Happy new cliche, everyone... It's that time of year when the media is dusting off those "new year, new you" or "15 ways to start 2023 on a high" features and – sorry – I'm sick of that bullshit. I spent more than 25 years in publishing doing variations on that nonsense, in every market from shotguns to shovels to Stratocasters as well as motorbikes, so I'm not doing it any more. I'm playing the grumpy old man card instead. Bah, humbug, etc.
Especially as the thought of writing any "my resolution is to ride more... why don't you do the same and download lots of routes from my website" type post turns my stomach. Of course, I'd love you all to do that, but frankly I can't face the gross cynicism involved in that kind of half-arsed, lame-brained "marketing".
I'd rather just talk honestly about the plans for the year – which are a little bit daunting but quite exciting – and about the general stuff I'm looking forward to for 2023 (and do it now as there was some cynicism in the last blog post, a more traditional marketing one about books to get for Christmas so that's well out of date... oops).
First thing I'm looking forward to is the days getting drier and warmer and longer. I've had the horrendous cough/cold that was going round – so bad I cancelled my instructing work in the run up to Christmas, as I couldn't talk without coughing. That'd be no fun on comms. So as the weather picks up again, I'm looking forward to riding and talking with people without sounding like I'm dying of TB. I'm looking forward to the kind of weather that lets me work my Kawasaki Z1000SX a bit harder and get more from the tyres.
I'm especially looking forward to getting back on the road. Though I managed trips to Switzerland, France, Belgium and Germany as well, 2022 was mostly about making multiple trips to the Balkans. This year I'd like to spend more time in the places I know best: France, Spain, Italy... Portugal too if I can fit it in. Plus of course more riding in the UK. I did trips to Scotland, Wales, Cumbria and Yorkshire last year from my East Anglian base, but I want to do much more this year.
There's plenty of scope for proper exploring too. I'll be going to Morocco in September/October with Globebusters (trip info here: there are still one or two places available) which will mean riding across Spain as well as exploring a whole new country. I can't wait... it was a trip I was supposed to do in March/April 2020 and was cancelled by the pandemic. I can't wait.
I'm doing more touring. The trips to Spain's Picos de Europa and the French Alps that I'm doing with Bruce "Teapot One" Smart are full, but there are still places on our trips to Luxembourg, Wales, Scotland and the epic East Coast 500 long-weekend (info here).
I'm also doing a two-day event of my own in May (already full) with the help of my old Bike magazine mucker Si Hargreaves. The two of us are working on another project that will hopefully have us riding with more of you – watch this space for updates when it's ready to go live.
In terms of publishing work, I didn't much for MCN last year and I'd like to change that for 2023 if I can, but really my focus is on books. I'll have a new European one coming out with Harper Collins in the spring (not new routes: a spiral-bound, tough-paper version of my Bikers' Europe books that can go into tankbags) and I'm working on something completely new...
I'm also doing some talks for advanced-riding groups too (get in touch here if you'd like me to come and do one for your group). I always enjoyed doing talks when I worked on RiDE as I felt I learnt what we should be writing about in the magazine. To be honest, I still think that – the only difference is it takes me longer to produce a book! But I'm looking forward to all the talks.
Of all the things that'll happen this year, the one I'm looking forward to most is having a proper biking holiday with my girlfriend. We've done some short trips in the UK – two, three days away. But this summer she's going to fly out to meet me in Spain and we'll ride back through the Pyrenees, across France, taking a leisurely tour through some of my favourite places. And if I have one resolution for the year, it's to actually turn the laptop and the social media off for that week and have an actual holiday, every day.
And if I can say it now without sounding cynical, I hope you'll find a chance to do the same. Let's make 2023 a great year for fun on two wheels.