I first met Neil Gower in 2009. Having spent the previous three years either on the saddle of my bicycle in the Americas or hidden away in Tooting library writing about my travels, Neil was commissioned by Harper Collins to illustrate my journey and words.
The result was a marvel. What had taken me three years to complete Neil had encapsulated in two meticulous illustrated maps. From the leggy beauty queens in the Midwest of the United States, to the taco stands of Mexico and my arrival in Rio de Janeiro, Neil had captured not only the highlights of my trip but also the true essence of the adventure. A pedal-powered gastronomic adventure perfectly illustrated.
Sharing a few drinks at the books launch, it turned out Neil was also an avid cyclist, and having trailed him around the hills of Burgundy in bewildered awe of his contoured calf muscles, I can assure you he is the real thing. And thus we get on like a house on fire.
Staying in touch over the years, I have watched Neil go on to illustrate jackets for the written works of literary legends such as Bill Bryson and William Golding, as well as breathtaking layout drawings for culinary genius Raymond Blanc and Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons.
Having followed my renovations of an abandoned watermill in Auxey-Duresses into The Hungry Cyclist Lodge, in 2015 Neil came to eat, drink and cycle Burgundy. Enjoying a well overdue catch up, some good cycling and a little wine, when Neil wasn't cycling to Saint Romain, or sipping pinot noir, he pottered about the garden, sketch pad, paints and pencil in hand. This summer he returned and presented me with the illustration below.
As he had done with the illustrations for my cycle ride through The Americas, Neil had somehow entered my mind and illustrated my long held dream. When in 2012 I purchased the Moulin Prunier in a dilapidated state, Neil's painting is what I had in mind when the renovation was complete. Neil, once again not only illustrated the project in immaculate detail but he also has captured the true spirit of The Hungry Cyclist Lodge, a home from home where people can come to relax in a beautiful setting while enjoying good food, fine wine and excellent cycling.
As if this wasn't enough Neil also set about working on a new Hungry Cyclist Logo. Inspired by a 1930's cycling badge, expect to see an all new Hungry Cyclist Lodge rebrand over the winter. Huge thanks Neil.