Great things are afoot in the cycling world. Scotty has been more than ably commenting on it on The Velocast Journal (still feels weird seeing content from Velocast without an [S] or [J] involved). However, whilst the great and the good get on with the business of Professional Cycling I’m going to talk about matters closer to home. Demographically as much as Geographically.
I’m lucky enough to live in Peebles, the jewel in the crown of The 7 Stanes. Home of world class mountain biking trails and gateway to road routes that are as good as anything available in the UK. A cyclist’s paradise.
A honeypot. A flytrap. If it’s on two wheels and self powered it’ll make it’s way to Peebles.
“Aye, there’s the rub”
I started in bicycle retail at a time when if you were engaged enough to visit a shop like The Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative as it was in then, as opposed to the hugely successful retail behemoth it is now, then I’d give you the benefit of the doubt. I am notably intolerant (ask Scotty) but if you walked through those doors I had something in common with you. We were cyclists. Simplistic? Yes but generally true.
Mountain biker? Trailblazer and cyclist, often a mountaineer or hillwalker as well.
These groups weren’t mutually exclusive, usually any given customer spanned two or three of these facets of enjoying the bike.
However at some point mountain biking moved from a thing cyclists did to an “extreme” sport/pastime. I know this is a sweeping generalization and that most of the folk who are taking the trouble to read this grumpy old man rant are folk I would have enjoyed having as customers back in the day but the shift happened.
Let’s take a wee trip back in time.
The approach to the outdoors drummed into me as a young ‘un can be neatly encapsulated in the phrase “Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints” (may be a Steppenwolf lyric)
Backpacking? If you carry it in then carry it out. Leave no avoidable trace.
Climbing? Same deal.
So, why am I angry today? Well it’s been a week of disappointment for me. As my two collies and I wander the hills around Peebles we cover every kind of terrain from remote, narrow trails through unfrequented forests to the cycling skateparks of The 7 Stanes. Here’s this week’s observations.
Monday: Glentress. Came back from a two hour walk with a rucsac full of discarded juice bottles, crisp bags, discarded energy gels………..
Tuesday: Plora. Two discarded inner tubes. Damn tasty for a deer I’d think.
Wednesday: Harehope. A good day, only rubbish I saw was a discarded condom wrapper. Kudos for some obscure outdoor nookie! ;o)
Thurday: Nether Stewarton forest. Delicate bog plants ripped apart by mountain bike tyre tracks, damage to small paths caused by resultant tyre rut drainage channels.
Friday: Glentress again, more litter.
Today: Saw a road cyclist run onto the verge by a car carrying a Giant XTC and an Anthem. Saw a Peebles town centre road blocked by a Golf with three hardcore bikes on the rack. The occupants had gone for chips. Last year I mentioned on the Velocast how, whilst out on the road bike, I’d been given the finger and run off the road by a car which had a Commencal and a Santa Cruz on the back.
Bottom line? We’re a community here and you no doubt share my disgust but for the normal man in the street? These folk are “cyclists” and damage the land, litter and generally behave like dicks and we’re all tarred with the same brush. These arseholes affect us all and the bicycle advocates can have all of the “interesting debates” they want amongst themselves but it wont make a jot of difference to how we’re treated.
A Velocast title from last year. “The Battle is Lost in Britain”