Background - Tour displacement therapy - CycleBlaze


What's all this then?

The new year rolled around, the weather started to improve, and I began to feel less like hibernating inside and more like losing my winter sloth and getting back on the bike. I went on a few short rides, identified a few mechanical enhancements I wanted to make to the ride ... and even started dreaming of this years' tour. The south of France maybe - or perhaps I'd finally get over my phobia of putting the bike on a plane, and would head further afield. The Carpathians looked interesting, and  Ukraine isn't too hard to visit these days.

Well, cut forward a month, and any plans have been well and truly scrambled. The UK is suffering badly after what can only be described as our "slow start" in dealing with the pandemic. Hibernating inside is now the order of the day. There's no way to tell when borders will be re-opened - UK citizens are now formally barred from a large chunk of the world's - or indeed what the conditions will be like when they do. And obviously there's a serious ethical component in when it will be justifiable to start travelling around again for fun, even if I do habitually keep my distance from everyone else.

In the meantime, cycle rides for exercise are still permitted - and since I try to stick to the least traveled routes anyway and will spend most of the time closer to squirrels and deer, are low risk. To keep myself fit and sane, I've taken to short trips around what is sometimes loosely called the "three counties" of Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire around where I live. These are rolling, mostly rural counties north of London - they are generally prosperous and dotted with pretty villages, but there are some bigger towns and some surprisingly out-the-way places. I also go to Cambridgeshire (which is not rolling) and Northamptonshire (which is definitely more out-the-way). 

A feature in common is that all of them are riddled with "public rights of way" - paths, tracks and byways which allow anyone to cross private land. These are often ancient in provenance - think Roman roads - and are surprisingly staunchly protected in law. In practice this means you can explore big swathes of the country off-road (the only caveat being that  the quality of surface is not guaranteed). There are a few places in the world you can wander freely like this, but I don't know of any so densely populated as south-east England where this is the case. Anyway, it's a boon to the road-shy cyclist like myself, and will help me keep away from the plague on my trips out.

More of this, please
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So while I dream of more exotic destinations, prepare for some concentrated home-counties quaintness...

Lots of this sort of thing
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Scott AndersonLooking forward to it. We keep talking about putting Britain back in our planning book. This should give us a nudge.
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3 months ago
Jon AylingThanks Scott! Hopefully I can make these shorter rides interesting. There's lots of (sometimes quite weird) local charm that I regularly overlook, so this'll be a chance to give it some attention.
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3 months ago