Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Land's End to John O'Groats - Cycling the Google Route / Royston Wood

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Travel Memoir

Approximate word count: 50-55,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


The author of several children’s books, Wood also has a guide book to help cyclists interested in repeating his ride from the bottom of England to the top of Scotland. This book is a travel memoir, chronicling his adventure on that same ride.


“Smashed from his bicycle by an articulated truck Royston Wood found himself unable to complete a long planned for 875 mile cycling event. Battling the demons of failure he devised a plan to ride a similar distance across the UK from Land’s End to John O’Groats. With only a few days to plan the whole trip he delegated the routing to Google Maps. Cycle routing was brand new and in beta testing: what could go wrong…”


I’ve always enjoyed reading travel memoirs like this, where the traveler has a goal. This makes the story more than just the author’s reaction to the world around them and how they fit in it, but also involves the logistics of meeting their goal and ideally some self evaluation as to why they are driven to do this. Wood has all of this with a touch of self-depreciating humor to spice things up. Here’s an example of what I mean:

After a final re-pack to find my wallet, which was on my desk, I wheeled my bike out to reception where a crowd of colleagues had gathered to wave me off. I thanked them both and pedalled away to the railway station wondering whether the other forty people in the building would even notice I wasn’t there over the next week.

Although not a guidebook for someone with a goal of making this same trip from the bottom of England to the top of Scotland (the author has one of those available, too), you’ll find a lot of details about the route Wood took on his ride. For some readers, possibly too much, although I found it helped reinforce the story of the logistics involved in planning and executing the ride. For those like me who enjoy this kind of true story (even though there is no way I’d ever try to duplicate it), this is a decent read.


Uses UK spelling and slang.

Format/Typo Issues:

A small number of typos. There were also several words that were hyphenated for no apparent reason. (Presumably a remnant of formatting for a print version. These should not be in the Kindle version, but were.)

The book also had a lot of photos from Wood’s trip. (These were black and white on a Kindle. They might display as color on color capable readers and tablet computers.)  However, in one section of the copy I received, some of these pictures were missing, instead showing an icon that I interpreted as a missing picture or an issue in displaying it.

Rating: **** Four Stars

No comments: