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on 10 May 2012
Let's clear the air and cut to the bunch sprint - I really enjoyed reading about Reggie's European adventure. Good Vibrations is a book you can read on the big chain ring - it's a light read that delivers just what its title promises: it tells the story of the author's 2010 summer holiday cycle trip from his home in Reading to Brindisi in the south of Italy.

Good Vibrations tells the story of the author's first long distance cycle tour. Cycling for some 30 days, travelling anywhere from 60 to 175+ kilometres a day and camping most nights, he more than earns the long-distance cycle-tourer description he seeks. Reggie is his trusty (a couple of broken spokes apart) Ridgeback Panorama bicycle and his main travelling companion. While the author is certainly not into bike mechanics nor maintenance, he certainly has a love of his bike and he is keen to give Reggie a co-starring role in his saga.

Andrew Sykes is a modern languages teacher and this may explain the origins of his lively, very readable and refreshingly light writing style. This is a book you will read with relish, reluctant to put it down and keen to keep the pages turning. Sykes spins a very good story. This is his first major trip and first book and as you read you can sense his growing confidence - in his cycle-touring and writing. The writing zips along at a brisk pace at all times in the author's no nonsense style, but just occasionally in some of the reflective passages you catch a glimpse of the writer he may well become in the future. These passages are often from his blog and carry real promise. At all times he has the happy knack of making the reader feel they are right with him and along for the ride - in sunshine, showers, downpours and deluges: and for most of the journey there appeared to be plenty of the latter.

There is a refreshing naivety to the author's writing that is very appealing. He seems genuinely proud of his trip and his book's success: and so he should be. Others have certainly travelled further and in more exotic places. However, the inspiring thing about Reggie's trip is that every cycle-commuter or day-tripper can imagine that they just might be able to emulate the author. This, therefore is a book that will inspire more than most.

Sykes has a nice sense of humour and a good line in one-liners. I especially liked the mention of the French swimming pool cunningly disguised as a small nuclear power station. He is also a good story teller and introduces us to the friends he meets and makes on the road with warmth and good humour - even the Italian control freaks!

While there is plenty of detail on the trip and how it was successfully, but lightly planned, I would have liked to see a wee bit more detail on some aspects. For example, the book drew on blog postings made on the move from the author's iphone, but we are offered few details of how this happened. Indeed, the iphone seems to have been used each day, but we are left in the dark as to how affordable this was. Some sort of GPS tracker was used to plot the stages, but no details are provided. At 300 plus pages the book is long enough, but a better balance might have been struck if some details of the trip each day were cut and more space devoted to these technical matters.

However, the slight coverage of technical matters means the book will appeal to both cycle-tourist and general reader or traveller alike. Good Vibrations is something of a Swiss Army Knife in the travel book world: it offers something for everyone.
While on less positive matters, never was the old adage truer, than the wisdom of not judging a book by its cover. Good Vibrations has a dreadful cover, with garish titles and a dismal photograph taken at the end of the journey. In the euphoria of his Italian finish the author can be forgiven for taking the photograph in one of the less picturesque parts of Brindisi, but with a little forethought he might have chosen to finish somewhere more uplifting and he certainly would have been well advised to chose a more inspiring photograph for the cover. His trip and the book deserved something a bit more eye-catching than Reggie in front of a graffitti-scarred concrete wall.

However, this is no place for carping. Good Vibrations is a wonderful, witty and inspiring book. I'll shelve my copy between Josie Dew and Barbara Savage: it more than deserves its place. I suspect the author's next offering may well find a position next to Dervla Murphy, and that's high praise indeed.
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on 26 February 2012
Just finished reading the book, at 4;00am this morning. I found the whole context of the book to be in the real world from the planning, or lack of, the meeting people and the comments on the places he visited and people he met. As someone who is too old to start,too overweight and hasn't been on a bike since last summer i am inspired. The bike lights are on charge as we speak and planning my first ever sponsored ride, in a word THANKS
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on 2 June 2012
I am no cyclist, but Andrew P Sykes' account of his eventful journey to the southern tip of Italy left me yearning for similar adventure. His Brysonesque style of wry humour will capture the interest of even the most ardent couch-potato! I look forward to reading more from this author.
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on 2 February 2012
I have just finished reading 'Good Vibrations - Crossing Europe on a Bike called Reggie' by Andrew P. Sykes ( @CyclingEurope on Twitter ) and what a thoroughly enjoyable read it was too I must say.

It tells story of Andrew and Reggie's six week journey along Eurovelo route 5 from their home in Reading, England to Brindisi at the southern tip of Italy.

From the initial planning of the non-existent Eurovelo 5 route map, to the final preparations and eventual execution of the cycle, the book is lively and contains the perfect mix of descriptive narrative, snippets of history and humour to keep you thoroughly engaged throughout.

From the annoyance of Reggie's occasional squeaks and rattles to the perils of broken spokes; from the search for a place to stay each night followed by the many restless nights under canvas; and from the trepidation and anticipation of meeting people along the way, who had until then only been contacts made through the internet, to the occasional but inevitable language barriers (even for a language teacher - there is hope for the rest of us after all), the book keeps up a lively pace and there literally is never a dull moment. Or maybe Andrew just left those bits out on purpose for the benefit of the reader.

It's a shame that the photographs contained in the book are not in colour (purely a cost saving measure I'm sure) but they can be viewed on the website of the cycle tour, in the index of blog posts ( [...] ) that Andrew compiled as he travelled along the journey.

Andrew ends by saying that he has not written the elusive Eurovelo 5 route map but concludes "as with many things in life, it's often better just to work it out for yourself". Having said that though, you could certainly use the book to create your own by noting all the places mentioned and plotting your route between each.

When I have completed my cycle tour ( [...] ), I want my book to be this good!

Well done that man... and Reggie :)
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on 21 August 2011
I often wandered what on earth those Beach Boys were on about with those cheerful lyrics, but with this new book Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie by Andrew P. Sykes, I finally understand!

Packed full of useful information that Andrew manages to whisk out so casually, I found myself taking note of the names of organisations, various cycle friendly routes and even dotting locations of campsites on my walled map of Europe!

It wasn't just the informative nature of this read that compelled me to write this review; it's the writer himself. After reading the first few pages, I found myself nodding at almost every word as if I was planning the very same adventure. He really manages to put you in his cycling shoes from the moment the idea popped in to his head, to the point of achievement.

Good vibrations message is clear; the destination is but 1% of the adventure, the journey is what will produce the anecdotes and overwhelming tales of accomplishment for years to come. Andrew, through his book and ever popular website, have inspired me to take on my very own challenge. And if it is inspiration that you are looking for, then look no further!
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on 11 April 2015
Dull, dull, dull. Do yourselves a favour, buy One Man And His Bike or anything by Josie Dew instead. Crossing Europe On A Bike Called Reggie is a yawnfest from start to finish. At the end of every session you just think "so what?" The few "interesting" moments (such as a broken spoke) can't make up for the endless dreary, dull, boring, dull kilometers in the rain or page-long descriptions of the cobbles or the people the author didn't talk to. Avoid it.
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on 30 June 2012
I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in cycle touring, but also to anyone without any interest in cycling at all. It's well written, very witty and never gets bogged down in statistics or technical issues, but the author's concise descriptions of the route, scenery and the places he visits keep the reader well entertained as do his rather dry observations on some of the people he encounters along the way. Well worth the cover price!
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on 24 November 2014
Given I thoroughly enjoy cycling and European travel, I had high hopes of liking this book....and it hasn't disappointed whatsoever. The pace of the story-telling is ideal; no item is dwelled upon too long, yet items of real interest are never skipped over/ignored. I also found it a struggle to put the book down....eager to know how the next part of Andrew's journey unfolded. The book also provides plenty of evidence of the warmth of human nature, with many tales told of a number of people of different age, gender and nationality helping Andrew along the journey.
If you like cycling, and are perhaps looking for some inspiration to turn over a few pedals, this book is ideal. After all, Andrew is a just a normal bloke who packed a few panniers (with obligatory uncomfortable camping mat!), bought some maps and went for it.......with unforgettable and memorable results.
I shall be purchasing Andrew's 'Along the Med' book and will be following his 2015 journey from Spain to Norway closely.
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on 8 October 2011
The EuroVelo network covers just about anywhere you would wish to cycle in Europe. Out of the 13 routes, number 5 is the only one that gives a starting and finishing point but only a general direction in the middle. Providing you stick to the EV rules (see EV wiki) cyclists can pretty much do their own thing. That is the joy of this route and what clearly gave Andrew Sykes such a buzz. One can positively taste, smell, hear and touch his journey in his book 'Good Vibrations' (The title refers to the many cobble stones the bike and rider had to endure as well as the good vibes the trip brought about) Well done Andrew. If this book doesn't inspire the reader to jump on their bike and go....nothing will. It did me and although I was overweight, less fit and much older than Andrew, only one of those things applies now !
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on 24 December 2014
Had great expectations about this book, sadly a let down. It just never gets going. Each chapter just bumbles along and all much the same. I brought the follow up as well but just cannot face even starting to read it. This could have been a good read if the author had put more detail and zest in the writing rather than just camped, pedaled, bust spoke, spoke to someone, looked around, camped or found hotel.....
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