A 10,000 km cycling trip along the route of the Iron Curtain is brilliantly told by Tim Moore. This is a witty account of an incredible cycling journey that begins in Finnish Lapland and ends at the Black Sea in Bulgaria. Moore faces many challenges, including freezing cold weather and bicycle problems. I found this a highly readable and entertaining book.
The Iron Curtain cycle route is a newly created cycle route. Moore decides to follow using a bicycle that may seem inappropriate for the job. He chooses an East German shopping bike, a MIFA 900, that is not designed for cycle touring. The unsuitability of his bike gets commented upon by many of the people he meets along the way. However, Moore wanted to choose a bike that had a historical connection to the route and give or take a few modifications and repairs this machine made it to the end in one piece. It just goes to show that you do not need to spend a fortune on a bicycle to enjoy cycling.
Although enjoy might not be the word that springs to mind when you read this book. The section in Finland in freezing cold weather was an ordeal and must have required incredible endurance. I found this part of the book gripping and I was awed by the condtions that the author had to put up with. Despite the hardships it inspired me to dream of doing something similar.
As he travels south the weather improves, but it does not necessarily make things any easier and he tells of his trials and tribulations in a hilarious manner. There are several laugh out loud moments in this book.
Moore also writes of the fascinatiing history of the nations that he passes through, so you learn a lot of interesting things reading this book. I was particularly fascinated by the 1939 Winter War where Finland fought bravely, against the odds, to keep Russia at bay.
Moore clearly has little time to enjoy the culture and present day attractions of the various places that he passes through. The bulk of his time is spent on the bike, not visiting places, so you do not get a detailed account of what there is to see and do. Some of the places that he passes through do not sound very appealing, so I didn't find myself itching to copy his route. However, I was strangely drawn to the idea of cycling in Finland in the winter, despite the hardships.
I read this book in a few days. I could not put it down. It is very readable because of Moore's witty writing style. Click the image below to buy the book through Amazon.