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Miles from Nowhere: A Round the World Bicycle Adventure Paperback – January 31, 1985
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I recently re-read "Miles from Nowhere," downloaded onto my Kindle in preparation for fulfilling that dream to ride across the U.S. In 30 years it had lost none of its charm.
What begins as a whim sends the Savages packing, selling, and discarding the trappings of contemporary American life in favor of two years spent riding in what was then the free world. They bought the panniers, the tent and cooking equipment, the touring bikes, the spare tires and other parts and followed a route of their own devising. They traveled north from California through Oregon and Washington then east across the Great Plains in Canada before dropping down to the States. From there they biked to Key West, flew to Europe and then biked in places many of us would consider unsafe, especially for women, these days including Egypt. They biked trough India and parts of Nepal as well as Thailand: places not generally considered safe especially for two people on bicycles. They are welcomed, warned, threatened, but never experience physical harm.
When I first read the book the thing that interested me the most was Barbara's descriptions of the people they met along the way. The Savages made connections with so many interesting people, complete strangers who took them into their homes, and thus their lives. One of the things that most struck me about this was the degree of trust people had to have. Barbara and Larry had to believe they would be safe, and so did their hosts. I was especially enthralled by their descriptions of hospitality coming from their fellow Americans.
When I reread "Miles from Nowhere" I still was enthralled with their encounters with other people and other cultures. But now I also paid closer attention to descriptions of bike problems along the way. Although my trip was a supported tour I still would need to know how to change a flat or identify problems with gears. Barbara's insight into their bikes' mechanical problems gave me an idea of what I might be in for even though I was on a supported tour with easy access to bike shops. Nevertheless reading about their problems reminded me of how important it would be for me to take good care of my bike.
One of the things Barbara wrote about my fellow Americans that bothered me greatly was how biker unfriendly Florida was in the late 70s, even in places where there were dedicated bike paths. Within the last year I have done a "training ride" in southwest Florida almost exclusively on bike paths that were well cared for and clean. Crossing very rural parts of central Florida on the cross country ride there were only one or two places where people were not bicycle friendly. So if, after reading "Miles from Nowhere" you decide to avoid riding in Florida, fear not, it is now a very biker friendly state! And even if you are an armchair tourist you will find their descriptions of the places they visit and the people they meet well worth the read. Had I not read Miles from Nowhere I doubt if I would have ever created a biking adventure of my very own.
If you can separate the two, you will be able to understand how she felt during her trip, emotionally. I think it was important to know how that side of her was, instead of saying, "This scenario was tough!"