Tuesday, June 1

A Winning Post! Another Author takes the track by storm!

This time we have caught a winner and not just in his fields of Cycling and Coding repute but a Father and now Writer!
Andy Allsopp - Author of 'Barring Mechanicals' (available and selling fast world wide!)
Has graced us with entertaining and philosophically profound answers to our questions, as asked by the fans...

1. What is the inspiring thing about cycling?

You remember the feeling you get when you're a child and you stick your head out the window in your dad’s car for the first time? The way the wind buffets your face, the way the air feels solid as it flows under your hand, the ground rushing by just out of reach, above you only sky? Cyclists get that every day.

2. Do you prefer open roads or peopled zones?

Cycling is a deeply immersive way to travel. There's no boundary to divide your body from your surroundings. As such, the dynamics of cycling change necessarily when you enter / exit a highly populated area. Intersections, crossings, erratic drivers, distracted pedestrians combine to pose an interesting set of hazards that demand your full attention. Navigating each successfully gives a good feeling of reward, and offers plenty of opportunity for pleasant interaction. Most of my riding is done on the daily commute across London.
The same activity on the open road is an entirely different experience. Weather systems and geology which are rendered irrelevant by the necessary commute suddenly become dominant. Pushing the pedals becomes a meditation. You literally lose yourself in the landscape.

If I have to chose, I'll take open roads, with a friend alongside.

3. What inspired you to write about your experiences?

When signing up for LEL as a relative newbie, I joined a cycling forum to get some advice. There is a strong culture within the online community for providing ‘ride reports’ of activities undertaken, and it wasn’t long after I finished that requests started coming in. The resulting serialisation was driven by gentle peer pressure from the outside, coupled with a cathartic demand from the inside to provide an account of my experience.

4. Is there a lot of work for you in typing, or does it come smoothly?

I write much like my riding style: lots of exploratory jabs down dead ends, meandering routes, diversions and sudden climbs, mere pauses where others would stop, all ending up considerably further across the page than might be entirely necessary. In terms of a formalised process, I tend to start with a few thoughts about what the chapter should include, allow it to brew in my mind for a day or so, then try to get it onto the page in a single hit as a simple stream of consciousness. Moving it from mind to (electronic) paper allows me to evaluate the record from a third person perspective. I read back through it and tidy up where necessary, seeking substitutes for repeated words, ensuring the sentence flow and rhythms work towards my intent.

5.Was the book a natural progression?

Yes. Feedback from the ongoing ride reports had been very favourable, and a few readers contacted me to ask if I had considered publishing. These were tailed by offers of assistance that saw me through a series of proofs and typesetting.
As a body of work, I would estimate around 95% of the narrative used in the book is lifted from the original forum posts, representing around 50% of the total effort. ‘Online’ is a very forgiving medium for writing: the words spill from the top left to the bottom right of a page that is exactly as tall as your chapter, definitions for any specialist term employed are available at the click of a button, supporting material can be brought to screen in seconds. In comparison, the printed word is a harsh mistress, readers flailing in and out of footnotes, the flow orphaned by unexpected page breaks, geography requiring the reader brings a handy atlas.

What was to be a quick once through for grammar became a fairly heavy task, but I feel the end result has been worth it. I’ve had favourable feedback from non riders, and this suggests that the revisions have been a success.

I believe it is important that the book retains the original structure wherever possible. This is the closest I can get to the ‘first generation’ record of my experience. Some of this is visible in the book’s episodic flavour, informed by the forum’s strict 5000 character limit on a single post.

6. You have chosen an interesting publishing form, do you find that made the process easy?

Without self publishing, I the project as it arrives today would have been largely impossible. When approximately half way through writing the original posts, I knew I would like something physical to justify the time commitment outside of the cycle forum: an analogue printed version to keep on the bookcase, maybe share with my family. Originally seeking academic book binding solutions, I was soon pointed towards self publishing via Lulu. This has allowed me to produce and distribute copies considerably cheaper and easier than would have been possible otherwise.

7. Has it been an adventure? What do your family think of the many skills of their Pa?

It has certainly been exciting journey, and even in this largely digital age a book has an instant currency that can legitimise the effort required to get words on the page. My family’s contribution of time and understanding has been an essential part of this process, and I couldn’t hope to have done it without them. At 27 months, Ted is still a little too young to realise that a writing a book is anything other than common, but his mum is extremely proud.

8. Do you plan to bring your art into the cycling arena? and to your fans?

I think there’s always a little crossover. When you ride long distance, the friends who come along bring much of themselves to the mix. The peloton is a very open community, and most of us know each other’s passions and histories. This side of the screen, all of us are indexed pretty neatly on the web anyway. Its never too hard for interested parties to dig up my cyclechat, deviantart, or youtube account.