Off-Road Trophies

A good off-road ride with Charli, down lanes and tracks in South Oxon and Berkshire. It’s quite odd to realize that those lanes and tracks are often genuinely ancient; that they’ve been wending their way – sometimes more important, sometimes less – for centuries. It’s probably healthy to realize that they’ve been there long before me and will be there long after me – it’s easy to get too self-important.

Of course, as you’d expect for July, pretty well every plant there is has been growing vigorously of late, so most of the bridle paths and tracks are overgrown, not least with nettles and brambles. Add bare arms and legs to the mix and my, what a fun time there is to be had.

I’ve long believed that for many if not all regions of the UK there is no perfect time to ride off-road: the choice is between getting stung and scratched or getting bogged down in thick mud. But so it goes – neither option is a reason not to go out cycling and there’s something quietly pleasing about some (minor) trophies from a ride: scratched forearms from dense thickets defied; a mud-caked face from quagmires braved.