Colder today, but dry for a change. No moisture on the roads at all. And sunny. So I left work early and took the X out. Didn’t want to go far, but didn’t want to do a Twycrosser or Bypasser, just not in that mood.
I went up through Belton to Isley Walton, thinking of going west to Melbourne then up over Swarkestone Bridge. But when I got to Melbs I decided to sort of follow my nose and see where it took me The Derbyshire village with a well-known Australian namesake has a confusing road system and I never know quite where I’ll end up when I take a random road out. I found myself approaching Wilson. Came back down through Breedon and Lount.
Took the following pic at 4:51pm, 23 minutes after sunset. Nice to have a bit of daylight left at that time. In Cornwall though, the sun would still have been up. In Hartlepool it would have been dark.
Yesterday on a Retail Therapy Whim I bought an Energizer [sic] LED torch at Tesco for £12. It makes a brilliant (literally hehe) front light. You can’t focus the front beam, it’s fixed – but it’s very bright. It’s robust, well made, and lightweight. Superb. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it’s rechargeable, but you can’t take the battery out so no taking a spare with you. Apart from that, one of the best torches I’ve ever had.
Super view of Orion out there, although I only noticed it as I was opening the garage door to put the bike away.
Back on 23.20 miles, felt like more than that but oh well .. very nice run out. 242 this month which is only 2 miles less than Jan 2021. But I’m not competing with last year.
Seemed like a nice enough day, although the roads were wet. Sunny, not too cold. Had a Sunday dinner booked at a hostelry near Shepshed in the afternoon but I set off at about 10:20 hoping to do about 30 or so.
I didn’t really fancy another Twycrosser or Bypasser. I thought I’d go up to Long Whatton then loop westward and come back down Top Brand. However – when I got to Long Whatton I realised I wasn’t too far from the Nottinghamshire border, so I thought I’d head that way and tick off another neighbouring county box for 2022. Over the A6 and through Normanton on Soar, the usual eastbound route. But I turned for Hoton and Wymeswold to reunite myself with the Lost Road, then I came home along the traditional way from there, through Rempstone. That particular route east of Zouch has fallen into disuse now, but it made a pleasant change today.
Unfortunately conditions started to go a bit gloomy as I re-entered Leicestershire. Then a light drizzle. Then rain. But it stopped for the last half hour.
Listened to Cerys Matthews for a bit – she did play some belters, I must say – then the last few chapters of Colonel Sun. About 48 years since the last time I read it. Really very good. In some respects it hasn’t aged well – in the chauvinism and the ethnic slurs especially. But in its day I think Fleming would have been proud of it. It has a really disturbing torture scene, and the eponymous Colonel Sun Liang-tan must be one of the most sinister villians in any 007 story.
Pretty good conditions for cycling today really, other than the temperature. Sunny, low winds, dry. The roads were a bit wet but not annoyingly so. I left work earlyish, to take advantage of the 26 minutes of afternoon daylight we’ve gained over the last few weeks. Did a Twycross Bypasser, coming back through Sibson, which I haven’t done for a while, then along Gibbet Lane.
It was 5pm as I pedalled along the long, quiet, tree-lined lane between Sheepy and Sibson. So very atmospheric in the last of the daylight.
I actually took this photo after sunset. My phone has managed to conjure up a sort of synthetic sunny day scene. Odd.
Nice views of Ursa Major and Orion after darkness had fallen. Listened partly to 5 Live, on a day the news has taken a turn for the surreal. I’m sorry to say the BBC are playing their listeners like a cheap violin, in my humble opinion of course. But mostly I listened to a few more chapters of Colonel Sun. Still very good.
I was only going to do about 30 today, but the weather was sunny and mild. A light / moderate wind was coming from the west and I thought I’d cross off another two of the neighbouring counties by going up through Melbourne (into Derbyshire) then west along the Beloved A Road, followed by a dip south into Tutbury (and into Staffordshire). I did that, but looped up long Top Brand first before looping back down through Breedon. Not sure why, really. Just not concentrating probably.
There is in any case a much quicker way to get into Staffordshire from Chez Moi (to No Man’s Heath and back) but I fancied a run along the A road.
I came back the usual way through Melbourne and Coleorton which meant that I had to face Rotter’s Rise, but I had doped myself with a Double Decker 2 miles earlier.
Listened to the FA Cup on 5 Live. I suppose Morecambe holding onto their lead against Tottenham was too much to hope for.
Sunny for the first couple of hours, cloudy later. Back half an hour after sunset with a bit of daylight clinging on. 52.05 miles.
Definitely not a mild day today. But sunny, and not too windy. I left work early (attentive readers will have noticed that I do this a lot) to do a Twycross Bypasser. I did the version that goes through Warton, so I could tick off another neighbouring county box for 2022 (Warwickshire, of course – one of the easy ones).
A pretty sunset gave way to a starry night, with a thin crescent moon. I admit that I have digitally enhanced the photo above, taken by the light of a head torch, because the moon looked a bit shaky in the original image. Lovely view of Orion, part-submerged behind the horizon to the east. Could make out Pleiades as well.
Really cold after the sun went down. My fingertips were yelping. I wore new thermal socks though and I do think they helped a bit.
Back on 33.81 miles, which means 100 this month already.
Back to work tomorrow but today promised to be mild and dry, with a moderately strong wind coming from the south-west. Decent enough weather, I thought, for the January Fondo. I’d thought of going west along the Beloved Flat A Road, but shortly before I set off, I decided on Welford and back, down the southbound route. I like to ride to all of Leicestershire’s neighbouring counties at least once every year and this would allow me to tick the Northamptonshire box.
I set off at about 10:00, a bit later than I wanted but early enough that I should manage to make it back before it was dark, although I did bring decent lights. The roads were a bit wet from overnight rain but I took the X anyway.
Nice and quiet, not much traffic, especially early on. I became anxious that I hadn’t brought enough food as I approached Stoney but fortunately the Co-op there was open. They do give money to the Labour Party, but if the last few by-elections have taught us anything apart from the dishonesty of the left-leaning media, it’s that Labour is harmless enough now. I bought too much food and some of it is in the fridge now, but better too much than not enough.
I listened to an interview with Johann Hari on my DAB personal. He’s written a book called Stolen Focus, about the way that technology in general and the social media in particular have robbed us (or many of us) of our ability to concentrate. I used to loathe Johann for his visceral anti-Tory opinions and I laughed for days on end when he shat on his own career by sabotaging Wikipedia pages concerning people he disliked and plagiarising other people’s work for his moronic articles in The Independent. But I must admit the odious little wanker seems to have come up with something worthwhile this time and I was honestly quite interested in what he had to say.
That said, I can’t really imagine a right-leaning journalist – they do exist – being rehabilitated so effortlessly at the BBC. Then again most right-leaning people have higher standards of integrity and conduct than to behave like Johann did before The Independent fired him.
I also started a new audiobook, Colonel Sun by Kingsley Amis, published under the nom-de-plume Robert Markham. This was the first 007 novel to be written after the death of Ian Fleming, published in 1968 and I first read it at the age of 14. I don’t remember much of it but based on the seven chapters I got through today, this is very, very good stuff. Amis manages to out-Fleming Fleming – it’s all there. The post-war British stoicism and elitism. The detailed, worldly, slightly snobbish descriptions of locations, food, clothes and everything else. Every woman in the book is objectified in exquisite detail as well. More importantly it’s an intriguing plot.
Bond mentions to one of his female accomplices in Colonel Sun that he’s half Scottish, half Swiss. And so is Johann Hari! What were the chances?
Really a rather nice ride, especially when the sun was out. Back not long after sunset, so I took full advantage of the additional 13 minutes of afternoon daylight that we’ve gained over the last three weeks. Don’t think I’ve ever done a Fondo on the first ride of the year, before. 65.88 miles.
An unseasonally warm day (about 13C) and no rain, although the roads were wet from a downpour overnight. Very quiet day at work, so I thought I’d take an extended lunch break and squeeze in one more ride in 2021. I took the Boardman, hadn’t been out on it for seven or eight weeks. I did a pretty standard Twycross Bypasser, 28.35 miles.
Really nice out there, occasionally sunny but a bit windy. The headwind was annoying on the climb up to Norton.
28.35 miles, 290 this month. And that’s a wrap for 2021, on 5040 miles.
The weather forecast for the last day of the year was better than all of the other remaining days of 2021, but with 24 still to do, I didn’t really want to cut it that fine. Today’s forecast didn’t look too bad – showers, supposedly – so I decided to go out and get the last two dozen done.
Set off at about 11:20. It was raining lightly, but I hoped it was a shower. It wasn’t, though. The rain kept coming. But it remained light and since I had decent clothing on and was resigned to cleaning up the bike on my return anyway, I wasn’t bothered. At least it wasn’t too cold.
I decided to do 15 or so miles of the southbound route then come back, but when I got to Bagworth, instead of turning right to go south down Barlestone Road, I decided to go left instead. I knew Markfield was over that way. But when I saw the left turn to Markfield a mile later, I ignored it and decided ust to keep going and explore. I just kept going straight on, through Merry Lees, Botcheston, Newtown Unthank and eventually Kirby Muxloe. Despite not being particularly far from home, I’d never been along this road before. It’s pretty flat and pleasant, I must do it again. Despite the rain I was really enjoying myself.
I came to a T junction. I was just about at the outskirts of Leicester at this point, at Kirby Muxloe. The road signs offered Ratby or Leicester, neither of which particularly appealed. I recorded a quick video message for my Facebook friends, took this pic then turned back. I’d done nearly 13 miles now.
Thought I’d call in on Markfield on the way back. Hadn’t been since the Christmas holidays last year. So I took the first road signposted there. Usually a visit to Markfield involves a steep hill climb but from this approach, it didn’t. I came back the usual way from Markfield though, through Thornton and Bagworth. The rain dried up after Markfield.
After my DAB batteries died I used the BBC Sounds app so was a bit limited in my choice of listening. I settled on Radio Leicester. The presenter, a young Asian woman, was interviewing two young Asian comedians, mostly about being Asian. Very much BBC on-message but actually it was quite interesting.
Back on 30.84 miles which takes me past my 2021 target, with only four days to go! Don’t think I’ve ever cut it so fine. Despite the weather that was a really enjoyable run out, nice to have squeezed another minor adventure out of 2021.
Left work early and set off into the last of the daylight, hoping to do 25 or so. Nice and dry if rather cold, but the forecast threatened rain at about 7pm. I hoped to be back before then.
I opted for the cosy familiarity of a Twycrosser. Unfortunately a cold, persistent rain started to come down quite heavily at about 5pm, just as I was approaching Snarestone. I hoped it would be a shower, but it kept coming down until the last 30 minutes of the ride.
Decided to come home a quick way from Twycross, straight down the main road but somehow missed the Gibbet Lane turn in the dark, so I came back along Bosworth Road and through Carlton, Barton in the Beans, Odstone et al. Probably just as well I missed Gibbet Lane, it was muddy last time I went along there and it would have been awful in the wet.
Really quite uncomfortable. My fingertips were numb with cold not long after my gloves were saturated. But – 29.02 miles.
I’ve added 5 miles to my yearly target, now 5005 miles, which would beat my 2017 total. And on that basis – 24 miles to go. The BBC weather forecast has the rain symbol for every remaining day this year apart from the 26th and the 28th.
I’d hoped to go cycling today and even had thoughts of doing another Fondo, possibly. But the weather was damp and dank when I got up, and the roads were wet. I decided to drive to Northampton instead.
But I was back by about 2:15pm and conditions had improved quite a bit, so I fought off my urge to have an afternoon nap and went out on a bike. I set off up Wash Lane as if to go eastbound through Belton but I turned back along Church Lane and did a Twycrosser.
I realised that I’d forgotten to bring my phone after a couple of minutes but I wasn’t too bothered until Twycross, where my DAB AAs ran out and I realised that I’d forgotten to bring spares. Condemned to silence for the rest of the ride!
Another irritation was that my Garmin switched itself off and it missed a lot of the ride. I’ve repaired the track crudely in a GPX editor and uploaded it to Strava where I was awarded 23.85 miles, but it was actually 24.10 (I checked using a route planner and this total matches the magnet-based odometer closely).
202 this month! 48 to go and actually, the weather forecast looks dismal after Friday. But I think I’ll get there.