A few weeks ago I headed off down the Calder Valley where I live in West Yorkshire in the direction of Hebden bridge. The new bike – Ronnie Ribble – needed a shakedown on a route other than on the one he was purchased for, my commute to work. The canal towpath cycle beside the Rochdale Canal is a very familiar one and it’s good, off-road cycling territory; not too rough, not too smooth, just right. Goldilocks cycling. (Ignoring that annoying bit near Copley where the tree roots have made the surface somewhat Alpine… Don’t get me going.)
There was, however, a problem; walkers. Well, it wasn’t, in fairness, the walkers. It was that Ronnie didn’t have a bell and, as any regular towpath cyclist will appreciate, a bell is something of a necessity when cycling beside a canal. It saves all the polite coughs, ‘excuse me’ / ‘sorry’ etc… comments. In anticipation of following the route in reverse on my way back home, I popped into the excellently named Blazing Saddles bike shop in Hebden Bridge to buy a bell. Problem solved.
I didn’t miss the opportunity of having a wander around the shop and, when I got to the bookshelf, I paused to have a look at the books. [The copies of my own book that they used to stock have long since sold out…] One book, prominently positioned on top of the bookcase was this one:
‘Spain to Norway on a Bike’? Isn’t that my territory??!! Who is this Tim Ralph? Whoever he was, he clearly deserved to feature on The Cycling Europe Podcast so I contacted him and yesterday, I met up with Tim, back in Hebden Bridge for a fascinating chat about cycle touring, mountaineering and how the two are not that dissimilar, as Tim explains in this short extract from our conversation:
The full podcast – episode 048 – will be available to stream or download from May 1st 2022.
“A Life Appreciated is a quality hardback book containing over five hundred beautiful illustrations choreographing a solo unsupported cycling journey from the southernmost tip of Europe to the most northern point, taking in some classic cycling climbs en-route. The author travels through nine countries, providing an in-depth insight into cycle touring. This book will both inspire and enthral the reader.
The author has combined his blog written at the time of the journey with further details of his experiences and personal anecdotes. With additional information about historic places, he visited. The book also provides details about the pros and cons of wild camping.
With a sense of humour, the author refers to himself as an ’Old Git’. He carries many of life’s experiences with him, from summiting Everest to several brushes with death, such as being avalanched to being threatened with a rifle. He is, however, very much alive and continues to seek adventure.”Brown Dog Books
Visit the dedicated Baltic Sea Cycle Route / EuroVelo 10 page of CyingEurope.org to discover more about the planned cycle around Europe’s other big sea.
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