Bicycle Touring Survival Guide

Vintage '50s poster for Phillips Bicycles

One of the many nice things I am discovering about the blogosphere is that it can bring you into contact with interesting cyclists whom you might not – in fact, almost certainly wouldn’t – otherwise meet. I am thinking now of Andrew and Friedel Grant, two peripatetic Canadians who have cycled all over the world and have written what is truly an excellent guide to bicycle touring, called the Bike Touring Survival Guide

I had a read through it yesterday – and a very enjoyable and informative read it was. In its 246 pages, they have distilled not just their own considerable experience on the road, but that of fifty other veteran road-hardened cyclo-tourists as well, and vividly brought to life the thrills and adventure of setting out on a bicycle expedition, what to expect on the road, what you’ll need to bring along or take into consideration, risks and hazards along the way, and how to maintain and repair your gear, be it your bicycle’s drive train or your tent and cook stove – even a chapter about what it is like returning home after a grand globe-trotting adventure and dealing with the sense of anticlimax that often follows. This latter bit is a particularly thoughtful inclusion, and an aspect of adventuring that is often overlooked by lesser, run-of-the-mill guidebook writers, but as with everything else in this highly experienced couple’s book, rings absolutely true to anyone who has ever taken a long and involving tour.

Everything a bicycle tourist could possibly want is in there, and all of it well-written, well researched, well thought-out, practical, neatly ordered and nicely presented. The style is conversational, and the authors have managed to pitch it so that anybody, from rank beginners to sinewy sun-bronzed hard-cases who’ve been on the road for years, can get something out of it – even if it is just an nodding affirmation of some of their own thoughts, ideas and experiences.

Writing a guide book is a drawn-out and mentally exhausting process as anyone who has ever written one will attest. My own experience with this hard-to-do-well genre was writing National Geographic Traveler’s Guidebook to Australia. Whether I did it well or not is for others to say, but the experience of researching and writing it certainly gave me an appreciation for just how difficult it is to do a book such as this, and Andrew and Friedel Grant have done a cracking job. It would be fair to say that with this in hand anyone who wanted to could, with confidence, set out to see a bit of the world on their bicycle – be it a long weekend on leafy Sustrans route through England’s Lakes District or tackling the Takla Makan desert on the Silk Road.

The book is available through the couple’s website Travelling Two which is itself an excellent source of information for anyone planning a tour.

  2 comments for “Bicycle Touring Survival Guide

  1. John Hicks
    March 6, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Have ordered a copy. What a salesman!

    • Roff Smith
      March 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm

      I was really impressed with it. A lot of the stuff I already knew, or had learned from experience, but it was great to read it and get a second point of view. It made me want to get out there again…

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