Waltham

A mainly dry day with a slight threat of showers, and for a change the wind was coming from the east. I got up early-ish and decided to do the classic eastbound Fondo.

I thought I’d try my leg warmers – it definitely wasn’t quite warm enough for bare legs, and they’re a bit more substantial than my usual cycling tights. I actually hadn’t used them for years. Worked out pretty well. As it turned out I wasn’t really warm enough to want to take them off until the last five miles, and I didn’t bother.

I noticed I was getting a lot of waves, today. I mean a reasonable proportion of fellow cyclists often nod or wave naturally, and I return the courtesy of course but today pretty much everyone wanted to have a go. Is it because the leg warmers have a ridiculous tarty design with the manufacturer’s branding all over them, that shouts “serious cyclist” and makes such pleasantries more gratifying? I don’t know. I only bought them because they were cheap.

Anyway I got to the crossroads near Eastwell, my usual eastbound Fondo endpoint, but took a right to Waltham again, same as last time I did this route. This time though I went no further. Stopped at a bench there to eat the cheese rolls I’d brought with me and took this pic. Then I turned back.

I stopped at a garage at Burton on the Wolds to get more fuel (a cheese & beetroot sandwich and a Malteser bar) on the way back, and stopped at my favourite enormous log near Cotes. Again, I took a pic.

The headwind on the eastward leg of the journey wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Made me think I should have done a longer ride, really, especially since the nights are now getting shorter. I’d like to do Wales and back this year, although the wind direction wasn’t right for that today. But I’m pleased to have done three Fondos in June.

I absorbed more Pushing Ice, the Alastair Reynolds book I’ve been listening to. I wouldn’t say it’s a page turner exactly, or whatever the audiobook equivalent of that is. But it’s still got my attention. Also listened to a smorgasboard of radio covering tennis, football and most interestingly listeners’ opinions on Snog-gate on LBC. As I listened I realised that Matt’s position had become untenable, and I became convinced that he’d resign – as indeed he did, a few hours later. The most persuasive argument was offered by a contributor who suggested that if circumstances dictated that he had to ask people to lock down again later in the year, he wouldn’t be able to do so without being given endless grief by hostile journos and opposition politicians, and the message would be undermined.

Great shame because outside the fictional alternative universe the Left have constructed to make them feel better about themselves, where everything the Tories do is a disaster – Matt Hancock did an outstanding job in that role. But the Civil Service Stasi have scuppered that now.

Took the long way home back over the Leicestershire border, through Long Whatton and Coleorton.

Back on 72.03 miles, 496 this month.

https://www.strava.com/activities/5532912325

Ragdale

Lovely weather again; warm, sunny and low winds. I left work as early as I could for a run out east. I entertained the idea of doing a post-work Fondo, to take advantage of the late sunset – but I could tell from a distant wind farm that I had a tailwind as I approached Six Hills, so I decided not to. I can do without a headwind on the second half of a long ride.

After 21 miles or so, I decided to turn back, but I decided to take a right turn to Ragdale first. I hadn’t been along there so I thought I’d explore for a bit. Didn’t go as far as the village of Ragdale itself. Turned for home after about half a mile. Came back the same way.

Really lovely out there, I was too warm early on but comfortable later when the temperature dropped.

Listened to Spain vs Slovakia on 5 Live. Before the game started, a Spanish pundit taking part in the coverage report that the Spanish public was apathetic about their national football team. He was asked how they’d respond if Spain won 5-0, and replied that they wouldn’t. But they did! Later I listened to the first half of France vs Portugal. Even more entertaining.

I stopped at the Greyhound pub 18 miles from home on the way back, for the first time since the pandemic started. Very nice to be back there although I’ve rolled past it quite a few times. I must say, a packet of crisps and a half San Miguel definitely gave me a boost.

Glorious run out really. The moment I locked the garage door before making my way back into the house, it started to rain! Which I hadn’t expected at all. Beautiful timing.

https://www.strava.com/activities/5518587221

44.27 miles, 424 this month.

Rediscovering the Lost Road

I left the house at about 4pm togged up in cycling gear, only to be confronted by gloomy skies and a light drizzle. I returned to my desk to scrutinise the rainfall radar. It looked like a clump of rain was coming over from the north-east, but if I pedalled myself a mile or two eastward, I’d escape it.

Unfortunately that’s not quite what happened. I was assaulted by cold rain, propelled into my face by a fairly strong wind until I got to Stanford on Soar, 13 miles after setting off. My gloves and feet were a bit damp by this time but from this point conditions were nice and dry, and I dried off eventually. I stopped at Prestwold Park after about 16 miles, then decided to head back to base.

However, instead of turning back along Barrow Road, I decided to take a turn I hadn’t tried before, north along Prestwold Lane to explore a bit. The first junction I came to offered a turn to Hoton. I’d been through there once or twice, so I took that. From there I followed a sign to Wymeswold – part of the old eastbound route. This turned out to be very fortuitous, because I found myself on the fabled Lost Road.

The what? Well – a year or two ago I took an unusual turn in the same area and found myself on a really pleasant, quiet secluded road, well-surfaced and lined by trees. I didn’t make a note of where I was and I’ve never been able to find it again. I mean – I’ve only looked a couple of times on a bike admittedly, but I even spent half an hour on Google Street View and didn’t find it. It is, I shall record here, Wymeswold Road between Hoton and Wymeswold.

Back the old-fashioned way through Rempstone, Zouch, Belton, Coleorton. I hoped that the rubbish weather would have passed by the time I was west of Stanford again, and it had. I could see that the weather was clear to the west from the high ground near the border with Nottinghamshire. The roads near home were nice and dry now with just a few puddles near the side of the road here and there.

Certainly that one felt like a bit of a mistake for the first dozen miles or so, but it turned out to be a very nice run out.

https://www.strava.com/activities/5507718954

37.43 miles, that’s 380 this month now which is well over the recalculated target for June.

Compass Test Twycross Bypasser

Rain most of the day yesterday, but today was forecast dry. I took the Tricross although there were only a few puddles around, all of them highly avoidable as it turned out.

I’m on call yet again today. Fortunately that’s only a one-week-in-four phenomenon now, but of course it meant I couldn’t go too far. I decided on a Twycross Bypasser.

I’ve started, prompted no doubt by better visibility allowed by the beautiful weather, to take more notice of the surrounding landscape while I’m out on a bike. Sometimes, while taking in the view from a high spot, I’ll find myself thinking – I wonder where that hill is, in the far distance? Or that tower, or distant clump of trees, or whatever. I wonder if I could find them on Google Maps, or Google Earth?

So I’ve bought myself a compass, with the intention of taking some bearings on distant objects, then nerding out on a map. It’s one of those flip-open ones; you line it up using an optical sight then peer into a little lens, and it tells you the bearing in degrees. To test it I stopped at a spot I knew I’d be able to locate on Google Maps, near Little Orton and lined it up on the Lichfield TV transmitter at Hopwas Hill, a little over eight miles away. I took a bearing. 274 degrees magnetic. I made a note on a piece of paper I’d brought along with me.

Then when I got home I used this site – https://www.acscdg.com/ – to check the bearing. Azimuth 266 degrees, or 274 magnetic! Lovely. It works. How handy that Earth has a magnetic field.

I also took a bearing on a distant pointy hill from the same spot (256 magnetic) and will see if I can find it on a map later.

I cycled past two teenage girls walking along Mythe Lane. One of them heard me coming at the last second, turned round then jumped about three feet into the air and let out a loud squeal. I wasn’t even passing them particularly close! I think that’s a first.

Cloudy and cool, so I wrapped up reasonably warm. I regretted not bringing a backpack later to stuff unwanted layers of clothing into after the sun came out and the temperature climbed a few degrees. I also regretted not having brought a debit card with me when I passed the Gate Hangs Well coming north of Bosworth. Would have been nice to stop for a cheeky G&T.

Nice run out, 37.29 miles, 342 this month. Hoping to another long one before July kicks in.

https://www.strava.com/activities/5495834874

Twycross Bypasser

Certainly, I have other things to be doing with my spare time – but it seems a shame to waste warm cycling weather, so once again I withdrew a bicycle from the garage after work.

Arguably too warm for a long ride, and I’m on call again. A little too windy for a run out east, as well. So I settled on a Twycross Bypasser, with the Warton Lane extension that has found favour in recent weeks.

I took it easy because it really was pretty warm out there, even when the bright sunshine gave way to cloudy skies.

Listened to Wales vs Turkey on 5 Live. Interesting game. West Britain won, but Gareth Bale put a penalty over the bar to make it 12 games for his geographical region without scoring.

Very good visibility out there. Nice view of both transmitters (Lichfield and the more distant Sutton Coldfield) from the road between Little Orton and Sheepy.

A bit annoyed that I’d forgotten to put a mirror back on after cleaning the bar tape. But a nice run out. 35.51 miles, 305 this month.

https://www.strava.com/activities/5481922054

Westbound Fondo

Another lovely day but the weather is due for a change later in the week, so I took the afternoon off work to do a Fondo. There are so many days in the year when you have to clad yourself in multiple layers of clothing to go cycling and still end up with freezing fingers and toes, that it seems a rare privilege to be able to go out in short sleeves and shorts on a warm day.

Actually it wasn’t that warm when I set off and I wondered if I’d made a mistake on the clothing strategy. But an hour or so later conditions were perfect.

I only settled on a firm plan a mile or two after setting off. I went up through Coalville to Belton and Isley Walton then up over Swarkestone Bridge. By this time the idea was to go west along the time-honoured Flat A Road until I’d done 30-odd miles then come back. The wind was coming from the west.

But when I got to Sudbury after 29 miles, I saw a sign to Abbot’s Bromley – part of the other (more southerly) westbound route. I didn’t know how much this would add to the overall distance and I couldn’t afford to stay out too long since I’m on call, but I decided to take it. This took me south along a B road. Really quite a nice stretch, not too busy and with a few pubs, though I didn’t stop.

After a few miles, Abbots Bromley was signposted to the west – this seemed a counter-intuitive thing to do given that I needed to be going back east, so I consulted Google Maps at a farm gate off the road. The road I was on would take me to Yoxall, familiar territory. Perfect. So I carried on to Yoxall and through Barton under Needwood, Walton-on-Trent, Rosliston et al. All familiar points on the “lower westbound” route.

I stopped to take the following pic near Measham. I have no idea who the property where these signs are maintained belongs to, but he or she seems to be thoroughly astute.

By this time I’d realised that, rather than over-extending my ride, my unplanned impromptu route home would see me back on about 57 miles at most. I extended it to the requisite 100km distance by taking an indirect route back, through Swepstone and Ibstock.

Really a very satisfying ride, much more interesting than a perfunctory run along the A road and back the same way. And very nice to do the older westbound route again for the latter part of the ride, I don’t do it that often these days. It’s much hillier than the A road but a valued element of my road repertoire nonetheless.

I must compose a proper Fondo route based on this ride, perhaps one that goes all the way to Abbots Bromley.

I listened mainly to Scotland vs Czech Republic on 5 Live. As the game started, I thought of the words of Neil Oliver: “Until the day I die, I will consider myself to be British”. And I remembered that those brave Scottish lads, facing a foreign foe on British territory, are after all my countrymen.

And yet – somehow, I couldn’t help a cheer and a fist pump when the first goal went in against them, as I pedalled through Scropton. So much so that a gentleman on the pavement nearby withdrew his phone to find out what had happened.

First thing I did when I got home was to sit myself in front of YouTube to check out the second goal they’d conceded, it sounded spectacular. And it was.

62.40, 269 this month, 2206 this year.

https://www.strava.com/activities/5469389432

Augmented Twycrosser

I got up early this morning, yet somehow I didn’t really feel like grinding out a long ride. Shame really because it was a warm, dry day and I wasn’t on call. Just the sort of conditions that can be frustratingly elusive. But the wind was coming from the west and I didn’t really fancy a long run out over that way again so soon.

In the end I left the house at about 10:25, with the thought of doing 45 or so – which would allow me time for other activities in the afternoon, but get the distance total for June up to about 200 miles.

No clear idea of what I wanted to do as I set off, but I settled for a Twycrosser. I decided to have a run along the Dad’s Army extension, into Warwickshire. That led me eventually along a busy stretch of the A5, I tried a couple of left turns off that, but both took me into dead-end industrial estates. After a few miles of that, I turned back.

Back off the A5 and onto Spon Lane. On a whim I decided to take a left off that, to explore for a bit. Found myself on a narrow, gritty and mostly uphill track. At the top of that I followed a sign to Dordon. I had no real idea where I was at this point, but fortunately Dordon was a decent-sized little town so I was hopeful I’d have a better route out of it than the narrow track I’d just taken.

And I did, but this took me back to the A5! I’d looped back onto myself. So I came back down. I stopped at a garage and bought an iced coffee, a bag of crisps and a Flake. Strolled over to a nearby Starbucks and made myself comfortable at a table and chair outside there. Bit cheeky I suppose, since I was consuming food bought elsewhere.

Back onto the Twycross route, along Fenn Lanes, up through Bosworth, Carlton et al as usual. I stopped at the Gate Hangs Well for a G&T in the sunshine six miles from home.

Back on 51.59 miles. 207 this month. In the end I was sorry I hadn’t done a proper Fondo. I could have done another ten miles today of course but I much prefer to go somewhere 20-odd miles away and come back, rather than faffing around.

Still – nice run out on a warm, sunny day. Quick shower when I got back then out again for cocktails by the lake at San Giovanni, so it’s been a good day.

https://www.strava.com/activities/5458683606

Equipment Test

Not much time this evening but I thought I’d take out Trigger’s Broom for 25 or so after work, to check all’s well with the new chain, gear cable and rear mech. I finally got round to fastening the gear cable and adjusting everything yesterday.

All working very sweetly, I’m glad to report. Nice to have it almost clean, as well. I wouldn’t have bothered to do that yet if I hadn’t bought new stuff to put on it.

I went up through Coalville and Belton, up to Long Whatton, Diseworth, back down through Coleorton. Nothing fancy. Ended up on 20.82 miles, a bit less than I intended but that’s fine. Not clever to go too far with three newly-fitted critical components anyway.

Really good to have the Boardman back in full working order, but as I sailed past views of the Leicestershire landscape along Top Brand, pondering the number of equipment options I have available, it did occur to me that I’m a greedy bastard with too many bikes.

Intermittently cloudy and sunny again. Cooler than of late but still comfortable in shorts and short sleeves. Nice little run out.

https://www.strava.com/activities/5452946711

155 this month, more tomorrow possibly.

Anniversary Fondo

To celebrate the first anniversary of my 200-miler, I decided to do the June Fondo after work today. In all honesty I was going to do a Fondo today anyway, but why not make an occasion of it?

I was able to leave work at about 3:30pm. A bit of a wind coming from the west, but dry and warm. Quite cloudy when I set off but the sun came out for long periods later on.

I was going to go straight up to Melbourne then over the bridge, but absent-mindedly went up Top Brand instead. At the top I decided that the quickest way to get to the South Derbyshire town with the Australian-sounding name would be to go left through Breedon, but looking at my track on Strava, I wasn’t right about that. Would have been quicker to keep on to Isley Walton then turn left, or to go through Wilson. I normally prefer not to take that latter road though because it goes past a quarry, and the road is usually rather dusty.

Anyway – up over Swarkestone Bridge then west along my beloved flat A road south of Derby. I went a bit further than Sudbury where I calculated that if I came back through Ticknall and Hartshorne, I’d have done the required 100km.

Beautiful out there, especially at about 9pm in bright, late evening sunshine. Back shortly before sunset. I did think of stopping at a pub near Hilton for a pizza or something but I’d brought enough food with me, so I didn’t.

Really loving these opportunities to go out in shorts and short sleeves. I’d brought a long-sleeved top in my backpack in case it was too cool later on, but it wasn’t.

I really enjoyed gliding back along the A road with the sun and the wind on my back. Glorious. If only the last ten miles could have been flat as well.

Listened to my Alastair Reynolds audiobook, which is only just maintaining my attention I have to say, then Iain Dale on LBC who was hosting a sort of ‘Any Questions?’ without an audience. Quite good-natured. Then he had a phone-in about Gareth Southgate and his attention-seeking “Dear England” open letter. I’ve come to dislike Southgate, I’m sorry to say. He is arrogant, self-important and unwilling to listen. And for the first time in my life, I’ll be hoping this current crop of attention-seeking English footballers, with their fondness for political gestures, get knocked out in the group stage of a major tournament.

Anyway, 63.18 miles.

https://www.strava.com/activities/5443010554

Peckleton

Blowier than I’d have liked today, but conditions were warm, dry and intermittently sunny – so it would be churlish to complain. My intention was to slide out of work early and do a Fondo, perhaps to the Northamptonshire border and back – but I didn’t manage to creep away from my PC quite as soon as I hoped, and after I noticed that I hadn’t brought a pump with me, about 10 miles in – I decided to keep it to 40 or so. Shame because I love dusk this time of year, but there’ll be other opportunities.

I continued down the southbound route as far as Earl Shilton, then decided to take a left along the A47 instead of crossing it to go through the town. I had no clear idea where this would take me, but that was the general idea really. A bit of adventure. I assumed I’d arrive at a left turn that would take me back to familiar territory before long, and I did. I took a road that went through Peckleton, to Desford.

Bizarrely, I couldn’t find my way out of Desford. This was disconcerting because I’ve been along that same road a few times and never got lost before. I recognised the cast-iron aircraft model placed there in honour of the RAF airfield at the same site during the Second World War; I’ve passed it more than once on my travels.

I took a small road that degenerated into a very rough, gritty track. I wasn’t taking a nice road bike along that so I U-turned. Back through Peckleton where I consulted Google Maps, and took a route that would lead me to Kirkby Mallory. Back home through Sutton Cheney, Bosworth, Odstone et al.

Really lovely out there, really should have squeezed more miles out of a very nice evening.

I saw a woodpecker near Bosworth – it landed on a fence post in the usual posture and looked like it was about to give it a good seeing to, but it flew off as I passed. Colourful creature.

40.59 miles, 71.31 this month and that takes me just over half-way to the 2021 target. 2008 miles done this year.

https://www.strava.com/activities/5431215928