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4 June 2015 No comments

Britain Is Brilliant!

Correspondence Friends Bicycles Monthly highlights Travel & Adventure Cycling Stories
By Juliet Elliott
Britain Is Brilliant!
I love to explore and the pace of cycling makes it ideal for those seeking pleasure from their region. As I see it, walking is too slow, running doesn’t take you far enough and cars are too fast and too far removed. My exploring has taken me far and wide and a thirst for travel coupled with some international work and sponsorship contracts mean that I’ve seen many amazing places and based myself in numerous countries for varying amounts of time. But travel hasn’t made me relish the exotic and dismiss our own fair land - far from it. Now that I see the country though the eyes of a cyclist, I’ve developed a real love for Britain that I maybe didn’t have before. Put simply, our verdant isles are absolutely perfect for cycling. Whilst you may grumble about the rain, actually the climate is not far from ideal; our summers aren’t so scorching that you’re gasping and dripping in sweat and our winters are pretty mild in the grand scheme of things. And being a small island the countryside is never far out of reach, you’re never further than 60km from a beach and there’s sure to be a local cycling club or scene you can join. There’s something for every cyclist – bike polo, velodromes, racing, BMX tracks, cyclocross, excellent mountain biking, we’ve got it all. And the terrain is as varied as the two-wheeled opportunities. As for climbs, well the UK might not be filled with mountains that compete with the alps, but we’ve hills that are every bit as damaging to the legs. In Europe you might grind your way up a killer climb for a couple of hours, but once you summit it’s downhill all the way back. But it’s different over here - more up, down, up down, up, up, down. Devon and Dartmoor in particular are relentless in their brutality – go riding there and you won’t stop climbing up hills all day long - it’s both hellish and brilliant. I’ve wasted too much time trying to convince my European friends that riding here kicks your ass – my opinion is based on living and riding in both places. So whenever I get the chance, I treat home like a holiday and go riding with a different mindset to my usual one. I’ll cancel everything I’m doing and go riding with no time limit for a change, or book a day off work for a holiday at home. I do find it odd that the minute people have a holiday they bugger off some place else; why are they so desperate to leave, is it really that crap? I never have enough time to do the things I want to do near home, so time to enjoy them is a gift. I've still not even camped out on Dartmoor, ridden the Devon Coast to Coast, the list is endless. So I’ll track down a route I’ve never done before, through word of mouth, guidebook, map or Strava. Or every time I usually turn left, I might turn right instead. Sometimes I’ll pretend that I’ve only a week to do all the routes I want to do in my locale and visit all the places I’ve been meaning to go, and I’ll tick off my local bucket list like I’m never coming back. Maybe I’ll stop for an ice cream by the beach or enjoy a nice cup of tea - espressos are too damn small anyway, so the UK definitely wins on that one! So whilst I’m guilty of getting slightly envious when I see people whizzing around Mallorca in spring, and hell yeah I'll be travelling abroad again, damn we’ve got it good here. So how about a little love for the UK? If you’ve spent all winter grumbling about the weather and longing for summer – well it’s here now, so make the most of it. Don’t go buggering off abroad when you’ve been waiting for this all year, have a holiday at home and enjoy yourself without even going anywhere. By Juliet Elliott. Photos by Dave Noakes