i didn’t start riding seriously until i was about 17, well i say seriously it was serious enough to be half arsed at ametuer racing. at some point between then and now, that i can’t quite place, i started viewing every road from a cycling point of view.
Anytime i’m not on a bike there is a sense of longing to be on the bike and enjoying the joy that any particular stretch of tarmac had to offer.
I’m hoping a lot of cyclists do this, as they drive up, down and round this country and other counties, look at glorious pictures in magazines they imagine themselves cruising up or down them on two wheels.
Lacets are probably the best example of this, whether you are going up or downhill, hairpins are the best road cycling the mountains has to offer
I remember one Skiing holiday boring my travelling party with tales of Alpe D’huez,as the coach took us up the 21 hairpins of the snowy climb. To be fair to them not sharing the same passion for cycling me wittering on about how hot my rims had gotten braking late into corners that i popped my tyre off is probably the height of tedium, i’ve avoid asking other cyclists if that applies to them as well.
But its hard not to reminisce about the excitement of an awesome stage of a bike race.
While being able to tie iconic climbs or roads to some unique tale of cycling might keep fellow cyclists interested (maybe) taking a ride down memory lane of your own childhood is probably only interesting to yourself. For me the bike offers a unique experience when riding solo and disengage the brain a little bit and to ride round an area that i’ve spent a lot of time in to bring back some happy memories.
For nigh on 10 years my family camped in the south of Devon, tucked away in the peninsular town of Salcombe. A beautiful town sat at the mouth of an estuary surrounded by the rolling hills typical of Devon…the terrain being either up or down with very little flat at the top or the bottom.
As the roads were quiet and very narrow driving a car was impractical at times and my dad being an ex scout master, on foot was the primary means of travel. Now i am sure that for most of the walks to and from the campsite and in and around Salcombe i was not silent about the amount of walking we were doing. The tactic was to mollify me slightly with supplies of clotted cream fudge or coconut ice rationed out suitably like a proverbial carrot in front of a donkey.
The joy of entering this shop is almost indescribable, in the same way Vega casinos pump higher quality air around to keep people awake, i’d swear sugar vapour is floating around this sweet shop as you are presented with more fudge than you could possibly eat.
On some level i do remember that the walk to and from the campsite and the rest of Salcombe were not what you might call flat but i am not sure i ever really realised quite how brutally hilly they were. I certainly didn’t accurately remember how narrow and twisty they were.
Riding alongside Batson creek probably has a different appeal to walking along side it, The flat quiet road is crying out for a full on sprint along it round some gentle curves in the road, if only to enjoy some speed before you are well and truly reminded that Devon is not flat and any speed you may have is gone in a heartbeat.
As i struggled up this little beauty i figured out why i hadn’t quite remembered it being so steep or narrow . As i got to the top and it flattened out slightly a flush of memories came back, this was usually the point at which the pink and white sweet bag rustled and my parents would offer the reward as we were probably halfway back to the campsite. It was also a stretch of road where i remember signing Ging Gang Goolie while glow worms fluttered around us on the warm summer night.
If i had brought a mountain bike with me i’m sure i could probably find the long cliff top path between two places called Bolt Head and Bolt Tail but mostly in the hope of finding a different sweet shop that sold some very fine Turkish Delight.
If anyone was wondering where i got my sweet tooth from it was probably childhood holiday in devon…thankfully i am riding a bike so i can afford to indulge in a few delicious calories