"If everybody is doing it one way, there is a good chance you can find your niche by going exactly in the opposite direction" - Sam Walton
Sticking a label on the way you ride seems limiting. It goes against the spirit of cycling to me. Putting people into groups rather than seeing people as individuals is tribal. This can be problematic in the form of bike-riding, politics, thinking and all the vague post-modernist crap in-between!
Regarding the bike, geography plays a big part - where you live influences your choice of rides which can influence the way you ride.
I’ve met London folk who are forced to do laps of parks to stay fit with the time they have available. I know folk who ride the flatter lanes of Yorkshire, fighting harsh crossed winds, pressing-on, since they don’t have the luxury of the hills of the Peak on their doorstep or a network of bridleways to explore. I’ve ridden with pro’s who clip off the front of group rides to do intervals and mountain-bikers who pootle around the hills and trails looking for a down-hill thrill. Rough-stuff riders whose aim is to get away from traffic, finding a nifty traverse or to stop to look at birds with a lightweight pair of binoculars around their necks (or in their saddle bag) ~ Are they still Yompin?
Some people need the badge/label before they throw their leg over the top-tube. Fix-wheeling city slickers, rough-stuffer, audaxers and cafe run heroes! Excuse-makers, newbie-faffers ~ Are they still Yompin? I'm not so sure. Some people seem to get 'it', others don't.
My family used the word 'yomp' when I was growing-up. It was the term we used to describe going for a long walk on a Sunday afternoon before dinner. At the time it made me think of walking from our house through Wickersley wood, Slacks Pond and over to Carr. Later in life I looked into the term and its association with the Royal Marines' long-distance loaded marches carrying full-kit. To me the term lent itself to describe a cycle-tourist riding around the world carrying his life on his bike. Later, I found the acronym of Yomp ~ Your Own Marching Pace, and I came to the conclusion this could could mean any type of riding (or hiking) if indeed the participant is doing it their own way - something I’ve always been drawn to. People doing things their own way, from eccentrics to free-thinkers, polemicists to commentators. Life’s rich tapestry of ideas and knowledge. Somehow I’ve managed to convince myself (and others) that it’s all Yompin’.
I like the idea of Yomp being something that crosses these borders, taking the best parts of all of riding and throwing them together into a little niche - continuing the spirit of what I think cycling is all about. All this said, perhaps I’ve just been massively over-thinking it and maybe I should just ride the bloody bike!
Words and 'Ice' photo by Thom Barnett
'Pushing' and 'Club Run' photos by Nick Newton