Book Review, 'Barring Mechanicals…' by Andy Allsopp
I stumbled across 'Barring Mechanicals, From London to Edinburgh and back, on a recumbent bicycle' while searching Amazon for a book about 2 guys riding recumbents across Russia. Just before that I'd been idly browsing the LondonEdinburghLondon audax website. At first glance the idea of riding from London to Edinburgh and back seemed quite appealing. But then I looked again at the time frame – 1400km in 5 days. That's nearly 300km a day for 5 days! 5 days of doing nothing but cycling, eating and snatching a couple of hours sleep. Maybe not! That is for seriously hard core Audax riders not for someone looking to ride their first 200k. Andy Allsopp, however, thought differently!
Andy bought his recumbent after an operation for a degenerative spinal condition left him unable to ride an ordinary bicycle. A short tour of Normandy inspired him and a friend to enter London-Edinburgh-London. He was averaging 10 miles a week at the time! Undaunted by this minor technicality he embarked on some serious training with regular overnight rides from London to the coast and back. By the time the event came round 9 months later he was able to cover 400k in a day but his friend had been forced to drop out with a broken wrist. Within a few miles of the start he found himself walking to the nearest railway station as his recumbent suffered serious mechanical problems. In desperation he fired off a message from his smart phone to his regular cycling forum and almost immediately was offered a solution using zip ties! From then on there was no stopping him!
This is a short, but most enjoyable, read that offers a real insight into what it takes to complete such a monumental ride. I became quite engrossed in it, almost sharing his feelings of hunger, tiredness, joy and fear. Then there's the storm... Illustrated with photographs, maps and elevation profiles you almost share the ride with him. In his forward he states 'I'd like to share a little of how my LEL came to be, because when I started I was in awe of long distance cyclists. I was very aware of the differences between 'them' and 'me', but failed to see that the distinction was made on my side only... ' He certainly does a great job of making an extraordinary achievement seem like something anyone could do if they tried. Bald statements such as 'Miles travelled 690, miles to go 186' don't seem too extraordinary if you read them fast enough!
Its a great read and well worth £5.39 from Amazon but I don't think I'll be rushing to get my LEL entry in. Not this time anyway!