The Grand Depart is a blog about cycling, Europe and freedom of movement. My plan is to visit all 27 countries in the EU by bike and train before March 2019. This is when I will lose my EU citizenship and all the rights that go with that, not least the right to move freely across any border between any of these countries. I have no idea whether I can do this, because I don’t have a massive budget, I still have to work and 27 is a big number. But whatever happens I will have seen Europe on the brink of this change, and seen Britain from Europe.
I want to know what other Europeans (yes I do consider myself to be European as well as British) and British people living in Europe think about Brexit.
Finally this is also as much about discovering myself as uncovering Europe. Brexit is a big rupture and whatever happens it has shaken and stirred things in many people. For myself it has made me question my cosy assumptions but also changed the way I want to be.
As a writer and publisher I’ve spent the last 20 years sitting at a desk living in my head. Now I want to find out what it means to live in my body. I have no idea whether my body wants to be lived in that much. We shall see!
Taking bike control is my way of saying control happens at many levels. The bike has allowed me to get back control over my health and wellbeing – physical and mental – and also in some sense to this process that we are all living through. Three months ago I was a stone overweight and not happy. Preparing for this trip I’ve peddled over 1000km and got my BMI in order. Whatever happens next this goal has already made a huge difference to my life.
On Europe I can’t do very much to influence national policy but I can at least listen to people and start to understand more the very many connections between us and Europe, the myriad threads of existence and history that bind us together. And to deepen those links in an act of unity.