I have enjoyed reading Tom's cycle touring blog for the past two years. It is definitely one of the best I have come across, expertly written from a wealth of experience. This was the main reason why I couldn't wait to get hold of a copy of his first novel `Janapar'.
I was not disappointed. Right from the off I was drawn in and could not put the book down. I was amazed at how different this book was to any other adventure cycling book I had read before. Tom manages to eloquently convey the psyche of being a long distance cyclist, questioning our need and passion for travel. This is much more than a mere travelogue. Tom has clearly poured part of his soul and beliefs into this book, which I admire greatly. It enables you, as the reader, to form a much closer bond with him and the decisions he has to make. I find that the non-linear structure of the book serves to heighten the feeling of suspense. It works well with the two sides of the story, his love on the bike and his love off it.
Tom set out in 2007, aged 23, with his two best mates, Mark and Andy. Their ambitious idea was to circumnavigate the planet cycling totally off-road; hence `Ride Earth' was born. Tom and Andy spent a long time pouring over maps sorting out routes and getting that all important sponsorship. However it almost all proved to be useless, no amount of preparation could have equipped them for what they would have to face. The battles for routes, places to stay, and general petty squabbling, life on the road was nothing like any of them had experienced before. Then Tom met Tenny, a feisty Iranian-Armenian girl with dreams of her own, and hits a crossroad. Should he give up his grand plan for the girl he loves, or cycle off and risk missing out on the greatest adventure of them all? Janapar follows Tom's epic journey cycling around the world and getting much more than he dreamed possible.
This is without doubt the best adventure cycling book I have ever read. It offers so much more depth and understanding of life on the road to any other book I have read. Tom tells the story of a tough time in his life when he was confused on which path to take, and the journey on his bike teaches him about himself and about the world around him. It is an eye-opening book which takes you on an adventure far beyond its cover.