The Age of Discovery

1903 was indeed a special year. Among other things, it saw the first regular transatlantic telegraph service, the launch of the Model T Ford  and the announcement of a new bicycle race called the ‘Tour de France’. And if those developments weren’t massive enough (particularly the Tour de France), December of that year saw William & Orville Wright take to the skies in a few bits of wood, cloth, string and a bit of an old engine. The birth of the airplane had taken place and the world would be transformed forever.

William & Orville Wright

William & Orville Wright

These two magnificent men may well have mused over the potential impact their invention would have on world.  Yes, they would have thought of thousand of people being transported from place to place quicker than ever before. In their wildest dreams, they may even have dared to think that their ‘airplane’ could fly people to the other side of the world. And perhaps, in their darker moments they may even have thought how their winged machine might be used as weapon of war.

First flight

First flight

One area that I am sure they never really thought about was ‘discovery’. By that I don’t mean flying off in to the wilds of Papua New Guinea to meet up with a few very charming, yet alarmingly hungry cannibals. What I mean is the huge revelation which would become known as ‘aerial archaeology’. As flying became more commonplace, thousands of hitherto unknown historical sites were revealed – Castle ruins, Roman Villas, Bronze Age forts, ancient burial mounds etc. The reason they suddenly became visible was that during certain lighting conditions, mounds, crevices and undulations stood out against the light colour of well-lit fields. This only worked during daytime, at night the land retained its secrets.


Roman Ruins

So what is the connection between the Tour de France, Aerial Archaeology and this blog – which is meant to be vaguely to do with cycling. The answer is shorts! Now I do realise that this is an area I have touched on in the past, but after a conversation with Debbie Rennick, felt compelled to touch on it again.

Light coloured shorts are much like flat, featureless fields. Throw a little light on them and suddenly, major discoveries can be made. In some cases it may be ancient ruins, in others well defined and intact subterranean structures. Either way, you can be sure that the archaeologists are at work logging their finds in minuscule detail.

Black shorts on the other hand are like flying at night. They have the archaeologists baffled? This is the realm of the undiscovered, the mysterious. A place where lost civilisations remain hidden and shrouded in mystery.


For me, I think I will be flying by night for some time to come 🙂 But who knows, some day I may see the light!



One thought on “The Age of Discovery

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