Location, location, location… by ChrisO


Over Christmas I was lucky enough to get away with my family for a week in a remote part of Scotland, along the west coast on the Cowal Peninsula.

I didn’t cycle once.

Well stop wasting our time ChrisO, I hear you say…  but bear with me and I’ll explain where I’m headed.

It was a breathtaking place. Our rented house sat on the shores of the Kyles of Bute, the sea channel looking across to the island of Bute. I could happily wake up and look at that view every morning for the rest of my life.

Just another perfect sunrise


The ‘village’ nearby was six houses and a pub with a shop open two hours a day, and the nearest town was 25km away via a narrow single-track winding road.

An idyllic retreat and as we’re thinking of moving next year our thoughts turned to the possibility of saving a shedload of money and going to some beautiful part of Scotland. I’m self-employed working mainly with foreign customers so as long as I can use the internet and get to an airport I can work anywhere.

Now of course there are multiple issues with moving – family, money, schools, facilities etc. But as much as I loved this place I reluctantly had to say to my wife that I couldn’t live there because of the cycling.

I’ve cycled in many places around the world and overcome heat, rain, traffic, bad roads and the rest, so I used to think I could make the most of wherever I was. But I’m sorry to say this beautiful place would defeat me.

The first problem was that there was literally one road in and out. Forgetting snow and ice (there’s always Zwift) you’d be doing the same route every day… or driving somewhere to ride, which has always seemed wrong to me. Even further afield there wasn’t a wide choice of roads. In Surrey or Kent there are half a dozen different ways along little country lanes to get to any destination. I don’t demand spectacular scenery but a bit of variation is nice.

Great for dogs, not so great for cyclists

The second issue is that cycling is probably my main social activity.  Other than family most of the people I speak to face-to-face are my cycling friends (I even have real ones, not just you imaginary lot). I’ve written before about how much I love the community of cycling, being able to pitch up anywhere in the world and join a group.

If I had to write down my Cycling Essentials it would be:

  1. A choice of 2-3 everyday routes.
  2. Longer rides (100km+) with a bit of climbing variation.
  3. A cycling scene – I could even live without racing but something from a small group to a choice of clubs.

It doesn’t rule out Scotland of course but it does impose certain practical limits.

So, Riveteurs… I’m taking it as read that everyone would make cycling part of their relocation requirements but does your list tally with mine? What bits could you not live without?

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January 15, 2019 11:42 am

Great article Chris, the West Coast of Scotland is stunning, but certainly in my list of ‘love it there but couldn’t live there’ places. One of the reasons I really like where I live (Cardiff, South Wales) is the extraordinary variety of different roads and routes near me. I live in the city but can be out into country lines in less than 10 minutes, and it’s quite easy to do a ride with a quite serious amount of climbing (Rhigos, Bwlch, Llangynydir, The Tumble) starting at my front door. I’ve given some serious thought to moving to Norway though… Read more »

January 16, 2019 9:42 am
Reply to  ChrisO

Kilometres 60 to 105 look a lot of fun…

January 16, 2019 11:32 am
Reply to  RobSandy

On the other hand you’ve broken the back of it at 105 Km – assuming it has not broken you by then…….

January 16, 2019 9:57 am
Reply to  ChrisO

Long reply alert….long reply alert… I’ve only been to Norway twice but both times I really haven’t wanted to leave. I’ve spent time in lots of other amazing places in the world, France, Spain, Alps, Pyrenees, New Zealand, Middle East etc etc, but Norway is the only place I’ve really felt ‘I belong here’. It’s a bizarre feeling. I’ve often wondered if it’s something genetic – my family is from the North East of England, my surname is Sanderson and we have a prevalence of fair hair and blue eyes… If I did go it’d definitely be to Oslo. We… Read more »

January 16, 2019 10:11 am
Reply to  ChrisO

We are also looking to Wales either just west of Swansea or North West somewhere around Conwy or a bit west of there. Planning a trip up there after Strade Bianche. Ideally we want to be in walking distance to the coast.

Planning to have a trip back to Tenby sometime too – so that Pembroke ride may happen this year. Maybe.

January 8, 2019 4:15 pm

I agree. We are also looking to move and be nearer the coast. Found a few likely places and then when I look at the map of the area there is only one way in/out for quite a few KM vs here where I can go out on nearly every point of the compass. Went to see a place in Devon a few weeks back. Great house with a “wing” that would have been a great bike cave with an en-suite but down a tiny lane for quite a way and cycling would have been in a lot of sunken… Read more »

January 8, 2019 5:11 pm
Reply to  Teocalli

Not forgetting the Guest Wing for visitors…………….