Tom’s top 3 bicycle touring reads of 2020

Reading books lingered on my list of habits I wanted to develop. Setting goals, a celebrated New Year’s ritual, is good but developing a habit is better. Habits sustain goals and yields lasting benefits.

Early this year, I discovered Goodreads, an online community of readers sharing book reads, recommendations, and reviews. Members build virtual bookshelves of their library. A feature that spoke to me was setting and tracking a yearly reading challenge.

I set my 2020 reading challenge at 20 books and expanded it to 24 books. I am currently reading my 25th book and will complete 26 before the new year. Goodreads was integral in helping me develop my reading habit.

Bicycle touring is the genre that attracts me to read more. 14 of my 26 books are authored by bicycle tourists. I spoke about what attracted me to bicycle touring books in a previous post. The Readers Digest version is the authors inspire change, overcome challenges, learn every day, and expose their inner self.

Rehashing 26 books would be a tiring read. You can read my reviews on my Goodreads read bookshelf. I am sharing my top 3 bicycle touring reads of the year. I hope this inspires my cyclist friends to pick up one of these books and develop a habit of reading.

Miles from Nowhere, Barbara Savage, 1984 – This book chronicles Barbara and Larry Savage’s 1978-80 tour around the world by bike. Many people believe it to be one of the best bicycle touring books published. A cycling friend handed me this book and recommended I give it a read.

It is an amazing story. There is a reason it finds itself at the top of my list. We live in a world where bicycle tourists have smartphones, Garmins, Google Maps, and an abundance of technology on their touring rigs. The Savage’s were new to bicycle touring and discovered the world in a manner far from today’s tech world using printed maps, word of mouth, and intuition. She is a talented writer who tells a compelling story that hits all the points that bring me to bicycle touring. My Goodreads review.

Quondam, John Devoy, 2020 – The author is a member of a Bicycle Books Facebook group to which I belong. He posted some book highlights as do many authors. I added it to my to-read bookshelf. Something about this book had me itching to read it. Few books I have read chronicled a tour through Africa and in the 1980s.

I debated putting a fresh read on my top 3. After deliberation, I placed it a close second to Miles from Nowhere. The author does an extraordinary job of telling a story of his 1985 tour beyond the miles pedaled. As with Barbara and Larry Savage, he toured in a pre-tech world that totally immersed him with the people, land, and struggles of cycling the not-so-worn path. My Goodreads review.

A Highly Unlikely Bicycle Tourist, Stephen John Peel, 2020 – This book also came from the author’s posts in the Bicycle Books Facebook group. He chronicles his world tour that departs from the playbook most world bicycle tours follow. The author did not cycle every inch of the way, interrupted his tour a few times to return home, and bypassed locales not of interest to the author or troublesome. His style would disqualify it from many people’s top 3, including mine.

This book earned this spot by personally speaking to me as a chubby heart-attack survivor with 9 years of not so adventurous touring under my belt. The author was a newbie bigger in stature bicycle tourist with a medical disability. His unwavering perseverance to see the world by bike and widen his world view despite the obstacles along the way and those he was dealt in life hit close to home. This book is proof that a good read does not need to fit the mold of other touring books. My Goodreads review.

Runner Up: Half a Word Away, Ian Lacey, 2016 – Do not think of this as a Miss Congeniality consolation prize. It is well worth a read, but I need to limit the list to my top 3. This book chronicles the author’s journey down the spine of the Americas from Deadhorse, Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. His writing style does an excellent job of balancing what happens on a tour with an insight into the people, places, and history of the locales he cycled through. My Goodreads review.

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