Book review – How To Cycle Canada The Wrong Way

How To Cycle Canada The Wrong Way is a book about cycle touring across Canada, written by Lorraine Lambert, who also has a blog here, and I suggest you go read that.

The Wrong Way?

Like just about anywhere on earth, Canada has prevailing winds, and those mostly blow from west to east. Lambert cycled across Canada, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, which is east to west. As a result, she had weeks of battling very strong headwinds, and that’s what the title of the book refers to.

Solo Female Cycle Touring

Sadly, we live in a world where – as a man – I think nothing of going on long bike rides, at night, on my own, but women need to be far more careful. And yes, the only reason women are more at risk is because of us men, so guys, be better! Also, if you’re a man, please go read this?

Lambert set off as a solo rider, which is impressive and gutsy enough. Once you factor in the fact that Canada has bears, it raises the bar even further! As it happens, she was fortunate in that her only interaction with bears was cycling past a roadkill bear.

When you consider her not always well-thought-through strategy of keeping her food pannier in her tent, you start to realise just how lucky she was! It did amuse me when she wrote about the hassle she went through to hang a food pannier from a tree, only to discover the following morning that it was NOT her food pannier!

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Tough

There’s absolutely no denying that Lambert is a tough person. For starters, she cycled on a bike that (when fully laden) was approaching her own body weight. Doing that for 2000-odd miles requires real toughness, and that’s before factoring in the ferocious headwinds, and crossing the Canadian Rockies.

However, regardless how tough she may be, nowhere in the book does she even pretend to be tough. If anything, the book is remarkably honest and open about the emotional turmoil and mental struggles she faced on the ride. There’s no machismo anywhere in the book, and that’s refreshing.

A Human Tale

Like all the best cycle touring books, How To Cycle Canada The Wrong Way is not a cycling book. Yes, Lambert cycled across Canada, but the book is not about the cycling, or indeed the bicycle. Obviously, you read about mechanical issues from time to time, and Lambert regularly refers to her bike, which she named Claud.

Despite that, the story is about people. Cycle touring is all about exploring a landscape at a human pace, and because you’re not locked away from the environment through which you travel, you experience things differently than when travelling by car.

Throughout the book, Lambert talks about her interactions with people, and it’s all these little nuggets of gold that make a good cycle tour so interesting. It also means that this book is a human tale – it’s the story of a very intrepid, often brave, regularly very funny, sometimes extremely foolish, yet overall warm-hearted and kind human being, who had a fantastic adventure.

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Verdict

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, from start to finish, and I have no doubt at all that you will enjoy it just as much as I have. Also, Lambert belongs to that growing circle of people who discovered the deep joys of skinny-dipping, and reading this book might just mean you discover skinny-dipping, too!

I therefore have no choice but to strongly recommend that you buy this book and read it. You will thank me afterwards!

Lambert has since also cycled around the world, and I simply cannot wait for her to publish the book of that adventure.

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