Wednesday, 28 February 2007


On the bike this morning I was reflecting on my 1990 cycle trip around Dorset. A 3 year relationship had ended painfully (Since my baby left me dum de dum de dum) just before a working visit to Japan. I came home to an empty house and spent most of my Japanese earnings on a new mountain bike (It got nicked out of a locked shed in Mancheter in 1997 but that's aanother story.) Soon afterwards half fit I did a 250 mile trip around Dorset and Devon.

I started at Bristol on the cycle track on the old line to Bath marvelous. Then that awful steep endless hill out of Bath. Heading for Galstonbury, the Tor kept appearing and diasppearing from sight. Friends to visit in Dorchester and Exeter. Time alone to be with myself. It was blissful at times sitting under a tree on the village green eating a cornish pasty and reading the Guardian. I actually like some of the solitude of cycling, I like being in the open air moving fairly slowly open to the elements. I untangle my thoughts - sort of digest stuff mentally - have moments of great insight and then moments of just being, not thinking enjoying the scenery maybe.

So finding the right place to eat my sarnies - the best being a bench under a tree on a village green is important. Bob Colderley one of my End to End advisers insists on the value of knowing where your next loo break is going to be. He waxed lyrically about drying his sweaty stomach and chest on a hot air dryer! Because you start to get cold and shivery when you stop. I have got these treat to look foward to! Me I usually just jump over a farm gate. Maybe someone needs to do a good loo guide!

This Dorset trip was a kind of test, what would it be like to throw myself into it. Would I survive physically, psychologically, would my bike survive - well my chain snapped but that is another story. When you travel alone like this you encounter people, you have needs like food and shelter but also you find yourself talking more, passing the time of day, lingering over exchanges in a way you don't in the city. Your rhythms become different. When I had done enough cycling on any one day I looked for a B and B. I had a rough route figured out but I detoured when something interested me. It was very free. End to Ending will be a bit different but I am hoping the jouneying will have something of this spirit and who knows if I get up a good rhythm detours might be possible.

Best to all and your comments very welcome on Blog or my email -

Tuesday, 27 February 2007



My old friend Chris Jenkins who acted as MC at my 57th birthday party/Kenya fundraising do asked me why Lands End to John O'Groats and not the otherway round. Well according to another friend Christa (and she should know as an ex cycling author) its best to have the sun on your back and the prevailing winds tend to be from the South West. This makes sense to me as I got really sunburt on a trip in 1990 when I cycled around Dorset travelligh South to Glastonbury. The next day it rained and rained.

I am still firguring my route traying to balnce beauty of scenery, ease of travel, and how not to get lost. My friend Keith talks abaout SatNav on the bike...

Best to all,


Monday, 26 February 2007

More Kenya

I thought you might enjoy this extract from my article with Colin Feltham from Therapy Today in which I talk about my experience of Kenya:

"This was my second visit to Kenya to meet counsellors and trainers. I was struck yet again by how much I felt myself to be in a caste system there of those with white skin who got power and privilege and those not white who did not. My white skin colour seemed to impact on all interactions with black Kenyans, starting with the airport immigration people who treated me with a friendliness and respect I never get from British and US officials! I was left wondering what black Kenyans really thought about white people! When I witnessed the extreme poverty in Nairobi and elsewhere I realised the reality of this caste system. In England I can hide my class and wear jeans and speak with no apparent accent. In Kenya I can rarely escape my white privilege. After my first visit I joined Make Poverty History and everything I read or heard about Fairtrade, Overseas Aid and Drop the Debt came to me with images of Kenya.
It is of course not all doom and gloom. I was gripped by the beauty and energy of many of the people I met, especially the young people involved in Straight Talk, a group linked with the KAPC Counsellors that encourages adolescents in schools to talk frankly about their lives and to share factual and other information about relationships. I met hundreds of counsellors working with people living with HIV in conditions hardly imaginable to people in Britain – the poverty, the homelessness, the orphans, the plight of sex workers, the lack of medicines and other health care."



Don Balmer from KAPC has just emailed me to say that I got their web address wrong. It's and is well worth a visit. Maybe I can talk a bit about Kenya here. It was one of those life changing moments that just sort of happens. Maggie Robson from Durham (then) asked me up there sveral years to talk about spirituality and I got to meet Don, Cecilia, Gikundi and George and they asked me if my Uni would take over from Durham in validating an amazing MA programme they had in Counselling/HIV Counselling since Durham were closing their counseling department in an extraordinary bit of vandalism. I said yes. They also talked about the need for PhD study. On the way home I thought how crazy the economics were for individual Kenyan to come over to the UK for 3-4 years to live and study for a PhD. We have a thriving Professional taught Doctorate in Counselling (DCouns) as well as the more traditional PhD. So I thought how about teaching our Dcouns in Kenya. It has taken years to set this up so many commitees, so many people to meet, so much paperwork ina time when the Uni decdied to dissolve itself and join with UMIST and create a new Uni with new proceedures and much confusion. But we are nearly.

Meanwhile I have had 3 vists to Kenya so far that have been mind blowing and life changing. I wrote about my last visit with Colin Feltham for Therapy Today - Impressions of Kenya and its counselling Scene Colin Feltham & William West - Vol 16(9) 39-41. I can send you a copy if drop me an email. I'll post for more about my experiences of Kenya in due course incluidng their amazing cyclists!

Best for now,


Bike tips and old cylclists stories


The old cyclist cure for being saddle sore is to stick a banana down their underpants but I admit I haven't tried this yet.

What I have tried is the advice to pedal in a lower gear so that you are not pushing so much and getting into a better rhythm with more but easier pedalling.

What I am also trying is 'ankling' 'It involves pointing your toes on the downstrroke and bending your foot up on the up stroke, sort of waddling' OR 'drop your heel to push the pedal 'over the top' and drop your toes to push it roud the bottom'. Got that? If not visit where there is lots of useful stuff for would-be End-to-Enders.

It was windy on the bike today - must of been all those beans I have been eating! :)

See ya,


Friday, 23 February 2007

Why oh Why do it?


You might be wondering why on earth is he thinking of doing this - 'Your are old Father William the young man said' etc. Well:
1) It's there like Everest. Every moderately keen cyclist thinks about it I reckon
2) It's a useful goal for keeping me fit
3) I like the solitude and thoughts that come to me on bike so would an extended ride be a kind of retreat? - watch this space!
4) I can use the ride to raise funds and awareness for the HIV Counselling work being done by KAPC in Kenya. I have a strong link to them via my university , see their web site - I'll invite you to support their work closer to the actual trip.

Best to all,


Bill on Bike starts here


I am planning to become an End-to-Ender in August this year i.e. cycling from Lands End to John O'Groats. It's a mad thing to do and I was seeing it as something to do in a few years and then thought why wait? I cycle to work most days a round trip of 7 miles and I have been doing some longer trips. My last one before Xmas was 50 miles - a lovely country route south of Manchester but it took me 7 hours. I aim to do about 70 miles a day in about 7 hours. However, on the way to work I don't usually overtake any other bikes apart from on today which was a shock to my system!

A couple of friends have offered to cycle some of the way with me and my daughter Grace and wife Sheila have more or less agreed to be my back up team. I plan to stay with friends on route certainly in England.

I have several routes to choose from from the CTC and I have emailed them today about whether I need to get a faster slicker bike. Bob Colderley who has done the trip said my current bike - Rayleigh Pioneer bought in 1998 with my first book advance was plenty good enough.

I have a fancy yellow cycling jacket that Sheila gave me for Xmas that's really cool in more ways than one and makes me feel more connected to this dream of mine. I used to do a lot of cycle trips as a teenager and ocne did 70 miles in 8 hours on a 3 speed bike - Coventry Eagle. I have a dream of a novel based on a guy who just disappesr on his bike. I have written a few pages of it and might inflict some of it on you here.

Taht's it for now