As the sun begins to rise over the dome of St.Paul’s cathedral, and the skyscrapers of London’s Square Mile beyond it, we know we’re going to be in for a memorable ride. The air has lost the last of its winter chill, and the warm hues painted across the sky above us are welcome sign of spring. With a route sketched out on a GPS, and a destination at the end of it holding no more detail in our minds than a view of the sea, and a bag of chips, we pedal south off of the bridge and begin to make our way out of the city.
The skyscrapers of The City appear intermittently on the horizon behind us, receding in size and significance as we make our way out of town. An obligatory coffee stop helps to rid our legs of any drowsiness that the sunrise didn’t quite manage to expel, and the sight of other riders making the most of the weather is an encouraging sign that while we are on our own mission to the coast, there is an infinite number of possibilities out there. There is so much that is worth riding to.
Too often as cyclists, we’re guilty of measuring our rides in some way; whether in distance, difficulty, speed, or else. This ride, however, is about celebrating the achievement of simply being on a bike, and enjoying the ride for the sake of it. As we negotiate the lanes, heading ever-further south towards the coast, that realisation only serves to heighten our enjoyment.
The final climb of the day is nothing short of spectacular. The sun has long begun its descent to the horizon, and lights up our backs with an irresistibly warm glow. Golden fields spread out in every direction, enveloping the road as it snakes between them, and despite our fatigue, the sense of moment is enough to make our wheels feel as if they’re gliding over the asphalt.
Finally, after 140km, and a tour through some of the best riding that South East England has to offer, we arrive at our destination. And while it may not be the most glamorous, remote, or exotic place in the world, for us, it’s perfect.
Sat on the beach – the end of the land – with nothing but a full view of the sea in front, felt like it had given the ride some sort of closure; it told us that we could ride no further. But equally, it evoked a sense of adventure, reminding us that beyond the horizon, there was a whole world waiting to be explored.
If it hadn’t been for the ride before it, and the time taken to enjoy a peaceful meal next to the lapping waves, perhaps we would never have benefited from that moment of inspiration. Perhaps we would never have realised that even the smallest things can be worth riding to.