Just around the corner

I’m going to have to disagree with Mr Gump. Life isn’t like a box of chocolates. They come with a guide so you can avoid the fillings you don’t like – and there’s plenty I don’t like. No, the wonderful thing about life is that we never really know what’s around the corner.  When I gave up my job in the City over 10 years’ ago now, I didn’t know what I would do but was excited by the prospect of getting well out of my comfort zone. I feel I’ve finally arrived.

I’m currently working having great fun on a newish project. Earlier this year, while skimming my Twitter timeline, I caught sight of a delightful painting. It was by an artist called Greig Leach, based in Richmond Virginia, the official artist for next year’s World Road Race Championships. I contacted him and asked if I could interview him for VeloVoices where we’re mightily keen on posters, paintings and photographs of cycling and cyclists. He agreed.

The picture that had caught my eye was one of his postcard-sized water colour and ink paintings. He produces a series of these during the year’s major races. I bought one of Peter Sagan’s (Cannondale) stage win into Montpellier in last year’s Tour de France and gave it to him for being voted VeloVoices Rider 2013. The picture now hangs in his entrance hall.

Peter and award2

Throughout the season, wherever possible, I’ve used these postcard-sized paintings to illustrate articles and frequently attach them to my Twitter and Facebook posts. Before the start of this year’s Tour, Greig approached me with a proposition. He wanted to turn his paintings of the Tour into a coffee table book.  He was going to raise the necessary cash on the crowd-funding site, KickStarter, following the template of a friend who’d successfully financed a similar project. Would I edit the book?

book du tour small cover for style v5

I’ve never done anything like this before but that didn’t deter me. My blogposts for VeloVoices are expertly edited by one of our three main writers.  No one edits these posts but then they’re just ramblings intended for friends and family. I often come back for a quick tidy up a week or so after I’ve posted. It is, of course, always easier to spots the errors of others. I should add that as an accountant I’ve proof-read many sets of accounts and, when I worked in investment banking, many legal documents. Editing’s a rather more skilled proposition.

Of course, I readily agreed. Who wouldn’t? I also helped publicise the project. I was advised to “bother the crap out of everyone you know!” Wise words. I took that advice to heart and pestered everyone I knew and lots I don’t. All in a good cause you understand.

Crowd-funding sites advise that projects which raise at least 30% of the required funds in their first week-end are more likely to be successful. We had barely raised 5%. But our target audience was watching a gripping Tour de France, with more highs and lows than the Alps. It all came together in the last week of fundraising, the week after the Tour finished!

Saying Farewell

As an editor, it’s rather tempting to superimpose what you might have written  but you shouldn’t. It’s not your tale to tell. Of course, it should be error free even though it’s written in a language not your own – American English. I won’t pretend it hasn’t been a challenge. I have cast my eagle eye over everything. And, I do mean everything. I have even checked that the racing numbers on the back of the jerseys correspond to the riders named in the narrative.

It’s only when you undertake such an exercise that you realise how many errors there are on most websites. You need to establish creditable reference points. Greig takes his Tour feed from NBC where the commentators are the much-revered pairing of Liggett and Sherwen.  Please don’t believe everything they tell you. I could find no substance for a number of their claims in my large library of Tour reference books.  It’s painstaking work and surprisingly time-consuming but then I’ve been on a steep learning curve and have gained plenty from the process.

The book is taking shape. Of course, it is all about the paintings but I want the narrative to do them justice.  I’ve also had to bear in mind that while Grieg and I are fans of the sport, it’ll be bought and read by some that are not. Just how much do you need to explain? More than you might imagine but not too much that it becomes tedious.

We’re on a tight schedule, the book is due shortly at the printers for its first blue-lined draft. We want that draft to be perfect – corrections cost money. The printed copies will roll off the presses at the beginning of November – just in time for Christmas. It’ll be the perfect gift for art-lovers, art-loving cyclists, cycling fans, cyclists and anyone else you know.

My work doesn’t stop there. I rashly promised Greig I’d get some signed by the Tour winner and he included this carrot in some of his crowd-funding incentive packages.

Safely Home

In recent days we’ve heard that the book is going to the prestigious Frankfurt Book Fair. I’ve had to provide the publisher with a picture (cringe) and potted bio where I failed dismally to make myself suited to the job of editor.

Of course, we need to generate as many sales as possible in the window before the next Tour and I’m hoping that this will just be the start of Greig’s production line. Next up the Giro d’Italia, then the Vuelta a Espana, The Cycling Season and………………….

Don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Book de Tour here!

Links:  Greig’s paintings of this year’s Tour de France and La Course (with unedited narrative) 



Planning in vain

Yet again I find myself chomping at the bit to go out for a ride. I managed to slip out at lunchtime for a quick thrash around Cap d’Antibes but was left wanting more. Sadly, I’m still hosting a whole variety of tradespeople two weeks after they were supposed to have finished! This is playing havoc with my schedule.

Planner 2014edited

To be fair, it’s not been all bad. Their workmanship has largely been exemplary. The only issue, and it’s a personal one, has been the replacement trap doors in the flat. The previous ones were made for me by a carpenter to match my door surrounds and so I’ll shortly be replacing the new replacement ones. These new bog standard replacement door traps don’t quite cut it and mine are just that wee bit too small. However, I’ve discovered that I’m not the only one with this problem. Either the builders cut too large new access holes or the measurements taken were inaccurate. Either way, it doesn’t really matter. Of course, for some of my neighbours, particularly those with wallpapered walls, the end result is far from attractive and they’ll either have to lump it or totally redecorate their hallways, a far more expensive proposition than a replacement door and surround.

This week I had hoped to be spending days out on the bike enjoying the still mild weather, instead I’m spending way too much time cooped up inside. The only upside is that I’m tackling my backlog of work. Just as well as, once the builders have departed, everything will need a thorough clean. There’s dirt and dust everywhere. Still I have been enjoying the break from housework – who wouldn’t? I could have used Bob the Robot to keep the floor dust in check but it’s all proved too much for him. He’s gone on strike and won’t recharge. I’ve got to return him for a once-over and, possibly, replacement parts.

This week end it’ll be key to log plenty of kilometres in the saddle as next week I’m making one of my briefish trips to the UK for a Dental Exhibition – I know, I lead such an exciting life! – and to see my Dad. As a consequence, my training plans have rather gone out of the window in my quest to just ride as much as I can before the cold weather sets in. But hopefully that’s going to be many more weeks off.

Already, I’m making plans for next year. By the end of next month, I’ll typically have the following year pretty much planned out. My trip to the start of next year’s Tour de France in Yorkshire was booked about four months’ ago and I’ve just made plans to visit friends and clients in Italy next year to watch the latter part of the recently announced Giro d’Italia. In addition, I’ve selected the route and hotels for next year’s trip to the World Championships in Ponferrada, Spain. We’re turning it into a two week holiday, with bikes, which will give us plenty of opportunity to explore areas which we’ve never before visited.

My husband was pretty adamant that he wouldn’t be following the Tour of the Basque country next year, so that might have to be a solo road trip with what by then will be Tom IV. How time flies! But maybe he’ll relent by the time next Easter comes around. Just in case, I’d better book a hotel room large enough for us both. In truth, next year’s viewing of cycle races will follow a pretty similar agenda to this year’s, although I am hoping to squeeze in another trip to the MotoGP in either Spain or Italy.

It might seem as if all this planning and preparation takes away from the spontaneity of just rocking up to watch something but I find it’s quite the opposite. It gives me time to look forward and savour what’s on the horizon without stressing about whether or not I’ll find accommodation or have time to go. If it’s not in the diary, it’s easy to overlook or rashly commit  – or be committed by my beloved – to something else.