Coast to coast rider interviews bike makers

Round-Britain trip will be documented online

by Rebecca McIlhone   March 25, 2009  

Garry_Needham_Argos.jpg

Photographer and graphic designer Nick Hand is preparing for a round Britain cycle trip with a difference.

The 52-year-old from Bristol will cycle around the coast of Britain, covering 50 miles each morning with afternoons free to create "soundslide" interviews with key figures in cycle manufacturing and other craftsmen and women who have turned their passion into a way of life.

Hand admits it will be a challenge on all fronts from the physical to the technological as he will be uploading the interviews, blogs and a map of his progress on a dedicated website throughout the trip. A cycling commuter who has never done a long distance cycle ride before, he currently uses a 10-year-old Nokia mobile phone with an aerial, so will be upgrading his equipment to include an iPhone, laptop, camera and GPS.

Some of the early interviews, with Bristol-based Argos Racing Cycles and Charge Bikes (featuring Charge Bikes' Nick Larson talking about single speed) have already been made into a craft series for West Wales-based clothing company Howies, which Hand works for as a freelance graphic designer. 

He uses stills photography in combination with audio-only interviews, and will expand this theme during the trip. He will ride a custom-built bike made by Argos.

He says: “When you photograph people, if you just turn up and get the camera out they can be quite nervous, but if you interview them first and then take the pictures, it works really well. I found this software that produces old-school slideshows with sound. Then I thought I’d go on a trip."

The idea turned into a plan when Hand won £1000 from media development agency South West Screen, after pitching his idea at the Crossing the Void event in Bristol, promoting the possibilities of multi-platform broadcasting.

Hand's own voice is never heard during the interviews, which offer a fascinating insight into the lives of the people behind the small but thriving businesses based on the craft that goes into producing equipment like bikes, skateboards and surfboards.

On the cycling side Brooks Saddles and bicycle parts maker Hope Technologies are other businesses that will feature in the series when Hand sets off on his trip in the middle of June.

Battling the weather and finding internet connections to update the site will be part of the adventure.

He says: “I’m really looking forward to it. I’m a bit nervous about the aspects of it like wind and weather and hills, but living in Bristol is a good start training-wise.

“I’ll cycle clockwise from Bristol up through Wales and through the lakes in to West Scotland, which will be really interesting.

“There will be a mix of diving into WiFi cafes and trying to use whatever’s available to update the site.

“I’m 52 now and my kids are in their 20s and going off travelling so in a way, it’s the same for me. Now I can actually start doing things again and this might be the one chance I get to do it.”

The website, www.nickhand.co.uk, should be up and running by the end of April.