Interview: Robbie Sage, Adventure Cyclist

Published by Elliot on 6 February 2011

Robbie Sage is embarking on a worldwide adventure that combines cycling and music – here's how France helped shape his trip.

Can you tell us more about the ride and how the idea for Global Guitar evolved?

I've always had a desire to go travelling and see the world beyond what I know of it here in the UK. I couldn't go anywhere without my guitar so whatever the plan was, it would be part of the trip. Looking at a map of the world, I started to see a route through countries I wanted to visit that turned into a route around the world.

Robbie's Global Guitar cycling kit. Photo: Global Guiutar Cycle

Robbie's Global Guitar cycling kit. Photo: Global Guitar

You didn't originally plan to cycle around the world – you originally intended to backpacking or drive. A visit to France in 2008 changed all that ...

In France I met Phil McCormack who has cycled all over the world. He made me realise cycling was the ideal mode of transportation: cheap, immersive and rewarding. I had never considered cycing across countries - he made me realise it was possible and that anyone can do it. I borrowed Phil's bike and gear for a couple of days and just headed out along the idyllic country roads in glorious sunshine and camped out overnight on my own. From this point I was hooked and started planning my trip.

Can you tell us how France fits into your itinerary this time round?

I will be cycling from my home in Scotland, down through England then taking a ferry to France. I'll be heading down towards Phil's in the Tarn region near Toulouse. I'll be making up the route as I go, I would like to stop by in Paris but apart from that I'll be looking at the map each morning and picking a route heading in the rough direction of Toulouse. From Phil's I will start the circumnavigation heading east towards Italy (and Asia), hopefully finishing it at Phil's in a few years.

What date do you expect to arrive in France and how can cyclists who see you en route – or those based in France – get involved in your project?

I'm hoping to arrive around the end of March and I'll be easy to spot with my trailer and guitar in tow. I'll be recording music everywhere I go, so if anyone wishes to lend a voice or an instrument that would be great. If anyone wants to join me for part of the journey or can offer a back garden to camp in for the night, then that would also be most welcome - just get in touch with me via my website.

What do you expect from France in terms of music?

I've composed a lot of music and ideas whist in France; I also figured out how to play the piano whilst in France - so I imagine I will have lots of inspiration like before to create some special music. I'm hoping to hear an accordian in every town/village I pass through too.

You say you'd never been a keen cyclist – how would you describe yourself today in terms of cycling?

I now consider myself a very keen cyclist. I'm out on the bike most days and travel by bike everywhere I need to go. I've discovered the simple pleasures of cycling: getting from A to B under your own power; conquering hills, freewheeling downhill, choosing the right gear, keeping the rhythm, maintaining the bike for optimum performance, breathing in the scenery and world around you, feeling every bump on the road and the inevitable rush of adrenaline and endorphins flowing within.

Have you got any favourite songs about bikes?

I don't think I do. I can only think of the Queen song. I will strive to remedy the lack of bike-based songs during the trip!

Can you tell us a bit about your bike and your kit?

I'll be cycling a steel-framed mountain bike. Steel-framed as steel is stronger than aluminium and can be welded back together if it breaks. I'll be towing a BOB Yak trailer which I will have my guitar positioned on top of. My recording equipment will consist of an 8-track multitrack and a condenser microphone - very compact and small enough to fit into the guitar bag. The multitrack is also battery powered, so I'll be able to record music whether I'm camped out in a forest in the Dordogne, high up in the Karakorum range or out in the Australian outback.

You're riding to raise awareness of the Hear the World foundation. Can you tell us a bit about the foundation and why you chose to promote it during your ride.

The Hear the World foundation is an initiative set up by Phonak - one of the leading hearing technology manufacturers in the world. Their aim is to improve the life of people who suffer with hearing loss on a global scale - setting up projects throughout the world, supporting scientific research and increasing awareness of the problem of hearing loss. While this trip is going to be an amazing personal experience, I realised I had the opportunity to raise awareness of some of the problems in the world and make a contribution towards a charity that seeks to solve these problems. This trip embraces music and the sounds of the world. I hope people will enjoy listening to the music created throughout my trip. It only felt right to address the problem of hearing loss and the people who don't get to enjoy the pleasures of music, sounds or voices.

Robbie will be posting his music and videos on the Global Guitar website as he goes. You can also follow him via Facebook, and Twitter.


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