Exploring the mystery of the seven stanes
Back from riding in Dumfries with my friend Julie Cartner. She has worked for the Forestry Commision this past twelvemonth to promote the cycling opportunities to a wider audience (namely, families, women, not that highly visible minority that I call the Boy’s Club).
Each day Julie and her friends would lead me out into places with swoopy fun trails, and somehow each day was cool, dry and in some cases partially sunny; they all insisted that the Sun had stowed away in my luggage, because it’s rarely this dry and agreeable for so many days in a row.
All I know is: the 2008 version of the Scottish summer is so good, I’m seriously considering moving here…Partly because of the bike politics, and the power cyclists have within the social fabric. Is it just my luck, or is every other scot-on-a-bike an articulate advocate for going green (the real green, not the new marketing darling Faux Vert that claims that BMW has made a car perfect for heavy traffic…I mean, COME ON!)
BUT how I digress.
What strikes me as radical is the idea that Scotland has come to grips with the inevitability of the postmodern paperless society…and the state has made a thoughtfully conceived turn in the direction of bike tourism in tandem with woodlands management.
The project is called the 7Stanes (Stanes is old scots for stones)…mytho-fictive stones with carvings on them…in seven different areas (I have ridden Mabie and Glentress forest trails). A book is coming out that outlines the Mystery that binds them all together…
Enticing people outdoors to give cycling off road a go–even people that don’t identify as ‘athletes’–is already yielding such tangibles as greater physical health and happier people (few cyclists deny that riding helps keep them sane). Since the Scots have state-run health care, any outlays made in the direction of supporting, teaching, and advocating for offroad cycling as an ACTIVITY (as opposed to being an “EXTREME!” sport) will be repaid (or rather: cost less in the long run) ten fold.
This just my warped perspective: the Earth breathes a sigh of relief when humans climb aboard a bike because a) they are not in an Audi quattro or an SUV
b) they are not shopping
c) they are outside being the mammals, primates and sometimes even the exalted manifestations of pure Joy (go ahead, turn the page) that the cosmos intended us to be.