Ok, I won’t lie, I take a little bit of pride in the name of my blog. I have traveled 20000 miles and had some vert memorable adventures. But, my hat goes off to Dominic Gill. He did 2000o miles in 2 years traveling from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Just to add flavor, he did so riding alone, on a tandem (bike built for two) bike, and offering the rear seat to anyone who would be willing to ride and help him along the route…
For the record, I feel guilty sometimes reviewing these books. The writers have done things I will NEVER do. I commend them all for having more guts than I ever will, and for their achievements. So whether the book is good, bad, or indifferent, it is no reflection on he or she who had the adventure…
Over the years I have read a number of, what I refer to as, true life adventure books. Books of mountain climbers, Pacific Coast and Appalachian trail hikers, river rafters, Arctic adventurers, and, of course, cyclists. Many’s the time I started a book, excited by the concept, only to find myself either bored with the way it was written, or finding myself disliking the person in the middle of the adventure.
Some of these same adventurers I have found to be full of themselves, or whiners, or ill prepared entirely for the endeavor. The last being the one that annoys me the most. Do NOT set off on something you aren’t ready for and hope someone saves you…. But sorry, I digress…
I bring this up as I afraid this was happening again. The author, Dominic, found himself in Alaska, with his trusty steed Achilles (I won’t tell you how it got its name) having rarely, if ever ridden it, and never with a full load. The first few nights, he was feeling sorry for himself. I was afraid I had once again found a book I would dislike.
I am happy to report, I was entirely wrong! As Dominic moved south, mostly alone, but at times with someone riding stoker, he grew both into the challenge and the story…
What I loved about this book is he didn’t fill it with dry daily, weekly or even monthly stats. He told the story of the trip. The people he met, the things he saw, such as a bear, an angry man with a machete, and a snake of unknown species. Each of which was contained in a story of the day, the leg or the area he was in.
I fond out he rode on my local trails here in Seattle, met a friend of mine in Portland, and rode the coast I love in Oregon. I truly wish I would’ve met him during the trip so I could put in some miles to help (270 people did just that).
He was also not afraid to be human, and the 20 something guy he was. He rarely turned down a chance to drink and party the night away with the locals, and a common theme was riding off a hangover the next morning. He also seemed to have an uncanny knack of having women help propel him along his way south. Though I sometimes wondered if anything more than riding came from these meetings, Dominic was a gentleman and we never found out.
He DID, though, let know clearly how much it took for the stokers to help him. Most of the riders were NOT cyclists. Trust me when I tell you, if you have not taken the time to build up the miles on your “nether regions” long bike rides will leave one saddle sore beyond belief. Almost every one of his copilots suffered for their help. (After seeing a picture of the seat, I have no doubts!)
Dominic excelled at painting pictures of what he saw. The redwoods of California, the deserts of Mexico, the ladies of all countries, and desolation of parts of South America. Every part of the ride, if you closed your eyes reading a description it was there, vivid as can be.
And finally, he made sure we knew what he was thinking, All to often these stories have people who are either gung-ho the whole time, nothing gets them down, or flat-out whining about the trip on every page! Dominic, in the over 2 years it took to complete the ride, was, in short, human. Sometimes pumped beyond belief, sometimes ready to quit. There were laughs, tears, anger, frustration and triumphs. All of which he took pains to explain and share very well.
Plus you gotta love a guy who gives rides to kids just because they are kids, no matter how tired he is.
This book got a rare 5 stars, and I recommend it to cyclists, couch potatoes and everyone in between. I thoroughly enjoyed it!