“Within the first few pages I was hooked”
“I totally devoured the book…I’m so glad that I read this”
“Laugh out loud”
“The story of a wonderful and very human adventure”
“Such a fascinating read”
Discover the untold stories of one of the world’s most popular coastlines.
Part sporting travelogue, part political history, (Just As Well) It’s Not About The Bike follows journalist Chris Atkin’s 1,300km cycle from Valencia to Gibraltar. En route, he travels through Spain’s most picturesque towns. And Benidorm.
Along the way he learns about the region’s history, from the time four hydrogen bombs fell over Spain, to the politician who shot General Franco’s daughter in the bottom yet rose to become one of the country’s most powerful men. While riding across Spain, Chris also meets an array of eccentric characters such as the man who lives in a cave and the Airbnb host who admitted strangling her previous guest.
People told him he was crazy to leave his job and his girlfriend behind to jump on the cheapest bike he could find. After a series of mishaps including one that almost sparked a mountain rescue mission, it would appear they were right.
Norma Miles –
“Bananas for lunch.”
Chris Atkin decided to ride across Spain on a bicycle : one reliant on pedal power, not an engine. One made for regular street trips, not overland, uphill journeys. And, he says, he wasn’t even much of a cyclist. He must have been mad.
But he went, filling two paniers with essentials for the journey, and biked his way along tarmac roads, through farm land and wilderness, and up and down mountains, for about a thousand miles. He’d booked his airb&b accommodation in advance so had to make his destinations on time and took very little money too pay for those extra frivolities like food. Plus, he barely spoke Spanish. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, one thing was choosing to read his own book. His voice is clear, quite well modulated but he is just reading, not involving himself, and consequently the reader, in what he has written. A professional narrator could have done a much better job, carrying the listener with him through the (literal) ups and downs of the journey. There are some interesting snippets of history mixed in with the personal incidents of the journey, the aching thighs, the exhaustion of her another uphill stretch and, my personal favourite, completely losing the road on a mountainside and getting trapped there, with almost no food or water and definitely no one likely to come by to pull him out of the frightening situation. He gets lost a lot. And, although some places are described, they don’t quite excite as much as the joy of finding a supermarket.
There are some interesting, quirky people encountered and Chris is rightly proud of the improvement in his mastery of Spanish – but why did he have to inflict so much of his stumbling conversations in that language, repeated after in English, on the reader?
This is a book which is I interesting but could have been so much better. To me, it seemed that Chris Atkin was as glad to reach the end of his journey as was I to come to the epilogue in his book. I’d enjoyed the journey but the struggle had been rather exhausting. Perhaps it would be better to travel on the printed version, rather than the Audible, just as a gentler vehicle than a bicycle might have allowed for a less bruising heads down, journey.
My thanks to the rights holder of, It’s Not About the Bike, who, at my.request, freely gifted me with a complimentary copy, via Audiobooks Unleashed