I’ve been inspired by friends to make the most of cycling as a means of taking a break, rather than just a means of travel… or an end in itself. Adding a flask of coffee to my Carradice Barley and securing a travel rug to the back of the bike invites me to travel with the purpose of going somewhere to stop, not just going to lots of places without stopping.
As I live on the outskirts of Hull I’ve been able to enjoy trips over the Humber Bridge and recently travelled south to the Lincolnshire Coast, stopping in the sand dunes south of Cleethorpes. It was relaxing to just roll out the travel rug, and sit back among the tall grasses drinking hot coffee I’d brought with me.
On another occasion I rode east along the Humber estuary to the furthest reaches of the Yorkshire coast at Spurn Point. 20 years ago I rode a motorbike out here and the road was in better condition, now however the coast has been intentionally abandoned to the natural effects of the tide: Spurn Point migrates, and the lighthouse is now on the newest tidal island in the UK. During Spring and Autumn high tides, the old road and beaches are completely washed over. While tourists might lose out, the migrating birds have benefitted from this new isolation.
I’ve also enjoyed a journey up the coast of the East Riding of Yorkshire, finding all the roads and paths which go nowhere – which used to go to villages, ports and seaside resorts – but now simply fall into the sea. The results of a coastal policy which allows nature to take its course. There are winners and losers in this policy: I had a long chat with a gentleman whose home is now within 20 metres of the cliff edge. Despite this I still think it makes more sense to let the tide, sea and sand do what it needs to, rather than fight it along these long remote coasts. The human impact is the result of a policy of fighting the sea in the past.
Global warming brings a different challenge to humanity though, the threat of rising sea levels is more than just coastal erosion. Just search for photographs of Kiribati, or read this New York Times article, these islands are already being lost to the sea. I wonder when the rest of the world will listen – will it be too late? Does the sea have to be lapping at the doors of western Governments? Or will we only listen when we are paddling to the shops? A map at Spurn Point shows the projected impacts of rising sea-levels and global warming, with large areas of East Yorkshire projected to be reclaimed by the North Sea.
Cycling as a touring activity is so much more relaxing than any other form of cycling – there is no competition and there is no kudos. There is only you, your bicycle and the world at your wheels. In addition to the freedom of travel is the sense of connection with the world around you; the birds and roadside flowers and the feeling of the geography in your legs. May I heartily commend the joy of a Carradice, flask and travel rug.