Like most avid cyclists in the UK, I take my regular permited dose of exercise most days, taking advantage of the fine Easter weather, and going for a circular ride from my home, never straying more than about 10 miles (16km) from my house. And there is a growing number of people doing the same, both old-time roadies and newbies alike, enjoying the relative quiet of the traffic-free roads, and the burgeoning wildlife all around us.
In my ‘off-duty’ moments (and there are many of them during this lockdown period), I frequently gaze out of our front window at the two wild cherry trees just coming into flower, and I am reminded of the day I arrived back from Japan in 2015, having completed the end-to-end of the country, and enjoyed several days following the famous ‘sakura’ (the cherry blossom season) from south to north.
I remember thinking then, as I gazed on the riotous blossom of our own cherry trees in mid-April of 2015 on my return from Japan, that I actually had a mini-Japanese ‘sakura’ on my own doorstep, but like a lot of travel-addicted romantics, I had to go chasing it on
the other side of the globe.
Now, with long-distance travel curtailed for an indefinite period of time, when travel romantics like me will find it hard to justify most forms of recreational travel that include long-haul flights to far-off destinations, when all the while, if we could just change the way we think about our more local destinations and try hard to look for ‘the extraordinary in the commonplace’ and the ‘diamonds in our own backyards’.
As I continue to struggle to develop this attitude of mind, I think of my not-so-distant ancestors, most of them living in Ireland, who were so poor and limited in their resources, they would seldom have strayed more than 5 miles from their homes, and then only to go to the local markets and cattle auctions. If you are a cyclist like me, are you going to allow yourself to be locked into frantic spinning sessions on Zwift or Peloton inside your garage or conservatory, or are you going to get out into the wide-and-wonderful, breathe in lungsful of scented spring air, and find your challenges in the local hills and your thrills on the inevitable descents?
Think about it.