There was a slightly southern theme to my August bike riding with trips to London and the South Coast without terribly much in between so it’s good to be back on my own turf. The air maybe cooler than I remember and the hills have definitely got steeper since I left them but equally the fells have got lovelier from being away from them and the downhills more exhilarating. It’s like falling in love all over again, if love made your legs hurt…
First World War Centenary marked by The Green Room Art Gallery, Barningham
Everyone probably has a route they ride regularly but if asked what is the appeal of your own such circuit you may struggle to articulate to a stranger the reasons you keep coming back. If your route is out of the way and not on any natural path from somewhere to somewhere else, if you need to ride some lonely lanes which are narrow, broken, gravelly, steep and mucky and frequented mostly only by bike riders heading for the hill, if the hill itself with its north facing aspect and sun blocking conifers is prone to terrible black ice, if there is not much of a view until you reach the top and even then it is behind you and often lost to the murk, if it doesn’t lend itself to grand photographic vistas for your bike blog, and if when you reach the top and the tarmac begins to fall rapidly away beneath you the wind is sometimes enough to bring you to a standstill despite the front end of the bike pointing decidedly downwards then you might have to think about it a wee while and struggle to avoid the ‘because it is there’ trap. You might then think though that perhaps the hillside woods in a mostly treefree Pennines give a slight whiff of something foresty and alpineish, the switchbacks near the top which lift you high above the treetops with not a little exhilaration after grinding through the rows of firs and pines with no visible sign of altitude give just a little feeling of climbing something higher and more frencher, and the imposing Loire chateau
some ten kilometres of fresh air directly behind you when you glance over your shoulder before heading down one of the best bits of downhillness (or uphillness
if you like that kind of thing) to be found for miles lets you imagine for a brief moment that the border you just crossed is just a teensy bit more international than the northern county one which actually lies at the top of this little windy bit of England.