A cold morning but no rain forecast, light winds, it was sunny and I wasn’t on call – all of which added up to an irresistible case for doing the January Fondo.

As I ate breakfast I had a quick look through my Twitter feed. My MP, the redoubtable Andrew Bridgen, was urging people to “stay local with your exercise”. Two of my fellow constituents were given £200 fixed penalty notices after driving five miles to take a walk at Foremark Reservoir, just a few miles from here.

I set off at 10:24, a bit later than I wanted really. But I got up later than I expected, I couldn’t find my cycling glasses (ended up using an old pair of varifocals) and I had to lube the Tricross before I set off, having neglected to do that yesterday.

The plan was to go up through Coleorton, over Swarkestone Bridge and west along the trusty, flat A road, keep going until I’d done a bit more than 31 miles, then turn back and come back the same way. However I don’t usually go much further west than Hilton or (less often) Hatton, and this route called upon me to remember a couple of turns before pedalling through a village called Marchington. As it happened though I missed a turn near Sudbury. Didn’t realise I’d done this until I found myself running out of proper road and having to take a cycle path adjacent to the A50. But I wasn’t overly bothered as I’d done about 30 miles by this time anyway, so I just needed to keep on for another mile and come back the same way.

The cycle path joined a proper road going into Uttoxeter. I’d done 31 miles now so I decided to turn back at the next roundabout.

However, the next roundabout had a sign to Marchington – so I thought I’d follow that, and come back the way I’d originally intended. A bit of an adventure. I did that. A bit hilly but really a lot of fun doing impromptu navigation on hitherto undiscovered roads.

I had to use the phone a few times to find my way through Marchington itself, but after that it was pretty much plain sailing. Sunny and pleasant for the first few hours, but about an hour before sunset a damp murk descended and the roads were a bit wet. I thought I might be back after dark and I was, so I’d brought lights.

No pub stops of course and I didn’t use any shops. I took a backpack with plenty of food in it including a very sticky cinnamon bun that I bought at Tesco yesterday.

Back on 64.39 miles. Really a nice bit of exercise. Ticked another ‘neighbouring counties’ box as well, Staffordshire.


Cold Melbourne

It was a dry afternoon, although the roads were a bit wet. I set off about 20 minutes after sunset, which was a slightly more tolerable 16:07 today. No fixed idea on where I wanted to go. I thought of going up over Swosser Bridge and west, but by the time I’d done the first few miles up Top Brand, I’d decided to keep it down to 20 miles or so. Too cold and damp. I went as far up as Tonge, then turned left along Nottingham Road to come back down.

As I reached the turn off for Melbourne though, I thought to myself – why not tick the Derbyshire box?

I thought I’d go up toward Melbourne as far as the Derbyshire border, scoot over it for a few metres then come back. I knew there was a ‘Derbyshire’ sign along there. And yet – I pedalled past it without noticing it. By the time I’d reached the top of Rotter’s Rise I knew I must be in Derbyshire but out of bloody-mindedness I decided to go down it and right into Melbourne anyway. Then I turned back, and came back the usual way.

I noticed the Derbyshire sign on the way back easily enough. How I’d missed it, I have no idea but as it happened coming back up Rotter’s Rise wasn’t too bad. I seemed to warm up a bit as well and I quite enjoyed my run out to Melbourne in the end.

Back at about 7pm and it was definitely below freezing by then, with a layer of frost having formed on car windscreens.

I used a rechargeable head torch that I’ve had for a couple of years and I must say it’s really impressed me – it’s very light, has a powerful beam that lasts for hours and it wasn’t expensive, either.

25.44 miles.


Twycross with Warwickshire Extension

Nature abhors an empty spreadsheet, so with that in mind, I mounted the Tricross at 12:45, to get the 2021 campaign off the ground. I thought I’d do 30 miles or so. I quite like that my average ride distance is 43 miles over 2020, and I’d like to keep that going. But the weather wasn’t great (cold and a bit windy) so 30 seemed a decent enough start.

I decided on a Twycrosser, with a slight extension to the west, to take in a bit of Warwickshire. One of my recurring yearly goals is to do all of the neighbouring counties. As it happens I take in Warwickshire dozens of times each year without particularly trying to, but I wanted to tick the box early.

The Warwickshire detour involved me ascending the “ski slope” at Austrey, which I hadn’t done before. It looks worse than it is. Slightly more demanding than Alton Hill but nowhere near as bad as Bastard Hill near Ticknall, or Rotter’s Rise south of Melbourne. You can just see it on the skyline in the following pic.

Came back through Shenton and Bosworth, which I haven’t done for a while. It was sunny early on, but an unexpected heavy drizzle descended north of Bosworth for about 20 minutes.

Listened to Newcastle vs Leicester on 5 Live.

Gave the bike a bit of a clean and GT85-ed out the chain when I got back. I’ll have to lube it tomorrow or on Tuesday. Back at about 4:30, roughly 25 mins after sunset. Considerably lighter at that time than it would have been a couple of weeks ago – the daylight hours have started to stretch out a bit.

Despite the drizzle, an enjoyable run out. 35.54 miles.


Just had a thought – could I devise a route that would take in all seven neighbouring counties of Leicestershire in the same ride? I’ll have a look.


I wanted to do one more ride to close out 2020 and the weather seemed a little more favourable today than tomorrow. Cold out there though, so I had to wrap up warm again.

I like to make a sentimental journey over to my old house in Markfield over the Christmas hols each year – it’s become a sort of tradition – so I did that. I took a more direct route than I normally would, through Ibstock and Ellistown. I’d planned to take a short cut along a narrow road called Old House Lane, but I had to turn back and take the long way round as it was covered in slush and ice.

Apart from that the roads were fine. Wet here and there, but not slippery.

I came back the usual way, through Thornton and Bagworth. Pleasant run out. Lovely day all round. Krishnan Guru-Murthy was doing Emma Barnett’s programme on 5 Live. Emma has gone off to do Woman’s Hour and I’m not sure if Krishnan has got her old gig permanently, though he’d be an ideal appointment from the BBC’s point of view since he’s an ethnic minority left-wing activist pseudo-journo – but he interviewed, or argued with a very happy Peter Lilley, a lifelong Eurosceptic of course. Nice to hear. I can report that Krishnan was at least polite.

23.18 miles. And that’s 426 done this month, 6311 this year.



I’m sorry to say that I got hammered last night on Scotch and ersatz Bailey’s, made with Welsh whisky. Not only did this guarantee a hangover, but I collapsed on the way back into bed from a 4AM visit to the loo, and gave my left thigh muscle a nasty bruise.

I got up at about 10:45 with no thought of cycling today, but the forecast was dry and by the afternoon,  it was beautifully sunny out there. I also wanted to see if my bruised thigh would prove a hindrance to operating a bicycle. It was certainly giving me a bit of pain climbing stairs.

I left on the Boardman at about 13:40. I didn’t think I’d be able to do more than 20 in that state so I didn’t take a proper front light. However I ended up doing a reasonable-distance Twycrosser, 32.03 miles.

Cold out there but I wrapped up warm. It was supposed to be windy but I didn’t really notice that, for some reason.

By the time I was approaching Heather it was getting properly dark and I had a bit of a dilemma. I had decent rear lights but only a flashy LED blinker on the front, not nearly powerful enough to illuminate the road. Should I come home straight down Heather Lane, or detour through Ibstock? Heather Lane had the advantage that I’d get home a bit sooner. But although it would be five minutes later by the time I came to do the last two miles going through Ibstock, and consequently darker, the road surface would be better. And I reasoned that there’d be a bit of traffic going both ways, to illuminate the road in front of me with headlights. So I did that, and I got away with it. I was a bit annoyed with myself because all I had to do was stick a head torch in a pocket.

I could certainly feel my thigh muscle complaining as I pedalled, but it didn’t prove a real hindrance. Neither did my hangover really, although it didn’t go away. But a chunk of chocolate and a caramel bar at Twycross seemed to improve my condition a bit.

Anyway – that’s 402 done this month and 6288 this year.


Christmas Eve Willington and Ticknall

A dry afternoon, a sunny one, but a cold and windy one. Had the afternoon off. I didn’t feel hugely motivated to go out on a bike quite honestly, now that I’ve hit my yearly target – but somehow I didn’t want to waste decent cycling weather, so I set off on the Tricross at about 11:10.

The wind was coming from the north which of course means lower temperatures, but it does give me a decent range of route options. I went up through Coleorton and west along the ‘A’ road south of Derby, toward Willington.

I’d got up stupidly early this morning and was tired so I stopped after 15 miles and turned back. I intended to come back through Shardlow, Donington and Top Brand which would have seen me home on about 36 miles (at a guess), but instead I decided to come back through Ticknall and Ashby. This meant the double whammy of Bastard Hill followed by Alton Hill, but I hadn’t done it for a while.

Very, very light rain coming through Ticknall. It wasn’t substantial enough even to leave slight droplets of moisture on the handlebars and I wouldn’t have noticed it if the bright sunlight hadn’t caught it.

I stopped at the bottom of Alton Hill to take this pic.

I’m guessing the phone camera has some sort of multiple exposure blending going on, because I aimed the camera right into a sun only slightly obscured by clouds, and the bike and fence should have been a silhouette. Nice!

I digitally removed some litter in the foreground.

I listened to 5 Live, mainly interested in speculation about the imminent trade deal with the EU. As I hosed the bike chain with GT86 after returning to the garage, the historic news came through that the deal was done – and that Boris Johnson had cemented his reputation as one of the two great post-war Prime Ministers. Probably. I certainly won’t be scrutinising the small print myself, but will eagerly await the verdict of the ERG Star Chamber.

Back on 31.99 miles (the GPS watch didn’t start for the first 0.15 so I’ve done the maths). And that’s 370 this month, 6256 this year. I’ll get that up to 6300 before 2020 expires.


Through the 10,000km Barrier

I needed to do about 33.5 miles today, to reach the 10,000km (6214 miles) finish line that is my most recent, and final yearly goal for 2020. I’ve moved the goalposts a few times having originally just wanted to match my 2019 total (4305 miles).

Earlier in the week the weather forecast predicted light showers for early this morning, then no rain for the rest of the day. By this morning though, the light showers were expected around midday instead. But I exercised unusual diligence and checked the weather to the north, and to the south – and it turned out that to the south, no rain was expected Furthermore a moderate wind was coming from the south – so I thought I’d head in that direction to avoid the rain, then come back up once it had passed over.

I didn’t have a clear route in mind. I mostly made it up as I went along, but I came up with a pretty coherent sort of highly extended reverse Twycrosser. Not too enjoyable heading south for the first part of the ride but very enjoyable in the sunshine with a tailwind, coming back up.

I stopped to take this pic shortly after hitting my 10,000km target, not far from Snarestone:

I didn’t get rained on.

Back on 43.59 miles. 338 this month, 6224 this year.


Up and Down

I wanted to do at least 40 after work, really – to get the remaining distance to target down under 30 miles, because opportunities for cycling at the weekend are likely to be time-limited by scheduled work and the weather.

On call again so I couldn’t stray too far from base, yet again. It was a little bit dank out there, and annoyingly windy. The roads were wet. Consequently my heart wasn’t really in it, but I set off at about 15:40 regardless, on the Tricross.

I went up along Top Brand to Isley Walton, skirting the airport at the southern end then east through Diseworth and Long Whatton, coming back down through Thringstone and Belton. The original plan had been to go right down to Kirkby Mallory and maybe west along Fenn Lanes then back up through Twycross and Snarestone, but I didn’t. I decided to come back up home after Bagworth, via Wood Rd, Battram and Ibstock.

I did start enjoying myself a bit over the last five miles or so but by that time I was already determined to come home.

I wore my Tesco joggers with the cycling pants over them, as a sort of cosmetic exterior cladding. Seemed very effective.

Noticed powerful searchlight beams tracing the night sky, as if searching for Heinkel bombers, a few miles to my east as I came up from Ibstock. No idea what that’s about.

Back on 35.60 miles. 6180 done this year, 295 this month. 34 to go, though I expect I’ll do another 100 or so before 2021.



A rain-free day, not too cold. I took the afternoon off to do the December Fondo. A moderate wind was blowing from the south, which made the choice of route difficult – the usual eastbound and westbound routes both involve coming south-ish over the last few miles, and I didn’t fancy a headwind after 50-odd.

So I did the usual southbound route, all the way down to Welford. The wind wasn’t too annoying on the way down although that route actually goes more south-east than directly south, so it wasn’t a full-on headwind.

Took this pic at Welford:

then I pedalled a few hundred metres into the village and turned back for home.

As I left the village I noticed that the Wharf Inn pub had a sign outside saying “CLOSED – see border sign across the road”. Apart from Welford Marina, it is the only part of the village currently in Tier 3, and literally opposite a “Welcome to Leicestershire” sign. Very unfortunate for the proprietors of that place, because I would guess that the majority of their clientele are from Welford on the other side of the border in Tier 2, presently able to eat Scotch Eggs and drink to their heart’s content in Welford’s other pub.

But you’ve got to draw the line somewhere.

I fuelled up at Gilmorton Village Store on the way back. A couple of sandwiches, a chocolate orange bar, a bag of crisps and insipid coffee, all consumed on the bench on the other side of the road. By the time I’d finished, it was dark and a bit colder. But I wasn’t uncomfortable.

Encouraged by the success of my Tesco joggers, I bought some proper cycling pants and wore them over my tights. Much lighter material, and more water-resistant I’m sure. But not actually quite as warm. Also, they have zip side pockets that aren’t much more than the zips – I couldn’t even fit a debit card in there. Just for show I assume. Weird.

I made the mistake of coming back through Donington le Heath a few miles from home. I always forget how wet the roads can be along there. Having done my best to avoid puddles the whole ride, I managed to fling up obscene quantities of muddy water on the downhill part, and ended up having to wipe and GT85 the bike back at the garage.

Very nice run out though. Nice to go down that way again, hadn’t done it since October.

I listened to Talk Sport and 5 Live. Saddened to hear of the death of Gerard Houllier, and disconcerted to hear Matt Hancock refer to a new variant of the virus at the press briefing. Quite nice that we won’t see Beth Rigby at one of those again, though.

Back on 65.52 miles, and that’s 259 done this month – not bad for half a December – and 69 to do.


Hatton Again

Horrible dank, damp morning and I didn’t think I’d get a run out today, but conditions improved in the afternoon. I set off on the Tricross at about 2pm.

A moderate wind was blowing from the west, so I thought another run up to Melbourne then out west was in order. Pretty much the same as last time, except that I came back through Coleorton (I was pretty sure I’d be back before the roadworks closed off the junction at the bottom of Coleorton; I think that starts at 8pm). I took a left along Station Road through Hatton toward Tutbury and turned back at the roundabout there, something else I didn’t do last time.

I’d checked the weather forecast for Derby as well as for home for a change, and noticed that no rain was predicted there. I hoped therefore that the roads might be less wet as I headed north, and sure enough they did dry up nicely as I approached Melbourne. Dark by the time I was coming back through Willington again, but of course I had good lights.

I listened to 6 Music mostly. Gilles Peterson played some really good stuff today, I must say. I’ve lost interest in the Bond audiobook. I enjoyed the first part in which he gains his 00 status by slaughtering a Norwegian wartime double agent in his bed, then is introduced to his new desk, his secretary and Moneypenny. But I lost interest in his first mission proper.

Quite a pleasant run out overall, though the stretch coming back from Melbourne is becoming a bit of a grind.I suppose I’ve done it a bit too often recently.

Pleased that the front tyre is maintaining its pressure nicely. Reseating the Presta valve with a bit of grease and a pair of pliers did the trick.

45.53 and that leaves me with 135 to do this month.