My Top 5 Cycle Touring Books

Thinking of giving a pressie of a cycle touring book this Christmas?  These would be the top five titles from my wish list – if I didn’t already have them!

Number 5:
Barbara Savage, Miles from Nowhere.
savage1 This is full of wit and good fun and makes light of a pretty fantastic world tour. There is a nice balance of, ‘how we did it’ and wonder at the adventure as it unfolds.  It’s a read made sadder by the knowledge that Barbara was killed on her bike on her return home and before the book came out.

Number 4:

Josie Dew, The Wind in my Wheels

DewI think this was Dew’s first book and while her writing improves in the later titles, this one has a brightness and verve that is very appealing.  It’s nice to track back to her first adventures in cycling and catch her enthusiasm from the start.  It’s infectious.

Number 3:
Anne Mustoe, A Bike Ride
Mustoe_CoverThis was Anne Mustoe’s first book and the result of her first round the world tour: in fact her first tour of any sort. In my view its a gem.  It’s a real page turner and with each new page you gasp at her pluck and vitality and strength of character. Each of her trips followed some historical route, but she never crowds out her own adventure with tales of the past.

Number 2:
Dervla Murphy, Full Tilt

MurphyI suppose Dervla Murphy might have filled all five positions.  I certainly would have liked to include her autobiography, but ruled it out as it’s not strictly a cycle touring book. In some ways Full Tilt set the benchmark for others: epic voyage, courage and endurance, brilliant writing and a dash of humour – what’s not to like?

Number 1:
Anne Mustoe, Lone Traveller
LoneTravellerThere is no rule to say that an author can’t have more than one entry!  This was Anne Mustoe’s second book, following her second round the world trip and as she said, she wanted to make it a bit different from her first. She says she steeled herself to reveal more of ‘how she did things’ and ‘how she felt doing them’ and I think this makes for an even better book.

I am a bit surprised to find that it’s an all woman list.  Not even a token man!  Well, I have called them as I see them,  What attracts me in cycle tour writing is:

  1. Writing that takes me along on the adventure
  2. Good humour and not too much ego
  3. An epic journey well described
  4. A balance of how to and why to themes
  5. Not too much straight journalling.

Reviews of the individual titles are available via the Book Review tag to the right of this page.

I’d welcome any suggestions for other titles to consider.

The Sun in my Eyes: Two-wheeling East by Josie Dew

Coming back to this book for a third time I have decided all Josie Dew‘s books ought to be sub-titled, “The power of Positive Pedalling”.  She is such a joy to read.  I guess she drowns all negative thoughts at birth – certainly, none make it into print in her books.

The Sun in my Eyes is no exception. An account of her travels in China and Japan, it is chock full of good stories and (fairly) good jokes.  It’s also full of surprisingly good writing.  It zips along at a great pace and effortlessly combines elements of history and politics with the human interest of her engagement with the people she meets on her travels. Stops at Hiroshima, the Mazda factory and steamy goings-on in hot tubs are treated alike with decency, compassion, empathy and good humour.  This time there are also some half decent photographs included.

This is great stuff.  Recommended with a full 5 stars in both cycle touring and travel writing categories.