The Joy Of Didcot

A good length English summer’s day ride with Jim and the talk included climbing Mont Ventoux (as he’s done, more than once) and the importance of being able to see what you’ve achieved when you’re cycling – where you’ve been – when the going’s hard.

Of course, nothing in southern England is on a par with the so-called Giant of Provence but the principle is the same. It doesn’t have to apply to just major climbs; climbing up on a lane through a beech wood, for example, as we were today, doesn’t give you any sense of how well you’re doing.

Whether you think it ugly or otherwise, Didcot power station looms large (and often quite unexpectedly) on most rides going immediately north of Reading. It may be in the distance, just poking over the horizon, or close-up and dominant. It serves the cyclist well as a kind of benchmark to measure progress against, in the same way as looking down from a mountain road might.

Didcot power station peeping through the trees

Didcot, sometimes unexpectedly appearing

It’s curious to think that I’ll miss it when it’s not there – but I think I will. It’s curious to have that thought, I guess, because disliking big and imposing man-made things is so ingrained in us.

I don’t know if those who are doing that ingraining are necessarily to be trusted; society, the media, the establishment … A lot of what’s taken for granted perhaps shouldn’t be.