The urban explorer

Red bricks by Keith Moyer

Last Wednesday I headed out for a run. Nothing unusual about that. I spent 14 years pounding pavements and competing across the disciplines (road, track, x-country, fell). These days my runs are limited affairs, 30 minutes or so, sometimes longer, but always with a good few days in between jaunts. All that running on my toes ruined my lower legs and forced me onto the bike. Aside from issues of convenience and time, I prefer the current arrangement; cycles were my fist love and I welcome their return.

leaving the office, I could feel the familiar tightening of my calf. The gradual ratcheting of tension in the Achilles. The dull legacy of years of 60+ mileage weeks. It’s the norm and now expected, so rather than head out on my usual loop, I kept it tight, heading for neighbouring Roath and Adamsdown, staying within a 1.5 mile radius of the office. It was revelatory.

Adamsdown railway bridge

I should know this area like the back of my hand. I’ve worked here for more than 20 years and I was born in the Cardiff Royal Infirmary, spending much of my formative years in Roath. But the truth is I don’t. I’ve never been in cemetary park for instance, final resting place of William Hemmingway, the son of a John Hemmingway, Menai bridge constructor and an influential Victorian engineer. Tombstones line the paths like silent sentinels, keeping a quiet eye on proceedings. I’ve never really noticed the layout of Adamsdown, its organic layout owing to previous farm ownership and the demands of 19th century commerce. The street names are fantastic; who wouldn’t want to have an address that includes ‘Constellation Street’ or ‘Piercefield Place? We think we know our own back yard when in reality, we only fleetingly notice the back gate.

Adamsdown Sentinels

Recently I read an article about Urban Exploring in Icon, the design and architecture magazine. Whilst focussing on the notion of chasing after ruined and dilapidated places, I love the general idea. Explore your own city. Venture out to neighbouring towns. View it through fresh eyes, seeing it – effectively – for the first time. And what could be a better tool than a bike to achieve that? As is now customary for me, running has given me insight to an activity even more alluring by bike. Time to get the history books out. Time to grab the camera.


Categories: Cycling

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