August 12, 2015
Mountain bikers have an adventurous spirit. Always searching for the next great trail, and curious about what’s around the next bend. But, where did that adventurous spirit come from? Where do we find our inspiration? In a lot of cases, I find inspiration in others — in their passion for the sport, determination to achieve goals and push themselves to improve, both mentally and physically out on the trail.
Another place I find inspiration is in some of my favourite authors, curling up with a book on a rainy day and letting my imagination rule for a couple hours.
HERE ARE 8 OF THE BEST TRAVEL BOOKS THAT WILL MAKE YOU WANT TO TRAVEL
1. ARCTIC DREAMS — BY BARRY LOPEZ
Ok, so I admit it. I am a bit of a nature nerd. I enjoy bird watching — my bird book and binoculars are always in my car.… because you just never know what you will see! Of course, I can’t say I enjoy bird watching as much as mountain biking, but learning about the flora and fauna wherever I find myself is a little addiction. That’s why Arctic Dreams is one of my favourite books. After reading this book, you will want to book the next flight to the great white north. Lopez is eloquent, and paints a beautiful picture of the arctic landscape and history of the north.
2. GOING SOMEWHERE — BRIAN BENSON
I have dabbled on a road bike and done some longer rides. It seems everytime I pull my road bike out, my mountain bike wins… which I’m ok with. I will leave the long road journeys to the adventurous cyclists who get excited about facing those long roads! Plus, reading about their trips makes me think of planning a cross-country mountain bike trip — which would be rad. Going Somewhere definitely opens your eyes to the challenges of a cross country jounrey — the muscles aches, leg cramps and sometimes humorous encounters with strangers. The book provides a wonderful progression of turning a daydream of a cross country trip into a reality — and facing some harsh realities along the way.
3. THE GEOGRAPHY OF BLISS: ONE GRUMP’S SEARCH FOR THE HAPPIEST PLACE IN THE WORLD
My travels have taken me to many destinations around the world, with beautiful natural landscapes, stunning oceans, mountains and beaches. As much as I am a nature lover, I also love diving into the local culture. What makes people who they are? What is their story? How are their views and attitudes shaped? Some of the most memorable conversations I have had, have been with local shopkeepers, farmers and famillies in the destinations I visit. Their stories are unique and their smiles are genuine. Eric Weiner, the author of The Geography of Bliss, sets aside one year to find the world’s happiest place. Traveling to Iceland, India, Qatar and other countries, his revelations and interactions are sure to get at your inner travel bug.
4. A WALK IN THE WOODS — BILL BRYSON
I am a big Bill Bryson fan. I have read numerous books by Bill and none of them dissapoint. He is witty and always seem to know how to catch my attention and pull me into the story, imagining myself in his shoes. A Walk in the Woods offers a great depiction, and quite humorous account, of the author’s attempt to hike the Appalachain Trail. Be careful, the book may inspire you to pack your hiking shoes (and/or mountain bike) and prepare a long, challenging journey for yourself.
5. DESERT SOLITAIRE — EDWARD ABBEY
I had to include a book about Utah — as it’s mountain biker heaven. The red rock canyons, amazing geography and highly adapted ecosystem are only a few things that make Utah an amazing place to visit. As a park ranger at Arches National Park, Edward Abbey observes changes to the landscape over the years, from a wilderness escape to the development of tourism infrastructure. He comments on the adaptions made by animals and humans to survive in tough desert conditions and describes a land that needs to be experienced first hand.
6. THE ART OF TRAVEL — ALAIN DE BOTTON
A philosophical book that makes us question our reasons for travelling. The author takes us on a journey through various desintations and questions his observations. Whether in exotic lands or waiting at an airport, De Botton notices the small things and incorporates the writings of other artists and writers to explain the art behind traveling. A thought-provoking book, that will make you rethink your own travel experiences.
7. THE LOST CITY OF Z — DAVID GRANN
In 1925, a British Explorer named Percy Fawcett embarked on a journey to the Amazon in hopes of finding a lost city. He disappeared. After Fawcett’s disappearance many explorers and scientists trekked through the Amazon, searching for evidence of the Fawcett expedition and the lost city, many died or dissapeared themselves. Now it’s David Grann’s turn, and the author sets out on his own trip to find answers. The book sheds light on the mysteries of the Amazon, as well as the challenging realities of the landscape. It opens your eyes about the harsh natural forces at work in the Amazon, but also leaves you with a deep appreciation for the wilds. It definitely made me want to experience the Amazon today, and discover a very small taste of the challenges faced by explorers in the past.
8. EAT, PRAY, LOVE — ELIZABETH GILBERT
You might role your eyes at this one, but there is something very liberating of traveling on your own. I have traveled to many destinations as a solo backpacker and I gain a new appreciation for a little soul searching every time. Traveling alone opens doors that might not have existed had you been accompanied by friends or family. You can feel quite vulnerable and lonely traveling by yourself, but there is also an amazing opportunity to meet the locals and strike up conversations with other travelers. You are encouraged to go with the flow and keep an open perspective. Elizabeth Gilbert provides a great example of this as she creates new friendships and reflects on her experiences.