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There are plenty of books written about long distance cycle rides in the UK, usually Lands End to John O'Groats or a complete circumvention of the coast. Invariably these are penned by serious cyclists who also seem to take themselves very seriously. This book is different because whilst the writer, Ellie Bennett, likes to cycle she is no bike nut and rides an old well used Dawes bicycle rather than a sleek new touring model. Her attitude towards her journey from Lands End to John O'Groats is relaxed too. Whilst she is aware that a seasoned cyclist could travel the length of the UK in little over a week (or less) she is quite content to take her time allowing three or four weeks to complete the ride. She could have done it much faster but she and her cycling partner, Mick, make sure they get their priorities right. This meant that they always found time to check out any local landmarks, make sure that their food intake was always maintained and, most importantly, track down decent pubs to sample any interesting real ales.

The resultant book is a fun yet informative read. Ellie Bennett is clearly not the best travel writer you will find as her prose is sometimes a little awkward, but she writes with such enthusiasm that she is able to convey the many ups and downs that they encountered during their bike ride. You are able to imagine exactly how she feels when, with the wind and rain blowing in her face and the prospect of a steep climb in front of her, she sometimes wonders just why she is making this journey in the first place. Similarly you can feel her pleasure when relaxing after a difficult day or enjoying a pint of tasty beer in a pleasant pub.

All in all this is a good, entertaining book that made me consider undertaking a similar journey, only with more pubs and less miles....
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on 27 March 2012
I enjoyed this cycling book, and it made a change from a lot of cycling, travel books, which (to be fair) seem to be written by masochistic psychopaths.

The book centres on (very) amateur cycling, with good Beer thrown in.
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on 28 March 2012
I really enjoyed this book and once I started to read it I found it hard to put down.

I am not really interested in whether or not there are trains from Wick to Inverness first thing in the morning because such fine details are irrelevant to my enjoyment.

Ellie has a nice and very easy to read writing style, there is a good mixture of humour and factual information based around the places that she and her mate visited.

Ellie appears to have a good eye for a fine drop of ale and I will now use her book when I am on my travels to seek out and drink those elusive pints of great tasting beer.

Good on you Ellie for not only doing what I am sure many people dream of but also in getting a book deal so that you can get a book published on it.
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on 22 April 2012
This is one of those books that I just had to read in one weekend. It follows the usual format of long bike ride diaries but the interesting aspect is the relationship between the two friends and the emphasis on the pubs and the beer. I am jealous as it makes my LEJOG attempt look so boring! I'd love to meet the two of them and share a pint of real ale. Good fun easy read.
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on 5 January 2013
I think that this book is one of the very best cycle touring book I have read. It's about a couple's attempt to cycle from Lands End to John o Groats via pubs that serve real ales. Many travel books are self indulgent, boring, or have a forced sense of humour. THIS BOOK HAS NONE OF THIS AND IS A GREAT READ to a cyclist (which I am). It's written in a very ordinary sort of way that one can so easily relate to, especially to the things that can go wrong, the frustrations, and also to the feelings of joy that two wheels can bring. When I got into Scotland (I felt I was there riding along with them) I read slower and slower as I didn't really want the book to end.
I went and bought another copy for a cycling friend.
Message to Ellie Bennett (author). I loved your book, and please please write another soon, maybe a trip through Europe next time, as I'm waiting to buy it.
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on 24 June 2012
I'm mid-forties, female, love cycling and furthest I've been in one go is 66miles. I'm thinking about doing LEJOG and this was a nice, entertaining introduction to what it might be like. Its made me feel that yes, i could do it, in about three weeks and without spending £3k on a new bike and a ton of other expensive kit. Thanks Ellie for the inspiration :)
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on 7 May 2012
Ask yourself this: when you settle down to read a travelogue, what are you looking for? If you want a detailed analysis of the geography, history and culture of the places visited, this book will disappoint you. But if, like me, you'd much rather feel you're part of the journey, this little gem is perfect!

With a light, witty and unpretentious style, Ellie Bennett takes you from "end to end" in a way that lets you experience the trip with her. She describes her bike as being a very ordinary tourer and this would fit the author too, were it not for her extraordinary way of carrying you along on the journey.

I was there with her on every hill she inexpertedly pedalled up (or more often, got off and walked!) and in every pub, cafe and B+B which she visited - and there are lots!

There is no pretence of being expert at any part of this particular journey: not an expert cyclist, not a skilled navigator, not a learned travel writer. Just someone who enjoys a challenge, enjoys discovering new places and most of all, enjoys a pint. Perhaps that's what makes this such a readable book: it reminds you that there's quite a lot to enjoy out there on the road, even if you may have to pedal up some fearsome inclines in torrential weather before you get to freewheel downhill in the sun!
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on 13 February 2014
I really admire ordinary people who go off and do something a little less ordinary and this book describes exactly that! The author takes on the bike ride from Lands End to John O'Groats but rather than tackling the ride as quickly as possible, she seeks out B roads and cycle paths. Ellie and her friend Mick stop at B&Bs, hostels and campsites along the way, with one quick trip home in Bristol, which they describe as a mistake because it is difficult to get going again. The commentary throughout the book describes the route, the people met along the way, the friendliness and generosity of people, the history of some of the stop off points and even the unfriendliness of some of the hosts - which makes you wonder why these people were in the hospitality business in the first place! I found the book interesting to read and well balanced, with a good measure of humour throughout. An easy read overall but not one that made me want to get on my bike and do the same thing!
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on 18 May 2012
Bill Strickland (The Quotable Cyclist) says "the bicycle is the most efficient machine ever created: converting calories into gas, a bicycle gets the equivalent of three thousand miles per gallon." Hmmm ... based on the number of pints sampled on her trip, Ellie had enough energy to travel about 33,000 miles!!!

1,300 miles is more than enough though! She describes the sort of trip that every amateur cyclist could think about undertaking before quickly finding a million excuses not to actually do it. I empathised completely with her hill climbing technique and suffered with her as she was soaked in the highlands.

A great read that combines personal musings with interesting snippets of information about various corners of this sceptred isle.
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on 9 March 2016
Very disappointing book and I gave up at page 84. It reads as though the author has simply copied and pasted chunks of (very dull) information from Wiki in order to enlighten the reader about some of the places they visited. Also, lots of unrelated and uninteresting pieces of opinion not relating to anything much in particular. If the content of the book was solely relating to the route and the experiences of cycling from place to place then this would have been an interesting read. Sadly the story of the journey is not the focus of the book. I am sure that there are considerably better books about cycling LeJog than this. I definitely recommend 'Free Country' as an alternative
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