Bikes, Bites and Bucket Lists

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Bikes, Bites and Bucket Lists

Epic Journeys for the Rugged Cyclist

May is National Bike Month and what better way to get motivated than to read some cycling memoirs.  Some of these may jump onto your bucket list while others will make good couch reading.  If you're looking for a local ride, join DC Public Library on the 10th Annual Tour de DCPL on Sunday, May 19 at 1 p.m.  Click here to register.  We hope to see you on the trails!

Life is a Wheel: Love, Death, Etc., and a Bike Ride Across America by Bruce Weber
Some men embrace middle age by buying a sports car, getting a toupe, or finding a younger companion or all three.  Bruce Weber, a New York Times obituary writer, columnist, theater critic and sports author, took another route, literally.  He bought a fancy new bike and rode it across America, from Astoria, Oregon to  Manhattan, New York from July to October 2011. Craving a “jump start” and a chance to “view old things in a new way,” Weber revels in opportunities to build his endurance and appreciate the rich variety of this country.  Weber is an introspective and quiet man whose writing style is conversational and straightforward, so anyone pining for embarking on a bucket list bike tour will find this memoir/travelogue instructive and inspiring. 

The Wind at My Back: A Cycling Life by Paul Maunder
In this cycling journey, Paul Maunder takes to his bike in the British countryside to realize the connection between one's creative life and the natural surroundings that shape who we are. Maunder’s journey begins in the dense center of a major city, then moves to the suburbs and peripheries of the city, then into idyllic farmlands, and finally to remote mountains.  This lyrical meditation explores the history of cycling as well as how cycling is the "perfect cipher for our feelings about the natural world."

Tour de Oz by Bret Harris
I have to admit that the Australians I’ve met are a rugged, adventurous breed. They are spirited, competitive, smart and good-humored. The men you meet in Tour de Oz hail from this lot.  You’ll meet them as they bike around the Australian continent in 1899 – before the country became an independent nation and modern conveniences like smooth roads, potable water and comfortable, well-designed bikes were commonplace. This well-researched adventure switches back and forth among four riders who circle the Australian continent, one limping along clockwise from Perth, the others counterclockwise from Melbourne and Brisbane.  In true rugged Aussie style, the riders battle exhaustion, snake bites, heatstroke, crocodiles and flying spears from unimpressed Aboriginal warriors. 

The Cyclist’s Bucket List: A Celebration of 75 Quintessential Cycling Experiences by Ian Dille
If it’s a more rugged cycling test of strength you seek, ride across Australia as the mates did in Tour de Oz.  If it’s a meandering journey through pastoral farmland, ride across Britain as Paul Maunder did in The Wind at My Back.  But, if it’s jaw-dropping gorgeous scenic routes followed by beer festivals, you’ll want to try some of the quintessential rides cataloged in this gorgeous book.  Get inspired to ride to the summit of Hawaii’s Haleakala Crater for a view across three islands, take a roadside break in France to watch the Tour de France whiz by, or stretch out and speed across the Badlands of North Dakota.  While short on detailed routes, there are plenty of journeys from Asia to New Zealand to add to your bucket list.   

The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold:  Adventures Riding the Iron Curtain by Tim Moore
From the British adventurist who chronicled the “hardest bike race in history” on a 99-year old bike in Riding the Very Terrible 1914 Tour de Italy (Giro d’Italia) comes Moore’s self-described "most difficult ride of his life" on the Iron Curtain Trail.  This time he rides an archaic East German-made, gearless folding bike on a 10,000km journey through former Soviet Bloc countries over a three-month period and in temperatures ranging from -14.2C to 58C. While Moore may have recklessly inspired fellow extreme riders,  this memoir makes fascinating reading for the mellower rider without the trip making it on the bucket list.