I am at risk of being contacted by The Guardian newspaper if I keep using this ‘In praise of…‘ title, but this post and the next are going to do so anyway!
Blue Door Cycles was the cycle shop I visited on Wednesday evening to talk about my trip across Europe as depicted in my book Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie. I don’t think either David – the guy who runs the place – or myself were too sure as to how the evening would pan out but in the end I very much enjoyed the whole experience. To say I was slightly outside my comfort zone would be a little bit of an understaement; I am very used to speaking in front of groups of people – it’s my job! – but to actually talk about myself for an hour or so, well… that’s not the kind of thing you get the chance to do very often other than in a job interview. This was no job interview however. Having met up with old school friend John prior to making my way to the shop at the top of Gipsey Hill in south London (in itself a great little corner of the capital perched as it is on top of a hill with great views down towards the glimmering lights of Canary Wharf), I was genuinely nervous as I walked into the shop to be greeted by David’s wife. Charm personified, she made us feel very much at ease in the shop while at the same time cleaning some chairs for the punters to park themselves upon while listening to me later in the evening. But would there actually be any?
A short tour of the shop over, David arrived and we continued to make small talk and then, to my delight, some people did indeed start to arrive; first up was a retired nurse from The Maudsley Hospital (experienced tourer – he probably knew more about what I was about to talk about than me), an American geographer / mapper called Sean who was planning his own journey across Europe, an Underground worker, a couple of friends of David & his wife, a keen cyclist who worked as a paramedic… I was amazed and delighted to see that by the time we started, a total of about 12 people were sat in front of me waiting to be entertained.
Whether I did or not is for others to judge but a massive nod of gratitude to Blue Door Cycles, themselves relatively new to the cycling business, perched at the top of a hill in south London. I’ll be back in 2014 will further tales of pan-European pedalling. Hopefully.
That was fun. It’s a good job that time in the real world, outside the studios of radio stations, doesn’t go by as quickly as it does inside those little sound-proofed rooms. We’d all be in our graves before we were out of the maternity ward. Fifteen minutes on Jack Thurston’s Bike Show on Resonance FM flew past, just as the hour on BBC Radio Berkshire and the ten minutes on Talk Radio Europe had done so last year. You can now listen to the entire half-hour programme on The Bike Show website. And here (for once), I shall stop banging on about Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie (‘there you go again – shut up!‘) and take a moment to praise Jack’s show. It really does merit a place in The Guardian editorial column called ‘In Praise Of…‘ where unsung things are sung loudly & proudly. He has been presenting it since 2004 on Resonance FM and I scratch my head (and kick myself at the same time – not an easy thing to do) as to why I hadn’t heard of it, and more importantly hadn’t been listening to it before now. An eclectic mix of all things cycling – just scan your eyes down the archive of programmes – it is criminal that it is only broadcast in the central London area (104.4FM by the way) and not more widely. But there is of course the Internet that does help address that particular issue. In fact, The Guardian is indeed a fan. And so, now, am I. Highly recommended! You can follow Jack on Twitter @TheBikeShow as well as the other presenter of the show, Jen Kerrison @jenkerro. And while you’re there, @CyclingEurope of course!
P.S. : One of the past editions of The Bike Show features Blue Door Cycles, the place where I will be speaking on Wednesday 15th February at 8pm. I’m listening to it as I type! Details of how to find Blue Door Cycles on the shop’s website.
A reminder that in two-weeks’ time, I will be at Blue Door Cycles in Upper Norwood, South East London (SE19) to chat about Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie. If you get reading now, you should have made it to Brindisi by Wednesday 15th February at 7.30pm. The bike shop owner, David, now has copies of the paperback in stock at the bike shop (or he will have by the end of this week). Come along and meet the author in the flesh (although fear not, I will be fully clothed…).
My home town of Reading is only thirty minutes or so from central London on the train and over the next couple of months, I will be very grateful for that small quirk of geography as I will be up in the capital quite a bit.
First off is my first training session as an Olympic volunteer. Now, I must first say that I have yet to be accepted as an official ‘Games Maker’ but I have been asked to attend a training session nevertheless at Wembley Arena on the 5th February. Read into that what you will. Let’s hope it’s a good sign rather than anything else…
A week later, at the start of the half-term on Monday 13th February, I’m due to appear on The Bike Show on London radio station Resonance 104.4 FM hosted by Jack Thurston talking about Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie. I’ve known about the show for quite a while but, shame on me, have never listened to it so have just spent a couple of hours catching up on recent podcasts from the programme and I have to say it makes very good listening indeed. Highly recommended, especially last week’s interview with David Herlihy, author of The Lost Cyclist, the story of Frank Lenz and his ill-fated attempt to cycle around the World in 1892. More details about my appearance in due course so watch this space.
48 hours later on the 15th February, I’m in Crystal Palace attending a Cycling Book Club at Blue Door Bicycles. The book they have chosen to discuss is… mine! If you are anywhere near the shop (the postcode is SE19 1BG), the kick-off time is 7.30pm. It would be great to see lots of people there. I’ll be talking about the cycling journey along the Eurovelo 5 as well as the adventure of writing and publishing the book although I think the former topic will dominate discussion. I’ll hopefully be joined by Paul, my friend in London who gets a mention at the very start of the book on cycling day 1 and also by John, a friend from Yorkshire who I haven’t seen for many years (the last time was when I bumped into him at a cashpoint in Halifax and we ended up going to see Halifax Town as it then was playing at the Shay stadium) who followed my journey online and who was then very complimentary about the book itself. He happens to be in London that week for work and offered to come along so I am very much looking forward to catching up with him again.
As if all that were not enough, the esteemed (I think) London Cycling Book Club have also decided to have Good Vibrations as their book to discuss at their next meeting and I have offered to go along and meet the group. Once again, I’ll be following in the footsteps of David Herlihy as his book was the last one under discussion. The group normally meet in Fitzrovia although the exact location, date and time have yet to be decided. Again, watch this space for more details or simply follow me on Twitter at the newly renamed @CyclingEurope where I will reveal all (when I know all).
There is no escape…
Posted in Cycling, Eurovelo 5, London 2012 Olympics
Tagged Blue Door Cycles, Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie, Jack Thurston, John Ward, London 2012, Paul Stocks, Resonance FM, The Bike Show, The London Cycling Book Club