Mud, Sweat and Gears- Cycling, Friendship and Beer!

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust

As you flip through the first pages of this book the first impression that you might get is that of awe and admiration for this couple of friends who decided to do something as crazy as to cycle 874 miles (1,407 km) from Lands’ End to John O’Groats. This book narrates the brave journey of Ellie Bennet and her friend Mick, two amateur cyclists who take up this challenge as a rite of passage for their fiftieth birthdays.

mud sweat and gearsThis surprisingly informative and hilarious narration leads the reader to one of the most scenic and iconic routes in Great Britain. It’s not just about the cycling and the difficulties though, in fact it’s also about friendship, the well debated man-woman one, and drinking. That’s right, the journey is specifically about beer, good beer. At the end of each chapter we are presented by a summary about how many km they cycled and how many beers they had. There’s even a Beer Index at the end of the book! I think there’s something amazing and sweet about remembering each beer drank during a grueling adventure like that. The pub crawl element of the journey adds a vitality and an unpretentious feel to the book that appeals to the travel style of many adventurer. The narration is very linear and it shows a very fluid intervals of funny and hilarious moments with more serious and emotional extracts.

What I loved about this book is that it presents the adventure of normal people who, like she explains in the first chapter, are ‘rubbish at cycling’. Yet, they embark into this fabulous journey to challenge themselves and to do something extraordinary to match all those unattained goals set in their youths. The phrase ‘seize the moment and do it anyway’ couldn’t fit more.  It’s not just about the craziness of the task but also about the enjoyment of the whole experience. I’m sure Ellie’s reflections on how the many projects planned while in our twenties seem to vanish, or take second to fifth place to other more adult-like plans, echoes the fear of many. I too am afraid of not having time to do everything that I want to do, everything that I feel I need to do now that I’m in my late twenties. Perhaps it’s because of that, that I particularly like this book; it’s never too late to pick up our old dreams and finally make them true. There isn’t even the need to be theatrical about it. It’s just a matter of doing it for the pleasure and the sense of fulfillment given by the completion of something that was in our long bucket list for a long time.

With its simplicity and hands-down feel to it, this book inspired me to disregard fear and to start living my crazy dreams, even the ones that will take time to achieve.


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