As I was climbing one of the local hills in bright sunshine, the azure blue sky in the background I got to thinking about how great it is to ride around here. I’m not a native (came here courtesy of Her Majesty – no not at her pleasure…) some 28 years ago from the big smoke and haven’t ridden a bike, apart from a brief Boris bike excursion around Hyde Park, in London for the same length of time. I have it on good authority that places like Boxhill are so busy with cyclists that it isn’t unusual to see hundreds of lycra clad worthies struggling to the summit and that to get a good clean run at it you need to get up at 5.00am, which got me thinking while I was struggling up the Col de Newmachar. Having just ridden the best part of 40 miles, I saw one other cyclist and if I had chosen my route a little more carefully, it would only be a handful of cars that squeezed past me on the narrow shire lanes.
So why don’t we see more cyclists out enjoying this peaceful cycling haven? I mean, we have climbs, alpine descents, coastal routes, you name it. We even have a pretty dry East coast climate. I think there are a couple of elephants in the room though. First is the temperature. On an average day we seem to be a good few degrees behind most of the country, a trip 60 miles to the West into beautiful malt whiskey country confirms this as soon as you step out of the car. The other trunked mammal is perception. The number of folk who respond with “I wouldn’t cycle here, it’s way too dangerous” when you tell them of your exploits. This is a real shame as generally, this is a pretty safe place to ride with a few exceptions. The roads are narrow with a lot of blind bends making them ideal for those frustrated rally drivers. People have a high standard of living (the highest disposable income in the UK) and tend to buy powerful cars and Chelsea tractors to take their little darlings to the school a mile down the road because, let’s not forget, it is too risky to let them cycle because of the fast, big cars flyin’ round our roads. We can’t change the weather, although most of us are doing our bit by working in the fossil fuel industry, but hopefully we can change peoples’ perception. It may not be warm in here, but we need more people to jump on in.
Aberdeenshire, home of the pro teams’ training camps – it’s gonna happen when we warm up….