BICYCLE TRIP - ANCHORAGE TO USHUAIA
Review by Barb & Ron Kroll
The Man Who Cycled The Americas
(Corgi Books) ISBN 978-0552163972 055216397X
A cycling tour along the mountainous spine of Canada, the USA, Central and South America is no easy task, especially when it includes climbing two of the highest peaks after Mount Everest - Denali in Alaska, with a height of 6,194 meters (20,320 feet) and Aconcagua in Argentina, which is 6,962 meters (22,841 feet) high.
The 461-page story about why Mark Beaumont undertook this bike trip, how he handled the challenges and the people he met during his journey is a fascinating read.
Some of the difficulties with his long-distance bike trip were expected, such as the weather (e.g., pedaling through deep snow drifts on the way up to Hatcher Pass in Alaska). Others were unplanned, such as finding a bike shop to repair a jammed wheel, and sourcing suitable replacement parts.
Besides the endurance required to cycle steep and pot-holed roads, Mark Beaumont describes his encounters with biting horseflies in Canada's Yukon Territory and pickpockets in Guatemala.
Without a doubt, the most interesting part of Mark Beaumont's book is his encounters with people along the way, from bikers who cycled with him to the men in Ceballos, Mexico, who put on a spontaneous mariachi performance for him.
The Man Who Cycled The Americas is more than a biking book. It is a travel book with a rich sense of place. You learn what the locals eat (e.g., moose sausage with blueberries in Alaska and battered deep-fried guinea pig with Inca Kola in Peru).
Mark Beaumont takes a break from his bike tour to buy Guatemalan leather cowboy boots in Itzapa. You join him for dinner with the locals, as he struggles to speak the Spanish language.
His experiences give you glimpses of the local culture, from Independence Day celebrations in Zacatecas, Mexico, to meeting Ngobe-bugle Indians in their homes.
A black-and-white map indicates Beaumont's cycling route from Anchorage to Ushuaia. Another illustration maps his Anchorage to Guatemala bike route. A third map depicts his Guatemala to Ushuaia trip.
Three sets of color photos portray the highs and lows of his cross-country bicycle tour, from wearing a head-cam on his cycling helmet to nail-punctured bike tires.
Readers also see examples of the diverse road conditions that he experienced as he traveled on salt-encrusted roads in the Atacama Desert and mountain-biked the steep Deadhorse Trail near Moab.
During his solo bicycle trip between Alaska and Argentina, Mark Beaumont had the opportunity to learn about ways people make a living, from making bricks by hand in Nicaragua to roasting chipotle chiles in Mexico. He also encountered a wide variety of wildlife, from black bears in the Yukon to guanaco in Patagonia.
Whether you are planning your own bicycle trip or living vicariously through the author's, his 268-day, 13,080-mile (21,060-km) journey is an adventure.
Mark Beaumont has earned a Guinness World Record for his cycling trip around the world in just 194 days and 17 hours.