My Top 5 Cycle Touring Books

Thinking of giving a pressie of a cycle touring book this Christmas?  These would be the top five titles from my wish list – if I didn’t already have them!

Number 5:
Barbara Savage, Miles from Nowhere.
savage1 This is full of wit and good fun and makes light of a pretty fantastic world tour. There is a nice balance of, ‘how we did it’ and wonder at the adventure as it unfolds.  It’s a read made sadder by the knowledge that Barbara was killed on her bike on her return home and before the book came out.

Number 4:

Josie Dew, The Wind in my Wheels

DewI think this was Dew’s first book and while her writing improves in the later titles, this one has a brightness and verve that is very appealing.  It’s nice to track back to her first adventures in cycling and catch her enthusiasm from the start.  It’s infectious.

Number 3:
Anne Mustoe, A Bike Ride
Mustoe_CoverThis was Anne Mustoe’s first book and the result of her first round the world tour: in fact her first tour of any sort. In my view its a gem.  It’s a real page turner and with each new page you gasp at her pluck and vitality and strength of character. Each of her trips followed some historical route, but she never crowds out her own adventure with tales of the past.

Number 2:
Dervla Murphy, Full Tilt

MurphyI suppose Dervla Murphy might have filled all five positions.  I certainly would have liked to include her autobiography, but ruled it out as it’s not strictly a cycle touring book. In some ways Full Tilt set the benchmark for others: epic voyage, courage and endurance, brilliant writing and a dash of humour – what’s not to like?

Number 1:
Anne Mustoe, Lone Traveller
LoneTravellerThere is no rule to say that an author can’t have more than one entry!  This was Anne Mustoe’s second book, following her second round the world trip and as she said, she wanted to make it a bit different from her first. She says she steeled herself to reveal more of ‘how she did things’ and ‘how she felt doing them’ and I think this makes for an even better book.

I am a bit surprised to find that it’s an all woman list.  Not even a token man!  Well, I have called them as I see them,  What attracts me in cycle tour writing is:

  1. Writing that takes me along on the adventure
  2. Good humour and not too much ego
  3. An epic journey well described
  4. A balance of how to and why to themes
  5. Not too much straight journalling.

Reviews of the individual titles are available via the Book Review tag to the right of this page.

I’d welcome any suggestions for other titles to consider.

6 thoughts on “My Top 5 Cycle Touring Books

  1. Judging by what you said I think you’d like Good Vibrations, that is a good cycle touring book about Andrew Sykes first bicycle tour from London to the south of Italy (review on my blog). However my favourite cycle touring book is the one that I read just before setting off on my first bicycle tour ‘The Man Who Cycle the World’ by Mark Beaumont I found it absolutely inspiring and a very interesting read 😀

    1. Hello Alex, and thanks for these suggestions. I read Mark Beaumont’s book when it first came out, but hope to return to it soon. I’d have been better to title my post, Best 5 I have read recently’. I like Andrew’s book a lot, too: if I had a best 10 listing Reggie’s story would be there. I really admire your site and will pop in tonight and explore fully. All the best, Norman

      1. His ‘Man Who Cycled the Americas’ is also a great read if you like his first book. Yeah I saw just after I posted my comment you had already given it sterling reviews on your blog. Thanks a lot! I’m glad someone enjoys reading my posts 🙂 Your blog is also a good read!

  2. Hi,

    Great list – I’d like to introduce my book: “Every Inch of the Way; My Bike Ride around the World”.

    It’s about the round the world ride I did in 2011, includes nearly 100 photos and maps and is out as a paperback and an ebook. My ride took me through Europe, Asia and the USA on an unbroken chain.

    Thanks very much,
    Tom (tombruce86@gmail.com)

    “A challenge that tested Tom to his limit but in return gave him more than he could ever have imagined.”
    – Bear Grylls

    “Every Inch of the Way is a great page turning adventure which is as close as you can get, without actually saddling up and pedalling yourself into the unknown. It takes real magic to turn a great adventure, into a great book. For one thing, most people can’t relate to the mindset of the long distance cyclist and I found myself laughing along to Tom’s thoughts and observations, wondering if they were in – jokes, shared by those who had seen the world at the speed of a bike, for example his relationship with Serbia’s stray dogs! . But his anecdotes have a great balance of the cultures and places, as opposed to just inward reflections, so I am sure would be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in travel and human experience. A lovely story, written from the heart.”
    – Mark Beaumont (around the world record breaking cyclist, author and adventurer)

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