Ragtime Cyclist column

Cyclists take advantage of the good weather.
Cyclists take advantage of the good weather.
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As we all know, Lancaster has got a genuine cycling community. We’ve got the great roads, for starters, but also a couple of good bike shops, three or four thriving cycling clubs, a handful of semi-famous riders in the area, and a general (though not universal) feeling of cycling goodwill.

But when you’ve got a community, you also get gossip, tittle tattle, anecdotes and rumours.

Most of which passes straight over my head, except – and I’m careful who I trust when it comes to this subject – when word gets around that one of our many rutted and pot-holed road surfaces has been re-laid with a wonderful, black, shiny ribbon of silk.

Sorry, I mean tarmac.

Got carried away there for a minute.

Often the rumours promise much but deliver little.

You’ll hear unverified tales that one of our local roads has been resurfaced from end to end, only to arrive at said road to find that some of the worst bits have been beautifully resurfaced but they’ve left long stretches inbetween.

This creates a patchwork effect of lumps, bumps, pot-holes, and short bursts of perfection.

Somehow, by doing it this way, the beautifully smooth new bits only accentuate the nerve jangling unevenness of the bits inbetween.

On the basis that a stretch of pristine tarmac a few hundred yards in length is the best it’s going to get, it’s always better to stumble across these unknown pleasures without warning, which makes 300 yards of cycling heaven a joyful bonus.

A couple of years back a friend and I were the first cyclists ever to ride upon one particular stretch on the outskirts of Scorton village. We know that for a fact; as we stopped at the ‘road closed’ signs the site foreman was just in the process of checking that the pristine new surface had set sufficiently hard. He then removed the cones, dismantled the temporary traffic lights, and waved us through: “on your way lads, we’re all done here now.”

What an honour.

Of course it was tempting to have a plaque put up by the roadside to commemorate the moment, but we decided that might be a bit over the top. It’s enough to know that we christened that stretch of virgin tarmac in the name of cyclists everywhere.