“Bicycle Inspiration Reinvented”

Reviews of the books are always welcome and here’s one that has taken the reviewer a considerable amount of time to write. I appreciate particularly the fair comments about the first two books being self-published and the downsides that come with that. It’s a timely opportunity to remind you that book 3 will be published by Summersdale and will benefit as a result. Thanks Thomas.

Many of us think we have pushed ourselves to the outermost if we took the bike to work two days in a row. We tell everyone, but they don’t listen. Some bicycle a lot further than that, and they write books about it. Many of these can be summarised like this: “Since I am stronger than you, mentally and physically, I made this journey that you’ll never be able to make, and this is how I did it.”

Then there is the first book about Andrew P. Sykes and his bicycle Reggie. A man in his forties, experiencing expanding waistline and the lure of the sofa. (I presume.) And then he just gets on his bicycle, cycles to South Italy, and then writes a book about it. And he has found his own little way of sharing his experience. For this reader, it was a thrill.

Sykes does not try to appear stronger, fitter, better and more than the next guy. He is a teacher hitting the road with just a minimum of planning behind him. He openly (and charmingly) writes about how a shower of rain, difficulty of finding a camping site or headwind gets the best of him, and puts him in moods that almost make him take a train home. And then also how a lick of sun, a cheerful conversation, or a nice comment on one of his blogposts sends his mood right back up to a point where he almost chirps as he progresses south towards his goal.

And no mention of how he during stops eats carefully selected power bars and drinks protein shake with them. This book is not about such a bicyclist. Andrew parks his Reggie, drinks (sometimes) generous amounts of beer and wine, and eats all the croissants he pleases.

This book is self published. That made me sceptical to begin with. And yes, it has more little errors hiding here and there than you would expect from a book having been through an editorial process. Some jokes and points go unnoticed because they were only almost told right. And sometimes there is too much written about one topic, while too little on another.

On the other hand, an editor may have told Andrew to remove some of the longer sidetracks that appear. That would be sad, because the sidetracking of this book makes up a bit of the irresistible charm of it. This reviewer happens to know that hours of bicycling makes the brain waves travel in mysterious ways. It has been fun to follow the mysterious ways of Andrew P. Sykes’ brain.

So, fellow reader, unless you hate everything that has to do with bicycling (you don’t, or you wouldn’t be reading this), I dare you to read this book without being inspired to just jump on a bicycle and go somewhere really far away. This is a wonderfully enchanting read, that also serves nicely as a mental escape for those of us whose next planned bicycle trip would be to the office. One should not use the grand words unless one has to, but Andrew P. Sykes could be about to reinvent the genre of travel writing, at least a corner of it. I look forward to reading more of his work.

What do you think?