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4.0 out of 5 stars
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on 26 October 2015
I found Steve's journey inciteful and funny.
Possibly accurate definitely observant and always with a good smattering of British pragmatism.
Steve discovers that whatever the politics or geography there are always a few people that make life bearable the rest are there to muck it up.
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on 25 September 2013
Good review by Andy Millen at [...]

"Part Travelogue, part wry look at America and American people, part historical and social comment, it is well worth picking up.

Steve Briggs left the Navy aged 39 and decided to spend a "Gap Year" cycling around the USA. This documents his journey, starting from Florida, passing through 30 states on his way up the east coast and down the the Midwest, ending exhausted and damn near broken in New Orleans. A picture of America as a land of contrasts socially is built up - from the affluent Floridians to Inner city Balitmore, from the thriving metropolis of Chicago to the industrial wasteland of Gary, Indiana. Bear in mind this was 1998, when the Clinton/Lewinski scandal broke, and the political background is never far from the book.

Also tackled is the problem with cycling in the country - from lack of tolerance of drivers, to astonishment that someone would actually undertake such a task, to the unreliable maps and meaningless road signs - and you wonder just how he completed this! What made his journey sufferable, and makes the book though is the people who he meets, who put him up for a day here and there, Characters all, from Bikers, to vegans to just Mr and Mrs Ordinary.

This is a book that will have you belly laughing one minute, arguing politics the next, and might just increase your knowledge of American History and geography too. A brilliantly written book, that could only be improved with maps on each chapter to make charting where he is easier. That aside, buy it, read it and enjoy it. Rating - 5 Beers"
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on 20 June 2014
I really enjoy books about independent travel, but sadly this was a disappointment. Perhaps it was my Kindle version, but the writing seems disorganised and disjointed, and it would be difficult to say what this is about. The technicalities of the cycling? Not really mentioned. The route planning? Certainly not discussed - in fact I could not find anywhere at the beginning where the actual route destinations in the USA are mentioned. The journey? Well, some places are hardly given a sentence, whilst others are described with imported chunks of history. The author seems to actively dislike the States ( and if he doesn't he needs to re-read his text), constantly carping about different aspects and painting a really sad picture of the whole journey. He openly says he cannot wait for it to finish in the latter part of the book ( indeed he decides to cut the journey short) and seems bored with having to record the details for this book. Depressing and disappointing - I only completed it in case it picked up at any point.
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on 5 May 2014
Over the years I've read quite a few cycle touring books and this is quite a decent example of the type. However, I feel much less enthusiastic about it than some other reviewers. I've reached about 47% through the book and I'm wondering if I can be bothered to finish it, since I'm finding it pleasant enough but not exactly gripping. Unsurprisingly, it has no very fascinating or attractive characters to engage one's interest, no plot other than rambling through the USA, and nothing very dramatic has happened so far — just the usual cyclist's complaints about lorries, hills, bad weather and lousy roads, together with lots of moaning about the funny old ways of Americans.

Apparently the print length is 397 pages, but the book would be better if it were about 150 pages shorter, since I don't feel an urgent need to know what Mr Briggs did on every day of his cycling odyssey. I may finish the book some time, but at the moment I'm a bit bored with it and I'm going to read something else.
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on 30 October 2012
I wanted to say what a fabulous read it is so far.

He sets off, eventually, arrives and tells it hilariously.

I loved the bit where the strange Americans pick him up from the side of the road, give him a lift and feed him, all the while warning him about the dangers of being picked up, getting lifts and being fed by strange Americans.

I will post a full review once I have got to the end.
So far it's one of those
'Can't put it down, but don't want it to end' books. The best kind, I think.

Buy it. I would. I did. I'm glad!
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on 2 February 2014
As an armchair reader, found this book ideal. Having holidayed in the USA last year, some great memories were brought back. The American dream is not that great. Still remember stopping in Orlando as I thought I had a puncture, hardly got out of the car when people appeared out of alleyways. Never got back into the car so quick and drove off!
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on 8 January 2013
Fancy putting your home in moth-balls, setting out to explore a foreign land, and recording all your adventures in a book?

Don't bother. Steve Briggs has already done it for you, so all you have to do is stick to the comfort of your Kindle, upload his scribbles, and you're away. It's considerably cheaper than doing it yourself, far easier on the legs (he did thirty American states...on a push-bike) and he probably writes better than you (he writes better than most of us).

I think it was Norman Tebbit who told us all to get on our bikes to avoid the dole queues. Steve took him literally and did just that, having previously been employed by the Navy (quit the navy - see the world...)

Saddle Sore (who wouldn't be?) is a detailed and entertaining account of the disparate characters, customs, landscapes, weather, architecture, flora and fauna he encountered on his mammoth journey across the USA - a land that borrowed our language, broke it, and is now in the process of handing the damaged goods back via TV imports.

You don't have to be interested in cycling to enjoy this, or camping, or even America. Just people, and life, and words.

Now, here's a man who knows how to pedal a story.
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on 15 March 2013
Very entertaining book.Well written and ridden. Great acheivement would recommend this book.Is Steve going to do another big ride? I hope so.
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on 9 June 2014
In theory this book is a description of the author's cycle ride across the USA. However, the cycle ride is mostly irrelevant and at its heart this book is really just a selection of (sometimes) amusing anecdotes about the "real" America.
The trouble is, unless you know nothing about the US this book won't provide you with any new information (Americans are fat, insular but also generous) and doesn't have any particular insights worth sharing. So, your enjoyment (or otherwise) of this book will depend, to a large extent, on whether you share the author's sense of humour.
Personally I got fed up with the book well before the end and can't honestly recommend it to anyone despite its low price on kindle.
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on 20 May 2013
I recommended this book to two family members before Steve Briggs had even mounted Bert. What? No! Bert is his bike! Jump onto his crossbar and join him as he pedals across America.

The laughs came very early on and I was instantly hooked. I absolutely love Steve's style of observational humour and have to say I think Bill Bryson has stiff competition here.

What did this book teach me? That Hob Nob is not in fact the most risque name for a biscuit you'll ever come across. No. I'm not going to explain. You'll just have to read it for yourself!
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