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REVIEWS I By Richard Peploe


Cycling to the Ashes by Oli Broom Publisher: Yellow Jersey Press • Paperback • SBN: 978 0 224091886 • Pages: 364 • Price: £9.99


To borrow a well-used phrase to describe this book, it really is ‘not about the bike’. The book calls itself “a cricketing odyssey from London to Brisbane”, and it is almost incidental that a bike was used as the means of transport. There are many books about epic adventures, but undertaking one on a bike certainly leads to events that one might not otherwise experience. As many adventurers have discovered before, Oli found that whilst you may think that you are doing the trip “solo and unsupported”, a bicycle makes the traveller very approachable, and offers of help, food, and accommodation follow. Oli likes his cricket, and the Ashes


are deemed to be at the pinnacle of the sport – a bit like how a cyclist regards the Tour de France. The 66th playing of the Ashes quickly became the target, which left him only 709 days to plan and undertake the trip to Brisbane before the start of the series. A lack of recent cycling experience was not going to hold him back, and at one point during the preparation he worked out that he had not even sat on a bike for over 10 months. Along the way Oli planned to get involved in playing cricket whenever and wherever possible – failing which he would be a spectator. The equipment to play is rarely a problem, as thanks to sponsorship from Mongoose Cricket he has a ready supply of bats, but sometimes his problem is finding sufficient players. Unfortunately what should have been one of the playing highlights at the end of the journey ended badly when he broke a finger whilst diving to catch a ball.


I was as surprised as Oli was to discover that there were another 104 formal cricketing nations. Whilst only 10 are full members of the International Cricketing Council, there are 36 Associate members, and a further 59 Affiliate members. That helped determine the route, which went through Turkey and Africa on the way to Nairobi, before a flight across to India. Throughout the book there are some worthwhile black and white photographs – but be warned, they are rather small and grainy, so look upon them as a bonus. One was titled “For two months, daytime meals were a lesson in fly-evasion”, and it


110 www.cyclingworldmag.com


does help you to appreciate the extent of his problem.


One incident that I would love to have seen illustrated happened in India: “A motorbike sped past me and the driver waved; nothing unusual there, except that he had five double mattresses balanced on his head.” Perhaps he missed the opportunity because he was distracted by


“the man carrying fifty live but sedated chickens draped over his bicycle’s handlebars”.


The book is a very readable and often funny account of an unusual adventure on a bike; the fact that cricket dominates the journey is unusual for a cycling adventure, but leads to many of the wonderful stories about the trip.


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