I had a couple of beers and turned in late, last night. I didn’t really fancy propelling myself around on a bike after work but it was a dry afternoon, and there aren’t a lot of those in the forecast at the moment.

I decided that I needed to do 41 miles, because I’d calculated that the remaining distance requirement could be fulfilled by four 41 mile rides and a Fondo. The wind was blowing from the west, though not powerfully. So I headed up to Melbourne through Coleorton, up over Swarkestone and hung a left to take the long, flat A road that runs along the water. I really like cruising along that road for miles without having to push up hills. The only catch is that there’s no sensible way to get there that doesn’t involve a fair bit of climbing, either near Ticknall or Melbourne.

Anyway – I did 21.12 miles and decided to turn back. I wasn’t too cold. I had to wait  at the level crossing near Hilton both ways, but I didn’t mind. I quite like watching the trains go past.

I ate a large bowl of porridge before setting off – it seems to keep me going very nicely, especially in cold weather – and I didn’t bother with the snacks I’d brought with me. Then when I got back to the garage, I noticed that the second bottle cage was empty. I assumed my pod containing a pork pie, a cheese roll and two boiled sweets must have rattled out. Then I noticed it on the bonnet of my car, which I use as a sort of bike stand and equipment table. Apparently I’d left it there when I set off.

Anyway – 42.40 miles which means I’ve done 6034 this year and 148 this month. 180 to go.

The forecast is for rain on Saturday but only in the morning. I might do the December Fondo in the afternoon.


Cold, Dark Twycrosser

It certainly was cold out there when I mounted the Boardman at about 5pm, but to make matters slightly worse, the forecast had added mist and fog to the mix. But I’d wrapped up warm so I thought I’d see how far I’d get.

I set off on a Twycrosser, but detoured Heather Lane by going down to Ibstock. Sharp right from there to Heather and from there, the standard route down to Twycross. I went all the way down to Pinwall and Ratcliffe, which I haven’t done for a while.

I was quite pleased to find that my tactic of wearing humble Tesco joggers over my cycling tights was definitely helping to keep me warm. Also quite pleased that the fog and mist were very light. Enough to catch the beam of the front light, but not enough to hamper visibility or make my clothes damp.

Up the A444 from Sibson as usual and I was thinking of taking in Gibbet Lane but on a whim, I decided to take a left to take me back to Sheepy. From there I did my ride to Sheepy in reverse. Back through Ibstock again, though I took Pisca Lane instead of Mill Lane.

Really enjoyed that one. Feels like a bit of an achievement to do 33.42 miles at 1 degree C in the dark.

Perhaps I’ll do a wholly post-sunset Fondo before long. Lord knows the sun sets early enough at the moment.

I listened to Drive then the Monday Night Club on 5 Live. Always enjoy Chris Sutton’s contributions. And I was decently entertained until the inevitable, inevitably one-sided discussion about BLM, which would have made my blood boil if I hadn’t been so cold.

106 done this month. 5991 this year.


Diseworth, Twycross

Better than expected weather, when I checked the forecast this morning. The threat of rain had been removed. Temperatures were forecast to be no higher than 4C though, so I didn’t expect to be able to do more than 30-odd.

I wrapped up warm, of course. I’ve given up on the nylon overtrousers I bought from Amazon. Instead I’ve bought some common-or-garden jogging pants from Tesco and I put those on over my cycling tights. I secured the ankle ends with elasticated velcro bands (thinking these would be more secure than cycling clips) and put my neoprene overshoes on over them. They were a little bit restricting, but I do think they helped to keep my legs warm. Success.

Left the garage on the Tricross at about midday. I couldn’t even remember the wind direction from the forecast, so I just decided to follow my nose. My nose went up through Coleorton, up Top Brand, across to Long Whatton then back down through Belton and Coalville. By this time it was obvious that I wasn’t going to be too cold. I was quite comfortable. So from there I went west and did a Twycrosser. I was on call, so yet again taking care not to stay too far from base. And I did get a call actually, but fortunately I was able to palm it off onto our network team.

My employers have provided me with a new phone, and I used it to take this sunset pic near Barton in the Beans. I’m guessing I need to spend a bit of time with the settings, because the foreground was in focus instead of the line of trees in the distance that I was pointing at. Also it displayed a message saying “stand within 1.5 metres of subject”. I guess it must have been in some sort of portrait mode.

Rain started to come down a few miles from home, as I approached Heather. I came back through Ibstock and was pedalling uphill along a road that had become a shallow stream along Station Road. And yet the roads were dry two miles further north, when I returned home. It hadn’t rained here so I suppose the weather forecast, in that respect, was not wrong.

Saw a few pheasants while I was out, including two being carried by the neck, post-mortem, by a cheery group of people in Barbour jackets and flat caps carrying shotguns at Diseworth. They waved pleasantly as I passed, no doubt in good spirits following a successful shooting trip. I returned the favour. I used to disapprove of people killing things for sport, but in this case – where’s the harm, really? They don’t die for nothing. They leave this world quickly and they get eaten, so their fate is no worse than that of any frozen chicken you’d find at Tesco.

I tried a new LED front blinker, which I bought to save me migrating the one off the Boardman when I use the Tricross. It’s rechargeable. It switched itself off without human intervention near Carlton. I switched it back on and it was fine for the rest of the ride. But it came with a matching rear (red) light, and I’d be concerned about that one switching itself off, because I probably wouldn’t notice.

Back on 45.93 miles, which takes me to a pleasing 72 this month. A decent knock for 5 days in, considering how poor the weather has been this last week. I only need to do another 256, so I’m ahead of the game. I think should be able to do that before Christmas.

Despite the rain, a nice run out and I’m pleased to have taken a decent bite out of the December distance requirement.


Cold Again

Wanted to do about 40 after work ideally, to take a decent-sized bite out of the remaining distance to my target of 6214 miles. Cold out there, but dry.

Having been quite pleased with the insulating effect afforded by my hiking trousers when I tried them as cycling overtrousers last week, I bought some nylon overtrousers from Amazon and I trialled them today. I bought them in size L because I have a 34″ inside leg. But they proved far too cumbersome while riding, so I was back at the garage to take them off within a mile.

After that I headed up through Coleorton and Belton with no particular plan except to roam Parts North for a bit, then Parts South, then home. I turned left at Long Whatton to skirt the southern end of East Midlands Airport then headed back homeward. Amazingly – on a route I’ve done dozens of times in a car as well as a bike – I took the wrong turn at the roundabout at the top of Top Brand. I only realised what I’d done 5 minutes later, so I kept on to Belton. I’d pretty much decided to settle for 25 miles or so by this time. Too cold. My fingers and toes were suffering a bit.

So I came back home through Thringstone and Coalville. Ended up with 26.37 miles, a half-decent start to the December campaign.

Had a beautiful view of a huge full moon, low above the horizon directly in front of me going north-east toward Belton.

I listened to 5 Live for coverage of the vote over the COVID restrictions at Westminster, but they’d decided to make race politics the theme of their show again, with boatloads of one-sided opinion from ethnic minority guests about supposed institutional racism in the Police Force. As a white person with no sense of shame or guilt about my skin colour I guess I’ll have to accept that the Black Broadcasting Corporation just isn’t aimed at me.

Anyway. That’s 5912 miles done this year, and I’m within a couple of rides of 6,000 miles. 302 to do, which doesn’t seem like a big ask for the rest of December.


Kirkby Mallory / Twycross

I felt miserable today. Not sure why really, just a black mood. I’m a person with quite a lot of interests, but I couldn’t really summon up the necessary motivation for any of them.

So I decided that despite the damp gloom, I should get out of the house for a bit on a bike. I set off on the Twycross at 12:35.

Noticed that the front tyre was slightly soft. Something to do with the valve coming right out when I unscrewed the cap on Tuesday. Perhaps I’ll grease the threads and reseat it, but for today I settled for pumping it up to pressure before I set off.

The roads were wet, it was slightly foggy and it was cold. But at least it wasn’t windy, which gave me the luxury of heading off in whatever direction I fancied. I was going to go up to Belton and east from there, but by the time I was in Coalville I’d decided to go down to Kirkby Mallory instead. So I kept on going all the way to Bardon and approached Ellistown from there. Hadn’t done that before.

The usual way down to Kirkby, through Bagworth and Newbold Verdon. From Kirkby I went west to Sutton, and from there I performed a Reverse Twycrosser, along Fenn Lanes.

Listened to Footy on 5 Live. United allowed Southampton to dominate them in the first half and conceded two goals, but as I expected they turned it around in the second half, easily overcoming the South Coast side. More interesting was the news that Celtic were getting beaten by Ross County in a cup competition. I wouldn’t think Neil Lennon will last much longer in that job.

Conditions brightened up a bit along Fenn Lanes, but by sunset the clag had descended again. Despite iffy conditions, quite an enjoyable run out in the end. 39.73 miles, leaving me with 328 to do.

531 this month so far and that’s a personal November record, surpassing November 2017’s tally, 524.


Hilton and Castle Donington

A day off work today. Just using up my remaining annual leave entitlement but I did my best to choose a dry day, and the weather forecast was as good as its word.

I woke up early and might will have got up and set off before 07:30, except for the thought that I’d be too cold. I only wanted to do 40 or 50. Better to wait an hour or two for warmer conditions.

So I fell asleep again. I dreamed of a villa in Spain from which I had a spectacular view of the Post Office Tower, only a few hundred metres away. I ended up setting off at about 10:45.

A light wind was blowing from the west so I decided I’d head over to Isley Walton then take the sharp left to Melbs, up over Swosser Bridge and cruise west along the A road. However I was confronted by a ROAD CLOSED sign at the left turn, so I continued on to Castle Donington, took a left at the A50 roundabout and approached Swarkestone via Shardlow, Aston and Weston instead.

I actually took the wrong left turn at the A50 roundabout briefly, and found myself on course for joining the A50. Fortunately I was able to backtrack safely the wrong way up the slip road. I’d only come down it a few metres.

Got as far as a queue of traffic for a level crossing east of Hilton – and decided that I’d come far enough, so I abandoned the queue and turned back.

I wasn’t going to pedal all the way back to Donington, so I came back the quick way from Melbourne, despite having hoped to avoid the grind of a hill coming south out of there. I haven’t yet thought of a derogatory name for it, like Bastard Hill a few miles to the west of there. Maybe Scumbag Slope. Or Rotten Rise.

Back shortly after sunset, which today occurred at 15:58, on 51.63 miles.

I had a cinnamon bun for breakfast and interestingly, I didn’t feel like eating during the whole ride. I had to force myself to eat a cheese and onion pasty after about 35 miles.

I started a new audiobook – Anthony Horowitz’s Forever And A Day, which is a James Bond ‘reboot’ set in 1950. In the first Fleming novel Casino Royale, which I read many years ago, Bond briefly refers to his first two kills, the second being a Nazi double agent whom he killed with a knife, and which earns him his ’00’ status. In the first couple of chapters of this one we accompany James on this mission, and it’s pretty cold-blooded, brutal stuff. Something of a moral question mark as well – as far as I can tell M sends him to do this as an execution for war crimes, rather than for any useful practical purpose in the present day.

In Casino Royale I got the impression that this was supposed to have taken place during the war but here it takes place in 1950, just before James embarks on his first mission as 007. The excuse for this is that the final damning evidence takes a few years to come to light.

It’s really well done, I must say – the detail and the period atmosphere evoke the Fleming novels very nicely.

I listened to the first few chapters of that then decided to put my DAB radio on. Not sure what to listen to at that time of the afternoon, really. 5 Live now has an obsession with race politics and I didn’t feel a need to flagellate myself with white guilt, so I put 6 Music on. Shaun Keaveny. A smug and amateurish broadcaster who imagines himself to be considerably more amusing than he actually is, but I decided to put up with his witless Northern monotone for the sake of the music. The first record I heard him play referred to “male, white corporate oppression” and ten minutes later he was playing a tune called B***K (asterisks not mine, I’m happy to type “black”), all about how we whiteys “fear the power” of black people.

Shaun reinforced this drivel with a brief and no doubt deeply-held personal message himself, once it had mercifully concluded.

I’m so sick of it now. I can only assume there’s a cabal of ethnic minority managers at the BBC with chips on their shoulders, no doubt propelled there by positive discrimination rather than any conspicuous ability or talent, intent on lecturing white people endlessly about their skin colour crime. I ended up listening to Talk Sport.

Oh well! I’m not going to pay another licence fee penny in this lifetime.

Anyway – 491 done this month now. I think I’ll probably do one more ride this month, on Sunday. After that I’ll only have about 330 miles to do in December to hit my target of 10,000km.


Hilton and a New Record

Dry again. Cold, but not nearly so cold as Thursday. I wrapped up very warm though – decided to try wearing my old hiking trousers over cycling tights, as an experiment. I also wore an improbable number of layers on top.

I left the garage about half an hour after sunset, on the Tricross.

I did stay very warm. I had to tuck the bottoms of the hiking trousers into my socks as I couldn’t find my old cycling clips.  But a loose layer over my tights definitely helped insulate my legs.

Trialled some new winter cycling gloves and they worked a treat as well, so I was very comfy the whole ride.

I’d actually intended to take the Tricross out on Sunday but when removing the Presta valve cover on the front tyre to pump it up to pressure, I managed to unscrew the whole valve. But it had managed to maintain pressure for over 24 hours after pumping it up again, so I assumed it was safe enough for a ride out today. And it was fine.

I went straight up through Coleorton, up over Swarkestone Bridge and left along my beloved long, flat A road as far as Hilton. Then, having done 20 miles, I turned and came back the same way.

I allowed myself a celebratory fist pump after 21.72 miles, because that meant that I’d beaten my previous yearly record (5776 miles, 2016). Took this pic a couple of miles later near Swarkestone.

Arrived back at Coleorton but was surprised to see the road closed in front of me. I managed to sneak round the barrier and out onto the main road at the T junction, only to find a number of work persons (they weren’t all men) standing around in hi-vis jackets and hard hats. The main road was also closed off in both directions. I was essentially in a large T-shaped roadworks with no way out.

One of the workmen approached me and asked where I was going. I told him I only lived a mile or two away and asked if I could get past the barrier at the western end, to turn off for Ravenstone. He said yes, but insisted on escorting me out of their site himself. Nice chap, very friendly. I had to push the bike for the 400-odd metres that I was on the main road, so I’ve subtracted that. Home on 40.27 miles.


439 miles this month, I think I can probably do another 70 at least in November.

Diseworth / Twycrosser

A relatively mild Sunday and no rain forecast, so I thought it would be rude, despite being on call, not to do at least 50. As usual I adopted a strategy of going off in some direction or other, coming back near home then heading off in another direction – in order to stay within a reasonable distance of base.

Started off going up toward Belton and east over to Diseworth, then west to Melbourne. On another day I’d have liked to have gone west along the A road next to the river for a mile or ten, but having had a call from work once already today – at 04:00 no less – I was a bit sensitive to the possibility of getting another one.

I’d forgotten how annoying that road through Lount on the way to Melbourne is. It’s like a rollercoaster of hills. From Melbourne I headed to Ticknall where I was disappointed to see one of my favourite pubs boarded up and offered for lease. Up Bastard Hill and down to Ashby, where I was ony 4 miles or so from home – then through Packington to perform a Twycrosser.

I came back via Ibstock and from there, did a few more miles around Ellistown and Donington le Heath. Back a few minutes before sunset.

The roads were a bit damp but it stayed sunny throughout, really quite pleasant. I finished the Reacher audiobook. One disadvantage that the audiobook has over the usual format is that, near the end, you discover the gender of one of the main characters where you wouldn’t in the regular book, which sort of gives the big plot twist away. But I was pretty much expecting it.

I think I’ll take a break from Reacher for the next one.

I used my Casio GPS to record the track and it didn’t give it up without a struggle. It took a firmware upgrade and a phone app upgrade and a lot of patience, but I got the data off the watch in the end.

58.70 done, 399 this month. I should be able to do another 100 in November, looking at the weather forecast.



Well I wanted to do 40 after work and I managed to get out at about 3:50pm, while it was still light. Started off by going up through Coleorton and up Top Brand to Isley Walton, then west to Melbourne. I was thinking of going up over Swosser Bridge again but decided to come straight back down again. By this time it was dark of course, and very cold. I decided that 30 miles would do. By the time I’d hit Coleorton I was colder still, and I’d decided to make do with the 21 or so that I’d have done by the time I made it home by the quickest route.

But I did do a few more around Coalville. Back on 26.76 miles.

I’ve been annoyed by inconsiderate drivers in oncoming vehicles blinding me with both barrels of full beam headlights recently, so I bought a new head torch which I’ve named The Punisher. Unlike ordinary head torches which are powered by a couple of AAAs or an internal rechargeable, this one has a separate battery pack containing two big old 3.7v lithium batteries, and by God it’s bright. I was illuminating roadside trees 200 metres further down the road. And it can be used as a weapon with just a subtle uptilt of the head, and a careful aim.

I noticed what appeared to be a police cyclist emerge from a side road in front of me near Lount. He or she had a brightly reflective vest with a chequered pattern, flashing front and rear lights on his or her helmet and what I thought at first was the word POLICE in white on a dark background on the back of the vest. But on closer inspection, it actually said POLITE.

Just done a bit of googling and I think it was one of these or very similar:

Certainly highly visible and my head torch lit it up like a Christmas tree. But I don’t think I’ll be joining the Polite Force myself.


Diseworth / Twycrosser

On call at the moment, as is so frequently the case these days. But I was able to leave work while it was still light, albeit not for long, and not very light, either. A very gloomy day, yet one which carried a very low risk of rain, according to the meteorologists.

Didn’t have a clear plan in mind when I left the house, except to do about 40 miles without straying too far from home. I went up through Coleorton and Belton, very much enjoying myself as it was rather mild and I had a light tailwind. Then I looped sharp left to Diseworth and came back down Top Brand, fighting the same gusty breeze from the south in headwind mode. Turned right at Alton Hill, only about a mile or so from home and tacked on a Twycrosser, to the south.

Back on 43.46 miles.

Quite enjoyable. Being right out in the sticks in the dark in a strong wind takes you out of your comfort zone a bit, but the sense of doing that is quite satisfying, even if the experience isn’t. But of course some of the ride was through decently lit villages as well.

Listened to the Drive programme on 5 Live until they started up with the one-sided race politics yet again. They’d invited a black woman to pontificate on the subjects of institutional racism and “white privilege”, without any opposing, balancing viewpoint being represented of course. The BBC is a bit like a broadcast version of Ebony magazine at the moment. After that I switched to 6 Music.


314 done this month.