Top positive review
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Watch the film, then read the book and understand much more...
on 7 March 2013
Tom set off on an adventure with two mates from the Midlands and the possibly naive intention to mountain bike around the World rather than get a 'proper job'. What happened over the next 3 or 4 years was as much about self discovery as miles covered and places visited, and was far from what he had intended/envisioned.
I've followed Tom Allen's blog for the past year or two as he tried to turn 3 or 4 years of video footage and notes taken into a full length film and book. Despite the challenges of doing this independantly, he has managed to produce something wonderful. I love the film and still find it inspiring and funny after having seen it 3 or 4 times. But the book gives so much more. Even in the film, which is by definition limited to the footage that was taken, Tom manages to put across a very honest and personal account of his motivations. Of the joys and challenges of such a trip. Of loneliness and companionship. Of the humbling friendship of complete strangers. Of the difficulties in finding out that perhaps the plan you've been obsessing over isn't the only plan.
But in the book he is able to communicate this to a much greater degree. I've read books about cycle trips that are very much of the 'On day 97 we cycled from A to B covering 80 miles. I felt tired.' ilk. Janapar is not that book. It's about an adventure. It's about personal motivation and challenge. It's about seeking something more meaningful than the daily 9-5 that most people get sucked into. And it's about finding things you didn't expect in the places you least expected them.
Tom writes eloquently, honestly and with great self-awareness (after the event at least!). Janapar is a joy to read and will make you want to quit your job, pack a bag and cycle off on a voyage of discovery. That's what I'm going to do. Thanks Tom (I think!).