Journalist Trevor Ward writes about cycling for a living and appears to have the dream job. From riding Ventoux for Cyclist magazine to reporting closer to home for The Guardian, he’s a man for all weathers. Spokesman caught up with him at home in Scotland.
5. Which trips stand out as being the most memorable?
The most forgettable was a sportive in Northern Portugal. It was a mountainous, 100-mile route. It rained torrentially from start to finish, so that was something like seven hours in the rain. All I could see for those seven hours was greyness. The cloud had wiped out every view. Everything was reduced to a grey smudge. There wasn’t even any relief on the descents because visibility was limited there were torrents of rainwater cascading down the sides. Fortunately, at the end, one of the sponsors was a liquer brand, so I warmed up by drinking gallons of that.
6. If you had to organise a sportive, where would it be?
I spend about 70 per cent of my riding time in the rain/wind/cold – and that’s just the Scottish summer. So it would have to be somewhere hot. I’ve done a bit of travelling – by bus and train, not bike – around South America, so I think I’d like to organise one there. I just read that Rapha are offering week-long cycling trips to Colombia for £4,800, NOT including flights. I’m sure I could arrange something cheaper.
7. How much planning and research goes into working for say Cycling Plus?
Just about everything I write is self-originated, i.e. I came up with the idea and successfully sold it to the editor, whether my monthly column In Praise Of for Cyclist, or the UK Big Rides and other features I do for Cycling Plus. If I’ve managed to sell the idea of a Big Ride, then I’m responsible for organising all the logistics – getting there, accommodation, support vehicle for the photographer, restaurants, etc. Often we manage to get the tourism board or a local cycling tour operator on board, but not always, that’s a big help.
After that, I research every detail of the route. Not the natural geography – the photographs will tell that story – but the history of the places we pass through. I can while away many happy hours doing this, with one search result leading to another that results in wonderful serendipitous discoveries about an obscure character or incident from the annals of cycling. For example, today I’ve just written a column In Praise of the Club Run, and in the course of Googling various things came across a book by HG Wells called The Wheels of Chance, a comic novel about a cycling holiday romance! I’ve just ordered a copy from Amazon, so expect a review shortly.
8. What tips for better cycling have you picked up from all the people you meet?
I am lucky to speak to pro riders and coaches, and they are full of useful tips, but they are only really useful if I had aspirations to reduce my drag or improve my average speed, and frankly I don’t, I’m still managing to cling on to riding my bike for pleasure, I can’t see the point of adding undue pressure by doing something stupid like racing or TT-ing.
The only thing I firmly adhere to is: it’s about the person, not the bike.
9. I’m thinking of a new cycling holiday location, in your opinion where is the new Majorca?
La Gomera in the Canary Isles. You have to reach it by ferry from Tenerife. It’s tiny, but brutally mountainous, with a rainforest in the middle! You will have ridden every metre of tarmac in about three days, but the scenery is Andean, and it has a very tropical vibe. I’ve been three times, and love it. But be warned: being such a tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic, it gets VERY windy, and those sidewinds can scare the bejesus out of you on a descent.
10. Where are you going next?
On Saturday I’m competing in the grass track racing at Stirling Highland Games for a magazine feature, and on Sunday I’m off up to Aberdeenshire to ride with Deeside Thistle Cycling Club for another feature. Then on Tuesday I’m doing a ride from the geographical centre to the highest road in Great Britain, another of my stupid ideas that was actually taken up.
If you missed Part 1, catch up with it here