WHILE STILL A squirt, and a year or two before I started going to primary school, I often stood beside next-of-kin and others at the Caledonian Ground in Dunedin, beside adults who were shouting, ‘Go, Alf!’, or ‘Go, Alan!’ Both Alf and Alan were prominent top-class cyclists. They were my first sporting heroes, and watching them, being around them, excited my love and fascination for cycling.
So my desire to explore highways, byways and tracks and to head down roads not taken or less travelled goes back a long way now. A desire to follow tracks and roads zigging and zagging up and down hills, diving into valleys and disappearing in the far blue yonder was an irresistible part of what drove and has driven me for more than fifty years. And it’s why I went mountaineering and fishing, and why I still ride a bike, am entranced, often, by the highways unreeling before me. Moving, and moved, I’m often mulling a little over what’s behind and what may be in store. Cyclists know that out there there’s a lot more to see than many of us ever realise, will ever notice, and there’s a special pleasure in getting there using your unique, one and only engine made up of heart, lungs, sinew, muscle and bone. And when you come home, and people ask you where you’ve been, and you tell them, sometimes they’re disbelieving. Especially if they’re mainly, if not solely, accustomed to sitting in a metal carapace, the air-conditioning on, speeding along on four thrumming fat tyres.
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