Cycling - 2

Started by Dixkot, May 12, 2013, 00:27:41 am

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August 06, 2019, 02:04:59 am #3570 Last Edit: August 06, 2019, 10:56:22 am by Slim
Once again the weather forecasters changed their minds, invoking a threat of rain at around 7pm in place of their earlier offer of a dry evening. So I took the Boardman instead of the Planet X after leaving work early.

I wanted to do 35-40 and something a bit different. I was in the mood for a run out to Parts West of Ashby, perhaps Kings Bromley and back. But I didn't want to do the usual route through Clifton Campville, because the roads are too uneven over there. So during the day, I plotted a route that would take me through Measham and Coton in the Elms. It looked fairly straightforward on the route planner so I didn't bother importing it into a GPX app or my eTrex.

So off I went. Lovely evening; sunny and warm. A bit of a breeze.

As I made my way west of Measham, I found myself thinking: why don't I come this way more often? It's pleasant enough, the roads are well surfaced and it's not too hilly. Yet for some reason I feel out of my territory over that way; out of my comfort zone. That though is part of the fun, sometimes. Although I like the familiarity of a Twycross or a run up to Melbourne or over to Castle Donington, it's nice to have an adventure.

Unfortunately I had to stop and check Google Maps a few times on the way out westwards, and I didn't actually take the route I intended. I'd planned to go to King's Bromley but found myself way off course for that. I saw a sign for Walton on Trent, a pleasant village on the river that I'd been through once or twice before, so I followed it. A couple of miles west of Walton I found myself at Barton-under Needwood - a place I recognised from a ride out to Stafford a year or three ago. I had planned to make do with a gel and an oat bar but I felt quite peckish, so I went into the Co-op there and bought a sandwich and a packet of Squares. I'd done 18 miles at this point and decided to turn back. I'd wasted a fair bit of time in map-reading.

I stuffed the sandwich and Squares up my jersey. There wasn't a bench nearby, but I stopped at a signpost on the way out. Its brick base made a perfect seat.

The route back seemed to be simpler for some reason, but I didn't quite come back the same way. Still very enjoyable though, and nice to be pedalling along roads I either vaguely remembered from years back or didn't recognise at all.

Arrived back at Swepstone, just 3.5 miles from home and thought I ought to extend the ride a bit. I'd already had an idea to tack on the rest of a Twycross from Snarestone, but the lure of a Tesco ready meal and a glass of red proved too much. But at Swepstone I felt a tinge of guilt at doing this. After all there won't be that many more opportunities to do 40 miles after work this year; not in daylight anyway. So - I decided to tack on the rest of my old lunch break route from Swepstone, calculating that it would give me another 7 miles or so. As indeed it did. I arrived home on 40.92 miles.

The rain didn't happen, fortunately. Needn't have taken the Boardman, although I am quite enjoying it at the moment.

Coming through Packington just four miles or so from home I saw a bird of prey standing over a blackbird it had (presumably) just killed, in a front garden. A sparrowhawk, I think. Its chest feathers were puffed out and it looked quite aggressive, as if defending its prey. I could hear birds in the tree behind it going mental. I stopped the bike hoping to take a pic, but as I sneaked closer it flew off, with the bird in its talons.

I'll do that ride or a close variation of it again, but I'll take the eTrex next time for ease of navigation.

88 miles done this month, that's a decent start to August.


Another pleasant evening, another ride out on a bike. The nights are getting dark earlier, so best to make the most of them.

Cloudy when I set off with a few dark clouds lurking, but I'd been promised dry weather so I took the Planet X. In fact I did get spotted with rain a few minutes after I set off, but only for about three minutes. After that the weather picked up quite nicely and the sun came out later on.

The weather was quite blowy, with a strong wind from the west. I had decided to go westwards, so as to come home with a tailwind. I don't like a headwind on the homeward part of a journey. I briefly considered going over toward Walton on Trent as I did on Monday, but decided I couldn't be bothered with the faff of sorting out the route on the eTrex. A simpler route was needed. So I decided to head up over Swarkestone Bridge, then left past Stenson for a few miles, then back the same way.

Swarkestone Bridge is a long, meandering causeway built in the 13th century and with little room for passing. Things there can go one of two ways, as a cyclist, when it's busy: either you're holding the motor vehicle traffic up, which is a bit awkward, or it's holding you up. On the northward crossing, it was a bit of both this time. Turned left at the top and straight into the headwind. But while it slowed me down, it mostly wasn't overly annoying except for a brief period when it picked up a bit and I had to drop a gear. It was actually making the bike feel a bit unstable for half a minute or so.

Anyway no stop at the Bubble Inn for me this evening, I went straight past Stenson and quite a bit further westward than I'd been along that road. Some readers may remember that I cycled down to Stoney Stanton a couple of months ago, a village featured in a  piece by the documentary maker Ian Nairn in the early '70s. Well - on the same trip, and the same programme, he paid a visit to Willington Power Station, which I passed a few miles after Stenson. I stopped and took a pic through some railings. It looks pretty ugly to me, but Nairn quite liked it for some reason.

Willington itself is a nice small town from what I saw, not very rural but pleasant. A bit like a more palatable version of Long Eaton. I'd never been through there before. It's about 8 miles from Derby. The traffic at the double roundabout there held me up briefly, but I hoped it would be quieter on the way back. And it was, I sailed through without stopping.

Stopped just short of Hilton having done nearly 19 miles and decided that was enough. Didn't want to stay out too late. I came back the same way and bloody hell, the direction of travel relative to that westerly wind made a big difference. I must have covered the same distance in half the time with it pushing me forward instead of backward.

By the time I got to Melbourne I'd briefly considered coming back via Donington which would have added a couple of miles. I thought it would be quite nice to have done three consecutive 40+ milers, something I doubt I've ever done before. But I didn't, I came back exactly the same way and I ended up on 37.74 miles.

Nice run out really despite busier roads than I would normally do. I'll do that one again on a pleasant, quiet Sunday afternoon some time.

That was the second run out for my new cycling shoes and they seem to be bedding in nicely.

On my last ride I noticed a buzzing in my left ear, and fortunately this turned out to be the left earphone rather than the ear itself. So I binned my trusty Sennheisers and have replaced them with a mystery brand from Amazon. They have a nice low profile, ie less of the earphone sticks out of your ear, for reduced wind noise. And they sound pretty good.


Rubbish weather today and 42mph winds promised for tomorrow. Heard on the radio this morning that the rest of the month could be "autumnal".


There was me thinking I wouldn't get much cycling in today and I got almost 60 miles in! So much for it raining most of the afternoon, I felt about 10 spots of rain in the best part of four hours riding. It was windy though, I'll give them that, yet the wind increased through the afternoon, when it was supposed to ameliorate between 5 and 6. I spent most of the ride going round in circles and every time round the roads were covered in bigger and bigger twigs blown from the trees. I don't like it when they land on your helmet though.

Today's ride got August's Strava climbing challenge ticked off. Wonder if I'll be able to triple it like last month? Probably not now the nights are drawing in and my night away holiday coming up.
Legend in my own Mind


Far too windy for cycling today, but I had a feeling you wouldn't let that put you off. I did consider doing 15 or 20 at about 7pm, but decided I wouldn't enjoy it that much. I probably won't bother tomorrow either, I suspect. Rain expected over at about 2pm and moderately windy all day.


Quote from: Slim on August 11, 2019, 00:37:01 amFar too windy for cycling today, but I had a feeling you wouldn't let that put you off. 
As one of the cycling websites said: "60mph winds forecast, a day for KOM hunting". Not that I'd get a KOM even with a 60mph wind behind me, but there was one segment yesterday where I'd set my best time last Tuesday and I managed to beat it three times out of four yesterday!

Today was thankfully less windy than yesterday, but unlike yesterday I chose to ride up hills into the wind. It makes a big difference. Still I was out there, I got up the hills, it's better than stopping at home and doing the garden.
Legend in my own Mind


You must have quads like tree trunks by now.

I'm told the weather is likely to be unsettled for the next two weeks. Unfortunate as I'm off work next week, but fingers crossed there'll be one day with decent enough conditions for 50+ miles.

Should be OK for 35 or so later in the afternoon today though.


I'd intended to break my four day cycling drought with a Twycross, but shortly after setting off, changed my mind and steered the X up through Coleorton and Melbourne.

I'd really want to do a trip out east but conditions were breezy, and I'd have had an irritating headwind to cope with on the return leg. So I pretty much did the same as last time, up over Swarkestone Bridge then left along past Stenson, through Willington and along to Hilton. The headwind going west wasn't actually nearly as bad as I expected.

I stopped on the bridge to take a pic. Possibly a bit of an error as I had a long wait for an acceptable gap in the flowing river of motor traffic, so I could continue my journey northward.

Went a bit further west this time and turned back on the outskirts of Hilton. I was quite amused to pass a Chinese restaurant called the Mandarin Hilton.

Decided to come back a slightly different way after coming back over the bridge, to avoid the brutal southward climb south of Melbourne, and to hang on to the tailwind for a bit. Instead I headed eastward to Donington, turning south after Isley Walton to join what used to be the route home from the office.

Nice weather, mostly warm and sunny. I didn't mind the breeze.

I've been so impressed by the new mirror on the Boardman that I bought one for the X as well. About 8g heavier than the combined weight of the mirror and bar end plug that it replaced, but - it's not a lot, is it? I found that I readjusted the old one quite frequently, this one I can just leave alone once it's set up right. Most people wouldn't have that problem, though. I'm a bit susceptible to OCD.

40.96, 167 this month.


Quote from: Slim on August 12, 2019, 12:54:05 pmYou must have quads like tree trunks by now.
Not really. I have more defined musculature than I ever have before, but you don't want too much muscle mass when you're doing lots of climbing.

Tree trunks are for sprinters. I don't sprint.
Legend in my own Mind


The weather forecast for tomorrow looks dismal and since I may not be able to ride on Thursday due to commitments in London, I decided I'd go out and enjoy the sunshine for 15 miles or so, foregoing my usual day's break between rides but not wanting to overdo it.

My knees felt a bit more tender than they would have done tomorrow, but they were OK. I went out through Ibstock, Ellistown and Bagworth since it's mostly flat. A bit urban, but endearingly level.

At the end of Barlestone Road I turned right rather than left, which would have been the usual option for Kirkby Mallory, Earl Shilton Potters Marston et al. I guessed I'd probably find myself over by Odstone and the road north of Bosworth, which would have been lovely for a sunny evening. But I didn't, in fact a few miles later I realised I'd turned back on myself and was returning home the way I came through Ellistown.

A bizarre occurrence in Ellistown on the way down. The road through Ellistown itself is as wide as anything and I was certainly adequately close to the side of the road, but a middle-aged bloke in a Micra insisted on crawling behind me, as if I was holding him up. He had plenty of room to overtake. When he finally did he offered a robust two finger gesture as he passed! Dickhead.

Anyway - 15.07 miles, 182 this month. Looking at the forecast, I might not get a chance to go cycling again until Sunday.


I really fancy a trip out east, but computer says no:

Will be doing a west-then-back-east ride today.


August 17, 2019, 19:43:10 pm #3581 Last Edit: August 17, 2019, 23:06:36 pm by Slim
Well I got up at seven yes, but I didn't go to work at nine. I had breakfast and contemplated a few hours on the bike.

A conflict of interests today. On one hand, I'm on call. On the other hand, I wanted to do at least 50 but didn't want to waste 50 miles of effort on a boring orbital route round familiar roads that wouldn't take me too far from base.

I wanted to go somewhere reasonably distant. And since the oncall phone has been silent all week, I decided to take the chance. Because there was a stiff breeze coming from the west, I decided to go westward toward King's Bromley then come home with a tailwind.

I took the X. I did pretty much the same route I did last time I went over that way 12 days ago - out through Measham, past Netherseal, Coton in the Elms, Walton on Trent and Barton-under-Needwood. I didn't expect to be rained on but I was for a few minutes, after Measham.  After that it was sunshine and a warm breeze all the way, bar a few short cloudy spells.

Stopped for a snack at Barton - I'd brought a mini pork pie. Sat on the big concrete block anchoring a wooden post with a sign on it, and noticed a large moth on the post. It didn't seem to be bothered by my attention, so I took a pic.

Cute isn't he? Or she.

I turned left at Yoxall down toward King's Bromley, then after 21 miles, decided to turn back at a roundabout. I was getting slightly nervous about the phone going off despite my earlier bravado. As soon as I turned and the headwind disappeared, things became markedly more tranquil and I started to warm up a bit. Once again I'd slightly overdressed. But feeling too warm on a bike will seem like a luxury three months from now.

Came back the same way and stopped for a break near Netherseal. At this point the batteries in my eTrex died but it had done its job; I was back on familiar turf and no longer in need of technology-assisted navigation. I wasn't using it to record the track. It really had made life a lot easier than last time I rode out that way.

Rather than continuing on to Measham, I turned down the A444. I wasn't sure how far down Twycross was, but bolting a part-Twycrosser onto my ride would extend it nicely. However when I came to a large roundabout I realised I was near Appleby Magna so I went across to Snarestone from there, and continued down to Twycross via the usual method, down Ashby Road.

Again though on a whim I executed a slight change of plan just before Twycross and took a left to Bilstone and Congerstone along Bilstone Road. Up through Shakerstone and Swepstone, but I took the long way home from there, looping left round Packington and coming back along Ashby Rd over Alton Hill (not the same Ashby Rd - there are at least five of them on my usual cycle routes).

After about 50 miles on Gallows Lane I started to feel a bit knackered - mostly because I was too warm I think - but half an oat bar and seven minutes' rest later, I was fine.

I'd done 55.30 by the time I got back which is pretty much what I was aiming for. Not bad considering the conspicuous random element of this one.

Knees are feeling a touch tender now but they did OK.  I have this next week off and will try for a Fondo over the next few days. The weather has settled a bit though it's still a bit blowy. I really want to go out east though, so I'll just have to put up with a headwind on the way back.


Nice day for cycling today - apart from the wind!

I decided to try a new hill today - why? - Sir William Hill from Grindleford. How hard could it be? Well, Strava said it was 1.35 miles, rising 713ft at an average of 10% I was ready for giving up after a few hundred yards as my Garmin had it at between 17-22% However I kept plugging away as I knew it flattened out towards the top, the last 0.7 miles being at a 7% average, but by that time I'd completely run out of steam and I was now cycling straight into the wind. Still, I set the fastest time of the day - out of 2 - and was "only" 4'30" off the fastest ever time - how do they do that? - and 2'30" off the best women's time.

Thankfully I only had one other serious climb to do after that, The Dale from Hathersage, 2.43 miles rising 883ft at an 8% average. Thankfully the wind was now a tail wind at times and helped me set my fastest ever time up it and second fastest of the day - out of 19 - but a very distant second as the bloke with the best time managed the 7th fastest ascent ever.

All in all a nice 72.84 mile ride with 6,000 feet of ascent.
Legend in my own Mind


Nice day for cycling again - apart from the wind again...

Decided to do things a bit differently today, Samish Sunday start, Samish Sunday end, mixed up middle, did a bit twice and the every second sunday climb in reverse, then substituting the Col du Wigley for Harewood road.

Another 46 miles in the bag then, 540 for August and  I have achieved over 75 miles of elevation gain. So, that's another 25 to do in four and a half months.
Legend in my own Mind


Was hoping to do a longish one today, perhaps Grimston and back. But the forecasters had introduced a threat of rain for this afternoon, so I scaled down my plans. Decided to do Stoney Stanton and back.

Nice day - sunny with intermittent cloud, not too warm, a bit of a breeze. Given the aforementioned likelihood of rain, although I hoped to be home before it came over, I selected the Boardman as weapon of choice.

I didn't bother setting up the route on the eTrex. I thought I could probably remember the way and if not, I'd just use Google Maps on the phone. And yet - I deviated from my intention, and from the route I've done in the past, because I arrived at Stoney Stanton without having gone through Barwell. I reached exactly the same destination, a crossroads at Stoney. But I'd arrived there along a different road. Looking at a map now it's clear that I took the wrong road out of Kirkby Mallory.

Anyway I decided that actually, I preferred the way I'd come to the classic route I'd intended, so I decided to come home the same way. Wasn't sure I'd remember all the turns, but I did.

I experienced a couple of light showers on the way back up, then just south of Bagworth, torrential rain. At least an hour before "light showers" had been forecast, and this was proper biblical rain. It lasted about 10-15 minutes. I gave the bike a wipe down and a good seeing to with GT85 on my return to the garage.

I was a little concerned about how my knees would do as the right one has been a bit sore since Saturday's 55 miler, but it was OK. Quite encouraging. I'd visited a particularly brutal set of hamstring exercises on myself before setting off. Definitely helped. I did a couple more when I stopped at Earl Shilton as well.

35.99 (I knocked 0.01 off for walking the bike to and from a bench). According to the Strava route planner I saved myself 10 feet of elevation and half a mile by coming a different way, so I'm not sure why I chose the other route last time. This one is definitely nicer, especially by virtue of not coming through Barwell.

I started reading Mark Lewisohn's Beatles biography on holiday in Wales and really enjoyed it, but the trouble is - I only ever read books on holiday. In an environment where I have my computer, guitars, bikes and other toys available (ie at home) I just don't have the attention span. So I had the idea of buying it in audiobook form, so I could listen to it while riding. That worked really well and I got through most of a chapter on this ride. It's really beautifully read by Clive Mantle, who does the scouse accents nicely.

The audiobook itself is a 43 hr, 45 min audio file, but it's controlled by the (Android) Audible app so you can jump to particular chapters. I used a new set of bluetooth earphones and the controls on that (dangling from my right ear) allowed me to jump back 30 seconds easily if I became distracted. The earphones themselves (made by JVC) sounded really good and the charge lasted the whole ride, though they started to beep a low battery warning over the last few miles. I was able to take a phone call from a friend without stopping, as well.

Will attempt a Fondo on Wednesday.