Following my dream - Cycling in Turkey Holiday
PUBLISHED: 21:47 12 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:09 20 February 2013
We meet the Lytham man beating the credit crunch by combining a love of cycling and travel to offer a new kind of holiday experience in Turkey. Amanda Griffiths reportsMAIN PHOTOGRAPH BY JOHN COCKS
LIFE was good. The caf business in Lytham's Clifton Street was doing well and Simon Wilson was planning for the future launching a new cycling holiday business in Turkey, with a possibility of him and wife Eileen moving out there if all went well.
Then tragedy struck and Eileen passed away suddenly in the New Year, from the flu, leaving Simon and her two children, Matthew and Melissa, devastated. In similar circumstances many people would have put life on hold, but Simon, despite his grief decided to move forward with the cycling holiday plans to honour the memory of his wife, who despite her personal dislike of cycling had encouraged him to follow his dreams.
'I bought her a bike once,' remembers Simon. 'On one ride she was confronted by a group of swans and they wouldn't let her pass. From then on she didn't want anything to do with cycling, but she was very excited for me as the website www.turkeycycling.co.uk was getting off the ground.'
Simon's love of cycling was rekindled when he signed up for a charity bike ride. Around the same time the couple had begun to take holidays in Turkey.
'You have these ideas in the back of your mind that keep cropping up,' says Simon. 'Then about 18 months ago I just happened, out of interest, to see if anyone was offering that sort of experience holiday in Turkey. I already knew there were a lot of bikes there because that's how most people get to and from work out there, but there was no-one offering the trips, at least not in the way I planned.
'I ended up buying a bike out there and doing some proper research both into the business and the routes - driving along a road is not the same as cycling along it, believe me.
'There's probably about 12 routes I've devised now, which all can be adapted depending on the group I'm taking. I've divided the calendar into 'pleasure' weeks and 'intermediate' weeks for different abilities and with eight to 14 places available on each trip they could be tailored to cycling clubs or individual cyclists wanting to join in a group holiday.
'The beauty is I know the area, not just because I've been cycling around it but because we spent so much time there anyway. I can plan the best places for water-stops or places to eat and safe places to leave the bikes during rests. The crime rate is very low in Turkey, but if people are bringing their own bikes they want to know they will be safe.
'The mistake people often make about Turkey is they think it's a sun, sea and sand country, and in some places it is, but there's also a lot of history and beauty. The places my routes take people through aren't your typical tourist places.'
Memories of Eileen's reluctance to get on a bike have helped Simon tailor adapt his trips. 'You don't have to be cycling every day but can have a couple of days off to relax in the sun,' he says. 'There's some great places to visit nearby and, because of Eileen's dislike of cycling, I'm conscious there might be people out there who want to go on a cycling holiday but whose partners don't, so we can cater for them too.'