From the house where I was born you can look across the fields and in the distance see the Malvern Hills.  Elgar country.

On 10th January 1903 Edward Elgar took delivery of a new bicycle. This bicycle was fitted with the latest thing.  A freewheel.

If you lived in or around Malvern the ability to swoop down those hills without holding your feet in mid air must have been a dream.

For his first trip he decided to go to Gloucester to visit the cathedral.

He got as far as Newent and was caught in a downpour and aborted the trip, returning by train.

Can you imagine his excitement when he set out that day?  A day out on his new bike. Wooly tweed jacket, plus fours, saddle bag of sandwiches and his handlebar moustache waving in the wind, freewheeling for the first time!

The steam train that Edward travelled on has long since gone.  As a boy I sometimes went on it to Gloucester. I also watched the last train as it slowly left Newent for the last time, pulling up the track behind it. 

As Maurice Handford once said, with tears in his eyes, when we got to the last page of Elgar's Symphony No 1, "Not just the end of a symphony, more, the end of an era."

I have several colleagues who are also biking enthusiasts. Who also love the latest thing. 

From impossibly light frames with carbon fibre widgets to spray on leggings, air slicing wheels and day glow underpants.

There is a problem with such keenness.  It requires endless perusal of bike magazines, leaving little time for composition. 


Ps. If you find yourself in the Malvern Hills don't forget to look out for the road sign: