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on 2 October 2014
Brilliant. Well written and very funny.
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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 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 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 20 April 2014
A epic journey for the reader as well as the author. This was my first foray into reading about a cycling adventure. It was well written and an enjoyable journey. Not up to the level of Bill Bryson as a travelogue, but then again I don't recall Bryson ever doing anything resembling exercise. A good effort.
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on 29 January 2017
A very disappointing book, I gave up in Northern Italy. The author seemed to find fault with every nation he visited and hardly had a good word to say about anyone. Forced humour in almost every situation was tiresome. If Reggie goes anywhere else I won't be joining him.
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on 14 February 2016
I love cycling and cycle touring, but this book just wasn't for me. I much preferred Mike Carter's 'One man and his bike' and Ellie Bennett's 'Mud, sweat, and gears'. I gave up on this one 100 pages before the end as I was weary of the author's moaning about mosquitoes. There are a lot of typos, and I think a fair bit of scope for some ruthless editing. Not my cup of tea.
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on 31 July 2016
Many of us think we have pushed ourselves to the outermost if we took the bike to work two days in a row. We tell everyone, but they don't listen. Some bicycle a lot further than that, and they write books about it. Many of these can be summarised like this: "Since I am stronger than you, mentally and physically, I made this journey that you'll never be able to make, and this is how I did it."

Then there is the first book about Andrew P. Sykes and his bicycle Reggie. A man in his forties, experiencing expanding waistline and the lure of the sofa. (I presume.) And then he just gets on his bicycle, cycles to South Italy, and then writes a book about it. And he has found his own little way of sharing his experience. For this reader, it was a thrill.

Sykes does not try to appear stronger, fitter, better and more than the next guy. He is a teacher hitting the road with just a minimum of planning behind him. He openly (and charmingly) writes about how a shower of rain, difficulty of finding a camping site or headwind gets the best of him, and puts him in moods that almost make him take a train home. And then also how a lick of sun, a cheerful conversation, or a nice comment on one of his blogposts sends his mood right back up to a point where he almost chirps as he progresses south towards his goal.

And no mention of how he during stops eats carefully selected power bars and drinks protein shake with them. This book is not about such a bicyclist. Andrew parks his Reggie, drinks (sometimes) generous amounts of beer and wine, and eats all the croissants he pleases.

This book is self published. That made me sceptical to begin with. And yes, it has more little errors hiding here and there than you would expect from a book having been through an editorial process. Some jokes and points go unnoticed because they were only almost told right. And sometimes there is too much written about one topic, while too little on another.
On the other hand, an editor may have told Andrew to remove some of the longer sidetracks that appear. That would be sad, because the sidetracking of this book makes up a bit of the irresistible charm of it. This reviewer happens to know that hours of bicycling makes the brain waves travel in mysterious ways. It has been fun to follow the mysterious ways of Andrew P. Sykes' brain.

So, fellow reader, unless you hate everything that has to do with bicycling (you don't, or you wouldn't be reading this), I dare you to read this book without being inspired to just jump on a bicycle and go somewhere really far away. This is a wonderfully enchanting read, that also serves nicely as a mental escape for those of us whose next planned bicycle trip would be to the office. One should not use the grand words unless one has to, but Andrew P. Sykes could be about to reinvent the genre of travel writing, at least a corner of it. I look forward to read more of his work.
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on 8 September 2015
The author has a very condescending tone in the way he writes. I was looking forward to this read but couldn't put up with his very critical views on others. Most disappointing especially co spidering his profession
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on 17 January 2015
The anecdotes told as Andrew and Reggie made their way through Europe were enthralling and well crafted with humour. Recommended
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