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Spokesongs: Bicycle Adventures on Three Continents by Willie Weir

This slim (140-page) volume is less traditional travel memoir and more a series of one-to-two page reports on individual experiences, or meditations on what it means to be a cycle-tourist in underdeveloped areas. The eponymous three “continents” of India, South Africa and the Balkans make up only a small portion of Weir’s experience as a cyclist and as a cycle-tourist (that is, someone traveling by bicycle). He also has experience as a bicycle courier in Seattle, something which will always increase credibility in my eyes. (I did the same in Houston for a few years, in an earlier life.) He calls his brief vignettes “verbal songs of the road,” which I think is a nice turn of phrase.

Each episode or anecdote tells a very simple, brief story; as a whole they don’t make up much of a sum narrative, which is not a criticism. This could be a coffee-table book, to be picked up time and again at random. It’s very easy, an effortless glimpse into one man’s adventures, with a touch of a love story coming in at the end. The writing isn’t sophisticated (nor even consistently correct, grammatically) but it’s sweet, and it’s real. While there are certainly far more complete, involved stories of bicycle adventures of various kinds, this might be the simplest to enjoy and one of the briefest. It was a gift from our buddy Fil to Husband, the Not-Reader, and I think it actually has a chance of being read by him, at least in parts, which is saying something. I recommend it for what it is: a brief look at cycle-touring in the developing world, or a collection of brief, captivating experiences.

3 Responses

  1. This sounds really enjoyable. For some reason, even though I love cycling so much, I haven’t read many books about it. I should remedy that!

  2. I could give you a list. :) My Pops is reading one now that he recommends; I’m trying to get a review for here…

  3. [...] Spokesongs: Bicycle Adventures on Three Continents by Willie Weir: a series of anecdotes by a man who cycle-tours several continents. A focus on the developing world makes for some interesting cultural tidbits. [...]

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