In praise of the Leano…

Leano, a noun, a name, sunshine, sunlight, a line of cocaine, and/or gods plan…

Or in our case a leano is a thing that you lean your bike on, then proceed to take a photograph of your bike against your chosen leano, a good leano has a magnetic attraction, you spot them out of your peripheral vision, your bike automatically steers itself towards the leano and the group always find a reason to stop and discuss the finer points of that particular leano, the spotter always gets first photo!

To describe a leano to a non believer is a difficult thing, there’s hints of nostalgia for old weathered things, these can be old sheds or buildings, sometimes an old gate fits the bill, abandoned farm vehicles are near to the top of the pile of desirability, military vehicles are probably the pinnacle.

Slurry tanks with peeling paint, Ivy covered stone walls, caravans surrounded by nettles make for fine leano’s and if its at all possible to hang your bike from it an old cast iron road sign also fits the bill, (although strictly speaking these are hango’s!)

Over the years myself and Jason have fine tuned our craft and also developed a language thats only brought out when enjoying a good leano, one phrase in particular is guaranteed to make us burst out laughing “we are all pioneers” uttered in a strong Australian accent and to be said without a hint of irony (it was first uttered by an Ozzy friend of Jasons many years ago to describe the outdoorsy vibe enjoyed by men of a certain age and we adapted it for our own use when out leano-ing)

I have a strong suspicion that leano’s are mostly enjoyed by men, not exclusively I’m sure, but yes its mostly men, a few years ago there were four of us out on a ride up around the Lune Estuary, at the time there was a major redevelopment of the motorway junction going on which involved huge cranes, myself Jason and Nick were quite happy to watch the cranes whilst Sara stood by chastising us for this display of sad old men syndrome, the atmosphere didn’t improve when we were joined by a fellow cyclist who was just as fascinated as us!

Now strictly speaking this wasn’t a leano incident but the same level of eye rolling was to take place several times that day as we did indulge our leano tendencies, especially when we ended up taking photographs of people taking photographs of bikes against leano’s.

Anyway, where’s this heading?

Last night I was looking at the maps, maps where I had highlighted the bridleways over twenty five years ago, there are lots of them around here but it’s difficult to link them up without tarmac, I was cross referencing them with the online Mapout App when it occurred to me that I could actually remember the routes via the memories of various leano’s. Looking back through my photographs confirmed that I was correct in my thinking and that I should go back and retrace my route via the various leano’s I’d come across over the years.

The day was set to be fair if a little warm, I filled three bottles, made some sandwiches and headed out after breakfast, first up was the old rotting caravan, still there, still abandoned, it was off the track a short way and I could hear the farmer driving a tractor nearby, excuses at the ready but not needed today, a quick snap and off along the bridleway.  Number two for today is an old black shed, covered in pitch and with a newish looking lock fitted, someone must be using it now.

Three and four were close by together near the duck farm, old agricultural tools that have seen their best days and left to rot, maybe one day an enthusiast will come and take them away on a low loader to be lovingly restored?

Five was a bit further along, a caravan with a distinct whiff of malice, uncertain if anyone was inside I was reluctant to lean my bike against it at first but then figured what the heck, what’s the worst that could happen? as it happens nothing happened, but I was glad to be on my way.

Number six was a few miles on, using a back lane to link up with the coastal path and then cheekily heading down a private road, here a behemoth of a vehicle, hard to imagine its been abandoned but as far as I know it hasn’t moved in years.

I had a few miles to get through next, including the A588 coastal road, rarely a pleasure unless very early in the day, but it was worth it to get to the leano that towers above all others in our world, its an old farmyard sewage tank thats been repaired so many times, its almost a rite of passage for when I bring friends out to ride on the North West coast.

Jason and I have spent minutes of our lives trying to arrange the symmetry of the tank, its almost impossible to do, and depends upon wether its a one bike or a two bike shot and where the shadows fall, occasionally I’ve been there early enough to see the Barn Owl that lives nearby.

Following on from here is number eight, a newish arrival, only spotted a few weeks ago and looking very familiar from my days in the oil industry, a long tank that’s presumably full of water, its a classic leano, industrial, seemingly abandoned, rusting away and what paint is left is peeling away.

Nine is another fairly recent arrival, I suspect that this might not be abandoned but just left until the farmer finds a use for it again, its looks suitably distressed to fit the leano criteria but there’s still some concern as to wether or not it fits the bill, only time will tell!

Number ten, what can I say about this one, perhaps the ultimate leano? it’s probably some kind of buoy that’s been washed ashore and repurposed as a? well to be honest I’ve no idea why its here and what its purpose is, however its got all the attributes of leano, big, heavy, the texture created by the sea water corrosion, its military-esque appearance and its placement allowing the leaning of a bike against it, perfection achieved?
The only downside to number ten being that the bridleway leaving from here is not at all bike friendly, the cows leave too many fresh reminders to make it worth the effort and hence I turn back on myself and head into the lanes to find a cup of tea and some cake, I’ve enjoyed today, the memories of past rides with great friends flooding back with each leano ticked off.

Words and pictures – Steve Makin

3 thoughts on “In praise of the Leano…

  1. 2maverick

    Interesting! There could be an alternative and/or parallel series called ‘Leako’ where calls of nature have taken place in unlikely or ‘dangerous’ locations?

    Liked by 2 people

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