We are showing you the UK version of our site: would you prefer a different location?
Photos & Words by Phil Gale
One step up from a dirt track, the country lane is the proving ground for many British cyclists. They are narrow, winding and often barely big enough for a car. As you pedal away from the grey of urban concrete, green fields and hills open around you. Looking over the countryside's patchwork quilt of rolling hills and shifting hues, textures undulate from field to field. And as you become more and more acquainted with the contours of the lanes, the drag of everyday life leaves you and the energy of the countryside invigorates both body and mind.
The small lines of these sacred lanes show up only on large-scale maps. Like capillaries, they deliver a rich lifeblood to the road cyclist, freeing them from the restriction of major roads, immersing them in nature. As singletrack is to the fat-tyre rider, so the lanes, with their meandering routes, feel like following the path of an ancient, drunken rambler. Twist after turn, they slowly reveal their intended direction. Riding them, you are focused, consumed in the moment, just you and your bike. The simplest pleasure.
Eyes focused, breathing rhythmic, at speed the lanes fly by: close hedges; the skeletons of trees; and the muddy banks which flank the road. The occasional low branch or startled animal are warnings that the lanes are the frontier between the civilised world and the wild.
The low sunlight flashes through the hedges as you ride. In a moment, the thick undergrowth gives way to panoramas of the surrounding countryside, then just as quickly closes back, small windows opening briefly on to the wider beauty of nature.
And, at the crossroads, the eternal question. The narrow unmarked lanes spread out, virgin roads with serpentine curves, full of energy on this frontier between humanity and the elements. But which way?
- Last Night: http://t.co/K8ZACmUGGK
- The #raphaprestige story is up. Film by @WEREHAUS, photos from Brian Vernor & story by @krasniakjulie ::http://t.co/YtCARBlXee
- Clancy takes the win in the Tour series in Aberystwyth.
- @alainrumpf sorry for late reply. Comprehensive site is http://t.co/gBvpR134lP. As Udo Bölts once said, 'quäl' dich, du Sau!' Enjoy!
- On Friday May 31st, Rapha will be hosting a ride from Rapperswil-Jona on the banks of Lake Zurich. More info to follow next week on rapha.cc
- Boss. Norwegian national champion's replica jersey and bib shorts now at rapha.cc. http://t.co/fpyjc3PeiM
- As the #Giro begins to climax, @herbiesykes looks at one of its long-established traditions—the one-stage wonder. → http://t.co/mydWSIHSrT
- @clotho_nor Hi Christopher, please email email@example.com and we’ll see what we can do. Thanks.
- The Tour Series continues tonight in Aberystwyth. Last year Kristian House took his second win of the series there.
- UK: We are hosting a @letapedutour evening on 14th June in London to provide detailed advice on what to expect. → http://t.co/2gP5KRi8fX