Richard Guise: two gentle bike rides
Posted by Frank Burns
Sometimes you need an undemanding read. Sometimes you need to get away from perusing the reverberations of world-shattering events, or the record-grabbing descriptions of people who do outlandish things to snatch a little bit of the limelight. When you have a love of cycling (as I do) that stretches you to ever longer distances (that’s me!) in progressively more distant places on the planet (I admit to that too), then to pick up a book written by someone who is a self-confessed occasional cyclist, who admits self-effacingly that he is over-weight, under-fit and not always fully prepared for his ventures, I know this is not going to be a book of ‘derring-do’.
Richard Guise has obviously approached his retirement with a determination to achieve a few cycling projects, and his two books From the Mull to the Cape and Over the hill and round the bend are both gentle romps that take us up the west coast of Scotland to Cape Wrath, and around the coast of Wales. Though his cycling achievements were never intended to impress the cycling community, they could be an inspiration to many who are looking for a path to conversion, with a moderate sense of adventure.
However, I found myself skipping some pages and paragraphs populated with some repetitive detail of his riding schedule, his flights of fancy and his light-hearted witticisms, but where he genuinely scored for me was his occasional attempts to explain some of the history, geography and geology of areas that he passed through. Riding a bicycle through a region does not give you the luxury of gaining intimate knowledge of people and places (I know that from personal experience), but his background gap-fillers prove to be a strength of his writing.
If you are an up-coming aspiring cycle tourist, both these books would be a good read, and will give you plenty of ideas for formulating your first forays.
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