On the fourth day, I battled up the North York Moors, down the other side, crossed the Tees and made it into County Durham. But what to write a blog about? I could write of the climbs, the sweat, the descents followed by rapid turn on gravel with an immediate ascent again, or about the sunbathing and peaceful meandering on the top. Or about what’s good to eat in this part of the world (and they do seem to know food in a very nice knowing way). Or there is the magical little bridge at Dinsdale where you can secretly cross the Tees, like some escaping convict, stealthily avoiding the regular rampaging roads. But I won’t, I will tell you about the old man of the road, the old salt.
So I’ve descended from the moors, eaten at Osmotherley and am ambling North along a single track road to a hoped for quiet bridge over the Tees when I turn a corner and find an old man pushing his bike. He hails me and we set to chatting. It transpires, he is 77 years old, joined the CTC (cyclist touring club) in 1954, has ridden all the rides across the British Isles and many over Europe, recommends North West Caithness over North East Caithness, and is still going cycling. There is one thing I respect in a person and that’s them riding a bike. About everybody can ride a bike, but to go out and tackle the route and the traffic gets my respect. Things happen when you ride a bicycle: you startle a horse, get bitten by a dog, slip and crash on gravel and these things teach.
This fella has them all licked. I can see from his eyes he has seen many a thing, has had many an encounter, and is still open to making new cycling friends: such as me. These days he can’t cycle much of a distance, so he puts his bike in his car and sets off from home (in Wakefield, that underrated West Yorkshire town) and goes to a small region to explore the quiet little lanes, cafes, churches for the day. He doesn’t have lycra or a helmut or a modern bike but he does have experience and friendship. We agree to not exchange names, but with a little smile, we know we now are.
Au revoir old man, you old salt of the road.
(Cyclists note: I highly recommend Helmsley to Osmotherley, can’t remember better, many steep climbs but not too long. Expect low mph. Traffic very light)
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Categories: Cycling around renewables