I came to this book after reading the author’s earlier account of his bike ride from the Mull of Kintyre to Cape Wrath in the north of Scotland. That was a book full of good jokes and clever inventions and I rather expected this effort would follow the same pattern. Well, it does and it doesn’t and it took me some time to adjust my expectations.
Guise is quite clear – he is a lightweight and occasional cycle tourer. Not for him great mileages or stiff challenges on a typical day. He is content to potter and take the slow and reflective approach: and none the worse for that!
This is a very well researched book and provides the reader with quite a lot of detail, geographical and historical, of the towns he visits. There are enough details of the routes to inform the cyclist who wants to follow in his wheels. However, I am at a wee bit of a loss to think who might to follow his routes.
The trouble, I feel, is that he fails to inspire on this journey. I don’t think he gets enough from his trip to make me want to take up the challenge. I was always amused and I always wanted to go on turning the pages, but I did not do so with any great relish or anticipation. I came to the conclusion that this was an inoffensive wee book that is better researched than his Scottish effort, but lacks the freshness or originality of that work. This is a travel writers account of a trip, but offers few of the stimulating insights that come from the best travel writers. And while the jokes are still there, they are fewer and further apart and they are missed in my opinion.
Richard Guise, Two Wheels over Catalonia: cycling the backroads of North-eastern Spain, 2011, Summersdale, Chichester. Recommended with 3 stars.
- Book Review: From the Mull to the Cape by Richard Guise (spoke2spoke.com)