Sunday, February 5, 2012

Gutter trash!

Cycling, however quickly one goes is still slow enough progress that one notices the surroundings - the scenery, the wildlife (either seen or heard), people, both walkers and other cyclists and sadly lots of rubbish in the verges and gutters at the side of the road.

It strikes me that this is a symptom of a civilised society with Big Government. Over the years as a driver and a tax payer I have noticed that there are certain people who seem to believe that they have a god-given right to throw their rubbish out of the window of their car whilst hurtling along without a care in the world. This rubbish usually takes the form of empty bottles, coffee cups and food containers from fast food outlets and something I find disgusting in the extreme - plastic bottles filled with urine, tossed carelessly from van windows by lazy, feckless yobs who can't be bothered to stop and find a toilet. When driving one tends not to notice all this detritus because of the rate of progress. As a cyclist one notices it all, in all its sordid glory.

I contend that this is a symptom of a civilised society and that Big Government bears some responsibility because the taxes most (but by no means all) of us pay fund environmental services whose role it is to manage and therefore clear up the monumental quantities of rubbish we produce.

Therein lies the problem which generates an attitude to rubbish that is toxic to the environment we live in - "Someone will clear it up", "It keeps people in employment", "I pay my taxes for someone else to sort it out". Trouble is we don't pay anywhere near enough tax to pay for everything we expect it to pay for so the rubbish accumulates at the roadside, turning our beautiful country into a tip. Local Councils cannot afford to employ enough workers to patrol all the roads and clear up what the selfish a careless deposit wherever it takes their fancy to leave it (and I include dog owners who don't clear up the mess their dogs leave behind). I could take on the task of clearing some of it up myself, a Herculean task which would prevent me from cycling and walking in the stunning North Wales countryside.

Sadly I have not got an answer for this dilemma. I have neither the time or the dedication to start a clear-up campaign. I can only wish and hope that those irresponsible members of society will grow up and realise that part of being a member of a democratic society is an adult sense of personal responsibility. So many of them believe that they have rights, but with rights come responsibilities.

Rant over!

There was, in fact a purpose in the reference to rubbish in the gutters and verges. I went out today for a ride that was intended to form part of the training for my forthcoming Sport Relief challenge and therefore includes an obligatory hill climb. I have attempted today's hill once before and had to stop twice. This time I adopted a new climbing strategy - many little targets and a steady rhythm. Rather than push too hard and look up slope to the farthest visible point of the climb I focus on thing in the near distance - a small pot hole or something else that stands out - rubbish in the gutter! Most of the detritus at the edge of the road is a uniform brown at this time of year, leaf litter and the like. The rubbish stands out in this background, colourful - garish even - but a target nonetheless. As strategies go it is fairly simple and it worked today. I got up to the top of Caerwys Hill without stopping.

It felt great!

Here is where I got to.