A Passion for Touring

Like you and I, Jay Sharp loves cycling.  Recently Jay progressed this love into something tangible, and into a way in which he can share that passion with others.  Here Jay provides explains what got him to where he is and why he felt compelled to do something with his zeal for bikes and where they can take, both literally and figuratively.

As a form of transport the bicycle is pretty much perfect. Affordable, efficient and beneficial to the mind, body and environment.

Bikes came into my life at about the age of five when I first managed to balance, pedal and steer simultaneously. This simple form of motion soon expanded my world. Different lanes, different fields and woods. New places.

As I grew older these lanes would carry friends and I on wonderful night rides to pubs in distant villages and towns. Then came art college in Hastings, a daily slog into the wind along Pett Level and an unavoidable climb over the still formidable Battery Hill. Art college finished and I became a potter (I still am) and to a varying degree bikes remained a constant in my life ever since. Long gone are the dubious hand painted ‘franken-bikes’ with their worn out cotter pins and creaking bottom brackets. My bikes have become better and I have discovered that with enough time, food and drink I could cover some proper distances and travel right across the country if I wanted to. Bristol, Wales, Somerset and the Cotswolds all proved to be within pedalling distance from Worthing. It has made my mind reel at the possibilities of experiencing new places and has ignited an almost permanent state of ‘wanderlust’ in my head. Always studying maps, imagining routes and making lists.

More recently, coupled with a wish for a different work/life balance I decided I would like to incorporate cycling into my day to day life at a more significant level. I’ve always enjoyed the way one is actually in the landscape on a bike. Travelling across the country by bike you notice the subtle changes from place to place. The buildings and walls might be made of different stone, the plants in the hedgerows will vary as will the birds in the sky and the topography. You’re not so open to this travelling by car. Your senses are dulled and it’s a detached, remote experience. On a bike your senses are heightened. You smell the air, hear the sounds, feel the wind and physically interact with every rise, fall and curve of your way. The contours and symbols on maps become alive.

I’ve always enjoyed sharing these experiences with others, mainly family and a couple of mates who don’t seem to mind being dragged off to all kind of remote places in all kinds of inclement weather. At a very basic level I like showing people nice places from the saddle of a bike and I figured maybe I could expand on this and so about a year ago I enrolled on a course with Cycling UK to become a Cycle Tour Leader.

A year on and with a reduction in my hours as a full time potter, I have decided to pursue this dream. So here I am, based in Worthing, offering my services as a cycle tour guide in the south of England. I am offering unsupported rides, harking back to the golden years of cycle touring. There will be some well established routes such as the South Downs Way and round the Isle of Wight and in addition I’m offering bespoke tours, individually planned to suit the clients requirements, everything from exploring local lanes and trails to multi day bike packing trips.

The tours are aimed at anyone with a reasonable level of fitness and with access to a suitable bike, from newcomers to cycling, wishing to build up confidence and range, to established cyclists who’d like to expand their horizons with like minded individuals. I aim to provide an inclusive, non-competitive environment to explore this beautiful corner of Britain by bicycle.

For more information, visit my website https://www.velojay.cc

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