UPDATE: **I know there are a few places linking to this post and so people are still coming to it anew... so it seemed worth writing this little update to say that I reckon I've got pretty much all of the days covered now. Thanks to everyone who's offered their services, it's really appreciated.**
When I first mentioned that I was going to do this upcoming tour by bicycle I was surprised by the number of people who got in touch asking if they could accompany me on this day or that.
I was very wary about saying yes for various reasons... for one I wanted to avoid a feeling of responsibility. I'd get an e-mail from a stranger asking if they could accompany me and I obviously wouldn't know anything about them at all. What if they'd never cycled on the road before? What if their bike was unsafe and falling to pieces? I'd feel horribly responsible for their safety all of a sudden... and I definitely didn't want that.
But more importantly... I had no way of knowing how I'd feel about the ride when it was months away. People I didn't know were basically getting in touch in April to ask me if they could spend a day with me in September and I had no way of knowing what mood I'd be in by then. Maybe I'd be craving company? But then again, maybe I'd be craving solitude? It seemed impossible to predict when the whole thing was months away.
Of course, that was before I'd done any meaningful training...
But then, a short while ago, I did a training ride - 90 miles a day for three days - and I discovered quite a bit about myself, my bike and my attitude. I wrote about it at the time and one of the things that was most apparent was how different I felt when I was cycling on familiar turf. I cycled from Bethnal Green to Witney, from Witney to Stafford, from Stafford to Northampton and then I got the train to Euston before pedalling home.
For most of the travelling I was relying on my sat nav... but when I got off the train at Euston my instincts and local knowledge kicked in and I realised I'd been missing that out on the open road.
Which is why I've decided it would be useful to tap into other people's local knowledge. I don't want to invite strangers to accompany me - making me feel like a tour guide and giving me a responsibility that doesn't sit easily with me - I want to see if there's anyone out there that feels like being my guide for a day instead.
If you're a regular cyclist and you know your way between any two of my tour dates and you fancy being my Human Sat Nav for the day then get in touch. I'm not necessarily looking for the shortest or quickest routes - it's not a race after all - but the best route with the most to see and do. (One that avoids killer hills would be good too.)
There's obviously no real flexibility about the dates and destinations... the gigs are booked after all. It starts on August 30th when I'll be cycling from Lizard Point to Grampound near Truro.
From there it's as follows:
Aug 31: Grampound -> Liskeard
Sept 1: Liskeard -> Exeter
Sept 2: Exeter -> Taunton
Sept 3: Taunton ->Bristol
Sept 4: Bristol -> Swindon
Sept 5: Swindon ->Wycombe
Sept 6: Wycombe -> Cambridge
Sept 7: Cambridge -> Ipswich
Sept 8: Ipswich ->Lowestoft Ness
Sept 9: Lowestoft -> Kings Lynn
Sept 10: Kings Lynn -> Peterborough
Sept 11: Peterborough -> Leicester
Sept 12: Leicester -> Stoke on Trent
Sept 13: Stoke on Trent -> Salford/Manchester
Sept 14: Salford -> Preston
Sept 15: Preston ->Lancaster
Sept 16: Lancaster ->Kendal
Sept 17: Kendal ->Threlkeld (nr Keswick)
Sept 18: Threlkeld -> Carlisle
Sept 19: Carlisle -> Dumfries
Sept 20: Dumfries -> Cumnock
Sept 21: Cumnock -> Glasgow
Sept 22: Glasgow -> Dumbarton
Sept 23: Dumbarton -> Ardlui
Sept 24: Ardlui -> Fort William
Sept 25: Fort William -> Ardnamurchan
Sept 26: Ardnamurchan -> Glenfinnan
Sept 27: Glenfinnan -> Fort Augustus
Sept 28: Fort Augustus -> Inverness
Sept 29: Inverness -> Dornoch
Sept 30: Dornoch -> Lyth
And then finally, on October 1st I'll complete the journey by reaching Dunnet Head.
If you fancy being my Human Sat Nav for the day - and you're an adult of sound mind - drop me a line via my website.
It's going to take some organising and I might well get three offers for day 6 and none for day 7 (or none at all) so please put in a bit of information about how much you cycle and how you've tackled the journey in question before. And put in as many contact details as you can... that'll help me to get myself organised and to be in touch to work out quite how this'll hang together.