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.