With Hope in Your Heart . . .

Saturday 6 August 2022: The One from Liverpool to Burton

Miles: 101.12 Total Mileage: 2236.95

When planning any ride you rely on hope. You hope the trains run ok. You hope the weather is kind. You hope your route is ok. You hope the hotel received your booking and finally, you hope the ride goes smoothly.

We caught the 10:52 from Burton, changed at Tamworth and headed for Crewe. Due to train crew issues on the Avanti West Line, some trains were delayed, full or cancelled altogether, but fortunately ours was ok and we arrived in Liverpool around 1.30pm. After giving John a brief tour of the city we headed up to our hotel in Orrell. We used the cycle paths and I have to say they are some of the best I have cycled on.

Saturday morning I woke up around 4.50am and got ready for the 100 mile ride back to the Pirelli Stadium. We left the Orrell Park Hotel (which I can thoroughly recommend) at 05:38.

The streets were relatively empty as we cycled to our first stop, the home of Liverpool FC, Anfield. It also resulted in a diversion as work on the Anfield Road stand has begun, so we had to circumnavigate the stadium to get back on track. I visited Melissa’s memorial stone which is situated almost directly opposite the Hillsborough memorial. John and I took a few photographs and we were on our way to Goodison Park.

First stop Anfield

Within 5 minutes we were cycling along the narrow streets that envelope Goodison Park. I love the way the ground is built in to the streets, the houses in arms reach of the stadium. The story of the club is painted on the walls of the stadium and ride around the ground takes you from the 1800s through to the present day. After a few more photographs we then headed for the future and Everton’s new ground at Bramley Moore Dock.

Goodison Park, L4

Everton’s new ground is on the banks of the Mersey and is progressing well. I was surprised that the seating terraces had begun to be erected. I look forward to visiting again next year to see further progress.

After looking through the gates at Bramley Moore we then got back on our bikes and followed the line of the Mersey all the way to the bridge at Widnes that took us over the Mersey to Runcorn. They have added a cycle path to the bridge and that made it a lot easier to cross over. From Runcorn we weaved out of the town and into the countryside, passing Preston Brook. If you’ve ever walked the Trent and Mersey Canal you often see milestones with the distance to Preston Brook written on them.

Everton’s new ground

We stopped off at Holmes Chapel for a sausage batch (we were in batch country, not yet baps) and an egg custard! We also topped up with water. Holmes Chapel was the halfway point of the ride. From Holmes Chapel the temperature rose and so did the terrain. Over the next 20 miles or so we hit some good hills that showed on the Garmin 17%, 16% and 15% on many occasions. We then cycled along the top of Staffordshire Moorlands and encountered som amazing views. Eventually we freewheeled in to Tean and from then on it was relatively flat.

Spectacular views

We arrived in Tutbury at around 2pm and stopped for a drink and a slice of cake. We then took a steady ride to the Pirelli where I was surprised and so happy to see my grandson. We were greeted by John Widdowson of the Burton Albion Community Trust who took us into the ground. At half time I was interviewed on the pitch where an hour earlier, the Burton players had been doing their warm up in St Giles Hospice t-shirts as volunteers and staff did a bucket collection.

After my interview, I carried my grandson around the pitch with me on a lap of honour, where I was also joined by John, who rode the 101 miles alongside me. After our lap of honour we said our thanks and goodbyes and headed home.

With my grandson and the two Johns on the pitch after arriving at the Pirelli Stadium

Despite having cycled over 100 miles and climbed some amazing hills, viewed some stunning countryside and encountered a brilliant welcome at the Pirelli, I felt pretty good. The legs were pleasantly achy. 101.12 miles. 7 hours 12 minutes, 1.255 metres of climbing and 8,047 calories burned. Thank you to everyone who donated to the bucket collection and thank you also to those people who have donated via my Just Giving page. You a making a difference to people’s lives.

So, in conclusion, definitely a nicer route than when I did it last time, but also harder. Some cracking hills and views. A brilliant welcome at the Pirelli as always. All in all, a great ride. Everything I had hoped for.

My 60260 cycle challenge is in memory of my daughter Melissa, who died in May 2008 from non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The challenge is in aid of St Giles Hospice who were a part of the care given to Mel at end of life and who supported me with my grief.

For more information and to donate please visit http://www.justgiving.com/60260

Today’s blog title is taken from the song You’ll Never Walk Alone by Gerry and the Pacemakers

I Think I’ll Go Outside For a While…

Less than a week to go now until my Anfield to Albion ride. For those who don’t know me, I have three football clubs in my life. Liverpool, Everton and Burton Albion.

Everton were my first footballing love. Back in the late 60’s, early 70’s I became a blue and have been ever since. They’ve made me happy, they’ve made me cry, sometimes with joy, often with despair, but they’re my team and always will be.

Liverpool was the team that Melissa supported. As a dad I got most things right, but Mel’s choice of football clubs to support wasn’t one of them. Mel loved football and loved Liverpool. I’m not a bitter blue, which was proven when I took Mel to watch the 2005 Champions League final in the city. On arguably Liverpool’s greatest night, me, a blue was stood in the city centre watching my daughter have the time of her life!

Burton Albion was the footballing glue that bonded us. We both followed our local team, travelling home and away all over the country. My first memory of going to a Brewers game was with my dad, who took me to the FA Trophy Semi Final at Matlock in 1975. Mel’s first game was a home match against Bishop Auckland in the same competition at Burton old ground, Eton Park. Her first away match was a trip to Folkstone. So many amazing memories.

So, that’s why next Saturday I’ll be cycling from Liverpool’s Anfield, via Everton’s Goodison Park to Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium. This week will be one of final preparations. Tomorrow I’ll be giving the bike a final clean and making sure my saddle bag is stocked. Other than that, there’s kit to sort, pick up bike reservation tickets and one or two other logistical jobs. Then next Friday it’s the 10:52 to Tamworth, then to Crewe, then up to Liverpool.

Monday 25 July 2022: The One With the Modelling

Miles: 38.01 Total Mileage: 2031.48

A short ride out to Fradley Junction then on to St Giles Hospice to have our photographs taken and a couple of mini videos to help advertise the St Giles Autumn Cycle ride. It was then back through Walton on Trent. This ride also saw me crash through the 2,000 mile mark since the challenge started.

Friday 29 July 2022: The One Where We Were Early for Cake and Had Sausage Instead

Miles: 67.67 Total Mileage: 2099.15

The last big ride before Anfield to Albion and it was one of those mornings in the saddle that was just perfect. We set off at 7am from Burton and as we cycled, the sun bobbed in and out, the temperature was perfect and there was hardly any wind as we made our way out through Newton Solney, Swarkestone, on to Shardlow then down a lovely single track country lane that came out at Radcliffe, not far from the power station.

Destination was East Leake in Leicestershire and we arrived there just before 9am. We’d intended to visit a great cycling cafe called Love and Piste. Not only is a great little cafe, but they also have a shop that sells cycle and ski wear.

We opted for a coffee and sandwich at Birds bakery which never disappoints. Then it was up toward Costock and on to Loughborough. Then the hills came! The biggest being a 3.9 mile stretch that averaged around 7%. It was then on to Copt Oak and we came back on the reverse of last week’s route, through Ellistown, Ibstock, Measham, Rosliston etc.

Bike with Radcliffe on Trent Power Station in the background

The great thing about this route is that with a few minor tweaks it could become a nice 40 – 45 mile Sunday morning ride or if I was to link it with last week’s route, it would make a great century ride.

Sunday 31 July 2022: The One With The Grey Skies, Drizzle and Crosswinds

Miles: 36.68 Total Mileage: 2135.83

As I write this, England Women have won the Euros!! The day that England Women won the Euros was one of those mornings where the weather was a pain in the backside. I’m an early riser and when I got up at 5am, it was dry, but had been raining. The ground was soaked. By 8am it had stopped. I spoke with John and because neither of us could cycle on Monday, we decided to give it a go.

Within about five minutes of us setting out it started to rain again. and kept raining for til we got to Fradley Junction. It stopped whilst we enjoyed our breakfast and for the remainder of the ride the rain stayed away and by the time we were cycling down Burton Road, the roads had dried out.

Crosswinds on the way to Whittington

The bike was given a wipe down, before tomorrow’s deep clean and that’s it, next stop, Anfield!

My 60260 cycle challenge is in memory of my daughter Melissa, who died in May 2008 from non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The challenge is in aid of St Giles Hospice who were a part of the care given to Mel at end of life and who supported me with my grief.

For more information and to donate please visit http://www.justgiving.com/60260

Today’s blog title is taken from the song A Beautiful Morning by The Rascals

Choo Choo Train, a trackin’ down the track . . .

Just two weeks to go now until my Anfield to Albion ride (via Everton) and I’ve started weather watch! The BBC weather app predicts two weeks in advance so today, the anticipated weather for Saturday 6 August appeared for the first time. It currently predicts a south westerly 12mph wind accompanied by sunny intervals. I’d take that! I am however, not so naïve as to think that may change in the next fourteen days. Cycling from Liverpool to Burton on Trent, ideally a nice sunny day with a gentle north westerly breeze would be ideal. A strong south easterly with rain would not be nice! Weather watch will continue every day now until ride day!

This week I have booked my train tickets and accommodation for the ride. I’ve got a hotel about a mile from Anfield which looks good. Booking train tickets for a bike ride is always interesting. Because I wanted to reserve bike spaces, I rang up Trainline and spoke to someone. I explained that I wanted to travel in the morning from Burton to Liverpool, one way ticket and I needed bike space reserving. I was told I had to pick a specific time. I gave them a time and they told me that for that journey there was no bike space for the Burton to Sheffield leg, but there was for the Sheffield to Liverpool so would I like to book the tickets. The guy couldn’t understand that I needed bike reservation for the whole journey.

I then called Cross Country trains and they were brilliant. Burton to Tamworth, Tamworth to Crewe, Crewe to Liverpool Lime Street and bike reservations for all three legs. £33.20 for the journey too. Accommodation was £65 for the night. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be sorting out any minor issues, making sure i have gels and Zero tablets and sorting out my kit. The other job this coming week is to finalise the route.

Burton Albion are kindly allowing the players to run out to warm up in St Giles t-shirts, so we’re going to be turning a little bit of the Pirelli orange!

Tuesday 19 July 2022: The One Where I Chased the Rabbit

Miles: 31.33 Total Mileage: 1919.88

With the hottest day on record looming, I decided to go out early for a ride out. I left the house at 5am and headed up to Longford and back for a nice 32 mile ride. As the sun was rising there was no one around in the lanes and at one point I was cycling along Long Lane from Longford behind a rabbit that seemed intent on running down the middle of the road.

The temperature was perfect, a slight breeze but as the clocked ticked around to 7am and I got closer to home, I could feel the temperature beginning to rise.

Saturday 24 July 2022: The One Where We Went for Breakfast and Stayed for Dinner

Miles: 73.03 Total Mileage: 1993.47

With rain forecast for Friday, I decided to put back this weekend’s big ride by 24 hours. I couldn’t decide which route to go on, Deer Hunter, HIxon via Cobwebs or Bosworth Battler. I opted for Bosworth, 73 miles, some steady climbs and a equally good descents.

The route went out through Rosliston, Measham and then on to Heather and Ibstock before heading through Ellistown and down to Sutton Cheney. We stopped at the cafe at Sutton Wharf for a breakfast bap, but sadly had to wait for 55 minutes for our order to be served. I think they were having a bad day, but having to stope for nearly an hour in the middle of a 73 mile cycle ride isn’t the best.

Once fed we got the legs working again and headed up to Market Bosworth, over to Orton on the Hill and back via Shuttington, Clifton Campville, Croxall, Walton and Barton under Needwood.

Parked up at Sutton Cheney

Average was 16mph which considering the break for nearly an hour wasn’t too bad. Not many rides to go now before the Anfield to Albion, hopefully another 70 – 80 miler on Friday, then a short 30 – 40 miles next Sunday or Monday.

My 60 2 60 cycle challenge is in aid of St Giles Hospice and in memory of my daughter Melissa, who died in 2008 from non-Hodgkin lymphoma. To read more about the challenge please visit http://www.justgiving.com/60260

A huge thank you to everyone who has sponsored me so far. Your contributions make a real difference and help St Giles to support families like ours.

Today’s blog title is taken from the disco classic One Way Ticket by Eruption

Ain’t no valley low enough, ain’t no river wide enough

On Friday I tested out part of the 100 mile St Giles Hospice Autumn Cycle Ride route. It’s a new route this year and I wanted to make sure the new bits were ok. The good news is that it is fine. A good route, some parts will be a bit busier than others, but as always there is a good mix of country lanes and B roads. There is also a good mix of climbs and descents with lovely climb just outside Great Gate, which I’ll talk about later.

In other 60 2 60 news, I mentioned last week about the Anfield to Albion cycle ride. This weekend I am in the process of sorting out the travel logistics. I will go up to Liverpool by train on the Friday and then cycle back on the Saturday. Sorting out a place to stay can be a job in itself. It doesn’t need to be 5 star, but at the same time I do want somewhere comfortable and not too expensive.

Booking a train journey isn’t without issues as I have to make sure that bike places are available. I remember organising this the last time I did it and the train company said I had two places, but no place for the bikes. I didn’t fancy walking back! Though maybe that could be the next challenge. Walking from Liverpool to Burton via the Trent and Mersey?

I can also report that Burton Albion have agreed to turn the Pirelli Stadium orange on the day of my ride, with players running out for their pre match kick about wearing orange St Giles Hospice t-shirts. Another great gesture from Burton Albion Community Trust and Football Club.

I love this time of year, watching the Tour de France highlights every evening. If you like your podcasts, can I recommend Never Stray Car which is a daily podcast all about Tour life. David Millar, Ned Boulting and Pete Kennaugh are joined by Lizzie Deignan as they discuss the previous day’s racing, and a whole host of other things too.

Tuesday 12 July 2022: The One Where We Followed the Stinky Dustcart

Miles: 37.60 Total Mileage: 1807.00

This ride was a regular favourite, leaving Branston, heading out to Yoxall, on to Kings Bromley, then to Fradley Junction and a nice stop at the Canalside Cafe. We then went on to Whittington with a slight diversion due to road closure and back via Croxall and Walton. A really nice ride as always, a good 16.3 mph average. The only unfortunate side to this ride was that our diversion took us down a single track lane and we had to follow a dust cart! Not a pleasant experience!

Friday 15 July 2022: The One Before The Temperatures Soared

Miles: 70.63 Total Mileage: 1877.63

Friday was all about testing the new part of the St Giles Hospice Autumn Cycle 100 mile route. I like to make tweaks to the route if possible, but this year I’ve gone for a bigger change. Gone is the climb up Marchington Cliff and the ride to Abbotts Bromley. In it’s place the route heads up through Tatenhill, Anslow, on to Hatton, Sutton on the Hill, Longford and Alkmonton. We then head over to Marston Montgomery, Rocester, Denstone and Alton before turning back to Greatgate and picking up last year’s route again. In terms of climbs, Brocton Hill is still there as is Stile Cop and Startley Lane. The climb just outside Greatgate up Quarry Bank is still there. This one peaks at 19%, but isn’t a particularly long climb and the views across the valley are amazing.

The view across the valley toward the Peaks from Quarry Bank

I enjoyed the route and shall definitely do it again. We averaged just under 15mph which considering the elevation wasn’t too bad at all.

If you’re interested in cycling the St Giles Autumn cycle ride, there are four routes, short, medium, long and the 100 mile ultra. Booking can be done at http://www.stgileshospice.com on the events page.

Sunday 17 July 2022: The One To Stretton

Miles: 10.92 Total Mileage: 1888.55

A short ride on the retro bike around Burton. Setting out from Branston and heading up to Stretton and back. A slow 13.4mph average, but this was all about enjoying the retro

My 60 2 60 cycle challenge is in aid of St Giles Hospice and in memory of my daughter Melissa who died from non-Hodgkin lymphoma in May 2008. St Giles Hospice were part of the caring team who supported us during Mel’s illness.

This week’s blog title is taken from Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Diana Ross

I Can Think of Nothing Better . . .

When I was two years old my family moved to Mablethorpe on the East Coast and I lived there until we moved back to the Midlands in 1976.. I’ve always had an affinity with that part of the world. That is why I like to go back and cycle round there every year. This week we got to ride my coastal route. People often think that riding a long flat route is easy, but it is constant pedalling. Five hours, 37 minutes and 56 seconds of pretty much constant pedalling.

When you have hills in a route, although they can sometimes be tough to climb, you do get the bonus of resting the legs on the way down. The ‘Viva Skegvegas’ route had just 318 metres of climbing, contrast that to the week before when we cycled ‘The Dadlington’ and in that 63 mile ride there was more than double that. It tells you how flat it was. It is one of my favourite cycling days of the year and it was great to revisit it again.

I received confirmation from Burton Albion this week that they are once again supporting my Anfield to Albion cycle ride on August 6th as part of the 60 2 60 challenge. I’ll talk more about it in the coming weeks, but I will travel up to Liverpool on the Friday, then cycle back to Burton Albion on the Saturday with the aim of arriving at the Pirelli Stadium for half time.

Friday 8 July 2022: The One Where We Went to Skeg Vegas

Miles: 90.08 Total Mileage: 1737.25

The ‘Skeg Vegas’ route starts in Louth, which is about fifteen miles from the coast. The weather determines which way we go, whether it’s north to south or south to north. The plan had been to do north to south and have a tail wind all the way down the coast to Skegness. However, I clicked on the wrong route and we did it in reverse.

We left Burton at 5.15am and drove over to Louth and got on the bikes just after 8am and headed toward Alford, then on to Skegness via some lovely country lanes. We noticed the amount of wheat/barley/corn fields as we cycled, sometimes that all we could see. Flies were also a pain, I looked down on my arm at one point and it was covered.

The weather was warm and the breeze was over out shoulders, but as we headed to Skegness the skies became cloudy and the wind seemed to be changing direction. We got held up in holiday traffic in Skegness, but it wasn’t long before we were heading up through Ingoldmells, Chapel St Leonards and on to Mablethorpe. We cycled along the promenade, stopping at a cafe on the sea front for sausage sandwich and a lovely milkshake at the Coral Cafe.

Cycling along the promenade toward Mablethorpe

I took a slight detour to go past my old house, then we cycled along High Street before turning left toward Golden Sands. From Mablethorpe we headed up to Theddlethorpe, Saltfleet and up to Tetney where we turned south in to a full headwind as we cycled back to Louth. We averaged 16.1mph, which considering the distance wasn’t too shabby.

A great day in the saddle, we arrived home at half past five.

Sunday 10 July: The One With The Pretty Flowers

Miles: 32.15 Total Mileage: 1769.40

I went out on my own Sunday morning. After the 90 miles on Friday I didn’t want to venture too far, so opted for the Longford Short route. This goes up to Longford and back via Sutton on the Hill with a fuel stop at TLC Bakery at Hilton.

It was good to get the legs turning again after Friday.

Wild flowers at Church Broughton

My 60 2 60 cycle challenge is in aid of St Giles Hospice and in memory of my daughter Melissa who died aged 20 of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The challenge is to cycle an average of 60 miles a week between my 59th and 60th birthday (January 19th). My Just GIving page can be found at http://www.justgiving.com/60260

Today’s blog title is taken from the Cliff Richard track On The Beach . . . .

But hey, You Know The Sun is Somehow Gonna Shine . . .

Sometimes, the best laid plans have to be changed. Last Saturday John and I were due to drive over to Louth in Lincolnshire and then cycle to Skegness and up the East Coast to North Somercotes and back. A 90 mile ride on the flattest of flat terrains. Less than 300 metres of climbing on a ninety mile ride. I think the steepest part is when we cycle up the to the promenade!

Anyway, go back 24 hours to Friday and after taking my grandson to see the horses, grandad let him hold his car keys whilst he put him in his car seat. I then took the keys off him, threw them on to the drivers seat, shut the car door, and then stood horrified as I realised whilst holding the keys, he’d locked the doors. Ultimately, I had to break a window in the car to retrieve the keys. I couldn’t get the window fixed until today, so the East Coast trip had to be postponed. Grandad was traumatised, grandson was cool, calm, and thought it was just one of grandad’s silly games!

So, on Saturday, instead of cycling by the sea, we cycled one of our favourite routes to Dadlington, just south of Market Bosworth. After the trauma of Friday, I needed a good bike ride to get my thoughts together. The weather forecast warned of heavy showers, sunshine and what seems to be a permanent feature of the weather nowadays, strong winds (although they called them moderate).

I can’t remember the last time I went out on the bike and there wasn’t a ten mile an hour plus wind. Sometimes, particularly on hot days, it can be helpful, but mostly it means lots of effort for little reward!

Saturday 2 July 2022: The One That Was Supposed to Be Beside the Seaside, Beside the Sea

Miles: 63,40 Total Mileage: 1647.17

The Dadlington is one of my favourite routes. Just over 100 km, not overly hilly, some steady 3 to 4 % climbs and lots of quiet country roads to enjoy.

We set out at 7am. I’ve mentioned before, I love the early starts. The route takes us out of Burton through Stapenhill and up to Rosliston, Coton in the Elms and on to Measham, Snarestone, passing the Alpaca Farm and Cafe and out through the crazily named Newton Burgoland (I always think it sounds like a theme park). We then hit a series of short climbs through Odstone, Barton in the Beans before we get to Market Bosworth.

From Market Bosworth we head down toward Sutton Cheney and after passing Sutton Cheney Wharf there’s a sharp left to the village of Dadlington . It was around this point that the rain hit us. It was like being under a shower, not heavy. just a fine spray that soaked us both through. From Dadlington we work our way back up to Market Bosworth. I had to stop and take a photo of the old Fish and Chip delivery bike next to my modern Cannondale. Great contrast!

From Market Bosworth we headed back toward the A444 through Bilstone and on to Little Twycross, then at the junction with the A444 we turned right and went off route for about 50 yards to have breakfast at Harvey’s Food Cabin. Another cafe I can thoroughly recommend. It’s in the grounds of the place where they sell sheds, very posh sheds too! Anyway, if you’re in the area, Harvey’s Food Cabin is worth a visit!

From Harvey’s we head to Orton on the Hill, saw a huge hare hopping across a field, and then continued on our way back via Shuttington, Wiggington, Walton on Trent and Barton under Needwood.

By the time we were cycling toward Barton, the sun was out, the clothes were pretty much dry and we were both talking about this coming Friday, when all things being well, we will drive over to Louth, cycle to North Somercotes and down the East Coast to Mablethorpe, Skeggy and back. We’re doing north to south due to the wind direction. Of course there’s going to be wind. There has to be wind. There’s always wind!

My 60 2 60 cycle challenge is in aid of St Giles Hospice and in memory of my daughter Melissa who died aged 20 of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The challenge is to cycle an average of 60 miles a week between my 59th and 60th birthday (January 19th)

Today’s blog title is taken from the Neil Diamond track, Rainy Day Songs.

I Got Sunshine on a Cloudy Day . . .

I’ve said before, one of the lovely things about my 60 2 60 cycle challenge is that I get to ride and complete the challenge with friends and family. This weekend I cycled with my daughter Becky.

It will be 10 years next year since Becky and I cycled London to Paris. The most amazing adventure that still remains my favourite ever ride. Due to pregnancy, Covid and the being a new parent Becky’s time on her bike has been limited, in fact when she looked at her Garmin yesterday, her last ride out on the bike was in December 2019.

We went out on Sunday morning and it was great to be cycling out with her again and she did brilliantly considering she’d not been out for over two and a half years.

Friday’s ride was visit to Chasewater and a stop off at the railway station

Friday 24 June 2022: The One With the Trains, Planes and Automobiles

Miles: 48.53 Total Mileage: 1540.76

This week I decided to cycle a route we’ve not done for a while. The Chasewater Chase takes us out of Branston, through Tatenhill, Yoxall and Kings Bromley. We were then diverted after our road ahead was blocked down Shaw Lane, thanks to HS2 works.

Road closed signs can be a pain. If ever we come across them, I tend to see whether the road is accessible or not. Although many are closed, you can normally get through on a bike. Unfortunately on Friday, after cycling a mile or so down the lane, we were confronted with a sentry box and an HS2 guard on duty. Nine times out of ten the workman let us through, but this was the one in ten that didn’t and we had to turn back. Can’t blame the sentry guard, he was only doing his job. It is sad to see so much of the countryside being destroyed for the sake of a train that may or may not save people a bit of time.

After our diversion we got back on track and cycled past Beacon Park, through the lanes around Hammerwich and on to Chasewater. Our cafe stop was the railway cafe at Chasewater

Fuel stop at the railway station, Chasewater

We then headed to Hazleslade, through the chase and then up the short steep climb at Startley Lane. Through Upper Longdon into Longdon and then back via Armitage, Kings Bromley and the way we came out. As we cycled out of Kings Bromley we saw an old war plane flying overhead, I’m not sure what it was, I’m no plane expert, but seeing it added to a great ride.

Sunday 26 June 2022: The One With Becky

Miles: 43.01 Total Mileage: 1583.77

The route I created for Becky included a 10 mile pedal for John and I to meet with Becky, then 23 miles for Becky to find her cycle legs, before a ten mile mile ride back home for John and myself. John and I headed out through Stapenhill, Walton and on to Alrewas. We cycled past Catton Hall and smelt the bacon as the festival goers at Catton woke up and breakfasted.

After Alrewas it was on to Kings Bromley, then up to Hamstall Ridware and Blithbury. We fuelled at Cobwebs and returned the way we had come out. Becky did brilliantly and even found a burst of speed as we headed up to Blithbury. The route was just right, a couple of busy roads, but they are quite wide so plenty of space to pass, some steady climbs, but nothing major and some equally good downhills. The wind was quite strong and as well as a headwind on the way back there were also some challenging crosswinds.

Becky back on the bike with John just behind

Next up on the challenge is another of my classic routes, the Seaside Special. Weather permitting, next Saturday I’ll be heading to Louth in Lincolnshire, cycling from there, down to Skeggy and up the East Coast!

My 60 2 60 challenge is in aid of St Giles Hospice and in memory of my daughter Melissa who sadly died from non – Hodgkin lymphoma, aged 20 in May 2008.

Please visit my Just Giving page at http://www.justgiving.com/60260

Today’s blog title is from the song My Girl by The Temptations

Me mind on fire, me soul on fire . . .

I felt that I got my legs back this weekend. After a few weeks of struggling on the bike, including one ride where I had to turn around half way through, this weekend the legs re-joined me. I felt at the end of each ride I could have carried on for a few more miles.

I also had two of my three bikes in for repair this weekend. The parts arrived for my Cannondale so after my ride on Friday I headed over to Freedom at Lichfield. A new front cassette and bottom bracket were replaced and on Sunday it rode superbly. The issues I’d had meant that the chain would come off if I hit the harder gears, so I’ve been avoiding them for the last couple of months. That changed on Sunday and I was able to use the full range of gears.

Stopping for a rest in the heat on the way out of Walmley

I also popped the Cube in for a slight adjustment. After John ran in to the back of me the other week, the Cube had not been changing gear properly, so a slight adjustment and all is good for the next time I ride it.

Monday 13 June 2022: The One With The Traffic Lights

Miles: 9.36 Total Mileage: 1492.22

I went out for a short ride on the retro bike, just the 9 miles, a short ride into Tatenhill, then up past the Horseshoe Inn and up Tin Can Hill followed by a lovely couple of miles downhill which saw the retro get up to 29mph. I’ve said before, the long rides are good, but there’s nothing like getting out on my 1980s racer.

Friday 17 June 2022: The One Where We Were Hot Hot Hot

Miles: 64.87 Total Mileage: 1557.09

On the hottest day of the year so far, we decided to head south. You can always tell when it’s a really warm day, we set out at 7am and wore no jackets, just our short sleeve shirts and shorts.

Leaving Burton we went to Fradley and on to Lichfield. We then rode on to Shenstone and up to the spectacular houses that adorn Little Aston. We circumnavigated Sutton Park and stopped at The Dele in Boldmere for a sausage cob. We came back via Walmley, Middleton, Fazeley and then via Wiggington, Walton and Stapenhill. On the way out, as we headed south, the wind strengthened, but it was a warm wind that blew in to us and was quite nice and kept the temperatures cooler. Once we turned back north, the wind on our backs and sweat dripping. Plenty of fluids were taken and a good average speed of 15.8mph. As I mentioned earlier, the legs did well and I felt very comfortable.

Sunday 19 June 2022: The One With The Lawyer and the Postman

Miles: 37.03 Total Mileage: 1594.12

On Sunday, I had to call at Becky’s so the plan was to ride the ten miles to Becky’s, then head to the Kingfisher at Fradley Junction for a breakfast roll before riding back. A nice 26 mile route and the weather was cooler than Friday.

We headed out via Stapenhill, through Walton and Catton and got to Becky’s. We left Becky’s and went down the lane to Fradley, bumping into (not literally) my friend Jayne, who was nearing the end of her ride. John had stopped to take a phone call and I used the opportunity to take a photo of the poppies that were rising up in the field.

Poppies in the field down the Alrewas to Fradley lane

After filling our bellies at Kingfisher, we went to deliver a birthday card in Kings Bromley and headed to Yoxall. Out on the newly repaired bike and with the legs feeling good, I came off the main road and headed down the lanes to Blithbury and back via Hoar Cross and Dunstall. What was planned as a 25 mile ride, turned in to a very nice 37 mile ride.

Cloudy skies on Sunday

My 60 2 60 challenge is in aid of St Giles Hospice and in memory of my daughter Melissa who sadly died from non – Hodgkin lymphoma, aged 20 in May 2008.

Please visit my Just Giving page at http://www.justgiving.com/60260

Today’s blog title is from the song Hot Hot Hot, by Buster Poindexter

Turn Around, Every Now and then I Get a Little Bit Tired . . .

I thought I’d start this week with a café review. Sunday mornings usually consist of a 30 to 40 mile ride, no records broken, just nice and steady. If I head south I usually end up stopping at Fradley Junction and the Kingfisher Café. There is also the Laughing Duck at Fradley Junction, which is a favourite stopping place for cyclists and I do use both, but my slight favourite is the Kingfisher. The Kingfisher is by the caravan park and they do the most delicious sandwiches, breakfasts and a good selection of cakes too. You can sit outside or in and the prices are reasonable. It can get busy, but even so, I’ve found the service to be really quick and the staff are friendly too.

This weekend has been a weekend of two halves. Friday saw me having to stop and turn back home sixteen miles in, whilst on Sunday, the legs felt better. I think in all the rides I’ve done, I’ve only ever cut short a ride once before, so it’s not bad going, I’ll explain more in the ride review below.

Friday 10 June 2022: The One Where I Left the Party Early

Miles: 32.54 Total Mileage: 1444.94

Having not cycled the previous Sunday, I was really looking forward to getting back out on the bike on Friday. I’d chose the Hixon Half Ton ride, a 52 miler, that went out through Yoxall up to Abbots Bromley then over to Hixon, on the outskirts of Stafford, and back via Blithbury and Kings Bromley. The food stop would be 18 miles in at Cobwebs!

I started off ok, but as I started to pedal up the steady 2% climb toward the top of Town Hill, my legs began to feel heavy. I put it down to the strong headwind, the more I climb, the more my legs struggled. After descending Town Hill (10 miles in) I felt sick, but carried on, thinking it would pass. I reached Kings Bromley and for the first time in the ride I thought about stopping and turning round, but again carried on. As I went further in to the ride the legs got heavier. John went in front but I was soon 3 to 4 hundred yards behind him, I just couldn’t keep up.

As we hit sixteen miles and with John well ahead of me, I tried to wave at him to get him to come back. I knew I had to stop. The legs were shot. I waved at John and a kind motorist stopped and asked if I was ok. John offered to ride back with me, but I knew I’d be ok and the majority of the road home was either flat or downhill. So, what should have been a half ton, turned into a third of a ton.

I’m not sure what was wrong, but I’ve never been so glad to turn into the cul de sac where I live. As I returned home, I was constantly using markers to get me back. ‘Reach that signpost’ ‘get as far as that hedge’ ‘just get to that corner’. I still averaged 15.2mph, but I was weak and it was probably the hardest 32 miles I’ve ever done.

Sunday 12 June 2022: The One With the Nice Surprise

Miles: 37.92 Total Mileage: 1482.86

Today’s route was the Fradley Kingfisher. A ride just short of 38 miles out through Barton under Needwood, through Yoxall, Kings Bromley and on to Fradley for a fuel stop. Then over to Whittington, back through Edingale, Croxall and turning left in Walton to back via Barton again.

I was a little nervous as we set out following the legs not working properly on Friday. We reached the bottom of Town Hill and were met by the cyclist participants of the Ironman 70.3. A kindly steward allowed us to cycle to Kings Bromley as long as we kept to the left, which of course, we did. Once in Kings Bromley we stopped for five minutes to chat with my sister in law who was cheering on the Ironman cyclists, then we headed to Fradley and the Kingfisher where we bumped in to Becky, Dave and Aaron.

Ironman competitors cycle through Kings Bromley

The rest of the ride was ok until I turned by the new school in Tatenhill and I felt the legs begin to weaken again. So, still not 100%, but better than Friday!

I’m not sure what caused the leg problem, there are a few bugs going around and maybe it’s to do with that. We’ll see how I am next week as we hopefully head down to Walmley.

My 60 2 60 challenge is to cycle an average of 60 miles a week between my 59th and 60th birthdays. The challenge started on January 19 2022 and will finish at midnight on January 19 2023.

I am cycling in aid of St Giles Hospice and in memory of my daughter Melissa who died in May 2008.

Today’s blog title is taken from the song, Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler

It was a wicked and wild wind

One big ride and one small one this week.  The mind still isn’t totally in the right place.  I went out on Friday, Saturday I delivered my mum’s shopping via bike, Sunday was a washout and Monday I couldn’t be bothered.   I’m sure the mojo will return at some point.  I did enjoy the rides, particularly the Saturday one, where I cycled across town and back via the canal.

I went out on Saturday on my retro bike, the 1980’s racer.  I hardly moved out of gear as the route was flat, not even a bridge to climb! 

Friday 3 June 2022:     The One With The Village Shop

Miles: 54.42     Total Mileage:  1403.70

On Friday  I chose the Shardlow Pedalturner route.  A 55 mile ride that heads out to Shardlow via Newton Solney and Swarkestone, turning right to Weston on Trent and then on to our food stop in the village of Aston on Trent.  As you can tell, we cycled by the River Trent.  Out towards Shardlow, the wind was blowing in to us and for June it was a tad chilly too.

The stop for food was the village store.  They do lovely breakfast sandwiches.  John went for sausage and black pudding, I had the plain sausage, we had two coffees and got change from £7.00.  You can’t beat it.  

After turning left at the T junction just outside Shardlow we noticed the Delhi on the main road was also open again.  It shut down last year, so it was great to see it open again.  There is about five potential cafes on this route. No wonder it’s one of our favourites.   The wind was now on our backs.

In the Jubilee Spirit in Longford

The route leaves the outskirts of Shardlow, touches the edge of Rolls Royce (not a food stop) in Derby and then heads past Stenson Bubble, on to Willington, across to Hilton then we do the Longford course in reverse, winding up at Anslow before a downhill finish to Branston. 

It is a great route, one of my favourites, full of cafe stops, some initial climbing toward Newton Solney, then pretty flat until the final few miles.  It explains how we averaged 16.1mph over 55 miles.

Saturday 4 June 2022: The One With The Shopping to Deliver

Miles: 9     Total Mileage: 1412.70

Just a short ride across town to deliver my mum’s shopping.  Her order wasn’t that big this week, so it fitted in my rucksack.  I cycled across town and came back via the canal cycle path.  A very steady 13.2 average, I’d have probably gone slower if I could. 

My 60 2 60 challenge is in memory of my daughter Melissa and in aid of St St Giles Hospice. My Just Giving page is http://www.justgiving.com/60260.

This week’s blog title is from Coldplay’s Viva La Vida