The best Mountain Biking books
The 100th issue of Leisure Wheels, which goes on sale this week, features an adventure guide sponsored by Yokohama. It is packed with articles regarding adventure activities such as rock climbing, trail running, mountain biking, canoeing, gorilla tracking, endure biking and, of course, off-road driving.
Hopefully you’ll have as much fun reading it as we had compiling it. We’re also hoping that it will whet your appetite for excitement and encourage you to go in search of adventure. After all, what is the use of owning a hardcore 4×4 if you don’t use it to have fun?
That said, however, we don’t all have the time and money necessary to dedicate ourselves exclusively to adventure activities. Sure, some people have the luxury of being able to spend a year unicycling through Africa or crossing the Pacific Ocean on a raft made of Coke bottles, but most of us have to work.
So if you’re desperate for an adrenaline fix, why not indulge in a bit of vicarious adventuring? Below are some of my mountain biking books (for my favourite adventure, travel, hiking and trail running books, see Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday’s posts). I tried to keep the list to 5, but in the end chose 7 must-read biking books, since all of them are worth reading. I’ll also be posting my favourite books on mountaineering tomorrow.
Who knows? They might inspire you to pursue your own crazy adventure dream!
Note: Not all of these books are widely available in South Africa. However, most can be ordered on Klahari.com, and all can be downloaded on Amazon.com. Also, you do not need to own a Kindle to read Amazon’s e-books. You can read them on your computer or tablet (there is a Kindle app available for Apple and Android tablets).
1. The Man who Cycled the World, and
The Man Who Cycled the Americas – Mark Beaumont
This first entry consists of two books written by Mark Beaumont. The first recounts his epic 194-day circumnavigation of the globe on his mountain bike in 2008. The second tells the tale of his 31 000-mile journey along the length of the American continents. Both are amazing, but the second is arguably even more impressive. How so? Well, in addition to travelling 31 000 miles, Beaumont also wanted to summit North and South America’s two highest peaks while on the trip. Climbing both peaks in one season had never been done, never mind cycling between them!
2. The Longest Climb – Dominic Faulkner
Climbing Mount Everest is in itself an astounding achievement. Dominic Faulkner and his team, however, took it to the next level. Not content with simply scaling the world’s tallest mountain, they decided to cycle from the lowest point on the planet (the Dead Sea) to the foot of Everest, and then start climbing.
3. Two Wheels on my Wagon – Paul Howard
The Tour Divide is one of the toughest and longest mountain bike races in the world. It stretches 3000 miles from Canada to Mexico and demands a tremendous amount of disciple and determination. The total ascent the route demands is roughly 200 000 feet (seven times the height of Everest!). And what is the reward for doing it? Nothing much – just the knowledge that you accomplished it. Despite being more of a roadie than a mountain biker, Paul Howard decided to give it a try.
4. Cycling Home from Siberia –Rob Lilwall
Rob Lilwall followed the same route that Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman did on their motorcycles, but does it on a bicycle. Lilwal is an interesting narrator – a devout Christian who offers an incredibly honest account of his journey. His trip is filled with tough conditions and risky situations, which results in an entertaining read.
5. Miles from Nowhere: Around the World Bicycle Adventure – Barbara Savage
An oldie but a goodie. Released in 1985, this book tells the story of Barbara and Larry Savage’s two-year biking expedition around the globe. Unlike Mark Beaumont, they travelled at a sedate pace and took their time exploring the 25 countries they visited.
6. Into Thick Air – Jim Malusa
Why are explorers and adventurers always obsessed with getting to the top of things? Why struggle to the top of a cold and barren mountain if you could be enjoying yourself at an altitude human beings are more accustomed to. With plenty of sunscreen and a cold beer swaddled in his sleeping bag, writer and botanist Jim Malusa bicycled alone to the lowest point on each of six continents, a six-year series of “anti-expeditions” to the “anti-summits.” His journeys took him to Lake Eyre in the arid heart of Australia, along Moses’ route to the Dead Sea, and from Moscow to the Caspian Sea.
Tomorrow: My favourite mountaineering books.