Eastwell and Hose

No cycling for over a week, mostly because I’ve been in Hartlepool. But I’m back now and today looked an ideal day for the October Fondo – warmish, dry, light winds. I decided to do Eastwell and back; not by default, but because I’d noticed some interesting scenery in the distance from Clawson Lane last time, and wanted to have another look. I didn’t fancy hauling a pair of binoculars over 60-odd miles but I did take my Soviet Army surplus monocular with me. It was a Christmas gift from my mum in the mid ’90s.

Stopped at the garage at Burton on the Wolds on the way east to get some food, since the fridge was nearly empty and I’d only brought an oat bar with me.

Had a good look when I got to Clawson Lane at the mystery installation, quite some distance to the north. Looks like a power station or large industrial concern of some sort. I made a careful note of the position and the approximate angle from my direction of travel (I hadn’t brought a compass) and I will nerd out over a map later. I removed my tights shortly afterwards, as I was getting warm. Bare legs on October 9th – I think that may be a personal record.

Lots of other cyclists out in large groups today.

Got to the crossroads at Eastwell and was about to do a U turn, when I decided to take a left to Harby, and come back west a different way. After all – today was probably the last warmish weather Fondo opportunity of the year, and I felt I owed myself a bit of an adventure. This alternative way back runs roughly parallel to the usual route. I hadn’t done it for years. It also involves a long, steep descent which is a lot of fun. In fact, I didn’t quite come the same way I’ve done in the past so some of the ride was brand new; on the whole a bit less enjoyable in itself than the usual way back through Six Hills, but nice to do something different. I rejoined familiar territory at Wymeswold, where I took this pic.

Got through a couple more chapters of the Reacher audiobook, then Gilles Peterson on 6 Music. Gilles can be hit and miss but he played a blinder this week.

I did have a hint of the right knee pain that I had last time I operated a bicycle, but it was much diminished and seemed to wear off a bit after 30 miles.

Good run out, 63.05 miles and that’s 4027 this year. I’ve also done 24 Fondos in 2021 now, which was my target (based on an average of 2 per month). But I’ll still aim to do at least one in each of the remaining two months, of course.


Sub-Twycrosser with Knee Aggravation

The weather is a little forbidding this weekend so I took advantage of a dry, sunny afternoon yesterday to do a Twycrosser. I’d intended to do 30, but I suffered right knee pain throughout the ride so I shortened the ride a bit by taking the road from Little Twycross to Congerstone. Nice road that, I’d do it more often but navigationally speaking it’s not much use except as a short cut.

I have no idea why my right knee was complaining. No long rides recently, no strenuous hill climbing, no other activities I could relate it to. It seems non-deterministic. Maybe because I haven’t cycled quite so much in the last week or two?

A long time ago, one of my physios told me that if my knee felt like someone had kicked it, to take it easy but ride through it. But if it felt like someone had stabbed it, to rest it for a bit. This was definitely the kicky sort of pain so I counter-extended the ride slightly by taking the long way through Newton Burgoland over the last few miles.

I’ll be interested to see how the knee does next time I’m on a bike, but it feels OK today just walking around and climbing stairs.

24.05 miles.



A couple of showers today, but it was sunny by about 4pm and the roads were mostly dry, so I withdrew the Boardman after work to perform a Twycrosser. I aimed to do about 25 since I didn’t have much time this evening.

As I came up to the junction of Measham Road / Ashby Road, I noticed that a driver opposite had just parked, and was inspecting the rear of his car. As I drew alongside, I realised why. He’d just been shunted at some force; the back end of his car was badly mangled. The other vehicle involved was stationary at the junction on the main road and the whole front end was smashed up. The road was showered with broken glass and bits of plastic and the airbag had been deployed. Fortunately it looked like no-one had been hurt but the occupant was still at the wheel, looking rather dazed.

Apart from that, an uneventful and pleasant run out. Nice sunset. Getting dark by the time I got back.

25.02 miles, 526 this month and I think that’s probably it for September.



I was in two minds over what to do today, as I pondered my options last night. I thought I might have a day out in London, before the COVID guidelines tighten up again for the autumn / winter months. Maybe a run down to Northampton in the car. Or perhaps a Fondo out east – the weather seemed to be quite promising; warm with light winds.

I got up a bit too late for London really and I decided I’d make the most of what might be the last opportunity for a Fondo in warm weather this year. I decided on Eastwell and back, pretty much by default. I wanted to do 63 miles, to get this month’s total to 500.

On one of the quiet lanes approaching Cotes on the way out, a chap of similar age pulled up alongside for a chat. He looked like he’d just pedalled through a time portal from the 1980s, with an Eddie Mercx style cap, proper old-school leather cycling shoes and a vintage bike with lots of chrome and tube shifters. He told me that he’d had it hand built 35 years ago. Asked me how many miles I did, then he told me that his uncle had been sponsored by Renolds, the chain manufacturers, and used to do 12,000 a year.

I got to the crossroads at Eastwell, took a right toward Waltham then did a U turn just after 31.5 miles. Normally I like to turn round and come home from a definite end point – a village or at least a road junction, but today I wasn’t really feeling it and just wanted to get back and finish the job with the minimum of effort.

Stopped at the Greyhound at Burton on the Wolds on the way back. I had the best possible cycling lunch imaginable, with a crusty ham & coleslaw sandwich and beautiful crispy golden big chips. I only wish it was a bit further from home, but it set me up nicely for the last 17 miles.

As I sat and washed down lunch with a half lager, I idly watched the queue of cars at the petrol station opposite. Remarkable.

Good run out, a bit perfunctory really. I probably need to find some new routes. But there’s something comforting about familiarity, as well.

I listened to 6 Music, then a bit of LBC – I’m always careful when tuning into LBC on a Saturday, because David Lammy has a show on there some time in the afternoon. But fortunately the fat-headed fool wasn’t due on for another hour or two, so I listened to Maajid Nawaz. Interesting bloke. He took a call from a woman in Scotland who wanted to have a go at everyone who voted for Brexit for being stupid, gullible and the cause of all the world’s problems as she saw it. She repeated the old chestnut that Scotland voted to remain in the EU (nope).

Despite being a remainer himself he took her to task quite forcefully for being arrogant and patronising. To be honest though I think he was mostly just trying to piss her off. A bit of a contrarian.

Mostly cloudy, but the sun came out later on.

63.35 miles, 501 this month.


Twycross Bypasser

I did a Twycross Bypasser after work. Annoyingly windy for the first part of the ride. But warm and sunny yet again. Listened to the Drive programme on 5 Live, then more Reacher – the latest story is starting to unfold nicely.

Back before sunset. Just as well because although I had a flashy blinker, a headtorch and a spare Olight for the front, I’d forgotten that Boardman II is still not equipped with a rear light, and didn’t check. I can feel some Amazon retail therapy coming on in the next ten minutes.

31.67 miles. 437 this month so I should make it to 500 before October easily enough.


Twycross Bypasser, Binocular Edition

Yet another warm day, somehow. I’m almost getting used to riding a bike in shorts!

Took a pair of binoculars with me today because I wanted to examine another object on the horizon, visible from Orton Hill to the right of the Birmingham skyscraper tops, that I’d noticed on a recent ride. So I did a Twycross Bypasser.

Stopped to have a look near a farm gate and got the binoculars out of the backpack. The tower structure I’d noticed seemed a lot closer than the buildings in Birmingham – probably only five or six miles away, maybe less. I later identified it from Google Maps and Street View as a communications tower of some sort, next to the M42 west of Polesworth. Actually only four miles away from my vantage point.

I listened to 5 Live Drive – Katie Razzall, previously a Newsnight presenter and now the BBC’s Culture Editor is co-presenting for a couple of weeks. I must admit she’s a natural in that role but – here’s the weird thing – I’ve heard her on the radio a few times and until just now, when I googled a new piece about her being appointed Culture Editor, I’ve always thought she was black. She’s a light-haired white woman. Nothing to do with preconceptions about politics or identity. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but she sounds exactly like a black woman when she speaks. Like Jeanette Kwakye, if you like. Odd.

Anyway – an enjoyable ride, 33.3 miles. 405 this month and I think I can get that to 500 before October. I may take a day off later this week and do a longish one.



Another warm day. Other commitments prevented me from cycling this morning but I wanted to get a ride in this afternoon, since it will rain tomorrow – and I wanted to achieve a special milestone this weekend.

At the beginning of 2015 my Rush pal Rob started a thread for cyclists on a Rush message board. I’d had my Carrera hybrid for two or three years, but hadn’t ridden it for a year or two. I set myself a target of 500 miles that year initially, and started recording my distances on a spreadsheet. That turned out to be a life-changing thread.

I’m oncall today but although I only wanted to do 40 or so anyway I chose a route that would take me north, then back near home, then south and back so that I wouldn’t stray too far from base. I went up through Coleorton, up Top Brand, up past Tonge – then back down through Breedon, back down through Coleorton – then west toward Ashby and down through Packington, after which I did a Twycross Bypasser.

I stopped the bike to take this pic near Norton Juxta Twycross, immediately after completing my 30,000th mile since January 2015.

Back on 41.38 miles. 372 done this month, 3787 this year.

Top Brand has been resurfaced which is unfortunate because the surface is rougher than it was before, especially coming southbound where it had been part-repaired a few years ago with lovely smooth tarmac. Now the whole road is covered in coarse, heavy gravel. I suppose it will wear in.

Although I normally have a day off and cycled a hilly route yesterday, my knees seemed fine. There’s never any predicting how they’ll do. But they’re a lot more robust than they were even a year ago so I’m not bothered.

I listened to Burnley vs Arsenal on 5 Live. I started to lose interest after Arsenal scored but I gave Burnley half an hour to equalise. They let me down so I resumed my Reacher audiobook, Without Fail. Wasn’t convinced over the first couple of chapters but it’s starting to get interesting now.

The sky turned a gloomy shade of grey half an hour after I got home – I was having a well-earned Leffe in the garden – then it started to rain. Good timing.


Ashby Statutes

No plan except to do about 30, and I set off without a route in mind at about 4:15pm. I decided to go up through Coleorton and up Top Brand, then swing a left toward Melbourne, then busk it from there.

When I got to Stanton by Bridge, just south of Swarkestone Bridge, I took a left along a road signposted to the centre of the village, on a whim. I’d seen the signpost many times and thought I’d see where it would take me. Unfortunately the road into the village degenerated into a very bumpy, gravelly and uneven path. I expect the villagers quite like it that way; stops people driving through it. I thought of turning back but bloody-mindedness kept me going. The road improved slightly and I came to a junction. I took a left and realised I was on the road between Swarkestone and Ticknall, one I usually avoid because it’s bumpy and hilly. But it wasn’t as bad as the road through Stanton and I kept going to Ticknall.

From Ticknall I came home my usual way through Ashby, except that I had to take a detour round the centre which had been closed off to traffic and taken over by the annual fair, known as Ashby Statutes.

I was carefully navigating through some cones back into the traffic when a young lad on a mountain bike overtook me at about 20mph, about three inches to my right. Not what you want when you’re clipped in. I swore loudly and at least he had the decency to shout “sorry!”. Got to say though I admire the skill evident in being able to navigate a 1.5 foot gap between an old bloke on a bike and a traffic cone at that speed. Fair play.


29.81 miles.

Twycross Bypasser

A warm, sunny afternoon. There can’t be many of those left this year. I left work as soon as decently possible or arguably a bit sooner, to do a Twycross Bypasser. Annoyingly windy for the first 45 minutes or so, then rather nice.


Strava tells me I did this exact route about three weeks ago, but I was 22 seconds quicker this time. Consistency! That time I was on the first Boardman which is a slower bike, but it probably wasn’t as windy. But it could also depend on mood. I don’t much care about the time it takes.

30.11 miles, 301 done this month. I should have stayed out for another 10 really. I was back long before sunset and had nothing much else to do this evening. I even had lights on me.

I’m sure this must be a personal best year for number of rides with exposed legs.

Hello Twycross, My Old Friend

Left work fairly early and decided to do a Twycrosser – I haven’t done a proper one for quite some time, having favoured the route that bypasses it to the west recently. I did a longish version, coming back east along Fenn Lanes – something I haven’t done for even longer. I stopped off at my favourite bench at Sutton Cheney.

Got to Cadeby and decided to come home via the A477, rather than the quiet little road that runs parallel to it and comes up through the villages. Just for a change. Well after rush hour by this time so I thought I’d be safe enough.

Took the second Boardman again because I finally got round to adjusting the angle of the right-hand shifter at the weekend, and wanted to check it. It’s always been splayed slightly outward. Nice & straight now, and all’s well.

A bit whiffy out there at the moment – some of the farms are spraying some sort of noxious stuff on the fields. I listened to a radio report on Saturday about the practice of using human waste as fertiliser so the smell was a little more troubling than usual.

Back before sunset, which now occurs before 7:30pm round these parts.

34.65, 271 this month.