As part of our ‘Why I Cycle‘ series we’ve been searching high and low for fascinating cyclists who share a similar passion for cycling the globe. This week we’ve managed to pin down British travel writer and adventurer Tim Moore, who over the years has seen his fair share of amazing cycling destinations. Time to read on to find out more about his love of cycling…
- At what age did you start cycling?
Shamefully late. Seven? I remember my mum pushing me around the garden for an entire afternoon until I got it. Before that I had a tricycle which for some unfathomable reason had a massive royal coat of arms emblazoned on its purple boot. What a ghastly little ponce.
- What inspired you to start cycling?
Cycling properly? Or at least further than school or the pub? That would be Stephen Roche winning the Tour in 1987. Especially the fabled stage up to La Plagne, with Phil Liggett’s raw commentary: ‘There’s someone coming through the mist… it looks like Roche… IT’S STEPHEN ROCHE!’ I was a student then, and started watching the Tour because getting off the sofa to switch over after Countdown was too much like hard work. If we’d had a remote I wouldn’t be here answering these questions.
- What do you enjoy most about cycling?
The freedom: it’s like walking, but faster. Last year I rode an old East German shopping bike all the way down the old Iron Curtain, which was a pretty stupid thing to do in most ways but did allow me to prove that the bicycle, even in its humblest incarnation, is a go-anywhere, do-anything machine. A shopper will always get you down the shops, even if they’re 9,000 kilometres away.
- Is there anything you don’t enjoy about cycling?
There’s something incredibly rude about a headwind, shoving you impertinently in the chest like a bouncer: and where do you think you’re going, sonny?
- Who is your favourite person to cycle with?
Myself. I’ve honestly hardly ever ridden in company, and have thus acquired some pretty anti-social in-saddle habits. I don’t for instance think my fellow riders would appreciate those puerile reworkings of popular hits, delivered in a ragged bellowed for hours on end. Also I like riding at my own pace: slow but steady. Mainly slow.
- If you could cycle with anyone (dead or alive!) who would it be?Lance Armstrong. I’d make him sit behind me on one of those tag-along kids things, and maybe wear a bikini and a miniature top hat.
- Have you ever cycled or do you plan to cycle for a particular charity?
I do so whenever I’m asked. However I’ve only been asked once: a Monopoly-based ride for Norwood some years ago. Am I a bad person? Yes. I’m a bad person.
- Tell us about your number one cycling highlight?
It’s hard at the moment to see beyond the last day of my last ride, rolling up to the Black Sea at Tsarevo after 3 months and 1.7 million turns of a shopping bike’s daft little pedals.
- Tell us about your favourite place to cycle?
Again my thoughts here are dominated by recent experience. The Baltic coast was wonderfully flat and offered a ride-by experience stuffed with old-school resorts and decommissioned Cold War stuff, if that’s your bag as much as it was mine. A bit blowy in spring, mind. Germany is one long velvety bike path. Serbia was a great find: nice people, food and towns, no tourists and thrillingly low prices. For scenery and a bit of an offbeat vertical challenge, the ride from Macedonia to the Bulgarian hilltown of Dospat is pretty unforgettable. In fact I’d happily recommend most of the route bar Finland in winter, and Russia (ever).
- Finally if you could cycle anywhere in the world where would it be?
I have to say I fancy a crack at North Korea.
Tim Moore’s account of his ride down the Iron Curtain Trail, The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold, has just been published. Click here to order your own copy.
For a preview, check out his video below: