Good Reads – 'End to End' by Paul Jones

Heart warming and intensely personal, this is the story of a journey and the people that have made it. An incredible journey, from Lands End to John O' Groats—by bicycle. 

Within its pages it incorporates a history of cycling from 1880 to the present day; how the record to achieve this iconic distance has gradually been reduced to an unbelievably short time. 

The book is meticulously researched, beautifully written, and brought to life by interviews with the historic cyclists themselves. As Jones writes the stories of the record breakers, he rides the course himself in several long stages—immersing himself in the history and landscape. 

Jones is self-critical and trying to come to terms with his recent decision to leave his job as a secondary school headteacher. His writing is poetic, funny, and observant; describing both his inner turmoil and the outer landscape he passes through.

I loved this book, I felt I wanted to take note of particularly resonant phrases so I could recall them on my own rides:

“a silent shadow on the hilltop against the near-black night” 

“what is picturesquely termed undulating country, but which can more haply be termed ‘deuced hilly’” 

“light and shadow fluctuate on the side of the mountains, cloud shadows chased by the wind” 

“somehow he ekes out time, stealing it from the monstrous hands of fatigue and pain”

This book was an unexpected delight.


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