Book: “Dans la roue du monde” by Claude Marthaler

Another thing I noticed with my increased interest and love for cycling is that I am enjoying like never before books about cycling (experiences, adventures etc)…

I have just finished reading a lovely book by cyclist traveller Claude Marthaler, who went around the world in his bike on a trip that lasted 7 years! His website is here : )

reading in a sunny park... ahhh summer we love you!

The book I read is an Italian translation of the his French original, bought on my last trip back home. Published by Ediciclo Editore and titled “Lo zen e l’arte di andare in bicicletta”.

Claude is from Switzerland, born in 1960, with a passion for cycling since he was child. His way of writing is so gentle and calm, it takes you with him on his journey. I really enjoyed how he describes to the reader how the bike is seen/perceived by different countries especially the difference between the Western World and the Developing Countries. In his experience in the Western World the bike is seen as a recreational tool, very rarely as a full mode of transport, even less as a long distance mode of transport (i.e. around the world!) and how those cyclists who take to travel the world with their bike are seen as eccentric and well off, in the developing countries instead the bike can be the most expensive possession and the only means to earn a living, this is done so by shear hard work, close to ‘torture’ as he describes it. I moan enough if I have to do a lil incline with a lil headwind, I should keep my lil mouth shut when thinking of, for example, the boda-boda of Uganda that he describes.

His writing strikes a chord for those who have or have gained a real affinity to cycling, where the bike has become an extension of their body (may this be fast/sport cycling or transport AtoB cycling).

I personally like this very much:

(translated by me from the Italian text, not the original French btw!)

You learn to cycle just like you learn to read and write. Cycling has become second nature to Man, after walking but before swimming. The bicycle that every child dreams of even before owning it, allows him to grow through the learning process of how to balance, of the initial effort, which brings reward and of the skills acquired for orientation; while to the adult the bike allows to retain a little of that childhood feeling and that original dream.

Unfortunately I cannot find an English version of the book, if you can read French or Italian you can get the book from Amazon. Let’s hope someone in the publishing world will see this book as a great opportunity and invest in it.

I cannot praise this book enough, I found myself laughing and nodding at many pages, but also felt inspired to push my cycling outside my local neighbourhood.

I am now reading “Bicycle Diaries”, by David Byrne but so far I am not so taken, I cannot really feel how his descriptions of the cities visited and explored by bike are indeed viewed with ‘bike eyes’, I still don’t feel captured by his writing, but I’ll give it till I finish the book to sum up any impressions ; )

Think this entry also qualifies for the LGRAB summer games – Part 2!


3 responses to “Book: “Dans la roue du monde” by Claude Marthaler

  1. I have just finished reading “Bicycle Diaries” and whilst I enjoyed it very much I felt that it read more as a travelogue, especially in the earlier chapters. That said, I enjoyed reading about David Byrne’s creative processes and his person views on the things he encounters on his travels. It is probably more of interest to David Byrne fans rather than cyclists. Fortunately I am both!

    • Indeed I think you are absolutely right. I don’t have great knowledge of his work and so perhaps I am not catching all the subtle information etc, while my partner who’s read it before me has enjoyed it very much. But I am still only at the first third of the book, so I may get into it more as I keep reading. Liked your review Lee-Ann, thanks!

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