Straight off the bat - here is the press release that I have issued - it briefly explains what it is that I've been doing for the last year, and why it will be of interest to others!
It's now been just over a week since I wheeled into St. Paul's Cathedral, London, and I've had some time to begin organising my thoughts for the future. Inevitably, my head is still very much immersed in memories, reflections and ponderings over the last year. Slowly however, plans are forming for what kind of shape the next few months might take.
The journey from New York to Hong Kong was, above all, a learning experience. In saying that, I feel that it is all still too fresh to really define exactly what those lessons have been. Each day that I wake and don't cycle down an unknown road brings more clarity, but there's still a way to go before I make sense of a lot of it. Of course there are also effects that have been developing since Day 1, and those I can pin down. The most important is that I sense I am much more driven, motivated and confident about what it is I am aiming for. Goals now seem clearer, and I believe I had a new sense of focus with which to chase these.
Undoubtedly I'll deem it necessary to reflect on the rest of the lessons I've learned in due time, and you will all be subjected to those contemplations on this very blog. But for now I'll give you a brief idea of what I'm planning on doing next. I've even split it into 3 points so it's nice and easy to read.
1 - I left NYC with the plan of making a documentary. That still stands, and I'm even more excited about it than ever. Soon I will be tackling the mounds of footage taken en route, and beginning the creative process.
2 - During my time cycling I became very reliant on my journal to document memories and feelings that could not make it onto video (along, of course, with those that did.) I found that writing is a very cathartic process for me, and I actually enjoyed it to such an extend that I missed it when I did not write for an extended period of time. It has been one of the many joyous pleasures of being able to keep this blog that some of you very kind readers have commented positively on my writing. Based on this, and some advice I have taken in the last week or two regarding articles I've penned, I've decided to perhaps have a shot at writing a book. Essentially I suppose it will be the book of the film - a book charting the people I met, their many and varied passions and interests, and my own journey amongst them. More to come on that as it happens!
3 - Finally, and currently the most advanced and concrete of the three, I am now giving talks based on my adventures from New York to Hong Kong. Primarily I am aiming at speaking in schools, initially around the UK. The talk is suitable for all school age children from 6-18 and combines educational content (relating to the curriculum), exciting and humorous stories from the road, and a keen message of inspiration - the power of what we are all capable of, and the importance of giving 100%. The talk is also available for groups and societies, and is tailored slightly to fit in with the focus of each recipient. If you are reading this and are interested in making a booking, please contact me at email@example.com, via the Contact Page on this website, or on 07850269193.
So that's almost where I'll leave you for now, but there is one more thing. I'd like to take this opportunity to say a huge, massive, all-embracing thank you to everyone who has followed my adventure over the last year. Your reading of my blog, supportive comments and insightful suggestions have consistently inspired and humbled me. I'd also like to thank everyone I met on the road - those who took me in out of the rain, fed me when I looked hungry (which was most of the time) and generally went out of their way to aid me on my way. I owe you all a great deal, and look forward to creating pictures and words for you to enjoy now that I am finished.
It's true, I do care about the lovely people that read this blog, and I do feel shamefully guilty that I don't update it more often but the truth is that at the minute, there just isn't that much going on. Well, nothing that is directly relevant to this expedition anyway. The main reason for that is that there's so much other stuff going on in my life, The Cycling Reporter planning has bee confined to the back seat. This won't be the case forever, but please bear with me while it is.
I don't want to bore you with stories of what I had for breakfast (Maple syrup and brown sugar flavoured oatmeal, sprinkled with a handful of raisins and some sliced banana) but I'll share some of my highlights from my last week or so in NYC.
Planning is well and truly under way, and as I gradually get the word out to my friends and family that I'm heading off on this expedition, a common (and fair) response is 'Why?' Alastair Humphreys compiled some famous responses to the 'why go expeditioning' question on his site recently (here) which ranged from Ranulph Fiennes' "to pay the bills," to Robert Swann's "to impress girls at parties." I think the question as to why anyone would want to sell up and cycle off into the sunset is always going to be very personal. Sure, it sounds quite romantic, and I'm banking on the fact that some of it will be! I'm not kidding myself though, its gonna be a long, tough slog for a lot of it. First off, let me tell you how I initially got attracted to the idea.
It all started with Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. Now famous, their 'Long Way Round' expedition blew me at away. At the time I was a young impressionable teenager, and it just seemed like the coolest thing - 2 guys heading off round the world, having a laugh and a good old adventure. Sold. But, there was a problem. I had no money or resources to emulate them - plus, theyd already done it better than I ever could. So, what to do? Go less distance, on less complex machines, with less risk of course! 3 years later I had completed two trips - Short Way Round, and Short Way Round 2 (inventive naming, I know.) The first was a corner-cutting tour of the UK, the second took me and my good friend David from Northern Ireland to Germany for the World Cup.
Since then, I have had the urge to do it again, except further, and better. I want to travel and see the world, but in a way that is conscious of the planet and it's precarious state suffering under humankind's steady destruction of it. I don't want to cause unnecessary damage to the environment - in fact I would like to leave little or no footprint behind. Biking is the ultimate 'green' vehicle. This, combined with my love of filmmaking and my desire to make a documentary that gives a voice (however small) to the 'common man' so to speak, led me to where I am now. When I think about it like this, all the fear of leaving disappears (and believe me, sometimes I really feel the fear!) Giving up my job was easy. Moving out of my house was easy. Planning the adventure is great fun. Sure money always causes problems, but it's just money. I'm privileged to have been born into affluent Western society where we can follow our dreams. I'm not from a rich family, far from it, but I have the most supportive family in the world (especially my mum, aren't mums great!) and a bank who will lend me money for my hairbrained schemes.
I'm gonna miss some home comforts, I'm definately gonna miss my family, my friends, my wonderful girlfriend. But these opportunities are there to be grabbed, and the things that matter to us at home will still be there.
So, why? To feed my wanderlust, to make my film, to meet people from diverse cultures, to enjoy hospitality from strangers, to experience what there is on offer out there. Hopefully I can raise money for my chosen charity along the way and help in some small way to make a difference, and maybe even my film can highlight some otherwise ignored issues. But at the base of it all is the spirit of adventure, the pleasure being not in the finding of anything in particular, but in the seeking.
Welcome to the new website! And welcome to my new, exciting project., entitled 'The Cycling Reporter.' Full details are available elsewhere on the site, but basically in February next year I will begin a 7000 mile cycle beginning in New York City, crossing N. America, New Zealand and Australia.
The premise is that I will interview anyone and everyone I meet along the way, letting people express themselves on camera. It should make for a really cool film, gathering the thoughts of disparate and disconnected people, only linked by the route I'm travelling. All the videos and photos will be posted on this site as I travel, making it a completely interactive experience, so you can all get involved with watching, commenting and suggesting places and people for me to see!
Its been a crazy couple of weeks for me -I've moved out of my house into temporary accomodation, booked my flights to New York, got insurance, applied for visas, and basically begun to sever the ties that have been keeping me here in Canterbury. I've been so busy that it hasn't really sunk in yet, but now I'm in full on planning and prep mode I can't wait to get moving.
Over the coming days and weeks I have to fine tune my route, start asking companies if they would like to sponsor me with any of their fantastic products, finalise the charity which I will raise money for, and generally just do all the things expeditions require!
One thing that I am really eager to get started on is publicising the trip, and this website so that (hopefully) by the time I start cycling, some people will know about my journey, and will actively come and talk to me! If anyone has any helpful tips or advice for me, it's always very much appreciated. Until my next post, heres a taster of the first part of my route.
View Cycling in a larger map
So I've made it past my 23rd birthday, and inevitably dont feel any different. I try not to dwell on the fact that people such as Usain Bolt and Rafael Nadal are the same age as me, but I did think a lot about what Ive achieved so far - and what I still aim for. Sure, we cant all be the fastest ever human being ever recorded, and thats probably a good thing! But Im definately a believer in having goals to meet. My current ones arent particularly specific, they are generally wider aims such as 'break into the Film industry,' and 'make a documentary on something noone has thought of before.' Kinda silly I know, but it works for me, and drives me to keep going.
As I plan my upcoming documentary project I find it useful to draw on what others had achieved at my age - just not to dwell on it beyond garnering inspiration. Details on my new project will follow soon, hopefully it will help me hit some of the targets Ive set myself - or at least get a little closer.
So it's here -the final day of "The Sea Shall Have Them" shoot. Its felt like a long couple of weeks, mainly because Ive been working at a theatre in the evenings as well. But, upon reaching the last day of principal photography I've definately got that 'good relief' feeling. The project has gone on an upward arc - by that I mean it started tough and frantic, and there wasn't much time to remind myself to enjoy the buzz. As the days passed it sunk in - the workload and stress got bigger, but that feeling of 'being alive' really kicked in - "this is what I do, and it feels great"! You know that one?
We seem to be on schedule, on budget, and I honestly think its looking good. Possibly one scene to pick up next week, but otherwise a good shoot. Coincinentally, its also my 23rd birthday - so another reason to celebrate this evening!
Meanwhile, on a very different topic - adventurer Alistair Humphrey and I seem to have similar thoughts on how exciting facial hair can be during expeditioning, and hes posted a great link to a video about it, you can see it here http://www.alastairhumphreys.com/
Pick up in 5 minutes for the final scene - best go
To whoever may read this, welcome to my very first blog! Hopefully in time this blog will gain an audience of some sort who would like to hear my thoughts on the things that I'm passionate about - filmmaking, cycling, adventuring, music, and whatever else I may encounter. Until then, should you stumble across it, perhaps there will be something of interest - I will endeavour to keep my film projects up to date, and my musings short and to the point.
Tonight I sit in the Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury - technically working, but clearly not very hard. It has been a long day, indeed a long week of filming during the day and working in the evenings. My current project is called 'The Sea Shall Have Them,' and is the first of six short story adaptations by the novelist Anne Perry. Productions stills will appear soon on the site.
The story is about Davey, a schoolboy struggling with his history lessons, who is transported back to Elizabethan times where he learns more that he ever did at school. Sure theres an educational aspect, and Im learning quite a lot about the Spanish Armada to be fair, but the most attractive thing I think is the ambiguity.
As director I'm a big fan of playing on this uncertainty as to whether the whole adventure is completely internal, or if there is some supernatural force that has actually taken him time travelling. Okay, so its not a groundbreaking mindbender of a quandry, but things like that really help motivate the much more subtle character nuances and what have you. The latter choice of the two is pretty unlikely, but it's kinda nice to play with the fantasy aspect. After all, I think everyone wants to suspend their disbelief to a certain extent when watching a film, and really time travel for the character shouldn't be that much harder to get to grips with than the time travel we have to make ourselves to try and empathise with Elizabethan characters on screen.
Anyway, more thoughts as I have them...