Alkmonton

Took the afternoon off with the intention of doing a bike ride. I particularly wanted to do a fondo today, because I hadn’t been out on a bike at all so far this month. A ride distance of 62 miles would see me on course to do about 300 this month, which is the target.

Rather cold out there, only about 4 degrees C, but the weather forecast promised mainly dry conditions. I wanted to do a ride I’ve done a couple of times in the past in which I do my usual route up over Swarkestone Bridge and west along the Beloved A Road, then north along Ashbourne Road.

However I got confused at the remote end – I hadn’t planned it properly or checked the route beforehand, I just assumed I’d remember – and I took a wrong turn which led me eventually along a little road called Aston Lane, which degenerated eventually into gravel and potholes. I consulted Google Maps though and saw that I’d be able to take a right turn to Foston a bit further along. I did that. I’d effectively looped back in a homeward direction. If I took the usual way back from Foston I’d end up on quite a bit less than the requisite fondo distance so I took an excursion up along Woodyard Lane toward Alkmonton, which I’ve done before a few times. Nice to do that again.

Getting quite dark by this time, but I had highly adequate lights.

I checked my projected ride distance at my twenty-miles-to-go point at Hatton and was surprised to see that I was only due to do 60 miles. So I did a detour to Isley Walton and down Top Brand after Melbourne. Saved me from Bastard Hill if nothing else.

I listened to the last few hours of my Reacher audiobook, The Enemy. The way the plot is tied together when Reacher solves the conspiracy that’s the basis of the story is frankly over-complicated but there’s a very interesting and affecting thread about Reacher’s French mother, who dies in this story. He attends her funeral in Paris in the last part of the book, and I cast my mind back to my own mum’s funeral in Whitley Bay. Then minutes later, at the very end of the recording, I heard “If you’ve enjoyed this recording, please write to us at Isis House, King’s Drive, Whitley Bay”. Really odd, not least because I assumed it was an American production (it’s certainly an American voice actor who does the narration).

One of my rear brake pads squeaks like a train whistle when I put the brakes on.

Anyway .. back on 62.73 miles. Glad to have the full set of monthly fondos for 2022, which was one of my goals at the beginning of the year, as it always is.

https://www.strava.com/activities/8216065338

Twycrosser

Horrible weather this last couple of days, with a cold, foggy gloom clinging to the East Midlands. But conditions had brightened sufficiently this afternoon to contemplate a bike ride after work. The sun even came out for a few brief moments.

A very light wind coming from the south. I wanted to do 30 or so so I decided to do a Twycrosser. Went out through Heather for a change; I’d normally go over Alton Hill and Packington, but to do that I’d have had to join a queue of Yummy Mummies in their 4x4s taking their kids home from the school along the lane. Bad timing.

I didn’t see a single ‘nother cyclist over the whole ride and certainly the conditions weren’t ideal for it, especially after dark. Very cold out there. But I’d wrapped up warm and I quite enjoyed it although my feet and fingers were starting to freeze over the last ten miles.

I did the detour to Orton from Twycross.

The rear light on my Tricross was a bit dim. It’s only just had new batteries so I think it must be discharging them while switched off, for some reason. Will hang onto it for a few days and if it runs the batteries down I’ll bin it. Fortunately I had a spare with me today.

Fun ride out apart from the usual wankers in oncoming vehicles with full beam on. Back on 28.14 miles.

That’ll be it for November. 393 done this month.

https://www.strava.com/activities/8190503437

Job Done

I wanted to do about 40 miles today, which would see me comfortably over my target for 2022 (the 2021 total, 5040 miles). Mild enough weather, with a light wind coming from the south. But a bit cloudy and damp, with wet roads.

A simple plan: to go about 20 miles down the Fosse Way route, which is exactly the same as the usual southbound route for the first 18 miles. Then come back.

I did that except that after 19 miles, at Sapcote, I turned right instead of going straight over at a crossroads there. Just to explore for a bit. Shortly after this I saw a sign back to Stoney, so I took that. However due to misnavigation induced by entering Stoney from an unusual direction, I took a different road out of the town than I’d intended. I wanted to hook up with my usual road back, but instead I took a nondescript but inoffensive A road leading to Earl Shilton, where I eventually rejoined my intended route.

I started to feel a little drained of energy over the first mile, which is highly unusual for me. Too many late nights recently probably. But I took it easy and I was fine.

I’d hoped that my adventurous orienteering would add a few miles but no, it was actually a slightly quicker way back to Earl Shilton than if I’d just come back the same way. So I extended the ride a bit by detouring through Battram, and by taking a longer route home through the village over the last couple of miles.

Listened to Japan vs Costa Rica and Belgium vs Morocco on my DAB personal. Unexpected results in both games.

Back on 40.15 miles and that’s 365 done this month and 5052 done this year. Interestingly on this day last year I’d done the same number of rides over the year (110).

So: this year is my third-best ever performing cycling year on distance, and even with a month to go it’ll stay that way because I’m not going to get the 2022 tally up to 5778 miles (the 2016 total). But I should be able to get it up to 5400 or so.

I was staggered to find, while removing my cycling tights on returning home, that I’d somehow neglected to put cycling shorts on underneath! I’d just pulled them straight on over my undies. However despite the lack of appropriate padding I wasn’t uncomfortable at all.

https://www.strava.com/activities/8176502564

Bypasser

Heavy rain this morning but the sun came out in the afternoon and the roads had dried out quite nicely; still a few puddles around of course but they were eminently avoidable. The weather forecast strongly suggested that it wouldn’t rain (spoiler alert: it did).

I’d been looking forward to getting out again for a few days, because I only needed about 20 miles to hit the 5,000 mile mark for 2022, and only 8 to hit the monthly target for December (300).

Left work early. I decided to do a Twycross Bypasser, which would give me about 30 miles.

Pretty cold out there, but the wind was light. Unfortunately not long after sunset an annoying, persistent, cold light rain started to come down. I quite enjoy riding in the dark but cold temperatures, wet roads and rain spotting against cycling glasses make it miserable, especially when oncoming cars don’t bother to dip their headlights. Fortunately I had my most powerful headtorch on, one with a separate battery pack and a focusable beam so I dished out a few luminal punishment beatings.

The rain stopped for the last eight miles or so which made life a lot more bearable, but my fingers were soaked, numb and freezing. The roads were still wet and I had to give the bike a cursory clean and wipe down back at the garage.

Someone once said of climbing mountains that they liked it because it’s great when it stops, and that’s probably the most positive spin I can put on today’s ride.

Still – very satisfied to have overcome the elements and to have got to 325 miles this month, 5012 this year. Another 28 miles and I’ll have overtaken the 2021 total (5040).

I listened to the World Cup of course, Spain vs Costa Rica.

https://www.strava.com/activities/8159357962

Wet

By this morning, the weather forecast on the BBC site promised merely the faintest threat of rain over the whole day. Furthermore, winds were promised to be very light, blowing gently from the east. Anticipated temperatures had been upgraded a degree from yesterday’s forecast, as well.

Clearly, a fondo along the eastbound route was in order, even though that’s exactly what I did last Saturday.

I set off at about 10:20. I picked up some very faint drizzle after 20 miles. After another 5 miles or so, persistent cold, light rain. It didn’t let up for about 90 minutes, and I was soaked. Misery.

Fortunately the weather cleared up quite nicely later in the afternoon and the last 25 miles or so were dry. But my socks were still soaking wet after I took my cycling shoes off on returning home and my gloves had only just started to dry off. Uncomfortable. But actually I did enjoy the ride on the way back all the same.

I came back a slightly different way, along Narrow Lane to Wymeswold. I’ve done that a couple of times but this time, on one of those adventurous impulses that I’ve been prone to recently, I followed a sign to Hoton. From there I continued on to Cotes and I don’t think I’ve done that stretch before. Nice cycling territory along there.

Listened to Gilles Peterson on 6 Music and a few hours of the Reacher novel.

Back on 63.90 which puts me within 8 miles of the monthly target (300). 4980 done in 2022.

https://www.strava.com/activities/8140682833

Long Whatton

Hadn’t been out on a bike for a few days, so with rotten weather expected tomorrow I thought I’d try to get 20 or so in after work. Didn’t have time for much more than that, because rain was due over around 7pm.

If I got back by 6pm, I reckoned, I’d probably get away with it. Well, I didn’t get away with it, I was intermittently subjected to light rain and drizzle. Dry for the last 5 miles or so though, and the bike and myself mostly dried off. I gave the bike a good wipe down when I got back anyway.

A light wind was coming from the east. I went up to Long Whatton, across to Diseworth, back down Top Brand, Griffydam, Peggs Green, Coleorton.

20.62 miles, not a lot really but I’m pretty relaxed about getting the miles in now. Done 228 this month now, the target is only 300. If I do another 84 this month which seems likely, I’ll hit 5000 miles this year before December.

https://www.strava.com/activities/8127098503

Eaton / East Leake

A dry, almost warm day. I’d been waiting for the right conditions for an eastbound fondo for a while; today the wind was coming from the south-east. Close enough.

I set off not long after 0900. Would have been sooner but I didn’t bother to reattach the bottle cage to the Cannondale yesterday so I had to do that this morning. Unsurprisingly I couldn’t find my stash of the appropriate bolts in the garage. Fortunately I did find two loose ones slopping around in a drawer. I put plastic washers on this time.

Nice out there, sunny later on. I went a bit further than Eastwell, my usual eastbound fondo endpoint, this time. Hadn’t done that for a year or two. After a couple of miles I came to a right turn for a village called Eaton. Hadn’t been there before so I went and had a look. I didn’t go right into the village because the road took a brutal downward dip that I didn’t want to bother coming back up. I’ll see what, if anything, I missed on Street View later.

On the way back at the Nottingham Road junction, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to take a right turn along the main road, rather than crossing over it. I’d thought of doing this often but always talked myself out of it. After all if it was a promising or interesting route, surely I’d have noticed it while nerding out over a route planner.

I ignored the first left turn to Wymeswold, but took a left turn called Station Road after about 6 miles. I did have a sneaky look at Google Maps at this point and noticed that if I kept going I’d end up in East Leake, which is on a familiar route to Newark and Back.

I didn’t much enjoy Nottingham Road but Station Road, after the left turn, was idyllic cycling territory. Nice views, especially when I was overtaken by two curvy ladies in clingy lycra.

Sunny later in the afternoon. Lovely. I was back well before sunset and I should have done a longer ride. Perhaps I would have, except that I forgot to bring a debit card with me. Fortunately I had enough food and water to keep me going; in fact I didn’t get round to eating the cheese & onion pasty until I was about 8 miles from home.

I did think that I’d probably extend my ride quite substantially by adventuring off in the direction of Nottingham but nope, it didn’t turn out to be a longer route home. Or not much anyway.

Listened to another couple of hours of the Reacher novel and 6 Music.

Very satisfying run out, nice to explore a few miles of new territory. Back on 67.60 miles.

https://www.strava.com/activities/8107678132

South

Windy but dry and mild. The wind was coming from the south again so once again, I decided to do 16 or 17 miles of the southbound route, then come back. When I got to Kirkby Mallory though I decided to take a right to Sutton Cheney, then take the Twycross route home, in a backwards-stylee.

I┬ádon’t often do Fenn Lanes east-to-west and I always forget how rough that side of the road is. The wind was pretty annoying as well until it became a tailwind, after which the combination of a zippy bike and assistance from the elements had me flying along, up from Twycross.

Noticed my bottle cage flapping around on the frame after I removed the bidon for the first time. One of the bolts had worked loose and disappeared. Fortunately I was able to remove the other one with my fingers. I put the bidon and bottle cage in my backpack.

Apart from the wind, pleasant out there, especially at dusk. And the Cannondale is rolling very nicely on its new wheels.

Back on 36.20 miles.

https://www.strava.com/activities/8098545311

Southbound

The weather forecast suggested a threat of a shower before 5pm, but dry conditions were promised after that. Managed to down tools at about 3pm at the expense of having to work later this evening, and set off hoping to do at least 32, which would get me into double figures for November.

Only my second bike ride in November, mainly due to the weather. A brisk wind was coming roughly from the south so I had a simple plan: do the southbound route for at least 16 miles, then come back.

I rested the bike against a fence at a favoured wee spot not long after Kirkby Mallory, and the wind blew it over. No damage, it fell onto soft ground and I wasn’t on it. But the mirror popped out of the ball joint on the rightmost end of the handlebar tube and I couldn’t force it back on. It was dark by this time. I pressed on to the northern end of Stoney Stanton, then turned back.

Beautiful full Moon after dark.

I was congratulating myself on not having being rained on when I noticed a few flecks of moisture in the beam of my head torch. Ten minutes later the rain was coming down properly, cold and unpleasant. Not heavy, but not light and very persistent. Misery.

Had to give the bike a good wipe down when I got back. It had only done 60-odd miles since I had it cleaned, as well.

Still – 35.46 miles.

Listened mostly to the Reacher novel. It’s really drawn me in now.

https://www.strava.com/activities/8088936122

November Fondo Out West

The forecast promised a dry, sunny day so I took a day’s annual leave to get the November fondo in. Slightly scary single figure temperatures, though. I wrapped up very warm.

The wind was coming from the west, and I thought I’d do the Lower Westbound route, or some variation of it. The rough idea was to do the first 30-odd miles of the route to Wales, then come back. I did that, except that after 24 miles, I took a right turn toward Abbots Bromley at the T junction rather than a left to Rugeley. I only need to do another 7 miles or so and I felt sure it would be a bit more cycling-friendly than pedalling through Rugeley, which is a bit industrial. I also took a wrong turn after 8 miles, but I looped back onto the correct route more or less by chance a mile later.

I had the impression that I hadn’t been right up to Abbots Bromley for years, but when I got there I remembered sitting on the bench near the village shop about a year ago. I did the same again today, to refuel with a cheese & onion roll and a sandwich from the shop.

I continued on up the road to Uttoxeter, until after about 33 miles I took a right turn along a small country road named Hobb Lane. This turned out to be a bit bumpy and gritty – one of those one-track roads with passing places, copiously furnished with grit, stones and grass growing in the middle like a sort of central reservation – but I was able to plot a course through the worst of it. I persevered for about a mile before I decided to turn back, and head home.

Interestingly, although I didn’t know it at the time, the map tells me that I wasn’t too far at this point from the “Upper Westbound” route.

I came back the same way although I did wonder if I’d gone off-piste a couple of times. But I hadn’t.

My paranoid fear of the cold had caused me to over-clothe myself. I was far too warm after the first few miles. I stopped at a log and removed my jogging pants (worn as a layer between my cycling tights and overtrousers) and a fleece (worn as a layer between my cycling jacket and compression top). I was fine after that apart from being annoyed that I was carrying them round in my backpack for no sensible reason.

Came back through Packington and Alton Hill over the last few miles, rather than Heather.

Listened to 5 Live, then more of the Reacher novel.

Very good one, nice to go up that way again. Back on 68.58 miles.

https://www.strava.com/activities/8068159948