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Cats and Twittens

VecchioJo sneaks around the hidden corners of town.


twitten n. Sussex dialect - a narrow path or passage between two walls or hedges. (see also - jennel, gennel, ginnel, twichell, entry, jigger, snicket, jetty, gitties, gulley, chare, ope, shut, cutting and snickelway in other parts of England)

Born from a need of something quick to do when time might be tight but really mostly for the Winter months when enthusiasm for yet another cold wet drudgery ride might be a little short. Something that might be fun, but in a usefully painful way. A route for the cyclo-cross bike that takes in all the alleyways, scruffy tarmac, lanes, steps up, steps down, pathways, parks and cut-throughs in the neighbourhood, with as little time as possible wasted on actual roads.

Peering into the folds of maps, zooming in on Google Earth, a large dose of local knowledge and a fair amount of snooping around parts of town that I thought I knew but still discovered giggly plenty conspired to convolutedly link together all the bits of path and park to finish up with a loop that’s a good 25 miles long, but thanks to it’s drunk spider nature never more than 5 miles away from home, so if things get a bit cold and nasty it’s a quick escape. And as a happy circumstance of the lie of the hills around here the route is an extended intervals session, surprisingly hard work if ridden with feeling and all the steps are run up till the knees buckle.

Even in the middle of the day riding the underpasses and alleys is a secret experience. Pedaling down the forgotten space between things, the gaps in houses, the ribbons through islands of woods used by dog-walkers and schoolboy drinkers, short-cuts the preserve of cats and lost shopping trolleys, past tatty allotments, dodging collapsed fence-panels, fag-packets and the lazy discard of modern life. Ancient ways through town fallen into disuse, all left forgotten as people rush busy down fatter arteries. At night it’s an even more furtive experience, racing through the unlit unsafe labyrinth to pop out into the real world for a brief noisy bright moment before sneaking back into the thin dark unsavoury shadows of back passages.

The record is 14 startled cats.

Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.

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