This morning I finished "The Lead Goat Veered Off" on my inbound Long Island Fail Road commute. My time on the Fail Road is something I generally abhor, but for the last month or so I have escaped the drudgery and instead, I have enjoyed riding with Neil and Sharon on their Mediterranean Cycling Adventure. And, for those 40 minutes a day (each way) I was blissfully elsewhere.
Warm, funny, sarcastic and utterly human, Neil's first person accounts of the joys, tribulations, frustrations, hardships, inconveniences, near misses, triumphs, and adventures, unfold in a journal style that takes you intimately into Neil and Sharon's life on the road. You can not read this book and remain detached. From the minute Neil confesses that bicycling was not really his idea of fun, we understand that this will be an utterly honest look at their experiences. (In "About the Author," which I recommend that you read first, he confesses that he took up cycling very much against his first instincts in a shallow attempt to garner Sharon's favor.) The rest as they say is history!
Neil paints a vivid picture, complete with the sounds, textures and smells, of their travels through Corsica and Sardinia. Together with them we savor the experience (joy is not quite accurate) of sleeping on a dock in Nice, climbing untold mountains, and spending three tented days under a foot of snow on the slopes of the Gennargentu mountains, melting snow to drink and sharing the earpieces of a set of headphones listening to the shortwave radio, drinking cocoa, and waiting for the snow to melt enough to move on.
As a cyclist, we identify with the burning quads, as travelers we understand the issues of language barriers, and as humans we share the warmth of the Sardinians who befriended our guides. Neil's prose becomes transparent and allows us to simply see through his eyes a journey and an experience we have shared. I found myself disappointed at the end of this leg of the journey, and anxious to join them on the next! This was a fun read punctuated by bouts of genuine out loud laughter.