My name is Joe Wells. I’m 20 years old and I’m from the Fylde Coast of Lancashire.
I took a gap year over 2015-16, before going to study Theatre & Film at the University of Bristol.
I spent the summer of 2016 travelling Europe on my bike, Lunette (yeah, I named her (yeah, she’s female (I have a male bike too))).
I love entertainment media, primarily film-making and acting. I’ve done both from a young age, though that doesn’t necessarily make me any good at either. We’ll see. I enjoy them either way, and that’s what matters to me for now. I ‘create’ a whole host of other things too.
As with anyone, I probably couldn’t summarise my music taste aptly here, but it is built upon Bon Iver, Elbow and the National to name the big three. I enjoy bad TV, good food, great company and pretty much every weather except wind. I really don’t like wind.
Other interests include history, politics, board games, fountain pens, cider, tea, The Elder Scrolls, running and spreadsheets.
And of-course I am a cyclist. I guess that part was most important for my travelling. I wouldn’t get very far if I didn’t find joy in/despite the eyeopening levels of arse-ache (literally) and mental torture that a long, difficult day’s riding can create. I’ve been on two wheels for most of my life so I didn’t see there being a more fitting way for me to make my first ever six-month solo trip.
Lunette (named after an Elbow song) is a 2015 Raleigh Revenio 3, a low-mid range (RRP £1000) masterpiece of aluminium, carbon fibre and happiness. Made in Nottingham with endurance cycling in mind, I have heard it said part of Sir Walter’s soul rests inside every bike they produce. Though I can’t confirm this fact, she carried me all the way around Europe, which is a pretty impressive feat for any bike..
Napoleon (named after his French heritage and paying homage to Leon, the French film watched immediately after building him, and my friend Leo who helped me put him together) is my other bike. My daily commuter, and so not really involved in the trip at all. However, assuming some people will be drawn more to the cycling aspect of this trip he’s worth mentioning. Built by myself upon a forty year old French frame, with wooden handlebars and the choice of single-speed or fixed gear operation, this bike is full of character. The frame has been in existence more than twice as long as I have, but still works brilliantly.
Many people came to influence and impact this trip through joining in or meeting me along the way. The sheer number of people who defined the experience is ridiculous, and they’re all credited here. I have said it before and will say it again, people have made this trip, every single one of you.
There are also those people who unknowingly inspired this trip at a whole host of points in its coming about, that I feel need acknowledging:
Steven Primrose Smith is a friend of my aunt and uncle, and it was they who bought me his fantastic book ‘No Place Like Home…Thank God’ for Christmas, soon after hearing my plans for travelling by bike. Not only is it a witty, humorous read about a spectacular achievement (22 000 miles in three years), but it also confirmed all my ambitions to travel Europe, specifically on two wheels. It tells tales of both the highs and lows of such an unorthodox adventure and made me more sure than ever that I wanted to go for it.
I’ve also been encouraged by similar feats of people I know, such as Ryan and Rachel who travelled Australia in 2014; Liz who spent a year there too; Eve, who went to India in 2015 and didn’t know I’d written this, but is now somehow my girlfriend; and my best friend’s brother, Joe, who accompanied by four friends (Alasdair, Joe, Michael and Jordan), cycled the length of France. Hearing about these endeavors only made me more excited to go on my own, so thank you.