Now I never thought that when this blog got up and running I’d be writing something about gates – I’m not sure whether it’s a good thing in that I feel free to write about whatever I like or it’s detailing my slow descent into madness. Either way I’ve become a bit fascinated by them. When I’m not pootling in and out to work then the Snail is to be found out on the bridleways of the Dales whenever possible. The dry stone walling that crisscrosses mile upon mile is almost like another wonder of the world to me, the scale of it is incredible. I’m not sure whether to be a dry stone waller is the most zen occupation in the world or one of staggering frustration but last time I was out riding I came across one fixing a section and stopped for a chat, he seemed pretty zen to me. As you can see from the photo above the walls often create beautiful natural channels for us on bikes to take advantage of but of course at either end there will be a gate separating the various sections, each one acting as a portal to the next piece of riding.
Now firstly they act as a good point to take on fluid, get breath back, check the map to see how lost we are, eat and chat a bit but I’ve found myself wondering as I approach the gate what it will be like as the variety is amazing. Some are new and securely fastened others creaking wonders that look as though they have been there since Heathcliffe was wandering the moors. There is then the issue of how they are fastened (if they are at all), some with a nail and a chain, some bits of string, others padlocked and of course my favourites are the ones you can operate one handed while the other wheels your bike through the gap and that self lock shut with a good push. There are also the lethal guillotine ones which we treat with the upmost respect after one slammed shut on PB which for a moment had me thinking we were going to be hunting for fingers.
They are a simple everyday item used by farmers to control livestock and access to their land but each one is slightly different to the last and I find myself drawn to this beautiful slice of mundanity. There are of course times when I’m cursing as the gate is locked shut or there is some other barrier that has long replaced the gate which then involves some hilarious scrambling of the Snail and Bike but I guess that’s something that you get used to if you ride off road and the bright side is it might help me get prepared for next seasons cyclocross.