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on 27 January 2017
This book is something of a Boy's Own Adventure Story as Dominic Gill tackles the tremendous challenge of tandem riding his way from Alaska to Patagonia. He manages to portray the tough challenges he faces from poor roads, shocking weather, other road users and his misbehaving tandem. He introduces us to some interesting characters along the way and gives us a flavour of how supportive strangers can be during tough times. It is action packed and an adrenaline fix and works very well at this level.
At another level the book is a disappointment. There are very few insights into the countries he travels through - nothing about the history, politics, culture and the author seems to have little curiosity beyond his stoker tandem companions, his next meal and stretching out his limited budget. His attempts to save pesos and dollars along the way feature too much.
The publisher has done the author a disservice by not providing maps among the text. We get villages, towns and cities named frequently but need the maps for greater context. The photographs are a poor selection featuring almost exclusively snaps of the author and his stokers. Given the interesting geography he passes through why not show some images.
I am not criticising Gill's courage or his achievement which are tremendous. This is a review of the book he has written and not the cycle ride he tackled and I expected more given the subject matter at his disposal.
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on 7 January 2011
I love reading about cycle travel and this one caught my eye immediately, i settled down to read this and in the first couple of chapters found it very good, but alas this was not to last,the journey is a long one and there just too much of it missing in my opinion, the author flits between stories leaving you feeling unsatisfied,the characters encountered come and go in the blink of an eye leaving you wondering what happened.
The biggest disappointment to me though was the authors mood swings and attitude towards his fellow passengers, i thought the whole idea of the story was to meet new people and travel with them sharing the common interest of cycling, i got the impression he would have been a lot better off traveling on a normal bike on his own.
Overall a great idea undertaken by the wrong person.
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on 13 January 2015
This has to be one of the best cycle travelogues that I have read, and I have read a few. I read the book in 3 sessions. The adventure was an epic one and makes a change from the rode around the UK or rode around a bit of Europe ones. Whilst I haven't got the courage to do a trip like this, you have to respect those that do, and then to allow the rest of us to share their experience through the covers of a book. The emotional side of the book was heavily weighted towards the end, and I felt that I may have missed out much of the earlier stuff, which is a shame as these were the moments when the book really came to life. Most of the decisions seemed reasonable, but I couldn't understand the really basic mistake of not taking enough food for the first few days.

My only real criticisms would be that I would like to have known more about the equipment used and how much was spent over the 2 plus years.

Really well worth reading. I loved it. I shall now hunt out the film.
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VINE VOICEon 23 November 2010
It is always a mystery to me: what drives people to attempt such fiendishly preposterous achievements of physical endeavour?

I've read a lot of books where blokes basically "do a Gorman" and create some fantastic pretext to go to strange places and meet strange people, so it was reassuring to discover that Dom chose this adventure with the assistance of a film production company, who thought the concept of giving people rides down America would make a good film.

We are plunged straight into the action as Dom touches down in Alaska, and the airport congregation are treated to the sight of him building his transport for the forseeable future. Camping in Alaska is tricky, but Dom's good nature and general faith in humankind is rewarded with food, drink and shelter.

Over the next two years, Dom winds his way south, picking up "stokers" to help him on his way. Some only stay a day, some stay for weeks, and we are treated to Dom's rotating desire to be alone and in company. Along the way, we are shown that people are generally kind and considerate, which is no great surprise in the devoutly religious countries Dom passed through. His patience is tested on numerous occasions, but his desire to succeed carries him onwards, even as the snow of South America drains his spirit.

It's wonderfully written, with evocative descriptions of the stunning scenery that greets him each morning. The writing style engages the reader's imagination and, because he's riding a tandem, you feel like you are on the journey with him.
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on 30 April 2013
I did not take to Dom Gill at the start of his adventure and on reaching the end I still had not taken to him BUT I now have a great respect for him . This physically demanding trip on a tight budget was never going to be easy and so it proved . What made this book stand out for me was that it encompassed the reality of taking on such a project . There were the high points of scenic splendour but also the days of mind numbing tedium just trying to get from one place to another . The physical effort required at times to make any headway and the consequent ongoing need for food and a decent night's sleep . However the real impact was his description of his own psychological battle with the endeavour . What impressed was his willingness to admit his own weaknesses , his mood swings , his unreasonable behaviour at times towards his " stokers" , his love/hate feelings towards the challenge as the trip progressed and yet it was his bloody mindedness that made him complete the ride . This book should be compulsory reading for anyone thinking of taking on a challenge as it shows that it is not just about the pretty views .
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on 15 April 2012
I had seriously high expectations for this book and unfortunately they were not met. This book should have been amazing,I mean what an experience...
I found it really dull, just fact after impersonal fact about the journey. The stories are vague and seem unfinished. I'd have expected a little more passion at least, throughout the book Dominic continually states that the people are wonderful and a pleasure but I didn't get a sense of that when reading. I thought also that there would have been a few more anecdotes thrown in, yes most of the people he met very briefly but surely there must have been some interaction worth mentioning?
I also realise that trying to squeeze two years of travel into 280 pages was quite a mission but the things that made it are somewhat bland.
Dominic Gill is very obviously a cyclist-cum-adventurer not a writer or story teller- what a shame!
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on 11 May 2010
Well, move over Lance Armstrong, your mantle of 'Iron Man' of the cycling world has been well and truly stolen. Not many people would think of cycling long distance, few would choose to ride a tandem, and fewer would think about undetaking a journey even Marco Polo would probably shake his head at. Uber 'domestique' - Dominic Gill puts two years of his life aside to fulfill a dream and cycle the Americas, but also to reconnect with his fellow men - all 350+ of them! Yes, he shares a ride on his faithful two-seater with stranger after stranger, covering 20,000 miles from the top of Alaska, to the tip of Argentina. Along the way, he evolves from fresh-faced callow youth, to a road-rugged, 'Easy Rider' extra; who can change a flat tyre in seconds, and still have enough energy to chase what looks like a lot of girls!

Seriously, what Dominic achieved is to be saluted - and reading this very entertaining tale, one sees that the journey was one thing, but meeting his passengers left a far bigger mark on him, and obviously gave him the motivation to continue through broken bikes, money running out, mudslides, snowstorms, and South American bureaucracy! The Mallot Jeune is his to wear I think! Good man.

Read it and then go for a day's ride, and say to yourself at the end when you're relaxing in a warm bath, 'my bottom would feel like this every day for two years!'
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on 5 February 2012
Dominic Gills's ability to ride is better than his ability to write, sadly. He manages to turn the good idea (not his) to take a tandem from tip to toe of the Americas with a vacant back seat, offering lifts - into a dull diary.

Long distance cycling is primarily a psychological challenge. However, Gill keeps the reader firmly on the outside of his head for the entire two years, so having travelled with him the reader knows the rider, the many people who joined him on the back seat and the countries he travelled through, hardly at all.

It's sad to write this, because Dominic Gill seems like a nice guy, and I loved the premise of the book - to offer lifts on a tandem. His ride is a great achievement, but, the ride is better than the read.
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on 12 May 2010
Take A Seat is not a story about pushing back the frontiers of human endurance or discovering any new lands or tribes and it doesn't pretend to be one. But it is a glorious read. Dominic Gill's trip began as a personal challenge - to cycle alone across two continents - but became, thanks to the many people who either jumped on the back of his tandem on the way or looked after him, an exploration of what it means to be human and a celebration of the generosity of the human spirit. However, at times it was not an easy trip and there are moments of loneliness and despair, when Gill's positive and optimistic view of the world is tested to its limits. But because he writes so well you experience these low moments with him and the lows make the highs even more special. An inspiring, funny and touching story, Take A Seat is brilliantly done. A special book which I recommend highly.
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on 31 May 2010
What a great read, I just finished the book and was taking in from cover to cover finding it very hard to put down.

I really enjoyed the extra dimension of having the stories of the stokers and the relationships that built with each new arrival to that back seat. It can't be an easy task riding alone, but even harder having to ride with a stranger.

This has given me yet more motivation (if that is possible) from my solo JOGLE that I am going to take part in. I know from now on I am going to say hi more often to all those cycle tourers I see out on the roads when I am on the bike.

Well done on the journey Dom, now to track down the documentary you did to go with the journey
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