Working in London, I have a number of encounters with London’s bike couriers. Very occasionally I may be moving through our reception when one of their number is dropping something off. More frequently it is skipping out of their way as they purposefully carry straight on through a red light. Such are the streets of this country’s capital.
However, a few years ago, I was pleased to attend a talk to hear of a cycle courier with quite a story, and one well worth hearing. In 2009, Julian Sayarer set off to cycle round the World. He completed 18,049 miles in 169 days, a record at the time. Life Cycles is his account of, as the author puts it- ‘a roadside view of the world and its people, by bicycle‘. I found his book to be an interesting encounter with a young man struggling to find and place himself. His thoughts move at a similar pace to his wheels. Forgive him his naivety as an author, and an angry man’s railing against what he perceives as wrong, at that stage in his life. This book is an everyday man’s account of determination, grittiness and ‘can-do’ attitude, that lacks the polish and refinement of many a well sponsored alternative account. It is all the better for it. Yes, Julian had a young man’s pre-formed prejudices that shaped his motivation, journey and subsequent account, as do we all. The secret is to grow, form and develop as an individual, this account is part journey round the World, and part author maturing.
Julian joined me for a beer or two after his talk. We chatted about aspects of his adventures and we shared with each other some of our respective future plans. I looked forward to hearing of his account of courier work, which is recounted in his follow-up book Messengers. However I was more intrigued by his wish to hitch hike across his beloved USA. That 2013 adventure was written about in his book Interstate, that won the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year. As to my future Long Walk, he was kind enough to annotate my copy of Life Cycles…
Life Cycles, Julian Sayarer. John Blake Publishing. Paperback edition 2014. ISBN 978 1 78219 903 8