The Cyclist Who Went Out In The Cold
By Tim Moore
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More than two years ago, Tim Moore, then pushing fifty, wrote Gironimo, an hilarious account of tackling the Giro d’Italia’s original route on a 100-year-old bike that he built himself.
Annoyed that men such as Lance Armstrong and his ilk had sullied cycling’s reputation, Moore embarked upon a one-man cleansing mission, his objective to show that injecting IPO or swallowing dozens of multi-coloured pills were not essential prerequisites for completing a grand tour. The book, and Moore’s journey, were a huge success.
In The Cyclist Who Went Out In The Cold, he tackles a ride more than three times (and twenty countries) longer than the Giro d’Italia’s 3,162 kilometres. His motivation this time appears similar to that oft-quoted mountaineering reasoning: “Because it’s there”.
His latest two-wheel journey takes him every inch of the old Iron Curtain along a lengthy, ill-defined trail created by the European Cycling Federation. The opening 1,700 kilometres of this route, known as EV13, which meanders through Finland, isn’t even signposted. This is virgin territory for the long-distance cyclist, another motivating factor in Moore’s intrepid trip.
Before he even starts thinking of cadence, however, a response to an emailed enquiry to the ECF, asking if any detail has been added to the often patchy trail presents Moore with a huge challenge: the ECF confirm that the trail’s distance, initially understood to be 6,700 kilometres, is actually closer to 10,000 kilometres, or half as much again as he initially envisaged.
Such a revelation may have deterred lesser folk, but Moore is made of sterner stuff and so his journey gets under way. What follows is an epic trip, from sub-zero temperatures significantly north of the Arctic Circle to the warm shores of Bulgaria’s sun-kissed Black Sea. En route, Moore encounters central European bureaucracy, a lengthy cast of hilarious characters, assistance where least expected and large dollops of kindness bestowed upon him by total strangers.
This mammoth journey is underpinned by Moore’s pin-point-accurate observations and engaging style that has you rooting for him from the moment he pedals forward on his folding bike, the first version of which was on display at the Leipzig trade show in 1967. Did I not mention the folding bike with no gears?
Not one to make things easy on himself (he rode the Giro in period clothing), one wonders where next for the intrepid Mr Moore. After Le Tour, the Giro and the Iron Curtain, surely a trip around Australia beckons; in the meantime, add this book to the Christmas gift list of anyone who enjoys sport.
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Which rider won this year’s Tour de France?