While we will now need to get out and about, showing off High Inspiration and A Cycling Year and attempting to sell a few copies (you can order them online here, from your lovely local bookshop and Amazon), we are also on with planning the next book. I am really excited to say that this will be a book by Richard Seipp, all about the adventures he has had riding his bike with his son Tom.
In the bike-packing world Rich and Tom need no introduction. They have been riding long miles in wild places together since Tom was seven years old. Now Tom is 14 and they have just returned from a summer of riding perhaps the most legendary challenge of bike-packing, the Tour Divide.
Rich and I go way back, more than 20 years. He is a friend of the mountain guide and runner Al Powell, who introduced us just before we all did a set of hill reps on a dark street in Leeds 6 sometime in the late ‘90s, training for a mountain marathon.
That was while I was studying at Leeds University, spending most of my time rock climbing around the UK with the university climbing club. A club with quite some history - no rules and a general encouragement of rebellion and anarchic behaviours meant Rich and I both fitted in well.
After I finished university Rich and I kept in touch through running and biking, both of us still lived in Leeds. We did our first mountain marathon in the Scottish Highlands together, getting horribly lost in the mist somewhere in the Black Mount and finishing last (but we finished). We went biking loads in Yorkshire and the Lakes – I have great memories of a three-day ride around the Yorkshire Dales, bike-packing well over a decade before the term existed.
In time Rich moved away and I got heavily into racing in the mountains. Rich’s children Skye and Tom are older than mine, for a good ten years or so we would see each other very occasionally, maybe at a race or event somewhere.
In November last year I fancied heading over to North Wales for a three-day bike ride. These days I am not racing all that much – my own young children and a busy job mean the time I get to ride my bike is squeezed. I am very lucky however to get the occasional window when I can get away, and this trip to Wales was one of them.
I wanted to have an adventure in Wales, to link up and ride some high trails over the Rhinogs and the Berwyns – two ranges of the Welsh hills set on the edge of the honey pots of Snowdonia that see little traffic despite being stunning places. They each share a history of wayfaring, old roads that journey over some of their high passes. It kind of seemed natural that I should ask Rich along. He didn’t need much persuasion!
Those three days were brilliant – great bike riding with fantastic company, a blast. You know you are good friends with someone when you slip back into flowing conversation despite hardly seeing them for the best part of twenty years. We shared stories of our families, Rich’s adventures were interspaced with my own; we are both clearly enjoying being parents.
We also spoke about my plans to start up a little publishing company, what I wanted to do with it, how I wanted it to be. I don’t just want to publish books written by me. If I am honest I aspire far more to make books about other people’s adventures and journeys (big and small), and was gently cajoling Rich to get on with he book he had been writing so we could publish it together.
Now Rich and Tom have completed what must be their biggest adventure together, he has also just about finished drafting his book. I am extremely excited to say that Little Peak Press will be publishing it in 2020. We will work hard to ensure the book tells Rich and Tom’s incredible story in the way Rich wants to. He is a talented photographer as well as a great storyteller. Iconic images from the Tour Divide, along with their wealth of other adventures (including riding the route of the 1955 Tour de France and Everesting the Kemmelberg) will also feature.
Watch this space… Rich will soon say in his own words what his book is all about.