Since first being introduced to the art of micro-adventures and following his blog I have long-wanted to read this book. The book is the first part of the story of Humphrey’s epic circumnavigation by bicycle. It has been hailed as “the first great adventure of the new millennium” by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, and I don’t think anyone can question him when it comes to epic adventures. However I don’t think they would need to. Humphrey set out in the summer of 2001 attempting to cycle the length of each giant landmass making his journey much more than a simple circumnavigation.
He starts out at home in the county of Yorkshire from there he begins to head south initially aiming for Pakistan. However with the 9/11 bombings occurring during his cycle countries begin to pick sides in ‘the war on terror’. Borders shut, routes are cut off, the whole worlds perceptions change. Alastair becomes faced with an important decision does he continue in the hope that his visa will still let him through? Does he give up and return to his girlfriend whom he left behind in England? Or does he change his plans and continue to head south into Africa and the unknown?
It is a superbly well-written novel. It also feels very honest, as Humphrey’s is very open with the reader about crying, his feelings and the dilemmas that face him on his journey. It explores the differences in cultures between different nations and how the western world hasn’t always set the best example or done the best it can in aiding other nations. I found it particularly interesting reading about the 9/11 bombings and their aftermath and how something so far away impacted him as a simple cycle-tourist. It gives a whole different perspective to someone, like myself, who just watched it all through the television and newspapers.
The book is filled with inspirational quotes, which I found very insightful and poignant adding extra depth to his writing. It was also great to read how someone initially so lost about what to do found almost a divine purpose and drive into ensuring he just kept going no matter what came his way. This book has everything a good cycle-touring book ought to have and much more. It also isn’t too long so not a very long read. I just can’t wait to get a hold of the sequel to find out what toils happen in the next stage of his journey.