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A truly delightful read of a cycling adventure
on 13 April 2013
In the summer of 2012 Andi traveled to Switzerland with her bike and four yellow panniers then cycled and camped solo across Switzerland and France via the Swiss and French Alps, Jura and Vosges Mountains and through the Champagne region up to Calais before returning to the UK, some 2000km in total.
There are two striking things about this book. One is the passion that Andi has for climbing steep, very steep, hills! The other is that Andi is a lone female cyclist. Now I don't mean that in a sexist way, she is a lot braver, fitter and tougher than I am.
What I am getting at is that female cyclist authors seem to me to see the world slightly differently which I really like. The first book I read by a female cyclist was `It's not about the Tapas' by Polly Evans and, although I cannot put my finger on what I mean, she and Andi see things differently to the way male authors do. I just don't know what it is but I do like it.
There are some truly great moments of personal achievement in this book. Starting with the planning of the initial traveling to Switzerland including being treated as a bomb wielding terrorist on the Eurostar (I would have given up at that point) through to combating weather going from thunderstorms to heat waves. Not only that but language barriers and hills, big hills. Did I mention the authors insane passion for climbing over mountains on a laden bike?
There is humour, clever observation, detailed descriptions and photo realistic images written in the words of this book. Obviously, Andi is no stranger to cycling both at home and abroad and it probably had something to do with cycling the Yorkshire Dales that made her set her sights on the Alps as a `bit of a challenge'.
I don't like to put spoilers into reviews but there is one bit while slowly pedalling up a mountain pass where she realises that she does not appear to be gaining on some walkers ahead the going is so slow. I love little details like this.
This book is full of moments like that and the spirit lifting cheers of ordinary people who are sightseeing at the top of these amazing mountain roads. The support of other cyclists in France and the barely visible curt nods of the cyclists in Switzerland.
The wonderful descriptions of the campsites she visits and the people she met on them had me in stitches at times. No one to book you in and need the loo? Call the Police and let them sort it, and they did! One odd thing though was the closer I got to the final chapters, the more I craved a simple omelette with chips. You will need to buy the book and read it to find out why.
All in all, a very well written book that will have you flipping the pages to keep up with her at times and others where you would want to stay awhile and enjoy the serenity. A very good book and I hope there will be more to come.