Off the Map: Bicycling Across Siberia

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9781594867644: Off the Map: Bicycling Across Siberia
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     With this brilliant account of his journey—at once edge-of-your-seat exciting and literary—Mark Jenkins established himself as the master of adventure/travel writing. In 1989 he and six companions—two Americans and four Russians—set out on an arduous, first-ever crossing of Siberia by bike, cycling across rutted dirt roads, swamps, the Ural Mountains, and through Moscow and Leningrad.      This beautifully repackaged edition of Jenkins's travel classic vividly chronicles the highlights of this amazing voyage, including a month spent biking through an 800-mile swamp and the team's interactions with some fascinating characters—from the widow who makes Mark sleep in her dead son's bed to the Lithuanian searching for the concentration camp where his wife spent her childhood. Combining the exhilaration of record-setting adventure with thoughtful introspection, Jenkins's words allow readers to recognize the extraordinary in the day-to-day lives of ordinary Russians.      USA Today called Off the Map "a literary epic." Newsweek declared "the ornery, observant Jenkins [is] good company on every page." And Robert Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, wrote: "Jenkins is a master of the fundamental writer's talent: an ability to see things in new ways, as no one has ever seen them before."

 

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About the Author:

MARK JENKINS is global correspondent for Rodale magazines and a former monthly columnist for Outside magazine. Besides writing the critically acclaimed books A Man’s Life, The Hard Way, and To Timbuktu, Jenkins is featured in Best American Travel Writing and has written for Men’s Health, Backpacker, Time, the Atlantic Monthly, National Geographic, and other media. When he’s not off adventuring, he lives in Laramie, Wyoming.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Feisty, sometimes brilliant first book about a journey across Siberia by bicycle. Jenkins, an editor for Backpacker and Summit, writes a leaping, impulsive prose that, for all its originality, should be whipped for its barbarisms: ``He lived with his faraway eyes crumpled in a stickwood wheelchair holding him and his medals very still in his backyard with his rosebushes growing tall as trees.'' In 1989, he tells us, he was invited to join three Americans (one a woman) and four Russians (two women) on ``the last great ride'' (Africa, South America, China, Europe, India, and Australia had already been done), 7,500 miles from Vladivostok to Leningrad--a journey to be filmed by Carl Jones, an American documentary filmmaker. Most of the team members were like Jenkins, born bikers obsessed with biking, often knocking off 90 miles a day through heavy weather. After the Americans met their Russian counterparts in Moscow, the team flew to Nekhoda, from where they would cross land twice the breadth of the US and go through seven time zones. At first the team was accompanied by a police car that tried to keep the Americans from observing the deprived lives of nearby Soviet citizens, but the bicyclists soon found themselves feted time and again by villagers following their progress on state-run TV. That Soviets live a hard life, with memories of Stalin hanging heavy, became clear to Jenkins; in fact, the Americans met Russians who had been jailed for five years for ``capitalism'' or for going into business on their own. Three of the fellow Russian bikers were not friendly and, tensions mounting, the team finally broke up on the last leg of its big ride. Mud, cabbages, sub-zero frigidity--altogether a super adventure that landed the team in the Guinness Book of World Records. (Eight pages of color photos; maps--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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