This Breathtaking World: Around the World by Bicycle 1997 - 1999 Paperback – 1 Oct 2010
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This was a journey taken in another age: pre-9/11, Pakistan a go-to rather than a no-go area, and most tellingly, communcation with home by fax - not an internet cafe in sight. It's also quaintly pre-Euro, Tim kicks off with a 110 mile punt across Holland in a single day to avoid changing any money into Guilders.
His body undecided between asthma and eczema (hi, Scrabble fans), Tim suffers dog attacks, knife-wielding Indians, and a bike theft in Turkey that results in a gun-toting local militia descending on the offending hapless shepherd. His writing delivers effectively, painting the task of cycling 22,000 global miles as a combination of high adrenaline excitement, danger, and near-transcendental euphoria, along with the relentless tedium of crossing wildernesses such as northeastern Australia. His jauntiest device is the extraction of a tease paragraph to the front of each chapter. e.g. 'He pulled the sheath from the blade and stood there swaying...'. This is left sitting in your mind until you reach the relevant passage, giving you the satisfaction of identifying where it was lifted from. Respect for the reader's intelligence is never to be be ignored, and is always appreciated.
This being no record-busting circumnavigation, like many of late, Tim spends plenty of time with characters like the Sikh guru who tells him to give up eggs, the Thai egg seller urging the opposite, and numerous hospitable Middle Eastern Arabs, whose womenfolk generally withdraw before the food is shared. Largely the less developed the country, the greater the understanding of the travellers needs, with Tim's nadir on the main roads of Canada where the trucks force him into the ditch or worse. He delights in the cries of Indonesian children ('HELLO MRS!') and presciently describes pre-Slumdog Mumbai as 'a film set for an inner city drama'. The whole account is interspersed with letters between his girlfriend and his mother, with Tim being the subject of their worried missives.
For anyone familiar with long distance cycling, this account holds all the tropes of the pleasure, pain, and pure serendipity of that endeavour, for others it will be the vivid tale of a young man driven to finish his quest, despite risking new-found love, saddle sores, malaria and hypothermia. Perhaps the rainy commuter train is a safer place to be after all.
what struck me was the bravery and determination of Tim as he ventured alone around the world and his emotional journey away from his loved ones.
well worth a read.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Having met Tim as he crossed through Alberta Canada it was fun to read about our adventures in the Rockies. I won't give away any of the story, you'll have to buy the book for that.