Mark Beaumont is, like me, Scottish, there the similarity ends. He is an accomplished 28 year old adventurer and story teller, having cycled from John o’ Groats to Lands End in the UK aged just 15. Since then he set a world record for CYCLING around the world in 2008 and then two years later, in 2010, he cycled the length of the Americas, but to make it a more interesting journey he also climbed the two highest peaks on that continent, McKinley in North America (Alaska) and Aconcagua in Argentina, don’t you just hate over accomplishers? Especially when, as well as cycling these distances, he is also filming it on TV quality HD cameras, blogging, twittering and commentating, he then writes a book as well, over achievers, the world would be a less interesting place without them...
So, this book, The Man Who Cycled the Americas, what’s on the label is what you get inside. But, if you are not used to reading these type of books but more used to reading an adventure novel or crime thriller or love story, please do not be put off by the fact that this is a first-hand narrative recount of a truly massive journey.
Beaumont really does have the easiest writing delivery style and he has produced a book that is easy reading, that at times sways from the dramatic and scary to the funny and the worrying. Not funny for him, but I did laugh at the thought of this wiry Scot trembling at his fear of meeting spiders, but when he describes what has been described to him, what can happen when and if he comes across the ‘Banana Spider’ it is quite funny and then he compounds his fears by checking it out on Wikipedia, Numpty, you feel for him. Or the time he gets worried at a cash machine when some guys are behind him and he rushes off clutching his money, only to realise he has left his card in the machine, bless. His poor command of Spanish also makes for a laugh as he tells a chap he is sharing a tent with as they are acclimatising for the climb up Aconcagua, that he is ‘feeling horny’, when he did in fact mean ‘feeling hot’!
He describes the acclimatisation for the climb up McKinley in detail with prose describing the beautiful scenery and snowy landscapes that makes you want to visit the area and then the harrowing scene of a tumbling climber dying in front of his party.
The climb up Aconcagua felt like he wasn’t going to make it and you can literally feel his gasps of pain and yourself willing him on to the summit with his fellow climbers, will he make it ....... and remember he still has to get back down and cycle another couple of thousand miles down to the very tip of the Americas before he finishes his journey!
The variety and mix of people met on the journey are presented as a full cornucopia from the ludicrously outrageous to the mildly insane in both North and South America, and which included a couple running a rundown road side store in North America who he thought were going to kill each other while he was there and his conversation with an uncommunicative armadillo, and the kindly old Argentinean who told him to “Keep his heart big” ,and the whole book just makes marvellous reading.
If you have never read this type of book before, please do not be put off, it really is a good read and it is a book you don’t need to rush through, but as I say he does have a really easy style and this makes it difficult to put down, but if you do, it is so easy to come back to it time and time again.
Well worth a 5 out of 5 stars
you can find more on Mark at:markbeaumontonline