Watching the television news channel on Sunday morning, I was surprised to find the coverage of the centennial edition of the Tour de France. While I don’t know the race favourites, and can’t tell you anything about the mechanics of the bicycles themselves; the very idea of peddling a bike through the French countryside caught my fancy.
I was reminded of being a teen, when having a bicycle was a ticket to adventure. My friends and I spent hours biking, mostly to each other’s houses or to our favourite haunts, but it was the sense of freedom and independence that held the greatest appeal. On the back of my bright yellow bicycle, with its extended handles and banana seat, cruising the paths around Boulevard Lake, I felt invincible. Now, of course, I’m thinking of buying a bike again but I can’t decide whether to go high tech or retro. In the meantime, I started looking at some of the books we have on amazing bicycle treks for more inspiration. These are some of the newest and some of my favourites .
The Man Who Cycled the World by Mark Beaumont
This is the true story of how Beaumont circumnavigated the world, travelling over 18, 297 miles alone and unsupported on his cycle. Telling his own story with wisdom and wit, he relays the ordeals as well as the joys of the trip. From mechanical problems in Europe, stifling heat in the desert, to deadly Australian spiders, this journey makes for a great travel narrative.
Mud, Sweat and Gears: Cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats (Via the Pub) by Ellie Bennett
As her fiftieth birthday approached, Ellie Bennett realized many of her dreams had gone unfulfilled. It was the suggestion from a friend that spurred Ellie to take on the challenge of the gruelling, though scenic, ride from the tip of Cornwall to the top of Scotland. The book details the tour through the back roads and pathways of rural Britain, with many stops at the best and the worst of the pubs along the way.
Cycling Home from Siberia: 30,000 Miles, 3 Years, 1 Bicycle by Rob Lilwall
Leaving his job as a high-school geography teacher, Lilwall arrived in Siberia with only his bike, a few possessions and a sense of wonder mixed with fear. He spent the next three years pedalling back to England through the jungles of New Guinea, the deserts of Australia and worn-torn regions of Afghanistan. While this is a journey of endurance, it is also one of personal and spiritual growth.
Fifty Places to Bike Before You Die: Biking Experts Share the World’s Greatest Destinations by Chris Santella
Part practical guide to biking and part travelogue, this edition in Santella’s bestselling Fifty Places series covers cycle journeys both close to home and in exotic locations. With an emphasis on finding something of interest for everyone of every skill level, Chris Santella explores the fun of a bicycle journey around Manhattan, a trip down a coastal highway in Europe or a trail through a forest in Asia, as well as 47 other incredible trips.
In the City of Bikes: The Story of the Amsterdam Cyclist by Pete Jordan
This is not a travel story about bicycling but a love story about the city of Amsterdam and its love for living on the back of a bike seat. The history of bicycling in the Netherlands began as a hobby for the wealthy and became a passion for the nation; bicycles were even used by the resistance against Nazi occupiers during the Second World War. Today, bicycles fill the roads, part as an environment statement and part for the sheer joy of riding.