In Beyond the Horizon: The First Human-Powered Expedition to Circle the Globe, Colin Angus details his attempt to circumnavigate the globe. The book is up and down as it goes around. Some sections are compelling. Others are just bickering with a lost partner and his critics.
Colin starts in Vancouver on a bike with his teammate, Tim. The team breaks up as Tim begins a romance with their Russian guide (required by the government.) Separated from Tim, Colin bikes the rest of the way across Siberia and Europe alone. Colin ends up crossing the Atlantic Ocean and biking North through Central America with his fiance. She penned her own story Rowboat in a Hurricane. Perhaps you can guess what they encountered during their journey across the Atlantic?
Since there is a big label on the book “The First Human-Powered expedition to Circle the Globe” I am not spoiling anything by telling you that he makes it. It was not an easy journey. He had to contend with forest fires in Alaska, storms in the Bering Sea, biking through the Siberian winter, hurricanes in the Atlantic, government bureaucracy and poor planning. There are some great sections in the book. You will enjoy those parts if you are an armchair adventurer like me.
You, the reader, also have to suffer through some inconsistent writing. The book is best when he focusing on the adventure, the challenges and his reactions to them. Unfortunately, he spends a big chunk of the book answering his critics and pleading his case. His critics include Tim, Tim’s family, the Guinness Book of World Records, others trying to also be the first and various other experts. Those parts of the book are not at all interesting and take away from the adventure and the accomplishment.
There are also a lot of mixed messages in the book. He starts off the journey using it to show how humans can reduce their impact on the environment and reduce their carbon-emissions. If he can get around the world without gasoline maybe we can do so in our own, more hospitable community. But then he focuses on the importance of being the first and the race aspect of the journey. Really, he just talks about the environmental impacts at the beginning and the end of the book. The discussion about the environment end up sticking out like a sore thumb. He could have weaved that it into the narrative if it was that important to him.
The expedition comes across as poorly planned and underfunded. I had the same feeling about the book.