I recently read the interesting and inspiring book Through Blisters and Saddle Sores. Author Ettienne lives in the greater London area. His wife, Tricia is a cancer survivor, and her treatment was quite an ordeal. But she got a lot of help from the local branch of the Haven Breast Cancer Support Centres. Ettienne decides to do an adventure as a fundraiser for the Haven Centres to give something back. What he decides to do is very ambitious: set the record for a combination of cycling and running the perimeter of the UK, not only the entire island of Great Britain but Northern Ireland as well. Tricia participates as his support driver in a Ford Transit van converted to a camper.
The adventure goes through amazing scenery but is brutally difficult, with lots of headwinds (sometimes gale force), climbing, cold, and rain. Ettienne has a remarkably upbeat attitude throughout, reminding himself he chose to do this adventure and is fortunate to have the opportunity. I found it to be a great story and an enjoyable read.
Afterwards Ettienne decides that the North Coast of Scotland was his favorite for scenery. There are photos in the book but unfortunately small and black and white. I was able to find a video on YouTube on cycling the North Coast which shows the spectacular scenery, but the riders in the video were much luckier in the weather they encountered than Etienne.
Global cycling rider Si does the ride with Mark Beaumont as his guide. Mark is the world record holder in cycling around the world, whose story is chronicled in The Man Who Cycled the World (another highly recommended adventure book). Coincidentally, during the ride Si and Matt run into Jenny Graham, the women’s around the world cycling record holder.
I highly recommend both of these books and the video. They didn’t quite get me fired up to circumnavigate the UK or the world on my bike, or ride 500 miles over tough terrain in 3 days. But they did inspire me to get out on some long (by my standards) rides. And hopefully find a way to give back like Ettienne and Tricia did.