Sean Conway embarks on an incredible around the world cycle journey. He covers 16,000 miles and experiences South America, Australia, U.S.A, Europe and Asia. This is an exciting read with the power to inspire you to do something adventurous.
Sean Conway opens the book with a tale of an unfulfilling career, being dumped by his girlfriend and a feeling that he was wasting his life. He tried to work out what he should do to change this situation and remembered being inspired by Mark Beaumont who broke the record for cycling around the world in 2010. He decided that this was the answer and signed up to do the around the world cycle race.
As this is a race against the clock you get fleeting impressions of the countries, rather than an in-depth exploration of culture, people and landscapes. The book lacks the finer details because there is no time for the author to pause and take it in or visit attractions. Conway must focus on mileage and how to do that mileage and also how to get enough calories. You do get a brilliant sense of adventure from this book. One example of this is when Conway had to flee tornadoes in America. His writing perfectly captures the drama of this situation:
"Signs were blowing over, windscreens cracking, leaves were getting stripped off trees as if being shredded by a huge invisible blender in the sky, and a 100 mph wind was heading in the exact wrong direction. I realised that had I not got a puncture when I did, I wouldn't have stopped in that gas station and I would probably have landed up right in the middle of the storm... One 100 mph golf-ball-sized hailstone to the face would have been the end of me."
As you would expect, Conway meets many interesting people during his adventure. Many of these encounters are brief due to the nature of the cycle race so there is not a strong human story in the book. The focus is very much on the author and his endeavor to complete this challenge. Many of the people that Conway meets are incredibly kind to him. In particular, the American doctor and nurse who treated him after he was knocked over by a pickup truck. They took him into their home during his recovery. They even bought him a replacement bike because his was destroyed in the accident. It wasn't just any bike, but an exact replacement that they shipped over. Without this kindness Conway would not have been able to continue with the journey.
There are moments of laughter in this book, such as the author't decision to play a game with the stray dogs that chase him. He would would go just fast enough to keep them at bay but interested enough to keep them chasing so that he could lead them as far away as possible from their home as revenge for the owners doing nothing.
The book is also serious in places. Conway writes openly about the lows and feeling depressed, but on the whole he loved his adventure and that really comes across.
I felt that the book could have done with a route map so that you could follow the journey as sometimes it was difficult to picture exactly where the author was unless you are really good at geography.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it inspired me to explore further and further on my bicycle.
You can buy the book from Amazon by clicking on this image:
My name is Colin Baird and I want to see all of Scotland by bicycle.