In the last couple of days I’ve been catching up with the new series of ‘Pilgrimage‘ on BBC Two. The programmes document the journey of a small group of celebrities as they walk some of the stretches of the ancient path from Canterbury to Rome, the Via Francigena. It’s a follow up series to a similar endeavour by a different group of celebs last year as they walked along the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain
Now I’m no pilgrim but if the Via Francigena sounds familiar, it should as it was the Via Francigena that was the inspiration behind the EuroVelo 5 long-distance cycle route that I followed, roughly, back in 2010 and subsequently wrote about in Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie. Visitors to CyclingEurope.org back in 2008, 2009 and 2010 were probably bored to tears by mentions of the Via Francigena and Archbishop Sigeric, the religious type who first wrote about his journey from Canterbury to Rome. Watching the two programmes that have so far been aired has brought back fond memories of the journey over the Alps and down the length of northern Italy…
…and by coincidence, this morning I received an email from Uli, in Germany. After reading my book, Uli decided to head to Rome on his bike and he plans to do so this coming August:
“I’ve had the idea for a pilgrimage of some sort for a while and after I read your first book on your cycle from Britain to Italy, I was hooked and decided to follow your cycle tracks. Well, with some major modifications, obviously. Here’s a link to my tentative route: Uli’s Bicycle Pilgrimage. The term pilgrimage has no religious connotation for me, I simply like it.”
That’s just how I felt. I don’t think you have to have a religious bone in your body to embark on a pilgrimage whether it be on foot or by bike. Indeed the interaction between the unbelieving celebrities in the Pilgrimage programme and those who do adhere to a greater power is, perhaps, the most interesting aspect of the travelogue documentary.
Unlike like me back in 2010 prior to setting off on the path to Rome and beyond, Uli is no novice long-distance cyclist:
“Have you heard about the AIDS/Lifecycle – a 545 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I’ve done this ride a few times now and highly recommend it. Here’s a blog post I wrote about my first ride a few years ago.”
I’ll add it to the long list of possible future rides. 🙂 Good luck Uli!