The roads that we ride everyday become part of us. Their curves, bumps, twists, turns, ups and downs, potholes and race track smooth sections of tarmac become ingrained into our souls, practically becoming an extension of us, or at least as well known as the back of our hands. Watching the seasons change as we ride through the year, the leafless trees of winter allowing us to see more, whilst the green blossoming of spring and summer give the nature we ride through life and vitality. This evolution over the year is something that only those out in all seasons can experience.
Sometimes it is easy to get blasé about where we ride. These roads become the norm, riding them so often we risk switching off our minds to their beauty. Our daily rides turn into the daily grind as other areas of our lives encroach into this moment of freedom. As we pedal our minds are consumed by stress, the next deadline or an upcoming project, causing us to become blinkered to the world around us.
All it sometimes takes is a change in season, perhaps even simply altering the time of day that we ride, or even a change of direction, and our eyes can once again be reopened to the scenery that we travel through on two wheels.
Juliet Elliot has seen a lot of changes recently. After giving up the confining concrete of London to move to the scenic southwest of the UK, to the county of Devon, she then headed to Northern Italy and had the luxury of riding in the Alps on a daily basis for the entirety of the summer. But it was the lanes, rolling hills, heavy roads and less-than-perfect weather conditions that were in her heart, and so she relented, swapping Italy once more for Devon.
On a recent trip to visit her, we soon understood why. With quiet roads, wild, luscious landscapes sculpted by the sea, tough hills similar to those seen in the classics and ever-changing light, it was easy to fall in love with this area of the UK. Wind-swept trees stood beside the road as the hail beat down, bouncing off the road, and only moments earlier we’d shielded our eyes as strong beams of sunlight cut through the grey clouds of winter. Her unwavering energy and passion for this countryside was echoed and shared by our own, but we were seeing it for the first time.
So where do you ride? It is a question that we are often asked and our reply is: anywhere we can. The streets of London as the sun rises, when the city is still asleep, have a quality that can rival the beauty of the highest mountain passes in Ticino or Northern Italy, and so too can the dramatic, rolling countryside of the UK’s southwest coastline. Ultimately, it does not matter where you ride; what counts is the escape, the freedom of the two wheels and the release from reality. Keep your eyes alert and your gaze open, because beauty and freedom are only ever just a turn of the pedals away, we just have to be able to see it.
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