Because my first passport was a library card, travel literature has a permanent place on my must-read list. Every month, I’ll review one book or article that captures the spirit of foreign existence.
A Bike Ride – Anne Mustoe, 1991
Does the travel genre need another two-wheeled tale of bad weather, broken axles and round-the-world fitness? No.
But unlike too many bike books gone boring, Mustoe can actually write – turning her mid-life solo venture into a well-detailed, dry British narrative worth reading.
Her years of academic osmosis as a headmistress and natural English frankness create a story balanced carefully (insert bike pun here) between cultural observations and historical lessons.
Because Mustoe has no prior experience (i.e. obsession) with cycling, she bases her trip on some of the world’s most historically significant routes, such as the Roman road across Europe.
This thematic itinerary keeps the reader on track with Mustoe, though it may become overwhelming for anyone without a genuine interest in the past.
If nothing else, the tale acts as a positive reminder of what one normal human can accomplish in a world dominated by Thubrons and Therouxs.
In fact, Mustoe was so taken with her year-long round-the-world trip that she continued through several more continents and written narratives. She passed away in Syria in 2009, on yet another bike ride – proving that travel is a truly a lifestyle choice, unrestricted by age or gender.