It all started with cricket. In 2009, I left my desk job in London and set off on the ultimate slow journey, cycling 28,000 kilometres over 14 months to Brisbane to watch the Ashes cricket series between England and Australia. The expedition raised over £75,000 for the British Neurological Research Trust and The Lord’s Taverners. It also embedded in me a deep love for bicycle travel.
In 2011, I took a job as the Project Director of the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation, based in the capital Kigali. The story of cricket in Rwanda is closely linked with the fall-out from the 1994 genocide and sport continues to play a hugely significant role in healing the nation. Eventually, we built Rwanda’s first dedicated cricket ground, with one of East Africa’s most beautiful buildings as its pavilion.
During my time in Kigali I spent weekends exploring Rwanda’s natural treasures by bicycle and when I returned home in 2013 I began hatching plans to take some friends to see what I had found. In the end, I had to wait a few years to get the first Slow Cyclists out to Rwanda. Instead, I started a little closer to home.
Shortly after the publication of my first book, Cycling to the Ashes: A Cricketing Odyssey from London to Brisbane, I found myself in the midst of a Transylvanian winter and knew I had found the perfect region in which to launch what became The Slow Cyclist.
My wife Clemmie and I spent much of the next two years living in remote Transylvanian villages, intent on condensing the best bits of my ride to Australia – kindness, hospitality, friendship, adventure and the odd surprise – into slow, bite-sized journeys. All these years later, this remains the essence of The Slow Cyclist.
I still travel a lot but home is now North Oxfordshire, where I live with Clemmie, our two boys and a growing ménage of animals.
As advocates for a slower future we passionately believe in a more thoughtful, more considered approach to travel.
To travel is to enjoy a fundamental human desire. We believe that slow travel can be a force for good, giving joy and forging friendships and understanding. At its best it can be life changing.
CYCLING TO THE ASHES
"I tried to hear a sound but there was nothing. A continuous stream of shooting stars raced across the expansive sky while satellites glided slowly through our little corner of the universe. I had left home for such moments; to sense the enormity of our planet... and to go in search of its diminishing corners of serenity. I found one such place in the Nubian Desert and considered it likely that I would never again feel so far from home."
My book was published by Random House in 2013. It was during the course of writing it that I realised what I had enjoyed most about spending 14 months sitting on a bicycle. Yes, I had loved the life-affirming adventure, had seen some amazing parts of the world and met people from all cultures and walks of life. However, more than anything, I valued the time and perspective my journey gave me. Of course, the former feeds the latter.
It is my hope that on a Slow Cyclist journey, wherever you are and whoever you are with, you get that time to gain similar reflections. It is one of the joys of slow travel, whether on foot or by bicycle.
Buy the book
If you would like a copy of ‘Cycling to the Ashes: A Cricketing Odyssey from London to Brisbane,’ signed or not, you can either drop into our office or buy one online.