Thursday, December 08, 2011

Book Review: 10: Celebrating Ten Years of the Tour d'Afrique Bicycle Race and Expedition

It has been nearly six years since I started writing this blog, and back in those early days I was still finding my voice and deciding what it exactly was that I wanted to write about. I knew that I loved travel and adventure, in all of its many forms, and I wanted to share that passion with anyone who might happen to wander by my little slice of the web. There were oh so many expeditions and travel options to be discovered along the way and continually came across a host of amazing things that I didn't even know were happening, or in some cases, even possible. 

One of the events that I discovered in my online exploration was a little bicycle race/expedition called the Tour d'Afrique – a four month long, 12,000km (7500 mile) bike ride that wandered from Cairo to Cape Town. When I first read about the Tour I was both amazed and intrigued, and I would go on to write about it numerous times over the years, both here and on other websites. To me, the event was, and still is, one of those bucket list items that just seemed too amazing to be believed.

This year, the Tour d'Afrique celebrates its 10th anniversary, which is a testament to the endurance of the race organizers themselves. To celebrate, the company behind the event has released a spectacular coffee table book entitled 10: Celebrating Ten Years of the Tour d’Afrique Bicycle Race and Expedition that is sure to delight adventure travelers, cyclists, and fans of beautiful travel photography.

The 252 page volume oozes quality from every page and features a forward by Henry Gold, the founder of the Tour. A decade ago Gold's concept of running a cycling race from Cairo to Cape Town seemed like a disaster waiting to happen, and many people were happy to tell him so. Now though, the race continues to grow in popularity every year and it has grown to legendary status with long distance and adventure cyclists.

The book offers glimpses into those early days of course, but also follows the evolution of the Tour through the years as well. Many of the riders who have had the privilege of taking part in the event offer quotes about their experiences, and the names of all the riders are immortalized in the tome as well. Reading the text will give you plenty of insight into the challenges and joys of riding through Africa, which features just about every type of terrain and road conditions imaginable.

But the real draw of the book is the photography. There are amazing images on nearly every page, and on my first go through the book, I found myself flipping very rapidly through the pages, just so I could see what was waiting on the next one. Fortunately, I was able to control myself on subsequent readings, taking my time to stop and really soak in the images, which are a great mix of cycling, culture, and travel.

10 is a true work of art, that deftly mixes a love for adventure with a love for Africa. If you've never visited that continent, this book will only inspire you to make the trip yourself – preferably on the back of a bicycle. It is a perfect introduction to the Tour for those who aren't familiar with and a tantalizing look at the event for those of us who have only dreamed about it. For those who have already ridden the epic ride, I can only imagine that this is the next best thing to be there.

10: Celebrating Ten Years of the Tour d’Afrique Bicycle Race and Expedition would make an amazing holiday present for the adventurer, cyclist, or traveler on your list this season. It is beautiful, inspiring, and bold, all at the same time. Order here for $80 US or Canadian. $110 internationally.

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