You’d think that in the summer of 2020 with all its ‘complications’, time to answer emails would be easy to find. And I dare say it is. Yet I have four emails sitting in my inbox to which I have yet to respond. All are cycling-related and I have no good excuse as to why I have been so tardy in replying to the people who wrote them. Some comments from the senders are worthy of sharing. Indeed the first email – that arrived, shamefully, on July 1st – is worthy of quoting in its entirety. It concerns cycling books. and comes from Steffi in South Africa:
Congratulations to a great site and some awesome rides…
Right now I wish I could set off on my planned European summer bike wander, but alas… since I’m currently living in South Africa, I’ll have to stick to some book-travel instead. Perhaps next year…
You’ve got a great selection in your ‘bookshops’ – hope you don’t mind if I suggest a couple more… [Me: I have to admit the ‘bookshop’ pages have not been updated for several years. Again, I have no good excuses as to why…]
Mark Crandon – My Bike My Buddha: A Cycle Journey Across South America to Find the Eight-Fold Path
Emily Chappell – What Goes Around & Where There’s a Will
Jools Walker – Back In The Frame
Tim Moore – The Cyclist Who Went Out In The Cold
Dominic Gill – Take A Seat
And then there is of course the grand old dame of cycle touring, Dervla Murphy, I’d suggest any of her bike travel books (Full Tilt, The Ukimwi Road, South from the Limpopo, etc) or her memoir (Wheels Within Wheels)
Or Anne Mustoe: A Bike Ride; Lone Traveller; Cleopatra’s Needle; Amber, Furs and Cockleshells; Two Wheels in the Dust; Che Guevara and the Mountain of Silver.
Enjoy the read, enjoy the ride – and looking forward to future cycles.
Thanks Steffi. I’ve read a few of those but your suggestions contain many others that I am tempted to read. The one that sticks out is the Dervla Murphy memoir. I mentioned Dervla on CyclingEurope.org a few months ago in the context of her appearance on Desert Island Discs (albeit back in 1993):
I wrote a review for Emily Chappell’s latest book last year. It’s a good, if tough, read:
The second email comes from Juan:
“I wonder if you could give a few tips for a touring tip around Europe. I’m 48 in quite a decent physical form and I am planning to have a cycling tour (probably) in August this year and I would like to see if you could give few tips.”
Ouch! The timing of my reply to Juan may be too late if indeed he has set out during August. But I will share my top tip with him anyone (the one that I always give) and that is simply not to plan too much. It takes away much of the flexibility that is the beauty of cycle touring. That said, in the summer of 2020 I have not been following my own advice in that I have planned my ‘Great British Cycle Tour‘ in far more detail than any of my previous rides. Alas with the COVID-19 situation, simply turning up at a campsite and expecting it to have space for a bike and small tent (which is usually a given) seems a risky strategy to adopt. Committing to be at a certain place on a certain day because that is where you have booked your accommodation means that it is then difficult to deviate from your intended destination, slow down to a snail’s pace or even abandon a day of cycling (because of the weather for example). Next Monday I set of to complete the second half of my British tour…
|Tuesday 25th||20||Prestatyn||Holyhead||75||Warmshowers host|
|Wednesday 26th||21||Holyhead||Caernarfon||93||Warmshowers host|
|Thursday 27th||22||Caernarfon||Dolgellau||80||Torrent Walk Campsite|
|Friday 28th||23||Dolgellau||Llanidloes||62||Dol-Llys Farm Campsite|
|Saturday 29th||24||Llanidloes||Glasbury||67||River Cabin Camping|
|Sunday 30th||25||Glasbury||Cardiff||97||Sleeperz Hotel|
|Monday 31st||26||Cardiff||Bath||94||YHA Bath|
|Tuesday 1st||27||Bath||Reading||127||Friend’s house|
|Wednesday 2nd||28||Reading||London||74||YHA Central London|
|Thursday 3rd||–||London||Halifax||–||Train home|
…and, as you can see, I will have to cycle come rain or shine. As I look at the weather forecast for next week, that could be a bit of both. If anyone fancies meeting up as I travel through wales or across southern England, please let me know.
Two more emails arrived earlier this month. Thanks to Giles and Richard for sending them. I promise you a reply – as I promise to reply to Steffi and Juan – before the end of today. I have no excuse not to reply as I am currently waiting for a delivery of new panniers… I also promise that should anyone else send me an email in the future, I’ll try and be a bit better when it comes to a timely reply.
What do you think?