Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Book review of Good Vibrations by Andrew p. Sykes


When I read a book to be reviewed I try not to read other reviews so I can ensure that my review is 100% my thoughts and words. Following Andrew on Twitter has made it a little difficult as he is always tweeting snippets of reviews. I therefore know that the word ‘inspirational’ seems to appear a lot in association with his book Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie, so I was determined not to use it.

Andrew is a teacher who decided to put his summer holiday to good use by cycling from Reading in Berkshire, through France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and into and through Italy. That is 3,300km following the Eurovelo 5 route, alone, unless of course you include Reggie, his bike. Now as I am the sort of person who names her cars and even her central heating boiler, I love that Andrew named his bike and it really added an extra something to the book for me.

Image from www.cyclingeurope.org
For 30 cycling days in 36 days he clocked up about 100km and about 6 hours in the saddle each day. He climbed mountains, braved city centre traffic, endured cobbles and spoke-snapping incidents and was attacked by killer mosquitoes. So I admit it’s difficult not to use the word ‘inspirational’. Andrew himself says he was ‘inspired’ by the Beijing Olympic cycling of 2008 and spent two years trying to pinpoint an exact route, for although Eurovelo 5 takes you from London to Brindisi in Italy, loosely in recognition of the Via Roma Francigena pilgrim route, it’s a very vague directional guide that doesn’t exist in detailed map form.

Reading this book in the cold, dismal month of January made me long for warm summer days cycling the vineyards with my beautiful Blue Belle. Oh yes, ‘inspired’ by Reggie, my lovely blue retro road bike now has a name too. For us a good day in the saddle once a week, covering anywhere between 40 and 80km is about the norm, however our routes are planned in advance and often follow well signed local rides. For Andrew, much of the detail in his journey was put together the night before and he rarely knew exactly where he would be laying his head at night – now that is ‘inspiring’ for a control freak planner like me! This book and the likes of Sir Bradley with his 2012 Tour de France win and not to mention the fantastic Team GB cyclists and their Olympic ‘bling’ are likely to ‘inspire’ a lot more bike adventures in the coming years. We will certainly be upping our game this summer in terms of distance and pace. The cyclists among you cannot fail to be fired up by reading this book, but for those who prefer armchair travelling I’m sure you will enjoy Andrew’s interesting description of his journey.

This summer also sees Andrew (and Reggie) taking on another adventure following Eurovelo 8 from Athens in Greece to Cadiz in Spain, popping into the South of France on his way. You can follow his adventures online here. Thanks for sending me a copy of Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie and best of luck for your 2013 adventure Andrew, we would be on route to cheer you on but you will be a little too far south from us. Andrew's book is available in paperback and ebook format from all good bookstores and online retailers, link to Amazon here.