Three great reasons to cycle in England
1. Cycle To Work.
What better way to get to work than easing through the city rush hour traffic jams, calmly passing irate motorists stuck in their 4*4s?
Why pay £50 a month to be cooped up in a small sweaty gym next to wannabe Arnold Schwaneggers when you can be out in the great British weather, breathing in those healthy exhaust fumes, and dodging all those wayward car doors as you cycle to work?
Of course, commuting to work will mean at various times, you will get cut up by some white van driver, who will then proceed to shout and swear at you for having the audacity to being on the road. But, what better way of bringing to the fore our good English qualities of patience, tolerance and and reserve? Before you know it, you will be politely smiling at these white van drivers and considerately suggesting that passing with a 5cm gap at 50mph is a just a little bit on the reckless side.
Cycling to work can be a great way to make new friends, how many fellow motorists chat at traffic lights?
By the way, if anyone complains that you are turning up to work ‘a bit on the sweaty side’ – why not just reply with that smug, self-righteous satisfaction only bearded, lentil eating, Harriet Harmon voting cyclists, can muster - “well at least it’s not sweaty cyclists causing the collapse of the worlds ecosystem.” that will shut up them a bit – Of course, you could change and freshen up before starting work. But, why not spend all day reminding people that you are doing your bit for the environment?
It’s not all lycra you know.
What’s wrong with wearing sandals anyway?
BTW: growing a beard, wearing sandals, one piece lycra suits, eating lentils and voting for Harriet Harmon are purely optional extras of being a cyclist. There are even some cyclists who are considered to be cool, though I can’t say I know them personally.
All sorts cycle to work
2. Ride a Time Trial
Have you ever driven past lone cyclists racing up the A1 dual carriageway on a Sunday morning at 6am and thought – I wish I could be doing that? It’s easy to ride a time trial. All you need to do is spend £3,000 on a one piece aerodynamic carbon fibre bike, buy a figure hugging lycra skin suit, shave your legs, and of course don’t forget your pointy hat. That hat will definitely make you go alot faster and your non-cycling friends won’t start laughing at you when they see you wearing it.
Pointy hat. (spectators at time trials are a exceedingly rare I have to say)
The best thing about time trials is when you’ve finished. In fact, apart from getting to know some of England’s great roundabouts and dual carriageways, finishing is really the only good thing about a time trial because when your racing it’s just all about the pain in your legs, lungs, heart and that part of your anatomony which touches the 5 cm wide, 95 gram saddle.
But, when you’ve finished you can join the old men in the village hall with a cup of tea, piece of cake and share all your excuses for why you didn’t go faster (wind wrong direction, too many beers last night, too few beers, too early in the morning, too little traffic, haven’t done any training – delete as appropriate)
BTW: Time trialling is a very English tradition and arose because at the turn of the century, the rich motorists (boo, hiss) who drove around at 10mph were frightened by all those ‘reckless cycle racers’ So much so the rich, powerful, aristocratic motorists got cycle races banned. To get around this ban, we started races in secret; racing in all black, people people would set off at one minute intervals pretending to be out on ‘training ride’
If nothing else riding time trials gives you a good excuse to shave your legs (just in case you need one)
3. Cycling in the English Countryside.
Joking aside, cycling in the English countryside can be a real delight. Don’t let yourself get annoyed by road hogs, don’t worry about those tiresome show offs sprinting past on their carbon fibre bikes. Just go at your own pace and enjoy the beauty of the English countryside in all its variety and beauty.
Away from out major roads, there are some delightful country lanes where you can spend many hours cycling. You can even find roads where sheep are more common than cars. On a bike, you feel much closer to nature than behind a car window, but, with the flexibility of the bike you can see a lot more than just walking. True there are some fearsome hills in the English countryside, but, for every sharp incline there is a great descent. Just buy a bike with lots of gears and take your time getting to the top.
Fleet Moss, Hawes, Yorkshire. A fieresome climb, but views at top are great.
One of the best things about cycling in the countryside is the many teashops you can stop at along the way. Tea from a pot and toasted teacakes always taste much better in a cafe after cycling 20 or 30 miles.
Burnsall, Yorkshire Dales. Great countryside and great tea shop.
In England we are spoilt for choice. I have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time cycling in the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and the Cotswolds. From fearsomely beautiful peaks, to picturesque postcard villages, the English countryside has everything you could want. You will never tire of cycling round the English countryside. It’s not expensive, anyone can do it, and the scenery you can enjoy for free and as an added bonus you will get fit, lose some weight and live longer into the bargain. A great combination and a really great way to enjoy England.
See you out on your bike!
- Photos by Me
- Chef James Martin for some great stereotypes of cyclists which provided a springboard for my feeble attempts at humour.
- Oxford cyclists for showing a city can have 15-20% of journeys by bike, despite woeful provisions by the council.