Shocking news – Ian Hibell, one of the greatest cyclists in the world of long-distance cycle touring, has been killed by a hit-and-run motorist while riding in Greece. I first read his book, Into the Remote Places, when I was a teenager on my first big tour cycling across Europe to North Africa. I found just camping in dark dripping forests the height of excitement, but when I read of Ian dragging his bike through the Altrato Swamp of the Darien Gap (sometimes sinking chest-deep into the bog) it was completely awe-inspiring. I was lucky enough to become friends with Ian and stayed with him and his elderly mum Dot in their old Devon house on several occasions. Ian was a wonderful man – small, quiet and modest about his incredible achievements. In the evenings he would bring out his pictures and cuttings and tell me the most amazing stories about his journeys that took him from Cape Horn to Alaska, Nordkapp in northern Norway to Cape Town, and to Asia and beyond. I could always rely on Ian to send me postcards from the most unexpected places and he always remembered my birthday which happened to be the day after his – something he always found amusing.
Exactly a week after Ian was killed, I finally married the builder, on Molly’s second birthday. Unheard of for me, I even managed to peel off my cycling shorts (a decidedly permanent fixture about my person) and prise myself into something more flowing. Strangely for someone who normally attracts the worst weather on record wherever I go, the day was a blazing hot one – the non-stop summer rain suddenly stopped and the sun shone and shone – though rest assured it was not for long – the minute I embarked upon my cycling honeymoon around the exotic delights of the Isle of Wight – the rains returned with fury.
Thanks to www.michaelchevis.com for the wedding photographs