What do you mean “Cycle the UK”?

I’ve had this great idea…

I’m going to take my second hand bike, my grannie’s camera, and borrowed panniers and cycle in a big loop around the UK. I’m doing it to visit awesome womxn all over the country to talk to them about their stories, passions and journeys. At 27 years old I’m getting pretty tired of people wondering when I’m going to “settle down” and I’m going to be interviewing people older than me to show that you don’t have to “do it whilst your young”  

It couldn’t make more sense to me, but saying this to others seems to raise a lot of questions, and a few eyebrows (depending on who I tell) so I thought I would put a QnA together, to break down the trip, and answer the questions that it seems everyone wants to know. 

Let’s start simple: When are you going? 

I’m planning to start the 15th August from Shoreham by sea, which is where my granny lived when she was alive. There have been a lot of setbacks to get to this point, with lockdowns and I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that it will be safe enough to set off. 

Where are you going? 

I am cycling roughly a 3000 km loop, although I haven’t fully planned the exact roads and routes that I’ll use. The loop sees me work my way down to Exeter, back to bristol, and into wales. From there I head up the west of england via Liverpool, Manchester and the Lakes. I’m planning to cycle up into Scotland to visit Glasgow and Edinburugh, before coming back down the east of England, into London and back to Shoreham.

How long will it take? 

It’s more a question of how long have I got! I would love to visit more places, but I am trying to complete the trip around the start of November so it doesn’t give me much time. I’ve planned the route around what I think is achievable in the time I have. It should take me just under three months from start to finish. 

How many km will you cycle each day? 

Roughly 60km a day, with some longer days, some shorter days. I’ve also planned in 14 days rest and 6 days leeway – just in case! I’ve never cycled several days in a row before, so I’ve had to guess what I think might be possible. 

Are you going Alone? 

Yes… And No! I am completing the loop cycling by myself, but I’ll be joined for much of the trip by My Girlfriend Frit, who’s been super supportive and understanding, and has no idea what she’s agreed to get into. I’ll have my sister there for part of it, and I’m going to be travelling round to meet different people all along the way. I’ve also already had so many offers from friends wanting to meet up and cycle along the way, I’m so grateful for the support and it means that it doesn’t really feel like a solo trip at all.  

Where will you sleep? 

Great Question! I’ve not planned too far, as the route and timings might change. But I’m taking a tent with me and will be taking up space in peoples gardens, and campsites. We’re also planning to get some Airbnb’s for rest days, and Frit will bring the van when she joins me. I’m also hoping that there will be some awesome wild camping spots where it’s allowed to do so! 

Why are you stopping to interview people along the way?

I live a fairly alternative lifestyle, I’ve worked seasons abroad, I’ve travelled, and I now work freelance and regularly take time off work to chase the things I love, but sometimes it seems like this way of life isn’t really the “done thing” or the “right thing” to be doing, particularly as a woman. 

Whenever I’m out and about, or on the road in my van, and I meet womxn who are older than me, but still living the life I love, who are doing the things that set my soul on fire, who are out there living it, it gives me hope, that there is more, that there is a different path. That there isn’t some invisible cut off point, that you don’t have to “make the most of it whilst your young” 

If I feel this way. If I feel a pressure of expectations pushing me in a certain direction and down one particular path in life. Then it makes me wonder if other people do too, and if they do, I want them to feel the same relief, and hope that listening to other peoples stories brings. It’s easier to walk paths that other people have walked before. 

There is a lot of exciting coverage for inspiring women to get into the outdoors. I’m fairly sure women have been in the outdoors as long as the outdoors has existed. I just don’t know about them. With this trip I’m hoping to change that, I’m hoping to meet people who are living true to themselves, share voices that you’ve never heard before and go deeper into stories that you might already know. 

How will I find out more about the interviews after the trip? 

I am carrying recording equipment with me, and if all goes well I’ll be recording every interview. I’m planning to talk to about 50 women so please bear with me as I work through the content! I’m also taking a handed down camera and I have a whole stack of black and white films to use. As there is so much going on I’ll also have a new camera with me to keep video diaries of the trip. There are a few different ways that I might use all this content at the end, but I’d really like to make a podcast, have a film about the trip, and compile some of the photos into an exhibition or book. Just watch this space! 

Do you have any questions about the trip that haven’t been answered here? Let me know in the comments, or feel free to ask over on the Facebook page. I’d love to share this journey with as many people as possible and if you want to follow me along the way the best place to look is Instragram where you can find me at @frankie_dewar, where I post most days, and on facebook at the page Frankie Dewar Cycles the uk, feel free to drop me a message and say hi!

Frankie x x x x

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