Meet my friend Steve. I met him at the very beginning of this adventure, and he has an adventure of his own to tell.
When I first thought I might undertake this mad journey, I got the old rusty bike out of the shed, and pedalled up Hartside. It was a winter afternoon, cold and damp and windy. And maybe that’s where the idea might have ended, if I hadn’t met Steve.
At the hairpin bend near the top of Hartside, when pain and repentance were fighting for my soul, he stepped out of his white van, and pointed a paparazzi-lensed camera at me.
At first I thought he’d made a silly mistake – he was waiting for someone important, and clearly his eyesight wasn’t very good if he thought it was me.
But no. This is how he makes a living. He takes photos of cyclists, and motorbikes, vintage cars, tractors, wagons, and everything else that goes over this iconic road built by John (Tar) MacAdam, and sells them to said cyclists, motorbikes, etc. You can buy a digital photo from his website, or a print, or a calendar, or a mug, or almost anything else, to commemorate your ride.
And so of course as I’ve done my training rides up and down Hartside. I’ve waved to him often, and nearly as often stopped for a chat. Steve witnessed the beginning of the idea. He’s spurred me on, and not let me give up.
I haven’t told him this, but I think he’s nearly as mad as I am. Imagine that moment when he gave up a good job to do this. But it was an adventure, a dream, he says. How would you know you could make a business out of it? But he has. Look at www.bikerphoto.co.uk. The man’s a genius.
Highway Cello is about the bike, and the music. And it’s about the people I meet – like Steve – and their stories. Have I told you about Diego, from Italy, who’s biking through 45 countries looking for Utopia, so that he can re-create it when he gets home? No? Another time.