New Cyling Film: Janapar – Love on a Bike


Janapar is the Armenian word for journey. Janapar is a also film that launched earlier this week, where Tom Allen tells the story of how he cycled 12,000 miles round the world, with neither maps nor guidebooks, in his quest for freedom and adventure after finishing university. A real adventurer!

Although this tells the tale of Tom’s journey cycling into exotic places – it also focuses on how he fell in love with an Iranian-Armenian girl along the way. Tom gives honest accounts of emotions he is feeling along the way, mixed with a fascinating insight into the people he has met on his journey and the incredible places he discovers. So in fact it becomes a film about love, passion and people. I like his naivety, his honesty and the fact that he seems to wear a pretty fun stripey shirt throughout alot of the film!


Filmed over four years by Tom – I was impressed at some of the images he managed to capture, considering he admits that filming was fairly new to him at first. I have since taken a look at his Flickr images that capture a range of his different cycling adventures and I think he is a very talented image maker.  Along the way he captures some amazing sweeping landscape shots of mountains and deserts, mixed with some brilliant shots of people.

I downloaded the film on Tuesday night and ended up staying up later than planned to watch Tom’s tales of discovery. So with the film fresh in my mind as I drifted off to sleep, I ended up having some adventure packed dreams of my own… Hopefully one day I will make them a reality too. So now it’s Friday and I’m watching it for a second time! Plus I have just discovered all these cyclo touring films on Vimeo, so that’s my plan for the rest of tonight sorted.

Watching it has also got me thinking about this image below, that I took earlier in the year.

chalboards, signage, london, street signs,

If you don’t know where you are going – any road will get you there.

I think this line was originally a para-phase of a section of work written by Lewis Carroll, it also features in the song Any Road by George Harrision. However, it was rather nice to see it re-worked for this chalk message on a sunny street in London. I could probably discuss it in many ways – but this is a cycling blog, so I’m going to relate it to my cycling.

When I go out cycling (i.e. not just doing the daily commute). I have two distinct ways of finding my way…

One is to make a plan, check the map, work out a route and then check the map often on my way. When I do this, I normally have a pretty fun ride, I sometimes get a little lost, but usually end up where I planned. Job done?

Sometimes I decide not to make a plan – not to choose a destination and just randomly pick roads here and there, depending on what road looks interesting. I particularly love doing this when cycling around new cities. But also outwith cities too. When I do this, I normally end up discovering a completely new route, a new destination and often lots of exciting things along the way.  And it makes me question what is better? I guess it depends what the aim is.

Tom’s film Janapar definitely advocates the second option! Although, I am kind of amazed that Tom managed to get quite so far around the world without maps! Particularly when leaving the relatively well sign posted roads and heading into mountain passes and deserts. I keep questioning – is it naive or silly or brave or both?

But in fact in some ways I guess it is probably all of the above, but he survived, by the looks of amazing time and he fell in love on the way. What more could you ask for?!

Watching it certainly gives me pretty itchy feet.


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