Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Return from a spot of "Donkey Walloping"

As some of you will no doubt remember, besides appreciation of the fairer sex, my other passion is riding horses. You find me now at home after a rather wonderful period of several months helping out on a Wyoming Ranch, a new experience for me but one which I have very much enjoyed. That gentle readers is the reason for the lack of recent additions to this veritable velopeida!

While I appreciate that this blog should have nothing whatsoever to do with horses, I do think that there are some similarities between riding a nag over open country and pedalling oneself across the land. The speed of passing countryside, the ability to go off piste, and the fact that you are not nearly so channeled in the route to be taken on bicycle or horseback than you are when driving a motor car. HOWEVER, having tried a bit of cycling in Wyoming I have to say that I am beginning to doubt my own first principles on this subject!

For I venture to suggest that there is something about cycling in the countryside that is particularly suited to a European environment and certainly not to a North American one!....I cannot accurately put my finger on it other than to say there is something to do with the distances and vistas of the American West that is absolutely not conducive to the Bicycle. Having set off on one particular jaunt (utilising a 1950's clunker I found in an old sheep wagon and then repaired) I spied a rather wonderful distant rocky was 6 hours before I managed to even get within what I thought to be spitting distance of it...another three and I was still not actually at the bottom of the climb! Giving up and getting a lift back to the ranch in a passing pickup I began to muse upon why in Europe cycling seemed so much fun and in the USA, outside of a narrow number of bespoke locations, a mere drag. In the end it comes down to size (and who said size does not matter ladies?...for we all know it damn well does!).

The vastness of the USA, the huge distances between cities and geographical features militates against those great joys of European Cycling..."variation & proximity".....while the USA probably has the most varied terrain of any country on is the lack of proximity and variation within a geographical space that tends to drive the "homus-pedallous" to distraction.

Oddly enough such lack of variation on horseback plays better with the soul, I have yet to fathom why? 

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