On Our Bookshelf: Bike Touring Books To Read
Winter has set in with a vengeance here in Holland.
It’s dark by 5pm and there’s enough rain, wind and generally miserable weather to make bike touring pretty much impossible, unless you escape to Spain!
The dreary weather and lack of light leaves a lot of time to do some reading and dream of the next bike tour, so here’s a glimpse of what’s on our bookshelf and waiting to be read over the coming months. (We bought most of these books from Abe Books).
I Follow The Wind by Louise Sutherland
Way back in 1949, when many of us were not yet born, Louise Sutherland was going around the world solo on a bicycle. She bought her bike in a church junk sale and her trailer was made by a patient in the hospital.
Perhaps most remarkably, she never intended to go around the world. Her original goal was only Land’s End at the southern tip of England! Read more about the book and Louise’s adventures from the CycleSeven and Retrorambling blogs.
Around Africa On My Bicycle by Riaan Manser
We went for dinner with Shane (who’s shortly setting off for a bike tour through Africa) and came back home with this book off his shelf.
It took Riaan Manser just over 2 years to cycle the perimeter of Africa and this book is based on that journey. Along the way, he was thrown into jail in Equatorial Guinea, traversed the Saharan and Lybian deserts, learned several languages and ate a variety of exotic foods.
This book tells the story of his 36,000km bike tour, which started and ended in Cape Town.
Miles From Nowhere by Barbara Savage
Of all the touring books we’ve heard of, this one is by far the most recommended. Almost everyone who’s read it raves about Barbara’s ability to describe the highs and lows of life on the road.
It’s also a book where you grow with the author. In the beginning, you sense how out of her depth she is but as the book goes on you gain in strength as she does, becoming more bold and confident in her own abilities.
We’ve only just started reading this book but we love it and definitely recommend it.
Sadly, Barbara was killed in a traffic accident shortly after this book was published.
Full Tilt: Ireland To India With A Bicycle by Dervla Murphy
“For my tenth birthday my parents gave me a second-hand bicycle and Pappa sent me a second-hand atlas. Already I was an enthusiastic cyclist, though I had never before owned a bicycle, and soon after my birthday I resolved to cycle to India one day. I have never forgotten the exact spot, on a steep hill near Lismore, where this decision was made. Half-way up I rather proudly looked at my legs, slowly pushing the pedals around, and the thought came ‘If I went on doing this for long enough I could get to India.’”
This is how Dervla Murphy describes the inspiration for her first bike tour, from Ireland to India in 1965. She travelled alone, covering difficult terrain, braved difficult weather and packed a pistol for protection.
She’s written many books since her first adventure, but this book is considered the classic of her collection and we can’t wait for it to arrive in our mailbox so we can start reading it.
Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg on what we’re sure is a very long list of books we should read. We’ve already placed another order for more reading material from Abe Books (our favourite source for books, with some some real gems that we can’t find elsewhere).
Which books are you reading? Recommend one for us by leaving a comment!