Did you know that legendary broadcaster and artist Timmy Mallet is also a super keen e-biker? So much so he set off from home last year on a 3,500km quest to ride the world famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain! We asked Timmy some questions on how he set out completed such an epic journey, got some tips on preparation and discussed the inspiration of his beloved late brother Martin for the ride...
eBikeTips: How long have you been a keen cyclist?
Timmy Mallet: I’ve always enjoyed cycling. The sense of going exploring and finding out “what’s down this road?” I use my cycling trips as inspiration for my paintings, or discovery of history and tales.
eBT: What is your favourite thing about e-bikes compared to regular pedal cycles?
TM: I stop more. E-bikes take away the obsession with momentum. On a road bike or hybrid you are always aware of the approaching hill, and the difficulty with starting again. My e-bike is game changer. I took a ride this week with friends into the Chilterns which has some delightful hills and secret lanes. The four of us on e-bikes enjoyed the whole experience without a murmur of complaint! We stopped to admire the views of wild winter landscapes and the flooded Thames and Lodden valleys... it was brilliant, pure E-scapism!
eBT: Can you tell us a bit about your current e-bike?
TM: I’m on a Giant Explore 1 touring e-bike. It’s got chunky tyres, rugged pannier racks and five power modes from Eco to Sport+. As it's quite a heavy bike, it's essential to have good bike stand too. The battery lasts for over 100 kilometres. I really like the LED lights that come on automatically and make cars more aware of the bike. For some reason, it makes me more thoughtful when I’m cycling.
eBT: What’s the biggest distance you’ve done in one go?
TM: I cycled the Camino de Santiago from home alone over 3,500 kilometres, the equivalent of Lands End to John o' Groats, returning to Lands End and then back up to Scotland again! I was carrying 25kg in my panniers and painting gear. Each day would vary usually 65-75 kilometres, but several days I cycled further than I would have liked at over 100 kilometres. It’s never how far you go or how fast, it’s all about how much fun you have along the way!
eBT: Can you tell us about any parts of your Camino de Santiago ride that weren’t so 'utterly brilliant'!?
TM: The hardest part would be coping with the weather. The Beast from the East, wild winds, storms and one of the coldest wettest Springs for decades. I’m not put off by the weather, it’s just a challenge!
eBT: How important was the inspiration of your brother to keep riding on when the going got tough?
TM: My big brother Martin was born with Downs Syndrome and with language and learning difficulties, and he managed to live each and every day in the moment. I wanted to see if, like him, I could reach my potential; to make the most of the here and now, of living. We don’t do this very often, usually we are looking ahead – it’ll be better at the weekend, when I get a new job, a new outfit etc... Martin just loved being with people, enjoying the moment. So the plan was to cycle and paint the Camino de Santiago, because by undertaking a ride like this without pre-planning where I would stay each night adds a certain 'now-ness' to the adventure. Indeed, each and every day was full of making decisions. Which way will I go? What will I find to eat? Where will I stay? What will I paint? It makes the whole adventure immediate and without expectation.
eBT: What are your top tips for anyone taking on a long solo tour on an e-bike?
TM: Prep and practice. You still need to prepare, even for being vulnerable and undertaking an
unplanned ride. I spent a good 6 months working through the whole process and cycling over the winter so that if I could cycle and paint in the depths of winter, I ought to be able to cope with a difficult spring.
Only take what you need. I don’t need luxuries, I found it quite liberating to have a limited set of everything. Clothing, my paints (although these won't be essential for everyone!) and that's about it. I also had lessons in simple bike maintenance... I was surprised the chain broke after a mile! There are plenty of apps and online assistance to look at to help with this too.
eBT: Any future adventures on the e-bike planned?
TM: Lots. There’s a whole world out there and I want to cycle it all! This year I’ll be riding the south coast of England, the Yorkshire coast, some rides through the Lowlands of Scotland, and I’ll be riding to Germany in the autumn to join my football pals on tour!
eBT: Can you tell us a bit more about your new book?
TM: Utterly Brilliant – My Life’s Journey is based around my solo Camino de Santiago tour. Inspired by my love of history, art and story telling, with the inspiration from my Downs Syndrome brother Martin and my family. The book interweaves my career memoirs from TV triumphs like the Wide Awake Club and Wacaday, my World Wide number one hit Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, my pop radio days as Timmy on the Tranny, Mallett's Mallet, playing stadiums and sell-out theatre dates. It's quite a journey I've been on!
If you manage to pick up a copy, have a look at the paintings I produced along the ride, and answer this question: I set out to reach my potential, just like brother Martin... did I?