Spring is the time to explore Wales and the West Country - regions that are especially beautiful when explored by bike, says cyclist and author Jack Thurston
"There was a time when I would cycle to Cornwall every summer from my home in London, to join friends in a holiday cottage on the beach. Each year I took a slightly different route, staying overnight with people I knew along the way, or just sleeping out in the open. It usually took me four full days. By train it’s just a few hours. My average speed on those summer rides was about 12 miles an hour, which sounds slow but by historical standards, the bicycle is actually pretty quick. It’s four times walking pace and double the speed of a horse-drawn carriage.
"The bicycle, and only the bicycle, combines speed, efficiency and freedom with a total immersion in the world around us. Riding through the sun, the wind and the rain, every sight, sound and smell is as vivid and immediate as it can be. Cyclists experience the landscape with a detail and definition that is just a blur when travelling by car or train. As Ernest Hemingway puts it, “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.”
Jack Thurston is author of Lost Lanes West and Lost Lanes Wales (Wild Things Publishing)
Turn to page 79 of May's The Simple Things for more of Jack's springtime cycling advice.