Coffee First, Then The World

Coffee First, Then The World, by Jenny Graham

When you read stories by people who cycled around the world, you quickly learn that doing so is an enormous achievement. When it is done solo, it becomes an even bigger achievement. When done as a woman, riding on her own, unsupported, it becomes monumentous. Finally, when that rider also set a new world record for the fastest woman to cycle around the world, it’s absolutely mind-blowing.

And that is exactly what Jenny Graham did. This book, Coffee First, Then The World, is the story of that ride. Graham is a director of The Adventure Syndicate, and a presenter with Global Cycling Network. You can order her book directly from her website, or get it online, or from any good book store.

Humility

From the very start of the book, Graham’s humility shines through, and there’s no sense at all of “I’m so special”. It seems this is a characteristic that’s common to ultra-endurance riders. As you continue to read, that humility continues like a silver thread throughout Graham telling the story of her remarkable achievement.

Honesty

Graham pulls no punches in the book. From dealing with her fear of snakes, yet cycling through Asia and Australia, wild camping most of the way, to her rather novel way of urinating on the go, the tale is full of surprises.

Even leisurely cycle touring can get lonely at times, but pales into insignificance into the extreme highs and lows Graham had to deal with during her ride. Though no rules state that she had to remain entirely self-supported at all times (when Mark Beaumont retook the men’s record, he had an entire support team) Graham set herself some standards, and kept to them.

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Danger

It is a sad fact of life that women are more at risk, especially when travelling alone, than what men are. Graham had to put up with unwanted attention in scenarios where she had little options for escape. Physical danger was ever-present, and the hair-raising telling of fast-driving trucks, in tail-gating convoys where braking isn’t an option will make your hair stand on end.

It’s literally through sheer luck Graham wasn’t run over and killed on especially one road in Russia! At the same time, Graham was shown friendliness and support by stranger, not only in Russia, but throughout her adventure.

The Story

Graham is a talented writer. She wrote the book almost as diary entries, keeping track of the different days, her total mileage for each day, and for the entire ride. That may sound almost clinical, but I assure you it’s not!

Instead, I found myself mentally being taken along by Graham, as her journey unfolded. Her tenacity in the face of adversity is astounding, but she never comes across as full of herself – rather the opposite!

Her honesty is endearing, and she shares freely details of the difficult times (of which there were many!)
She even shares how her hair became matted and knotted, as she didn’t take a brush. Graham has a highly developed wit, which she turns upon herself without hesitation. The book will have you gasping for breath at times, and laughing out loud at other times.

If you’re an armchair adventurer, a hardened ultra-endurance athlete, or anywhere in between, you will love this book.

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