably return a verdict of suicide.

So I set off at about 10:30 and pedalled up through Coleorton and Melbourne, west along the Beloved A Road, all the way on to Doveridge and onto the cycle path. I realised when I got there that I’d been there before. It’s not too bad. A bit concretey in places. A little bit of debris, but no conspicuous puncture bait.

I went into Uttoxeter, but instead of turning back, I followed a sign to Abbots Bromley, which is on my Lower Westbound route, or one of them. I think I’d taken this same road a few weeks ago when I went into Uttoxeter via Marchington. Came back the usual way from there, through King’s Bromley, Alrewas, Croxall, Netherseal et al. I took the pic at Lullington.

Cloudy and cool in the morning, but – unexpectedly – a lovely warm, mostly sunny day in the afternoon. Fortunately I had a backpack so I could stuff clothing into it.

Listened mostly to 5 Live. I listened to James O’Brien on LBC for a while; I think a psychiatrist would find him a fascinating case. And I listened to Rush’s 2112, a personal favourite of mine since the age of 16.

Back on 68.16 miles. I didn’t manage 600 in June but I’ll be happy with 450 for July.

The night before I set off on my 200 miler, I put a fresh pair of Duracell Plus AAs in my DAB personal. It’s now got about 32 hours from them, and they aren’t dead yet! Very nice to know I wouldn’t need a spare pair on a long ride. In fact I could put the same pair in an LED torch on a long ride with the last couple of hours in the dark, and use my phone or MP3 player for in-flight audio.


I intended to do 30-odd miles after work today. That’s after work in the unusually final sense that I have – at least provisionally – retired today. However I had very little to do this afternoon apart from completing an exit survey and sending round a few messages, which I wanted to do at about 4pm – so I decided to set off at lunchtime instead.

I did a Bypasser. Somehow I missed the left turn along Kisses Barn Lane – probably because I’d just been overtaken dangerously closely, and was seething. I only noticed when I found myself approaching some speed bumps that aren’t a normal feature of my intended route.

So I continued on into Polesworth. It’s a bit urban. I don’t mind that so much as the hills you have to negotiate to pass through it. Then I took a left onto Grendon Road. Wasn’t completely sure where I was until I passed Spon Lane on the right. I think I might go exploring over that way soon.

Came back up athrough Sheepy and, after Snarestone, the same way I’d come down. Back before 4pm. I completed and sent my exit survey. It was a bit of a hand grenade, but quite cathartic. Said a few goodbyes. Signed off.

Lots more free time for cycling now.

Back on 36.17 miles. Nice out there. Warm.

San Giovanni

The weather was actually a bit too hot for cycling today, but I applied my most minimal cycling clothing and a bit of suntan lotion. A rare chance to wear my lightweight camo-pattern cycling top, constructed of material so diaphonous that it barely exists. I reckon a light-fingered midgie could probably fly off with it.

Didn’t want to go far. Not much spare time today unfortunately, so I thought a Twycrosser or Bypasser was probably the best idea. Set off at about 1510.

Fortunately I do seem to have my mojo back now, following a few days’ recovery from my 200 miler on Thursday. I seemed to have plenty of energy. Unusually, I went right up into Ashby and along Market Street before descending through Packington. Down through Norton and Orton as usual.

After Sibson though I cut in westward to Sheepy Magna, so I could treat myself to a pitstop at San Giovanni. Had an Old Fashioned and asked for a tap water to top up my bidon. It came with a chunk of lemon and ice. Dumped it into the bidon with the ice from the cocktail so I had a cool, faintly lemon-flavoured water supply for the remaining ten miles (up through Twycross and Swepstone).

Quite a nice run out if a bit too warm, 37.03 miles, 553 this month and perhaps I can get that up to 600.


Nice weather yesterday but I decided I’d give myself another day off after doing a rather long one on Thursday. Fortunately the weather was rather nice as well today, and I thought I’d do about 40 or so. With a slight wind coming from the west, a Twycross Bypasser seemed a good idea.

However – after four or five miles it became clear that I didn’t have my usual mojo. Just felt a bit low on energy. Might be because I’ve had a couple of late nights in the last few days as much as anything else, but I decided to keep it fairly short and do an old-fashioned Twycrosser, rather than a Bypasser.

Down to Ratcliffe Culey, through Sibson, back up through Bosworth, Odstone, Swepstone et al.

Since I’d forgotten to bring any food, I called in at the shop at Bosworth and bought a sausage roll. Passed it hundreds of times probably, but I’d never been in. I was surprised to see that the till was self-service. Sign of the times when even a village shop has an automated checkout.

I stopped at the bus shelter at Carlton (pictured) to eat the sausage roll, to sustain me over the last eight miles. There was an Labour Party election leaflet pinned to the wall, for the Hinckley and Bosworth constituency. But it wasn’t there for long.

Back on 31.92 miles and that’s 516 this month now, and 3015 this year.

Another Double Century

Perfect conditions were forecast for yesterday – mostly sunny, not too warm, dry and unusually light winds. Occasional cloud cover, to give a bit of respite from the sun in the afternoon. Three live football matches to listen to on my DAB personal radio (always a joy when out on a bike). So I booked a final annual leave day to perform my yearly ritual of cycling to the edge of Norfolk and back. I planned a route that would take me a slightly different way than I’d done previously and come back a different way again; about 175 miles in all.

I went to bed at 2300 on Wednesday night with the intention of getting up at 0330, but I didn’t sleep. I got up at about 0245, and set off at 0350.

It was cold at that time of the morning of course but I was wearing several layers of clothing including cycling tights, and was warm enough. There was enough light in the pre-dawn gloom, 50 minutes before sunrise, to see the road well enough so I just used a basic blinking LED front light. Last time I did this ride a year ago, I’d set off nearly an hour earlier. It was a lot darker for the first hour and I was much colder. Probably didn’t think it through properly, but I can be impulsive sometimes. It’s not an ideal character trait for a system engineer. But I digress.

Anyway, I arrived at my favourite village shop at Buckminster after 38 miles. Had a second breakfast at one of the benches outside. I’d hoped to be able to remove a couple of layers of clothing by this time but the temperature hadn’t climbed as much as I’d expected – so I left them on. My route after Buckminster took me east a different way than I normally go, through Castle Bytham, Witham on the Hill, Manthorpe and Thurlby. At Thurlby, 58 miles into the ride I was finally convinced that the air temperature was warm enough to strip down to minimal cycling clothing. So I removed my long-sleeved cycling jacket, fleece, gloves and tights as well as a spare bike light and packed them into a camo-pattern nylon bag, which I then obscured in the nether regions of a hedge next to a distinctive farm gate. I’ve used this tactic before, as regular readers may remember. It’s very handy for avoiding carrying unnecessary weight over long distances. The key thing of course is to remember exactly where you stashed your stuff.

I had another rest-and-refuel stop at a lovely caff overlooking a pond near Deeping St Nicholas after 67 miles, then again at Tydd Gate after 86 miles, not far from my eventual destination – Sutton Bridge. And when I got there, 20 minutes later, an inner voice spoke to me. “Why don’t you try for 200 miles?”, it said.

The first 89 had been a breeze. Conditions had been ideal; the scenery had mostly been lovely. I’d taken it easy and was in good spirits. Sometimes if you’re unhappy about something – the state of the roads, the temperature, the traffic – that can wear you down a little on a long ride but I’d had no problems at all yesterday. I’d done a 200-miler once before, in 2020 – but I was a young lad of 59 then. I’d sometimes wondered, this past couple of years, if I could do it again.

It would mean that I’d be home a couple of hours later than I’d planned, but the sun was due to set very late – and of course because I’d set off before sunrise, I had lights with me for the last hour post-sunset. As it happens a bright full moon was due as well, though of course I hadn’t actually checked that in advance.

So I decided to go for it. I made up most of the extra distance by doing a bit of extra-curricular exploring in the eastern part of Lincolnshire where the terrain was very flat, and before I’d have to pick up the extra weight of my stashed cycling clothing at Thurlby. I didn’t do this particularly imaginatively or carefully. I somehow managed to visit a cute little market town called Market Deeping twice. But it was fun nonetheless.

I’d uploaded my original route to my Garmin eTrex. It was hugely helpful to have a touch-screen map mounted on my handlebar, even when I went off-piste. Much better than stopping to check a phone app every 15 minutes.

The ride back west was pleasant and uneventful. I came back a longer way over the last 30 miles, to make up the remaining distance deficit.

The temperature dropped very quickly as I came down the hill toward Burton on the Wolds. I must have descended into a pool of cold air. I stopped a couple of miles later at a huge log next to Stamford Lane to put my additional cycling clothing back on, and put my lights on. Farmers sometimes deposit these massive bits of tree next to unused entrances to their land, to stop people driving into their fields and stealing cattle. Or something. But they provide useful roadside seating for cyclists. The sun had just set. I rested for 15 minutes and ate a cornish pasty I’d bought. Then I set off to do the remaining 15 miles. I arrived home at 2330. I’d done 201 miles. Beat my previous record by about half a mile.

I did suck some of the fun out of that ride in the planning stage. For some of the territory in Lincolnshire, I used charmless A roads rather than the distinctive straight, narrow tracks that run along the drainage channels in the beautiful desolation of the Fenlands. But since I picked up two punctures on a ride over there last year I’m a bit more cautious. I like well-established roads on long rides.

That was, I must say, a lot easier than my first 200 mile ride. On that occasion, each of the last 20 miles seemed to pass like 10. Over the last 5 miles I was stopping to lean against a lamp post and cry every ten minutes. This time, while I was certainly tired over the last 15, I didn’t suffer.

My arms got a bit sunburned unfortunately, but I have lovely sharp tanlines on my legs.

Happy to have done a 200 miler again. I don’t think I’ll ever do another one. But of course, I’ve said that before.