Mini Interview with Andrew Sykes, author of ‘Good Vibrations’

Andrew Sykes, Reading based author of ‘Good Vibrations – Crossing Europe on a bike called Reggie‘ has answered some questions for us in an exclusive mini interview. If you haven’t got the book yet, now is the time to get it on Amazon and start reading. It’s a perfect pre-summer read that definitely makes me want to get on the bike and launch into an adventurous ride…

Question: I have just started reading Good Vibrations, and I like the fact it really makes me want to cycle the same way down to Italy. Have you heard from people who you inspired, who maybe already followed in your footsteps?

Andrew: Yes, all the time! It’s one of the nicest things to get emails from people from all over the world who have either found details of my cycle from the UK to southern Italy on my website or have read the book Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie and are interested in finding out more. Sometimes if they have specific questions about specific things, I can furnish them with a bit more detail but by far the most asked question is along the lines of ‘where can I find a map?’ and I have to break the bad news that, as far as I know, one doesn’t exist. When I cycled the ‘route’ I had to fill in the lines between the towns and cities mentioned in the official European Cyclists’ Federation description of the Eurovelo 5. I do sometimes wonder if I have inadvertently created a quasi-official route which was never my intention. One reader who goes by the curious name of ‘Thunderthighs’ has actually recreated my route from the references in Good Vibrations for the cycling route website. I take my hat off to him or her as they have done me a great service by doing so. That said, my advice to others is what I liked so much about my own trip; make it up for yourself!


Question: You have given your bike the name Reggie, and you talk of it a bit like of a person… so, how is Reggie these days?

Andrew: He is very well and continues his day job of helping me commute the round trip of fifteen or so miles daily from my home in Reading to the school where teach in Henley-on-Thames. The children at the school do find it very bizarre that I gave the bike a name but it was done with good reason; by naming him Reggie, I was able, to some extent, to impose human characteristics upon what would otherwise have to be referred to repeatedly as ‘the bike’ or the ‘Panorama’ etc… The ways in which we can describe a human being are a bit more varied than those we usually use for describing a bike. His appearance in the title of the book came much later after the book had been written; he was the star of the whole show so it was only natural that he should have his share of the limelight. One reviewer of the book on Amazon took exception to the ‘constant references to Reggie’ but if you buy a book with the name of the bike in the title, you should really have worked he might get a mention from time to time before reading the first page, no?

Question: Before we talk more about ‘Good Vibrations’ – are there trips planned for 2012? Have you become a serial adventurer?

Andrew: No trips planned for 2012. In 2009, as I detail in the prologue of Good Vibrations, I did experiment with long-distance cycling by taking my then bike (not Reggie) to Berwick-upon-Tweed and cycling down to Derby so I didn’t start the European cycle as a complete novice. I was quite scared that I would get as far as Dover and decide that touring wasn’t for me and head back home so the northern England trip gave me a bit of reassurance that that wouldn’t happen. My next trip is penned in for 2013 when I would like to cycle the Eurovelo 8 from Athens to Cadiz in Spain. It was chosen for no better reason than the hope that the weather will be a bit better than it was in summer 2010. I never intended writing a book about cycling to Italy along the Eurovelo 5 so I’m looking forward to cycling a long-distance route and have in mind the book that I will write after it is finished. That, I think, will add an extra dimension to the whole experience. Summer 2012 will hopefully see me busy being a ‘Games Maker’ for the London Olympics.

Thanks to Andrew for answering these questions for us. Andrew will also attend our book   club meeting early March at the ‘King and Queen’ pub in Fitzrovia. I will confirm the exact date as soon as I can, hopefully this week.

Feel free to submit more questions to Andrew, I hope we can follow up with another mini interview…

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