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Cycling Back to Happiness: Adventure on the North Sea Cycle Route Paperback – 28 Apr 2008
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An uplifting tale of one man's battle with his inner demons
-- LANCASTER CITIZEN
Bernie's startlingly honest peeks into the darkest corners of his own fractured mind are contrasted with many painfully funny observations -- YORK POST
Candid, heart-warming and hilarious -- LONDON CYCLIST
Funny, uplifting and a real eye-opener for those who have never enjoyed the delights of northern Europe and Scandinavia -- BIRMINGHAM MAIL
The bravest book we've read this year -- ADVENTURE TRAVEL MAGAZINE
This book rivals the work of names far better known in this genre -- CYCLING WORLD
With a well-tuned nose for nutters, Bernie sniffs out the strange characters who populate the coastal route and discovers the healing power of travel along the way -- SOUTHEND ECHO
'Don't let your biggest fears stand in the way of your dreams, even if your biggest dreams happen to be your biggest fears.' That was exactly Bernie Friend's attitude when he ditched medication and group therapy to overcome a very unwanted companion - paranoia. A complete novice to long distance cycling, Bernie confronted many demons on his epic journey - a coastal cycle route which circles 6,000 kilometres of the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Scotland and England.Arm wrestling drunken trawlermen, a geriatric half marathon, Viking bring-and-buy sales, decapitated pirates, burning witches, Shakin' Stevens mega mixes, sea crossing motorways, walking sand giants and remote islands most people can't even be bothered to mark on a map are just some of the secrets coughed up by this adventure. Michael Palin and Bill Bryson watch out! Bernie's very personal story told in an easy-going travelogue style will have you hooked from start to finish. This is hugely entertaining and downright inspirational!
Top Customer Reviews
A colleague of mine who is a much more serious wheel-turner pointed me in the direction of this book and I have to say it was good advice, especially for the trainee biker.
There is a lot of difficult scene setting over the first 30 odd pages, punctuated with self-deprecating laughs, but once that is all out the way a very fluid journey unfolds.
I couldn't believe just how many very differing places and landscapes were so close at hand. The book has certainly inspired me to persevere with the pedalling and maybe even take on a cycling adventure of my own.
The best thing of all for me is that the writer is just a plain guy, who lives a normal life, and just wanted to do something different, special even, but within his own personal limitations.
The fact he undertook thousands of kms on a bike as a complete novice, without months of gruelling (and impossible) training regimes makes it all so more achieveable for all of us. Never mind the Spandex... Anyone can do it!!!
I cycled 1200 miles Lands end to john O groats in 15 days but I didnt write a book maybe I should have
Sorry to be so negative but I feel cheated
An exhausting 6,000 kilometer cycle ride around the coasts of the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Scotland and England would be a daunting task for the fittest survivalist.
For Bernie, a lifelong hypochondriac with a morbid fear of dying horribly on foreign soil, it was an immense challenge.
Travel-phobic Bernie can't set foot on a plane, finds boats a terrifying prospect, and hasn't cycled since childhood. But in a last-ditch bid to take control of his fears he sets out from his home in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on an epic adventure with just a borrowed bike and a one-man tent for company.
With his well-tuned nose for nutters, Bernie soon sniffs out the strange characters who populate the coastal route and discovers the healing power of travel along the way.
Bernie is joined in Germany by a travelling companion. While Phileas Fogg had Passepartout and Ewan McGregor had Charley Boorman, Bernie is saddled with agoraphobic hermit Rhys as a peddaling partner.
Together they cycle on through Scandinavia, the perfect double act of tortured souls seeking a pine-scented salvation in the land of trolls and Vikings.
The result is an uplifting tale of one man's battle with his inner demons.
Bernie's startlingly honest peeks into the darkest corners of his own fractured mind are contrasted with many painfully funny observations on the weird and wonderful people and places that cling to the coastal journey around the North Sea.
Join Bernie on his journey, and be inspired to face your own fears head-on.
When you realise that Mr Friend tackled this journey nursing a lot of personal heartache it made the trip an even bigger success.
He didn't complete the whole route, only getting as far as Norway, which was still nearly 3,000km, but this is all about the inner journey and finding mental strength in tackling your biggest fears and demons.
The fact he seemed to manage this left me feeling pleased for someone best described as a complete novice cyclist. Well done and thanks for sharing!!!
This book is as much about the author and his self discovery than it is about the places he visits on his travels. It really is a journey of self discovery and an uplifting and humourous one too.
It may be that it's a generation thing but being a similar age to Bernie I could relate to his humour and many of his feelings.
Simply put - If you're an armchair cyclist and frustrated traveller I doubt you'll find a much better book this year.
I was certainly inspired to put the route (some, not all!) on my wish list of trips for the future.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought as I'm interested in cycling the same route. Not the greatest book for giving you a flavour of the route. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
I've been getting into my travel books recently and spotted this, thought it was worth a try. And definitely yes, it's a very interesting read, highlighting some of the places in a... Read morePublished 13 months ago by M. Raven
It ought to be hard not to be inspired by a story about someone overcoming mental illness and bereavement by setting out on a long-distance, unaccompanied bicycle tour. Read morePublished on 1 Aug. 2013 by Threecross32
a humour and rain drenched book excellent descriptions of areas cycled thru but the humour is a bit heavy going at times and sometimes it just is,nt funny any more. Read morePublished on 14 April 2013 by m. dosa
This was a Christmas present from the wife, having cycled part of the North Sea Cycle Route last summer. Read morePublished on 6 Feb. 2011 by Pete Finch
Wish I had listened to the more critical reviews of this book, and not bothered buying it. And the reviewer who discribed it as 'cliched' is absolutely right. Read morePublished on 29 Jan. 2011 by H. Robinson
Loved the book and found in most enlightening and inspirational - helps that i've met Bernie and he's really nice bloke - love to know if he finished the tripPublished on 29 Nov. 2010 by Ade68
From the first few pages it was obvious that Bernie friend was never going to complete this ride. But at least he managed to get out of it what he wanted, eventually packing up and... Read morePublished on 9 Nov. 2010 by Stephen Lindley