A ROAD BIKE JOURNAL: THE CYCLIST'S BUCKET LIST
Illustrations by Eliza Southwood
Published by Laurence King 2016
128 pages Leatherette
Reviewed by Steve Dyster
A Road Bike Journal: The Cyclist’s Bucket List is a beautifully bound and illustrated cycling journal to grace the bureau of the writing room of your evening retreat on a long ride, or sits, awaiting your return, on a walnut writing table. It has a touch of style. Make no mistake though, the emphasis is on journal rather than bucket list.
Do cyclist’s keep ride journals anymore or do we all use on-line sites to record routes, times, add photos and comments? I suspect that one way or another many cyclists like to keep a record of what they have been up to. I, for one, much prefer the hand-written word and a selection of prints from the mass of photos stored on various expansion drives.
Journals come in all shapes and sizes. A Road Bike Journal: The Cyclist’s Bucket List fits the purpose-made, high quality, beautifully illustrated category. The leatherette, embossed cover and the quality writing paper are enough to send one searching out the fountain pen. There are 115 pages to write on - the others being a front-piece, a chart to tick off progress on the experiences and full page illustrations. And the illustrations will make all the trips you record special.
The illustrator, Eliza Southwood , specialises in silk-screen printing, as well as other formats, and her subject matter frequently features cyclists - from groups ascending the cols, to Major Taylor, to Sean Kelly’s legs (sketch of, not the real thing, and not included in the Journal). Well-chosen for each experience on the bucket list, the illustrations are both evocative and inspiring. Rather than writing, I’d adore the images and think about whether or not to write my own bucket list.
The concept of a bucket list is not to everyone’s taste; amongst those who have one, the experiences can be radically different. The suggestions here are all worthy of consideration from a road cyclist’s point of view; major cols, long distances, a bunch sprint, the Dragon Ride and so on. There’s no doubt of the level of challenge either, with the Race Across America included.
The suggestions may inspire, but that is all they are. Do not expect and further information or links or other guidance to them. This is a journal rather than a guide to compiling or achieving one’s own goals.
Did I feel guilty about not having taken part in a bunch sprint (the third suggestion) when recording that I’d once again pedalled over from Grantown-on-Spey along the famous Tomintoul to Cock Bridge Road to arrive in an autumnal dusk of wood smoke and warm glow from the hotel bar in Braemar? Perhaps I should have done, but, on a personal note, I think everyone should ride that road and arrive at that time of day.
The truth is, that if you like to keep a written journal, this has a format and manufacture that gives suitable dignity to your exploits, whether you see it as a bucket list or not. If you prefer a paste-board jotter, well I have those, too, and the rides were none the worse for the cheap paper and doodles. If you really want help compiling a bucket list of your own or finding out more, there are better places to look. This is, at heart, a journal with great art work, with some suggested experiences and challenges in the small print - which is, I think, what it sets out to be.