Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Man Who Cycled The World - Mark Beaumont

Cycling books tend to fall in to two categories, bike racing and all that's associated with that and then there's travel writing. The travel writing books are often a different breed altogether, the whole cycling element can become secondary to the scenery and cultures the rider is passing through. This book however promised to be a mix of the two. Mark Beaument attempted to cycle around the world and get himself a Guinness World Record at the same time by being the fasted person to do it. It's not giving away the ending to say he did it, in fact just reading the back of the book or the introduction would tell you this. Why give that way? Well he smashed it and the story is not whether he did it or not but how he did it.

At times this book is a great read and at other times it can be a bit of a drag but I don't think that's down to the writing, it's the subject. Sometimes he was riding through interesting places and interesting things were happening to him. Other times he was riding day after day through wide open spaces with nothing happening.

The book gave a real insight in to his ride and his notes were clearly comprehensive keeping a track of all he did. While it was a bit of 'eat,ride,eat, ride, eat, sleep' it was done in an entertaining way, keeping it brief when it was mundane, expanding when more went on. He certainly helped you understand what it felt to ride all those miles, I certainly felt for him with the saddle sores, I've suffered for a couple of days, imagine it day after day, week after week. He did discover pawpaw cream which is allegedly very good for these just in case you have suffered too. I guess insights like that kept me more entertained in the book. As most of my riding is along the travel rather than competitive riding I found tips like that useful. He also mentioned the need to build your knee muscles up and mentioned other nutritional and physical advice as the book went on that he got from a team of advisers.

By the end of the book I was willing him to finish, I think it came across in the book he'd had enough and I'd had enough. All the interesting places were in the first half of the book and there was little more to tell by the end. It's a good book but I think there are better travel writing books that take in the whole world (Alastair Humphrey's is one), however if you've read a few in this genre already it is probably still worth the read. Well done Mark, what an achievement.

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