Andrew P. Sykes has written two books about his journeys across Europe and is currently writing a third.
The first book, Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie, was published in 2011 and recounts his trip from southern England to southern Italy in the summer of 2010. It is available as a paperback and as and eBook from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com (and other international Amazon sites), Apple iBooks, Kobo and Waterstone’s. (ISBN: 9781849142137). The book is now also available in Italian. More details here.
“The academic year must have been a difficult one as when the summer holidays arrived, secondary school teacher Andrew Sykes was happy to do as little as possible. But while sitting on his sofa watching the exploits of the cyclists at the Great Wall of China at the Beijing Olympics, he realised the error of his ways and resolved to put a bit more adventure into his life. Two years later, accompanied by his faithful companion Reggie (his bike) but only a rudimentary plan, Andrew set off for a trans-continental cycling adventure that would take him along the route of the Via Francigena and the Eurovelo 5 all the way from his home in southern England to Brindisi in the south of Italy. There were highs and lows, rain and shine, joy and despair and they are all recounted here in a light-hearted, brisk style.”
The second book, Along The Med on a Bike Called Reggie, was published in 2014 and details the author’s two-wheeled adventure from southern Greece to southern Portugal in the summer of 2013. It is similarly available as a paperback and as and eBook from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com (and other international Amazon sites), Apple iBooks, Kobo and Waterstone’s. (ISBN: 9781849145053)
“1 continent, 6000 kilometres, 10 countries, 9 weeks, 4 pannier bags, 1 man, no detailed plan… and a bike called Reggie. Secondary school teacher Andrew Sykes moves out of the classroom, climbs onto his bicycle and sets off along the route of the EuroVelo 8, from the southern tip of Greece to the Atlantic coast of Portugal. However, this is more than just a cycling tale of border crossings and big hills, as our would-be adventurer perspires his way through a hot and sticky mix of Mediterranean landscapes, life and culture. Join Andrew as he travels Along The Med on a Bike Called Reggie: an inspirational and light-hearted travelogue for cyclists and non-cyclists alike.”
The third book, Spain to Norway on a Bike Called Reggie is the story of a journey from Europe’s most southerly point to its most northerly point. It will be published by Summersdale on May 11th 2017. Pre-order now from Amazon or Waterstone’s. (ISBN: 9781849539906)
“Meet Andrew: French teacher, writer and long-distance cyclist.
Now, meet Reggie, his bike.
With two European cycling adventures already under his belt, Andrew was ready for a new challenge. Exchanging his job as a teacher in Oxfordshire for an expedition on Reggie the bike, he set off on his most daring trip yet: a journey from Tarifa in Spain to Nordkapp in Norway – from Europe’s geographical south to its northernmost point.
Join the duo as they take on an epic journey across nearly 8000 km of Europe, through mountains, valleys, forests and the open road, proving that no matter where you’re headed, life on two wheels is full of surprises.”
Andrew wrote the following account of his journey from French teacher to published author (and French teacher…) for CyclingEurope.org in May 2016:
When I cycled from southern England to southern Italy in 2010 I had no intention of writing a book about my journey but I did keep an online blog. It was the same blog that has now, some six years later, morphed into CyclingEurope.org. Sally, a friend who was heavily pregnant with her daughter during the summer of 2010 read every single word that I wrote. When I saw her again after the birth she encouraged me to write about my adventures in a book. I laughed off the suggestion and didn’t follow her advice. The following year I met up with Sally just before the Easter holidays and once again she encouraged me to put pen to paper. I can still hear her words:
“You really should write about it before you forget all the details,” she scolded.
With no great plans for two weeks during those Easter holidays I started to piece together the blog posts that I had created at the time of the cycle to Italy and write a book. I never expected that my interest would last more than a few days. But it did. As I rewrote the journey – I made a point from the start, as I continue to do today, of not using any of the words I wrote at the time – I found the writing process to be a fascinating one. Not only was it giving me the chance of reliving the journey but also of filling in the historical, cultural, political and geographical gaps that had been left unanswered at the time of the cycle.
Several months later I had written a completed manuscript. Choosing a name for the book was much more difficult than I thought but, after various possibilities were discounted, I decided upon ‘Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie’…
…and I set about marketing the book as an eBook via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing or KDP.
Those who downloaded the book liked what they read and I made a paperback version available via a company called Completely Novel. Self-publishing in the era of print-on-demand technology is no longer ‘vanity publishing’ as no great expense is required to make a physical copy of the book. A few months later I updated the cover on both the eBook and the paperback but, for some as yet unexplained reason, Amazon suddenly took exception to my use of the term ‘Good Vibrations‘ (despite them selling many other books with the same title). I thought long and hard about a change of name but in the end I just dropped the ‘Good Vibrations’ and the book became simply ‘Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie‘ with an updated cover.
I thought that might be the end of it but in the back of my mind was lurking the thought of completing a second cycle but this time doing so with theintention of writing a book. I did just that and in the late summer of 2013, with much proofreading assistance from friend Zoe, I published the second book, ‘Along The Med on a Bike Called Reggie‘.
For both books I had gone through the motions of trying to find a publisher only to discover that I first needed a literary agent who would then find a publisher… I seemed to be doing OK by myself so although it would have been nice, my level of disappointment when I was repeatedly rejected was diminishing. Self-publishing does have its benefits, chief of which is being in charge. Before the second book was made available, I decided to find someone who would be able to give the covers of both books a more professional ‘look’.
I first noticed Andy Mitchell‘s work on a poster that he had designed for an event at which I spoke prior to the arrival of the Tour de France in Yorkshire in the spring of 2014. This is what he had created:
It was exactly the kind of thing I was looking for for the covers of the books. I contacted him and a couple of months later he had produced the current artwork for books one and two:
Would that be the end of my publishing story? Of course not…
All good things come in threes (no?) and I was keen to finish my trilogy of European cycles and books. I had cycled from England to southern Italy and then from southern Greece to southern Portugal. What could beat that? How about a cycle from the southernmost point of Europe to the northernmost point? Tarifa in Spain to Nordkapp in Norway. I did just that during the summer of 2015.
The third book has now been written and, as before, I decided to go through the motions of sending the initial section of ‘The 35 Degrees‘ to a select number of agents and publishers whose contacts I still had from previous rejections. In anticipation of rejection, Andy Mitchell got busy creating the artwork for book three…
… and I busied myself with writing.
And then, I received an email from Summersdale. Was I still interested in them considering the book for publication? (Of course!) A few days later I was offered a deal and I signed the contract.
So, after five years of being a self-published author, I became a published author. As exciting as it is terrifying, I have much work to do to ensure the manuscript is delivered by the autumn. However, there is bad news. Bad news of sorts. My intention was to self-publish the book on October 1st in time for Christmas. I’m afraid that for excellent reasons of a quality editing procedure, cover design – yes, there will be a new look for book 3 – and marketing, ‘Spain to Norway on a Bike Called Reggie‘ (the publishers weren’t keen on the original title) will not be available until spring 2017. I do hope that I can create something of real quality and that the wait will be worth every second.
Thank-you to the many people who have helped me through the journey of the last five years. Your decision to read, review and offer supportive advice about books one and two has helped put me in the position where I find myself today. It is very much appreciated.