Whether it’s down to Olympic success for Team GB, the Tour de France arriving in Yorkshire or the enthusiasm for a more healthy and active lifestyle, there’s no doubt that cycling is on the up. Indeed cyclists are regularly to be seen on the B roads and country lanes around St Mary’s Inn, especially in the warmer months. It wasn’t always so. This writer can remember a time when cycling in the region was limited to child’s play, a means to commute to and from work or else the hobby of a small albeit fanatical minority.
In my youth, racing bikes weren’t a common sight and I remember vividly the excitement when my father brought one home for me which he’d bought from a semi-professional who happened to be his work colleague. I proudly cycled once around the block and left the sleek black machine at the back door to find that when I had finished my tea and returned outside the bike had gone – never to be seen again. I was the proud owner for no more than an hour. This early lesson in the consequences of naivety was only made palatable by my father’s restraint in his reaction to the stupidity of his son. I can also remember a visit to Hull in my teens where the sight of thousands of cyclists of all ages made a great and lasting impression – this mass phenomenon was witnessed by me and my friends from the Northeast with a mixture of mirth and astonishment – it was quite simply beyond our prior experience. My fondest memory of childhood cycling relates to a day long journey from the coast to Barnard Castle and back but this tale must remain untold at the request of my long-suffering colleagues.
We’re thinking hard about how we might make St Mary’s Inn cycle-friendly including providing on- site parking facilities, making small tools and repair kits available and offering drinks and snacks in the morning alongside breakfast. We’re even thinking about the idea of a cycling club although exactly what form it might take we’re not yet sure. What is sure is that we’re looking to connect into the network of cycle routes throughout the region which takes in the C2C and other Sustrans routes. Who knows, if Northumberland can emulate the success of Yorkshire then maybe we can look forward to a stage of the Tour de France and the temporary renaming of our pub – Auberge Sainte-Marie!HADRIAN’S WALL Ted’s Tails from St Mary’s Inn