A bicycle racer recounts his solo cycle around the world while attempting to break the existing Guinness World Record.
There is no denying that Beaumont’s journey, riding 100 miles a day for six-and-a-half months always against the clock, entailed a remarkable feat of endurance. He handily trounced the existing record, and the BBC chronicled his trip in an award-winning TV program. The author does a solid job of revealing his psychological difficulties, his physical challenges and the mundane task of finding food and a safe place to sleep each night, and he delivers tantalizing cultural and geographic tidbits along his route. Among his many stories: staying the night in a Mafia-run hotel in the Ukraine staffed by beautiful dancing girls; feeling overwhelming illness at the sight of the absolute poverty in Pakistan; and experiencing frazzled nerves when he was run over by a kindly old lady in Louisiana, then mugged the same night in his motel room by drug addicts. When Beaumont provides more of a story line, the narrative sails along. However, far too often the author recounts repetitive details while providing only the skimpiest snippets about the people and places he encounters. Beaumont acknowledges this conundrum, recognizing that beating the world record meant speeding by numerous cityscapes “begging for further exploration.” As he crossed the Paris finish line, he struggled to answer many of the journalists’ questions. “The stories lacked the human element and any insight into how I’d actually felt and reflected on my experiences,” he writes, “but they were all I could offer.”
Even with its flaws, the book merits a spin through. Racing aficionados and armchair racers seeking freewheeling glimpses of the world via bicycle will cherish the trip.