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.
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.
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:
- A choice of 2-3 everyday routes.
- Longer rides (100km+) with a bit of climbing variation.
- 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?