The story of The Slow Cyclist began long before our inception in 2014. Here, Oli Broom gives a potted history of where we came from and some of the milestones we’ve reached along the way.
2009 - 2011
In April 2009, I hand in my notice at work (real estate career in London). In August I buy a bike (bought for me by the England and Wales Cricket Board) and in October I set off on two wheels for Australia. My mission: to get to Brisbane in time to watch The Ashes cricket series starting in November 2010. I spend 412 days cycling across 23 countries and in doing so, I suppose, become a bona fide – some might say the original – slow cyclist. England Captain Andrew Strauss greets me on arrival at the Brisbane Cricket Ground and although I can’t claim any plaudits, along with his England team goes on to win the Ashes 3-1.
2011 - 2013
A Rwandan Adventure
I spend two years living and working in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, where I am the Project Director of a start-up charity that ends up building Rwanda’s first dedicated cricket ground. These days, as well as being a stunningly beautiful ground, it is home to one of East Africa’s most iconic buildings.
My weekends in Rwanda are spent exploring its endless hills on a bicycle. Although it is several years until I trek to see gorillas in the wild, Rwanda still has more than enough charm to encourage me to bring people out to experience it on two wheels.
Cycling to the Ashes: A Cricketing Odyssey from London to Brisbane, the book of my journey to Australia, is published by Penguin Random House. The references to being a slow cyclist are many.
Test Match Special radio presenter Daniel Norcross calls it “a moving, well-paced and thrilling story of the noblest of all gap years.” Stephen Fry wrote: “Oli’s book is rather marvellous.” Ian Botham said it was pathetic that I didn’t cycle home again.
A Milestone Birthday
A first for me, I am named a Conde Nast Traveller Top Travel Specialist for my expertise in Romania. We also expand into Greece’s Zagorian villages near its border with Albania. With the help of Serena Prest, Josh Barley and a wonderful local team, we enjoy a great first season.
We also buy a fleet of e-bikes and send them to Rwanda. They are the first such bikes in the country and open up the possibility of cycling across Rwanda to a broader demographic.
We emerge into a post-pandemic world in which everything has changed, yet nothing has changed. We are happy to see that people still want to travel with us, perhaps even more so than before. Emily, who joins us at the start of the year following nearly a decade in Mongolia, spends almost four months in the Taurus Mountains in southern Turkey and emerges with a wonderfully immersive experience to offer our guests. Meanwhile, with the help of local wildlife guides, Matthew designs a similarly spectacular journey through two of Italy’s lesser known national parks, Gran Sasso and Majella.
A New Home
Having moved out of London at the start of the pandemic and with our team finally growing again, it is time to find a long-term home for our team here in the UK. In February, we move into this beautiful listed barn in Tackley, Oxfordshire.
While flexibility is now the norm for office workers the world over, we find that our team still value time together in the same place. If you are nearby or passing, do get in touch and we’d be very happy to see you and if you wish, talk you through our holidays over a cup of tea and some cake. There is always cake.