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Anne Breedlove
Part-Time Nomads

Adult; Memoir; (Market)

The ad in the back of Bicycling magazine read: “Self-guided bicycling tours in rural France.” Eight days on furnished bikes, in pre-arranged lodging opened our eyes to the possibilities of bicycle travel. PART-TIME NOMADS tells how we metamorphosed from middle-aged, suburban working parents to international bicycle travelers. For ten years we stole time from work and parenting to bicycle 10,000 miles in seven states and three countries. Starting in Northern California with “credit card cycling,” gradually our trips became more ambitious, and our gear got good enough so we could be fully loaded and self-contained. Our learning curve was as steep as Yosemite’s 9,943-foot Tioga Pass. We pedaled through rain and snow and car exhaust, sang at the top of our lungs to ward off bears, and soaked in clothing-optional hot springs. We struggled with our differences as a couple. I’m an extrovert and a planner. Jim is a machinery-loving introvert who likes surprises. We weren’t always on the same page as we tried to stay safe and sane and married. Along the way, “Can we?” morphed into a gleeful “We can do it!”
Compiled from entertaining anecdotes and personal photographs, Breedlove’s debut recounts her transformation from a recreational cyclist to world bicycler with her husband Jim. The couple’s interest was initially sparked from an advertisement in Bicycling magazine for self-guided tours in France and exploded from there: before long, the middle-aged parents had traveled through three countries and seven states, including New Zealand and France, over the course of 10 years. That transformative journey brought out the best and the worst in the pair, starkly highlighting their differences (Breedlove describes herself as a “noisy, busy, pushy extrovert” who plans every detail, while the more introverted Jim prefers to go with the flow) and uniting them as international travelers.

Cycling enthusiasts will relish Breedlove’s discourse on their tours, including location choosing to packing supplies to handling the inevitable bumps in the road (trying to manage tent camping on a windy beach and navigating the intimidating “He-Man motorcycle territory” on bicycles are standouts). The couple’s inexperience threatens to overwhelm in many instances: a ranger warns of an impending storm that immediately changes their plans; when following San Joaquin Valley’s Mendota Canal, they’re forced to portage gear over locked gates; and not researching trip elevations ahead of time makes their travels exponentially more difficult.

Despite the learning curve, both Breedlove and her husband find the journey breathtaking, each in their own way, as Jim declares “Actually, cycling has little to do with bicycles for me. It has to do with being on our own, homeless in a strange place, between places, moving forward.” That free spirit drives their adventures, whether they’re hitchhiking in France or visiting the Vartry House, the “Highest Pub in Ireland.” Travel fans may wish for more particulars on the globetrotting portions, as the book is heavily weighted to Breedlove’s stateside tours, but, still, this is a bird’s-eye view of rediscovering the world at a slower pace.

Takeaway: Spouse cyclists rediscover the world together.

Comparable Titles: Kristen Jokinen’s Joy Ride, Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: B-