FREE COUNTRY by George Mahood
In the world of long-distance cycling, the UK E2E (Land’s End to John O’Groats) is a hoary old chestnut. For many it represents that Nirvana-like state of achievement, a bespoke Utopia that appears as the ultimate of aspirations among many would-be expedition cyclists. The route has been travelled by many and variously: by that I mean by tens of thousands using dozens of different modes of transport. People have walked, run and cycled it. Others have done it in a wheelchair, on skateboards and roller skates. The youngest little mite to cycle it was just 4 years old, and a few days after completing it he started at infant school. Amongst the craziest takes was a golfer who played the longest hole in the world: 1,100 miles in seven weeks. Of course, he hit the ball every inch of the way (wonder how many he lost?).
So to pick up another book or, as I did, download a digital version, of yet another attempt at the distance……….well, to say the least, I was a bit underwhelmed at the prospect. But………….then I started reading it. And I read it, and read it………and enjoyed it from beginning to end. I won’t spoil the story for you, simply to say that two lads (with nothing better to do) dreamed up a plan over a pint or two. That plan was to cycle the 1000 miles from south to north, but to set off with nothing more that the union flag boxer shorts that you see them wearing on the cover.
Like ancient pilgrims, they begged and borrowed everything they would need to complete the journey: clothes, bikes, food, accommodation, cycle maintenance. I was astonished how much free beer they drank en route (several nights almost to the point of drunkenness) and amazed at the apparent credulity of the people who helped them out. It just so happened they were honest, upright citizens, but what if they had been gun/dagger toting layabouts?
Even if you are a non-cyclist, read it. I guarantee you will enjoy it. You can get a digital download for £1.99 from Amazon.