Comic writer Tim Moore trades his ailing Rolls Royce for a bicycle, a map and a water bottle in French Revolutions. This is a quest to pedal the route of the Tour de France, no mean feat for the fit, let alone a self-described suburban slouch. The resulting 2,256-haphazard-mile journey transforms Moore into an incredibly fit and passionately proud cyclist. Initially, Moore takes the "I will do it and it probably will kill me" approach. His normal perspective, as a stooge to life's misfortunes, plays well as he prepares to ride the route of the 2000 Tour de France. Moore is the everyman who pedalled in youth and now wouldn't ride a bike to the corner store. But unlike a traveller by car, train or plane, Moore has to navigate France under his own steam. Somewhere around the Ventoux, the world's windiest place, Moore starts to change. He becomes enraptured by the feat itself as mile by mile he realises he is no longer an accidental cyclist but a lean, mean cycling machine. Gradually, the narrative turns from travel to a personal quest. Along the route, Moore's details of the heroes of the Tour make an excellent primer on this gruelling race and helps the uninitiated understand the frenzy that grips France each July as the races meanders through incidental villages, over mountains and, finally, into Paris. It is worth reading for that alone. Having survived mountains of pain, a disgusting diet and motels of dubious value, a new, muscular Moore concludes that "I might never leave my mark on the Tour, but that didn't matter. It has left its mark on me". To follow Moore's path of perspiration is certainly not a vacation. Yet, this curmudgeonly clever and inspirational book makes one want to do just that. "Old Father Time was catching up with Old Father Tim. If I didn't do it this year, I wouldn't because maybe next year I couldn't," he says before starting out. And that, as Tim Moore so surely points out, is what pushes any true traveller out the door. --Kathleen Buckley
"With every book, Moore inches ever closer to mastering Bill Bryson's unique mixture of travelogue and comedy."
"Outstanding; a must for cycling enthusiasts and recommended to lovers and haters of France, general sports fans, or anyone who has ever cheated at anything."
"Ludicrous schadenfreude at its best like Evelyn Waugh on EPO."
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