Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are you bringing Dog-dog?
After spending almost a year deliberating on it, for I’d love to have her with me and yes it is possible to carry a Jack Russell on a bicycle , I decided it would complicate the trip too much and ultimately she wouldn’t enjoy it. So Dog-dog will be staying happily at my parents entertaining frequent visitors.
2. When are you doing the tour?
I’m starting on Friday, July 1st, 2011 and planning to cycle for 2 months. I don’t mind if the trip takes a few days longer but I don’t want to let it slip too much into September.
3. How can you carry paints, canvases, other painting equipment?
Well, I have a bike that can carry anything. The trick will be not to carry too much. Also most canvases, to save space and weight, will be unstretched – these are the flat sheets of canvas you can get in pads i.e. they are not stapled onto wooden stretcher bars.
4. Are you sponsored?
No, though I’m open to it if it fits in with what the cycle is – i.e. cycling, travelling, touring, painting & sketching, taking photos, making video & audio recordings, online connectivity, using a tablet, a phone, and supporting equipment, social media, and drinking tea. There is some essential equipment for the bike needed and some gadgetry to ensure I can document and interact online. Also I’ll still have to pay rent on my studio in Dublin while I’m travelling.
5. What if you don’t have someone planned to host you every night?
For the days when I have no planned host I’m likely to tweet from the bicycle asking if there is anyone within X miles who’d like to host in return for a painting. If that fails then I will paint a picture on the road, post a photo of it to TwitPic or PicPlz, and try to sell it to raise funds for a B&B. If that fails, well,
I’ll be carrying a tent [update] money will run out after a few hostless nights and the trip will end – with the volume of stuff I’m carrying to paint, I decided it was too much to also carry a tent.
6. Can you stay several days at my place?
I can’t. The trip as planned is to last 60-70 days; if I stay everywhere even 2 days instead of 1 then it will double the length of the trip. At a handful of locations – Cork, Galway, Derry, and Antrim – I plan to stay a 2nd day. Things of course can change – injuries can happen – but I have to be mindful of completing the trip.
7. How will you find time to paint?
By not spending too much time cycling. Unlike my previous big cycling tours (England & Wales, Across Europe, Across America, Czech Republic) I don’t plan 100+ mile days. Instead I’m intending to average only 30-50 miles (50 – 80km) a day with typically a relatively short 3-4 hours cycling.
8. How will you find time to blog?
I don’t sleep. If a host doesn’t get me too drunk then when the host is sleeping I intend to blog and do uploads.
9. I’d like to host but I don’t want people to know where I live, or who I am?
In tweets or blogging etc. I won’t reveal anybody’s name, avatar, address, or any information they don’t want me to.
10. I can’t host but can we meetup when you’re in my town/village/area?
The evenings I really want to let the hosts dictate, so it may not be possible – but if it’s a night I’m hostless and staying in a B&B it should be possible. Also, I drink a lot of tea – perhaps I can stop by for a cup as I pass if I can keep the painting and cycling on schedule. It’s probably the sort of thing that’s best not planned too far ahead and left for twitter as the moment approaches.
11. Can you really paint 60 paintings in 60 days?
Well it might be 60 paintings in 65 days. And actually I’m hoping to do 2 paintings a day – one for the host, and one for me to sell, because it’s what I do for a living. I’m going to try.
12. How will you paint so quickly?
I’ve no idea. But I’m dying to find out – aren’t you? Many of the paintings I have been happiest with have been those done the quickest. Every painting on this trip will have to be relatively fast because I can’t move on to the next stage of the trip until I’m finished painting.
13. I can’t host but I’d like a painting – can I play?
Yes. I’m making 10 commission spots available where I will cycle to anywhere on the island and paint the scene of your choice (somewhere you haven’t been to for years/ somewhere you’ve never seen a painting of/that ancestral home) for the bargain basement price of €75 paid in advance. The idea is to both help the trip to pay for itself, and to just shake things up a bit.
14. Can I cycle with you?
While this is a trip very much driven by social media, and I intend to be very social of an evening and a morning, when it comes to cycling (and even more so painting) the trip won’t really be very social. I’m used to cycling alone. I go very slow, mostly, and I stop, often. I might stop 10 times in a hundred metres to take photos that I then don’t take. Or to look at a bird. Or to touch a stone. There may be times when it works fine but I don’t see me being Forrest Gump on 2 wheels.
15. What kind of bicycle have you?
It’s a road bike of the touring family. I bought it in America in 1996 when some drunk/underage/uninsured people ran over my previous bike that I was riding at the time. It’s a Cannondale T400 and it’s extended by the greatest thing I’ve ever bought – Xtracycle’s Free Radical addon.
16. How will you paint if it rains?
Ha, if it rains. Perhaps there’ll be a convenient shelter that affords me a view of what I want to paint and doesn’t have me stopping people getting on the bus. Or maybe I can wear a clear poncho and paint underneath it. Or I might sit at your window and paint the lovely view, of number 37 across the road. Or I might stand in the rain and stare for ages at what I want to paint, take a couple of photos, and paint it later at your place – perhaps when you sleep. In other words, I don’t know.
17. What if I host but I don’t like the painting you did for me?
Good question. Ideally I might have another painting (or more even) to offer you instead. But it is possible this rolling barter of a painting for lodging might not be perfect all the time. We’ll drink tea and talk about it.
18. Will you paint a portrait of me or my lovely family?
No. For the most part I stopped doing portraits in my teens and said I wouldn’t go back. Being so out of practice, to do such a painting justice now I’d need more time than an overnight stop would allow.
20. I’d like my painting to be of somewhere hard to describe – how do I describe it?
Throw a link at me – ideally of Google Maps Street View, with some words confirming the buildings/hills/etc. that I should be seeing.
21. What is the total distance you are planning to cycle on the whole trip?
Since this trip, uniquely of all my long cycle tours, is not about cycling from A to B – or even A to A – but about cycling to all 32 counties and painting in all 32 counties, well, I don’t know. If the trip consists of 60 cycling days and I average 35 miles a day it will be 2,100 miles (3,380 km) but if I average 50 miles a day then it will be 3,000 miles (4,828 km). So, somewhere in there I’d guess, but ask me at the end of July.
22. Will your dog get to visit you when you’re doing the trip?
Possibly. Follow @AmericanDogDog on twitter to find out.
23. Would you not write a book about the trip instead of blogging it?
Well, the trip is meant to be very much centered on social media, and many of the people I know online I first came to know from the world of blogging, so holding back on blogging would go against the spirit of it. Also, it’s not like I write books or have a publisher. Having said that, many of the journal entries of my cycle across America were done by using a tape recorder, a couple even while actually on the bike. So, thanks to the technology advances in the intervening 15 years, I’m planning now to make audio recordings while I cycle and while I paint. These would produce too many words for a blog, but could form the basis for a book should I want to put the massive effort in afterwards and, say, self-publish.
24. What kind of tea do you drink?
I drink every kind of tea on the planet – EXCEPT Earl Grey (oil of bergamot has no business being in tea). And by tea I mean actual tea, not infusions of herb, fruit or foe (see my tea rant). My tipple of choice is Barry’s Tea, Loose Leaf, Classic Blend – but if you’re a teapotless teabagful person, we’ll get on just grand.
25. Is there a hashtag for this twitter social media rolling barter painting cycle tour of Ireland thingy you’re doing?
Of course there is. It matches the domain name – it’s #paintingtour
26. Can I add you on Latitude so I can see how near my house you are and you can see where my house is?
If you’re a host, certainly – I’m firstname.lastname@example.org
27. Are you excited about your trip?
28. Do you have any dietary issues we need to know about? What are your likes and dislikes with regard to food & drink?
This is the question I am being asked the most since the trip started.
I have no food allergies. I’m not a vegetarian; I happily eat meat but just as happily eat meals without meat. My favourite item of food is bread and my favourite type of food is Indian (I lived in Birmingham in England for 4 years eating at Indian restaurants an average of 4 nights a week). Hot food, of the spicy variety, is more than ok.
In theory I like everything – the bike can give you quite an appetite, but after using my cycle to Istanbul in 1992 to successfully conquer all my food dislikes, I found after a few years that I missed not liking things – so I reverted to disliking peas, celery, sweetcorn, parsnips, and coconut. But to be honest I can and will eat them – it’s more that I tend to avoid them.
In the ordinary course of events I’m not really a seafood person, or a biscuit man, nor given overly to chocolate or ice cream. But a trip like this is not ordinary and cycling can not only give me an appetite for anything, but I can quite enjoy them.
On the drinks front I hate coffee and everything to do with it, except maybe coffee tables. I can’t stand water. Really. If I’ve completed a long cycle and appeat thirsty, a cup of tea and a piece of dry bread is a million times preferable to water. While technically a Guinness drinker, I drink wine and beer of all varieties. Given the option I will chain drink pots of tea all day. See FAQ #24 for more detail on tea.
I expect I’ll be adding to this list. Ask me a question and make it so.