A lot has happened since 2017. The five-year gap seems even wider than that because of the disruption of the covid pandemic, and I suspect that we’ve all begun to date everything from before and after Covid lockdowns. The long summer of 2017 is permanently fixed in my memory for all of the amazing experiences I had whilst cycling across Canada, and has become a personal before/after date in my life. When May 30th appeared on my calendar this morning I thought it would be nice to mark the anniversary with this short blog post.
The book I wrote about my trip, Crossing Canada: Incidents Of Travel On A Bike, has had an interesting life since it came out in January of 2020, accidentally coinciding with the first hints of the pandemic that was to come. There was a burst of interest at its launch on Kindle – mostly related to those of you following the blog – and lots of copies were sold during that first week or so, then things naturally slackened off. Then the paperback version came out, and it started selling again, followed by another longer lull. I assumed this would be the likely lifecycle of a self-published book not supported by any kind of organised advertising or promotion, beyond word-of-mouth and online reviews. We were also all becoming very preoccupied with the stresses and anxieties of the spread of the coronavirus. What amazed me was the effect of lockdown on how the book did: very few people were able to travel, so travel writing became suddenly highly desirable as a surrogate for the real experience. Sales really picked up, especially amongst Canadians unable to explore their own amazing country, and I started to get more reviews and comments, which was very satisfying. Even the one that began ‘What a shame!’, bemoaning the fact that there weren’t any maps in my book (I sympathised, but had decided that since online maps were so readily available it wasn’t really essential). This led to the book regularly making the bestseller list on the Canadian Amazon website, in both general Travel and Cycling sections, if not the UK one! Since then it has bobbed up and down the list, but seems to have now got a kind of life of its own, as a record of a previous era of more carefree adventure travel.
And what about the future? I’m often asked if I have any other trips planned, and I must admit that there is a major journey I’m very keen to make, but it’s even further than crossing Canada and would obviously take even longer. The problem is how to pause your life and career long enough make a plan a reality? Rest assured that if this plan does come into being, you will be amongst the very first to know! I’ve also been working hard on another book, this time concerning a plane crash in Honduras in 1932 that my grandfather miraculously survived. It’s much more ambitious as a writing project than anything I’ve done before, and proving much harder to complete, but I’m determined to get there.
Thanks for all of the wonderful support over the years, and I wish everybody a wonderful summer 2022, wherever you may be.