Scratching an itch

You may be familiar with the situation where you have an idea but never get round to doing anything about it – well I had one of those ideas a while back and have finally got round to unleashing it on the outside world.

A little bit of history is in order…

I’m a pretty keen cyclist and, having previously completed the classic C2C route and a Devon South to North trip (well, almost), as well as organising several runnings of the now infamous “Cutty to Butty”™, I have recently been spending an unhealthy amount of time looking at maps, reading bikepacking posts and bike trip blogs – such as this one by Daniel Groves ,this one Japan by Bicycle  and this one from some rather nice young ladies  .

All of these have inspired me to embark on further adventures on my bike.

Whilst looking at the maps, and contemplating the predictability of the classic LEJOG (Hats off to those who complete it, though), I noticed that three of the towns on the map in front of me were towns whose names can be followed by “Shire” to form the name of a county. Then I started to wonder just how many of these (English) counties I had visited – it turned out to be all but one of them

Things progressed from there and I started to wonder about the county towns themselves, and the count dwindled somewhat, with 22 of the 47 having eluded me so far – so the idea of the CTN (County Town network) was born

In a nutshell, the aim CTN is to provide a the starting point for bike rides that will, hopefully, inspire people to get out on their bikes and explore a bit more of the countryside. When adding the extra criteria of having to arrive at a county town by bicycle, my tally drops to a rather dismal 1 out of 47 – not very good at all.

For me, the appeal of the CTN (if Sustrans can have a network, so can I) is that, unlike the classic LEJOG route, most people live within striking distance of the network, and could quite easily bag a few of their ‘local’ county towns. Due to the size of the network, it’s not really feasible to do the whole lot in one go, so it is best suited to short periods of exploring, allowing the participant to do as much or as little of the network as their ability or available time will allow.

I’m not promising that I’ll ever complete the challenge myself, but it’s given me a new focus, and I’ll certainly be eyeing up more bike trips whenever I travel to another part of the country.

So, get out your maps and get out on your bike – but pop over to the CTN website for a bit of guidance, first…

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