And the winner is…

Well! This competition has been something of a revelation. Mainly in terms of the sheer variety of trip ideas submitted.

Who’d have thought that there were folk out there planning to tour the breweries of the world, explore countries while researching historical-mythological novels, use bike touring to find a new home, and string lectures along the route of pedal-powered journeys?

There’s something really reassuring about all of this. There’s an abundance of imagination and passion out there. It’s inspirational to get an glimpse of it through this giveaway, this tiny cross-section of the adventurous journeys that are taking shape right now, not just here in the UK but all across the planet.

Unfortunately I only have a single bicycle to give away. I wish I had one for everyone who entered! Before revealing the ‘winner’, though, I’d like to go into a little more detail about what I was looking for – what kind of a trip plan I considered appropriate and in keeping with the ethos of the #freeLEJOG experiment:

1. Spirit

More than anything else, this project arose from the sheer spirit of adventure; the spirit of saying bollocks to institutionalised thinking, throwing oneself wholeheartedly at the unknown, putting one’s fate in the hands of the universe. A scary thing to do, a grand départ from the comfort zone, and an experience guaranteed to be valuable, memorable and absolutely worthwhile.

I was looking primarily for trip plans formed along these lines. There were lots to choose from!

2. Simplicity

Space to reap the true rewards of adventure is provided by keeping things simple and flexible, allowing for failures, lessons, changes of direction, departures from pre-planned itineraries, departures from expectations. This ruled out trip plans built on tight schedules and complicated concepts; trips whose success depended on being in certain places at certain times.

There is nothing whatsoever wrong with plans like this. But it is not quite what I wanted to get at with this project — especially when a less-than-100%-reliable bike is concerned. A shortlist began to form.

3. Challenge

“A life without risk is not worth living,” said someone significantly wiser than me. The strongest learning experiences come out of the greatest hardships, and doing something involving a complete paradigm shift and a move to a totally unfamiliar environment is a sure recipe for challenges of that kind.

This swung the balance in favour of people with less travelling experience who were pushing the boat all the way out.

4. Imagination

There was no shortage whatsoever of imaginative trip plans submitted for this competition. However, some entrants took this on board for the actual entries themselves, going to considerable pains to convince us that their idea should be chosen. Someone who demonstrated imagination this early on would surely have little trouble innovating solutions to the inevitable hurdles and challenges of touring on a no-budget bike.

This consideration had the effect of elevating a few particularly compelling efforts above the remainder of briefer, vaguer entries.

5. Spontaneity

Finally, I was looking for a trip that was not overplanned or overthought; for someone who’d see the opportunity to take off on an adventure, find the next available space in their calendar (or make one) and go. On that note, trip plans that were ready to roll within days or weeks took precedence over those slated for departure months into the future.

The bike is begging to be ridden somewhere. Summer won’t last forever. So the sooner, the better!

* * *

There was one entry in particular that demonstrated all of the above qualities really well. And I think we’ll all agree that Tegan Phillips is a deserving ‘winner’ of the temporary stewardship of this set of adventure-enabling tools and the opportunity to use them for a truly enviable adventure. Just check out her fantastic video entry:

Who wouldn’t want to see that happen?!?

I’ll be encouraging Tegan to pass on the bike and kit in the same spirit, putting her in touch with other deserving entrants whose plans for a little later in the year might match up with the end of her own trip.

As I said before – in true clichéd manner – everyone who entered this competition is a winner, really. All these plans are out there. Commitments have been made, dates have been set! And I have no doubt that each of these entrants will, as a result of vocalising their plans, feel a renewed impetus to make them happen, with or without a pile of free gear (which is really nothing more than a brief head-start).

I’m hoping many of them will be good enough to share their tales from the road in future editions of this blog.

* * *

A special mention to Will, whose awesome idea to ‘relay’ this bike around the world has really got me thinking.

It occurred to me that there are plenty of veteran cycle tourers in this community with cupboards of kit and garages of bikes all woefully under-used and gathering dust… perhaps we could get these bikes out on the road and adventuring again?

Imagine: you pass on a bike, a tent, a stove, or a pair of panniers (or all of the above). It gets handed from person to person; they use it for as long as is relevant; they pass it on in trust that the new user and keeper will do likewise.

The resulting series of stories that might emerge, as the bikes and gear passed from one person to the next, would hardly be making it ‘about the bike ‘, as was suggested in one comment – rather, it’d continue to demonstrate that cycle touring isn’t about possessions or notions of ownership, nor the ability to choose the perfect gear.

Instead, it’d show that it’s possible to make these journeys with and on whatever bike and gear comes to hand – regardless of where it came from and how you came across it. In other words… it’s not about the bike. (Am I even allowed to say that any more?)

Come on, ye who profess to be about inspiring future adventurers – now’s the chance to prove it! Who’s in?

Seriously. If you’ve got a working touring bike and/or touring gear gathering dust (no matter how basic), and you’d be up for pooling it for generations of future bicycle travellers to ride and share their stories, get in touch!

25 Responses to “And the winner is…”

  1. will

    brill video, made me laugh out loud and have an awesome adventure Tee. Absoloutly love the idea of a bike relay round the world, how can we make it happen?

    Reply
  2. Liz

    Wow! How could you not pick this entry. The video brought tears to my eyes (you know what I’m like) Go, Tee, go! have a great adventure. I look forward to reading about it on Tom’s blog.

    Reply
  3. Martin

    Fantastic choice Tom, and congratulations to the very worthy winner!

    As someone who entered I have to say that as more and more of these very inspirational, spontaneous, and truly adventurous ideas came in I began to hope that I wouldn’t win – although a huge part of me still wanted to win of course!

    This was a great competition and a wonderful way to extend an already inspirational adventure. I hope you manage to get some of the dust gathering touring equipment out of their early graves in garages up and down the country and into the hands of people like Tegan.

    (a polite p.s. not a fan of the pop up email subscription thingy though 🙂 if I wasn’t already subscribed and a huge fan of the site, that might have put me off coming back, sorry)

    Reply
  4. Fabian

    Congrats, have an absolutely awesome time, Tegan!

    Reply
  5. Paul

    The relay around the world was my idea, unless Will thought of it too, but either way I didn’t win so congrats to the winner.

    Reply
  6. Kelly Diggle

    Excellent, just excellent! Have a fantastic adventure Tee, I’m looking forward to reading all about it 🙂

    Reply
  7. jane

    Lovely video. Tegan, I live in London. If you need a bed for a couple of nights, get in touch. [email protected]

    Reply
  8. Joseph

    Lovely! I’ve sent her an email with a couple roofs she could sleep under in France if needed.

    Reply
  9. Andy

    Interested in help with a bike if I can. I don’t have anything to give except my time in fixing them up when I can.

    Reply
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  11. Stephen King

    Way to go, Tegan! I hope you will post some real-life videos of your trip for all we less fortunate desk jockeys to enjoy.

    Thanks, Tom, for making this possible for her.

    Iaculis a vitae handlebars!

    Reply
  12. Tegan Phillips

    Thank you so much everyone!! I really appreciate all the encouragement and will definitely be getting in contact soon about those accommodation/help offers. Also, I’m sure I will meet or read about some of you as the bike is passed from person to person, which is very seriously exciting!

    If anybody is interested in following my adventure I will be keeping an illustrated blog, will post the link somewhere here as soon as I have got it all set up 🙂

    Reply
    • Andy Smallwood

      Congratulations Tee, you are sure to have a great adventure. I can help with any tips, routes and accommodation through France and northern Spain as I cycled central Portugal to East Yorkshire in 2012. Just get in touch and I’ll be happy to help.

      Thanks for the idea Tom, it has been a great read. Keep on keeping on.

      Andy

      Reply
    • Angie

      I loved your entry; it was brilliant. You may want to reconsider that law degree in favor of something more creative and expressive.

      Best wishes for safe roads and happy pedaling!

      Reply
  13. Joel Sutton

    Great entry and a well-deserved win. Hope to read of her adventure soon.
    Love the idea of pooling resources and equipment!

    Reply
  14. Tim Hall

    Love the video Tee and I am looking forward to following your adventure blog but I note that you fly to London today…? Anyone have a link to Tee’s blog yet, please?

    Reply
  15. jane

    Hi Tegan
    Couldn’t get the link to the blog to work, but will keep trying! Especially as I believe there is now a picture of my bike on it…

    Reply
  16. Tom Allen

    Tegan departed from Bristol this morning on a bearing for Spain! Her blog is at http://unclippedadventure.blogspot.com and I strongly recommend you follow it!

    Reply
  17. jane

    Message to Tegan:
    Loved the blog (esp chapter 2). I’ve tried to add a comment (about 5 times) but can’t get it to work. Just to let you know chapter 2 has now been turned into a poster for my kitchen wall – you’ll see it when you come to pick up your suitcase.
    lots of love
    Jane, Shaun and Snowy

    Reply
  18. josh tk

    Hell of an idea! Love the style and execution. Well deserved. Safe travels!

    Reply

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