A British writer and adventurer is launching a new UK touring live show in Beverley which will chronicle the highs and lows of his 3,427-mile UK cycling tour during the pandemic.
Simon Parker’s show, Riding Out, will combine high-quality film, audio mixes, readings and personal anecdotes from his two-wheeled journey across Britain.
Through encounters with the hundreds of Britons he met along the way, including fishermen, farmers and musicians, an inspiring picture emerges of Britain recovering from the trauma and turmoil of the global pandemic.
He also talks about how the trip helped him overcome his mental health issues.
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Simon Parker, 34, spoke by telephone to Hull Live from Cape Town, South Africa, about his cycling trip to Britain: “The show is a multimedia representation of my journey of three thousand and half miles around pandemic Britain. The aim is to be quite thoughtful and optimistic.”
Describing the show as a “reflective look at a difficult time”, Simon explained why he chose to cycle across the UK, which took place in 2020 and 2021 after the last national lockdown: “In March 2020 , I really felt like my life was on the crest of a wave.
“Everything was going so well for me. I think the real peak of my career was when I had a one-on-one interview with Roger Federer in February. When the pandemic started to affect, fundamentally, my career and my life seemed to be fall off a cliff.” Simon’s sanity declined and was further affected by an unexpected personal loss: “On top of that an old friend of mine passed away suddenly.”
“I had an existential crisis like many in Britain. Rather than stay at home and feel sorry for myself, I decided to take the extreme tactic of traveling around Britain and see if I could become a stronger individual.” He had originally planned to travel from Land’s End to John O’Groats, but decided to make the trip more interesting and instead visit the southernmost and northernmost points of Britain, Shetland and the Isles of Scilly.
The journey began in Shetland and Orkney. “When I came back to the Scottish mainland I didn’t know if I was going to turn left or right. I turned west only because of the weather because I didn’t feel like cycling in east coast winds of 30 to 40 miles per hour.”
The second national lockdown in the fall of 2020 cut his trips short but Simon resumed travel in the spring of 2021 after the last national lockdown: “When I came out of that I felt like my trip was only half done.”
Simon said the trip helped him personally: “I managed to come to terms with the situation.”
“It was a bit of a gamble. Looking back on it, I’m really glad I did it.”
He passed through Lincolnshire, Hull and East Yorkshire for part of the journey: “I headed north from Skegness, crossed the Lincolnshire Wolds, crossed the Humber Bridge and cycled through the middle of Hull.” Hornsea and Bridlington were two of the places on the east coast of Yorkshire he also visited.
“I think if there’s one part of Britain that has surprised me the most, it’s the northeast coast of England, which stretches between the Lincolnshire Wolds, Humberside and up to the North York Moors and Scarborough. Some of the beaches in the North East were breathtakingly beautiful.”
He cycled the 3,427 miles through 55 counties of Britain on a titanium bicycle worth around £2,000 he had received for a TV show a few years earlier, and camped for around the half of the journey.
The bike trip was not his first exciting travel adventure. A BBC journalist from 2010 and now a travel writer, Simon has toured India in a rickshaw, cycled 15,000 miles from China to London in 2016 and solo paraglided above the Andes. In 2019 he presented the TV series Amazon Earth Cycle, cycling for six weeks through Scandinavia exploring the changing seasons. His thirst for adventure remains intact – there is a break in his touring schedule when Simon travels to the source of the Zambezi River, learning about conservation efforts along the way.
A book about his cycling experiences in Britain, Riding Out: A Journey of Love, Loss and New Beginnings, is due to hit stores in April. Beverley Show punters will have the opportunity to purchase a signed copy directly from Simon ahead of its general release.
Tickets for Simon Parker’s show at the Beverley East Riding Theater on March 30 cost £15 and more information about the event can be found on the theatre’s website. here. He will also visit Grimsby Central Hall on July 13. For more on Simon Parker’s journalism, other travel adventures and his show’s other tour dates, follow the link here.