In the absence of proper infrastructure or access rights, UK cyclists who prefer to avoid traffic have to get creative with their route planning. Some of my favourite rides make use of canal towpaths – off-road arteries that can take you some seriously long distances and right into the centre of busy towns and cities by the back door.
As we pedalled along the white gravel towpath we couldn’t believe our luck. It was only Easter but the temperature was nudging 20°C in an unseasonal warm spell. Early in the year, and with local schools not yet on holiday, we had the path almost to ourselves.
“I’ll meet you there,” I said to my family as they headed off to the station. It was the first leg of our holiday in Scotland and they were catching the train out of Glasgow to the Falkirk Wheel. I was keen to do some cycling, so I planned to grab a bike from the city’s Nextbike bike-sharing scheme and ride along the canal to Falkirk.
Corum said he had wondered whether to bother opening his shop that morning; it was still term time in Wales and distinctly off-season for surfing and cycling in Porthcawl. Luckily for us, he had decided to show up.