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Endurance cycling for the endurance reader
on 1 August 2009
Before I write this review I think I should clarify that I think Mark's achievement riding round the world in under 200 days was absolutely amazing. For that I am in awe and can't praise him enough. And I suppose doing the blog throughout the trip, making the TV programme and writing a book are all par for the course. However, there is a slight problem. When you are racing around the world you are sat on a bike almost all day every day. So in fact nothing much of interest happens. You don't see anything of the places you pass through, and you meet precious few colourful characters for insufficient time for you to find anything out about them. There are no romantic entanglements to make you question whether you should stop somewhere forever and not go home. Moreover, because the book tells us that he achieved the world record on the back cover the potential tension about whether he will make it or not (which works in a real time blog) is completely absent in the book. In fact this is basically groundhog day on two wheels. He gets up, bikes all day for about 100 miles. Eats in a café somewhere and then pitches his tent and falls asleep. Next day same thing. Next day same thing with saddle sores. Next day same thing but sleeps in motel. In fact when he finally got knocked off I felt happy because something had actually happened, instead of feeling empathy for his predicament, worried about what he would do next and anxious he might not make it in time to beat the record. This book could have been half the size and I would have raved about it. If you want to read something more interesting about a big long bike trip, without feeling you are on some sort of endurance feat yourself, I would suggest you try `Why don't you fly' by Chris Smith, or `Thunder and Sunshine' by Alastair Humphreys.