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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 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 10 April 2015
This book is pleasant. Very pleasant. So pleasant that Mr Sykes may well leave a pleasant comment at the end of my one star review. Which would be pleasant. Unfortunately after a hundred pages of such pleasantry, however, you are desperate for the author to drunkenly ram his pleasant Reggie bike into a phalanx of French boules player while screaming “Where were you when Adolf stamped on your boules, you cheese-eating surrender monkeys?!” Your desire for this to happen grows with the realisation that it never will. I like a bit of edge to my travelogues, where the author flirts with a hooker, say, or takes a drug he shouldn’t have, gets drunk with a Bosnian war criminal or visits some outrageous sex show involving dwarves and ping pong balls. A visit to an interesting monastery doesn’t cut it, I’m afraid. As the author ventured toward one such edifice I decided he could go on his pleasant way without me.
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on 4 June 2013
There are some excellent cycling books out there. This isn't one of them. The author fails to engage the reader with any meaningful or interesting description of his journey south through Europe to Brindisi. Compared to the excellent "France on Two Wheels" by Adam Ruck or the even better, "One Man and His Bike" by Mike Carter, Andrew Sykes writes with all the passion and enthusiasm of a flat inner tube. As for his bike called "Reggie", I wonder if I was the only reader hoping that Reggie got crushed by a drunken Swiss juggernaut driver. Sadly, Reggie survived but I didn't. I got halfway through this dreadfully written book and waved the white flag, deleted forever from my Kindle!
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on 6 June 2013
I was really looking forward to soaking up a good cycling adventure but after getting as far as Strasbourg my interest is starting to wain.
It's a bit repetitive and generally very dull.
The author sounds like a nice chap but should have just done the trip, told his mates about the journey down at the pub and left it at that.
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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 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 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 21 July 2016
I really enjoyed this book. I was with him every step of the way. Andrew's style of writing is so interesting and descriptive. I have purchased another of his and am really looking forward to reading that one too.
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