What’s Getting Us Outside, Inside

May 14th, 2020

The other night, I lay in bed, laptop on my stomach and tears running down my face. After having finished Sarah Outen’s book, Dare to Do, I watched the recently released film version of her journey. On the screen, Sarah can barely hold herself together as she kayaks under London’s Tower Bridge where she began her round-the-globe journey nearly half a decade earlier.

How special that during these times we can vicariously live through the stories of others? They’ve certainly lifted me up.

In celebration of the Read+Ride Giveaway, I’ve asked my cycling friends what books are vicariously getting them outside.

Allison Wong

You Shall Know Our Velocity! 
By Dave Eggers

“The novel captures the journey of two friends across the world, based on a whim and a ridiculous premise. The bizarre scenarios that follow speak to our desire to be somewhere different than where we are now. It also makes you think about the western worldview and how that shapes how we might understand adventure, travel, and our individual impact in the world. Eggers makes it easy to identify with the characters’ worst traits and desires, which is uncomfortable in just the right way.”

Kailey Kornhauser

Eating Stone 
By Ellen Meloy

Eating Stone is Meloy’s non-fiction account of tracking a band of bighorn sheep through the southwest. I love this book because of Meloy’s humor and the unique aspects of the journey she is on. So often humans go on adventures to find themselves, or to travel from point a to b, or to sightsee. Instead, Meloy leaves her route planning up to bighorn sheep. And through her time with the bighorn sheep, she tells a story about connection with the natural world that transports me to the desert. It’s certainly not your traditional adventure book; in fact, it’s more of a naturalist’s account of an adventure! Maybe that is why I love it!”

Lael Wilcox

Eiger Dreams 
By Jon Krakauer

“I love listening to this collection of climbing stories because it feels like a look into a parallel adventure world. I’m not a climber, but I love hearing about the heroes, their drive, and the wild experiences they have along the way.”

Brian Capstick

A Purpose Ridden 
By Ryan Correy

“I chose this book because Ryan was an obsessive adventurer that faced all challenges that came his way and he sought to conquer everything. Ryan is a fellow Canadian who started cycling reluctantly and ended up inspiring a lot of people.”

Third Culture Nellie

Flightless: Incredible Journeys Without Leaving the Ground 
By Lonely Planet

Flightless is a selection of 26 short stories of adventurers who have travelled by land without flying. I love the diversity of the stories. Some of my favourites include ‘Tuk Tuk to the Road’, a story of Antonia and Jo travelling from Bangkok to Brighton in a pink Tuk Tuk. Or Jason Lewis’ account of his human-powered circumnavigation of the world. Or Karl Bushby travelling from South America to the UK in an unbroken path, which included camping on frozen seas. The determination of the authors and the incredible stories of kindness make this a great read!”

Stephanie Puello

Black Faces, White Spaces 
By Carolyn Finney

Black Faces, White Spaces not only speaks to my own experience in the Colorado outdoors, it also speaks to many of the questions I’ve grappled with as the often lone Black woman in those spaces. In addition to the lack of representation that I encounter, I am also met with skepticism and/or dismissal whenever I share my newfound fondness for the outdoors with family and childhood peers. These experiences have unfortunately curbed my sense of place and belonging in outdoor recreation. I realize that this is due to what author Dr. Finney refers to as the social construction of a ‘white wilderness.’

This idea has been internalized and reinforced through rhetoric, exclusivity, and representation (or lack thereof). Black Faces, White Spaces was an important text for me because it zooms in on a topic many other books about the outdoors intentionally evade: race and its role in the outdoor experience. It also problematizes the environmental institutions that shape how we approach and think about the outdoors and environmental equity and justice. This book was validating for me, and provides a learning opportunity for those in a position of power to interrogate their direct and indirect role in reinforcing inequity in outdoor participation.”

Jim Buckheit

Miles From Nowhere 
By Barbara Savage

“The book describes the 1979 round the world adventure of Barbara and Larry Savage. It was a revelation first hearing, then reading, about the wonderful insanity and amazing adventures of self-contained bicycle touring. I first heard the book read on a weekly NPR book series in the early ‘80s and then purchased and read it several times over the years. It has provided me with the inspiration and desire to start self-contained bicycle touring. Their story has stuck with me over four decades and helps me to dream about places yet to be explored in an amazing world.”

Erik Douds

Metal Cowboy 
By Joe Kurmaskie

Metal Cowboy has been my favorite cycling book that I flipped through while exploring Vancouver Island after our TransAm shenanigans. The book captures the impromptu and often humorous stories that cyclists who set off on adventure find themselves in. You never know when you’ll be part of a parade, dressing up as a prom date, feeling like a cowboy out-chasing a pack of dogs, or listening to a former American Idol contestant. Joe takes us around the world from the comfort of the couch.”

Annalisa van den Bergh

Dare to Do: Taking on the Planet by Bike and Boat
By Sarah Outen

I first heard about Sarah through an article she wrote for Adventure Cyclist. It was a version of one of my favorite parts of the book –– when Gao, who she met at a gas station, joined her for part of her ride. It is a powerful story of what can happen when you let strangers in and open yourself up. 

I love the way she describes the freedom of cycling and the places both literally and metaphorically it takes her. I was drawn particularly to the contrast between pedaling and rowing –– how when on the water, one is attuned to the climate and the tides and how one’s routines, moods, days are dictated by mother nature. So many themes resonated: letting go of control, of fear. Thank you, Sarah, for one of the best books I’ve read.

For your chance to win your choice of the above books plus ~$1000 worth of books and products (including Sarah Outen’s film Home), enter the Read+Ride Giveaway hosted by Miles of Portraits. Giveaway ends May 23, 2020.

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