Bristol man cycled around Britain and Ireland - that's 1,783 miles
ANDY SLOAN meets Nick Hand, who cycled around Britain and Ireland but stopped to meet plenty of characters, and more than one famous face, along the way.
A CANOE builder, a weaver, a flute carver and Graham Norton – just some of the people a Bristol cyclist passed on his tour around Ireland.
Sometimes taking your time can yield more valuable results – that's the motto of Bristolian Nick Hand who has just finished his 1,783 mile ride in 36 days.
Mr Hand, a freelance graphic designer who does work for Welsh clothing brand Howies, spent a month meandering around the edge of the Emerald Isle this summer.
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He is never happier than when he's pottering through the countryside on his bicycle, covering a leisurely 50 miles a day and stopping to chat to the wealth of independent craftsmen who litter the villages along the coast with their quiet talents.
The 53-year-old was following up on his ambitious ride around the coast of England, Scotland and Wales last year and continued his work of documenting the people he met along the way.
Mr Hand records an interview with the artisan and lays it over pictures of them at work and shots of their workshops and their wares.
"It's a lovely place to ride around. I can't think of a better way of seeing a country than riding," Mr Hand told the Evening Post.
"And the artisans are definitely what make it. They are quite inspiring people.
"I call them artisans as they are people who do something out of a passion rather than financial reasons.
"It is fascinating meeting them, especially in their homes and their workshops and that is what becomes visually interesting and which I try to capture in the soundslides."
Through his careful work you can meet folk from the Dzogohen Beara Buddhist Retreat in Allihies, West Cork; Clive Lyttle, a craftsman and basket maker from Portaferry; Darren Cunningham, an oyster farmer from Carlingford Lough and Karl Harron, a glass blower from Newtownards, among many others.
There's also a sprinkling of stardust on the way, with a soundslide on singer songwriter Billy Bragg who he stumbled upon in Bridport.
And there are the masses more folk he met off camera, including TV celebrity Graham Norton in a quiet pub, enjoying some time away from the limelight.
Mr Hand's ride has a more sombre slant though. His older brother, Bob, 58, from Downend, was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease a few years ago and Mr Hand has set himself the target of raising £10,000 to help push the race for a cure.
Hearing of the reason behind the ride, Graham Norton quietly added a four-figure sum to Mr Hand's Justgiving.com webpage a few days after their chance meeting and he is now just £500 short of his goal.
"Ireland is the place to go and meet people in pubs," jested Mr Hand. "Our pubs are great but I think we've lost a bit of what they still have. Cycling around the UK though you realise what an amazing country we live in."
He describes his brother's condition as good, with good days and bad days. "The drugs are doing their job. Everybody is waiting for a breakthrough and I think they are close to it; so the extra money is important," he said.
"We get a bit blase giving money for sponsorship all the time but it is important we remember where it all goes to."
And that again is the main premise of his trip – taking time to think things through.
"You get people doing things really quickly," he explained. "I never don't stop to take a picture if I see something. When you flash by with a car you miss so much and on a bike you can stop anywhere.
"For the rest of the year I will just have a little smile when I'm doing my job, thinking back to those places and the people I met."
Mr Hand, a father of three who lives with his partner in Redland, arrived home last week and claims he has no plans to continue his cycling project at present, though plans can always change.
"Last year I had no intention of riding around Ireland. But then this year the idea came about," he said before admitting there might be an idea already taking hold.
"I recently read Laurie Lee's book, As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, about his journey around Spain.
"Now I'm quite interested in recreating that journey," he said.
Watch this space.
● To see Mr Hand's soundslides go to www.slowcoast.co.uk.
● To help nudge him over the £10,000 target for Parkinson's Disease Society go to http://www.justgiving.com/nickhand.