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A Review of the Book, Partners in Grime, by Neil Anderson
By Gianna Bellofatto Reid
If Bob Hope had ever done a “Road” movie about bicycling, Partners in Grime would have been it. Sharon and Neil Anderson are the adventurous duo who toss 21st Century amenities to tour across Canada. Like layers of skin, The Andersons shed belongings, their home, jobs and cars—but thank goodness, not their bicycles. And in doing so they come to the heart and soul of whom they are.
And just who are they? Two young married kids who go questing for an exciting and different lifestyle. But they discover (rather quickly) that riding a bike exposed to the elements is not as glamorous as they envisioned. Searching for safe places to sleep, decent food, fending off traffic and animals are all part of the outdoor experience.
Like many cyclists, the Andersons revel in the kindness of strangers who are inspired by modern day explorers. People put them up in farm houses, their own homes, in back yards, but there are plenty of times when sleeping on the ground is evident and described. For example, Sharon wakes up one morning and asks the eternal question of every cross-country cyclist, “Is it possible to wake up more tired than when I went to bed?” Yes.
Neil Anderson’s writing is fresh and honest. He doesn’t paint a pretty picture, though the book is sprinkled with gorgeous photography. It is one of the first books on cross-country touring that doesn’t distort reality. Two of his quotes are right on—“The next bike I get is going to have air-conditioning.” And politically astute: “Canadians have a small Canada flag on their backpack. Americans have a large Canadian flag on their backpack.”
This is a truthful book about what it takes to cycle long distance. It doesn’t promise a hot shower every day, a warm bed and forget about fine dining. But what you will gain is something money cannot buy, which is the exhilarating bicycle ride of a lifetime. The Andersons are no doubt deeply bonded through their cross-Canada trip, and others that followed. By the end of the book they have landed in France!
Travel with the Andersons through every village, climb the hills and coast the descents... feel every bump in the road. Their adventure will knock you off your seat and back on the saddle. To ride the open road takes determination, stamina—and it helps to be Partners in Grime.
Partners in Grime: Escaping the Rat Race Cycling Across Canada (2005)
by Neil Anderson
$18.95 US/ $28.95 Canada
Cycle Logic Press
Gianna Bellofatto Reid is a writer whose "Life is a Bike” column appears periodically in Bikexchange.com.
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