One Man and His Bike: A 5,000 Mile, Life-Changing Journey Round the Coast of Britain
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Mike Carter's journey around the edge of Britain by bike.
What would happen if you were cycling to the office and just kept on pedalling? Mike Carter needed a change. Fed up with a Britain rife with crime and sliding into economic downturn, one day he decided to cycle straight past the office to find out for himself what was going on. He would follow the Thames to the sea and then ride around the entire coastline, a journey of 5,000 miles, the equivalent of London to Calcutta. If he completed it, he would end up exactly where he started. Physically, at least.
Camping or relying on the hospitality of strangers, Mike met an array of brilliant characters and experienced innumerable random acts of kindness. He encountered drunken priests and drag queens, gnome sanctuaries and hippy communities, fellow travellers and people building for a different type of future. He also found a spirit of unbelievable kindness, generosity and hope that convinced him that Britain was anything but broken. During the five month journey, cycling the byways of the nation, he became...happy.
on British soil in modern history. For the gently sloping gravel beach, followed by a strip of land, backed by a lake – a 180-acre freshwater lagoon – and then the cliffs, not only make Slapton beautiful, but also almost identical-looking to Utah Beach in Normandy. As a result, US commanders had thought it the perfect place to mount a full-scale rehearsal in 1944 for the D-Day invasion. Operation Tiger had begun. Early in the still-dark morning of 28 April 1944, 30,000 US troops on board
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Although, like Jaywick, it didn’t look as if it could get much worse. I found my way back onto the dual carriageway. A chap came alongside on his bike and introduced himself as Terry. ‘You look like you’re on a long trip,’ he said. ‘I just got lost in that estate back there,’ I said. ‘Lucky you’ve still got your wheels,’ Terry said. ‘Where you off to now?’ ‘Just north,’ I said. ‘Me too,’ Terry said. ‘On my commute home.’ We rode together, taking the bike lanes that weaved between the
lucky enough to have travelled to some of the remotest places on earth – the great Arabian Empty Quarter, the Alaskan wilderness, Siberia. All those places have an ineluctable sense of their own isolation; it defines them. You travel in those empty places and feel like the first human ever to set foot there, or the first visitor after a terrible catastrophe. Cape Wrath felt like that to me. The last minibus bringing people back from the cape passed me, and then I was alone. I had the thought
meeks ya affa hungry, I’d say,’ said Donald. We sat there for a while in silence. I wasn’t sure what, if anything, we were waiting for. The clock on the wall ticked loudly. The corncrake was still making its racket outside. ‘How about those rabbits?’ I said. ‘Aye, tis like a plague this year.’ Another long silence. ‘Can they climb?’ asked Donald. ‘Only I wouldne want them getting into my garden.’ ‘I don’t know.’ ‘Oh.’ The clock ticked. The corncrake craked. ‘Are ye done?’ Donald said,