“A Very Healthy But Eccentric Way To Travel Around The World”

Not my words but those of the one and only Peter Purves at the end of an interview with cyclist Ian Hibell in a 1975 edition of Blue Peter. My fellow Halifaxonian John Noakes is far more enthusiastic and asks the questions as he and Mr Hibell cycle around the studio:

I’d never heard of Ian Hibell before but he gets a mention in Stephen Fabes’ Signs of Life, a new book that I’m currently reading in preparation for interviewing the cycling doctor when I arrive in London in early September. (Listen out for our chat in an upcoming episode of The Cycling Europe Podcast.)

There’s plenty to read about Ian Hibell online, including this article on where I found the following picture of Ian’s bike:

Note the rolled-up spare tyre attached to his front wheel (not sure you’d be able to do that with a modern-day Schwalbe Marathon Plus). Aside from the tyre, Ian Hibell’s set-up is not that dissimilar to that which a long-distance cyclist of 2020 might aspire (assuming he or she hasn’t gone down the bike-packing route…). And in the video, after the tortuous circumnavigation of the Blue Peter studio, as John Noakes piles up Ian’s kit on the floor, it is striking how his kit is remarkably familiar. Those tent poles for example that I had assumed were a relatively modern innovation; clearly not. That said, I can’t imagine many cyclists of today take a cooking pot the size of Ian’s.

Ian was in his early 40s in 1975 when he appeared on Blue Peter. I would have been about 6 years old (I wonder if I was watching at the time…). He continued cycling the world throughout his life and, sadly, was killed in an accident on his bike in Greece in 2008. He was 77 at the time. Eccentric Mr Purves? Not at all!


I noted in writing the above (at 4am this morning in bed…) that Ian Hibell’s bicycle (or at least one of them) seems to be on display in a museum. According to this post on it is, or at least was back in 2012, on display at the headquarters of the Adventure Cycling Association in Missoula, Montana. Perhaps one day I’ll get to visit. In rummaging around Google however, I did notice (or rather was reminded) that the National Cycle Museum of Wales is in Llandrindod Wells, not far from the route of the Lon Las Cymru that I will be following next week. It would mean a slight detour on the Saturday of the trip but worth considering, unless you know otherwise…

DateCycling DayFromTokmNotes
Monday 24thHuddersfieldLiverpoolTrain
19LiverpoolPrestatyn71Warmshowers host
Tuesday 25th20PrestatynHolyhead75Warmshowers host
Wednesday 26th21HolyheadCaernarfon93Warmshowers host
Thursday 27th22CaernarfonDolgellau80Torrent Walk Campsite
Friday 28th23DolgellauLlanidloes62Dol-Llys Farm Campsite
Saturday 29th24LlanidloesGlasbury67River Cabin Camping
(10am-2pmBicycle MuseumLlandrindod Wells?)
Sunday 30th25GlasburyCardiff97Sleeperz Hotel
Monday 31st26CardiffBath94YHA Bath
(2pmMeet Paul GBristol Sphere)
Tuesday 1st27BathReading127Friend’s house
Wednesday 2nd28ReadingLondon74YHA Central London
(6pmMeet Stephen FAlbert Memorial)
Thursday 3rdLondonHalifaxTrain home

Categories: Adventure, Cycling, Travel

6 replies »

    • It’s so nice to see that Ian is still being remembered. The bike you see Ian riding around the Blue Peter studio is the same bike that is on display (if it is still there) in the Head Quarters of the Adventure Cycling Association. I have Ian’s two other bike frames and not long after Ian’s death I offered to give the one he used the most to the National Cycling Collection in Llandrindod Wells with the hope of forming a display of some sorts possibly with some of the many photos of Ian’s travels over the years as a backdrop – but sadly they weren’t interested !

      • Hi Nic. Sorry, I forgot to respond to your comment last week. (Brenda’s comment has reminded me!) Were you a friend of Ian’s (or even a relation?) How did you come to have his bikes? Strange that the museum didn’t want them…

What do you think?