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The Beardless Adventurer and Her Inconvenience: A first-time cycle trip across Europe By Donna Marie Ashton

Release date: 07th April, 2017
Publisher: Independently published

List Price: £9.99
Our Price: £7.99
You Save: £2 (20%)
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The penchant for ‘writing up’ your fully supported or, more likely, solitary epic journey, be it across oceans (Four Mums in a Boat), continents (Dare To Do, Sara Oaten) or single countries in quirky fashion (Gironimo, Tim Moore) is well established.

Self-publishing has made the ‘personal epic’ genre even more ubiquitous, although just because would-be adventurers endeavour to achieve a personal ambition by climbing a mountain or conquering a fierce sea doesn’t mean that, however worthy their physical exertions, the subsequent published version detailing their efforts will be much good.

Fortunately, while The Beardless Adventurer and Her Inconvenience offers a solid argument for modern-day adventurers to align themselves with a professional publisher capable of reproducing half-decent maps – most self-publishers’ maps are either too small (as is the case here) or indecipherable, although there’s no reason for it – the end result is hugely enjoyable.

The book’s premise is also refreshingly different. Ordinarily, people who attempt continental crossings on a bike have been cycling for years. Most joined the local cycling club at the age of eight and have been enthusiastic advocates of two wheels ever since. Not so Donna-Marie and Iain, a couple in their late forties unable to boast of earlier bike trips en route to tackling the ‘big one’, ie 5,000 kilometres across Europe.

What makes their often gruelling effort even more remarkable is the fact that they tackled it on the spare of the moment, displaying a wonderful spontaneity which you might imagine would see them come a cropper very early in their journey. Thankfully not, though you do wonder, when the duo are being buffeted by Brittany’s harsh winds, whether they’ll survive the initial leg of the trip to Morlaix. They do, only to find the campsite where they craved a hot shower is closed.

In many respects, this opening setback is repeated, in different forms, across Europe, which says wonders for the pair’s determination and the impulsive nature of their trip. The author acknowledges that they should have been better prepared for the journey, yet because it’s unplanned, the reader is rooting for them from the off. None the less, if they decide to tackle another epic journey, they would be wise to sign with a publishing house capable of reproducing maps.


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