Two Wheels on my Wagon: A Bicycle Adventure in the Wild West by Paul Howard

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As bicycle races go, the attractions of the Tour Divide are not immediately apparent. For a start, it is the longest mountain-bike race in the world, running nearly 3,000 miles down the Rockies from Canada to Mexico. But the distance is not the only challenge – the total ascent of 200,000 ft is the equivalent of scaling Mount Everest nearly seven times.
Then there are the dangerous animals likely to be encountered on the route: grizzly bears, mountain lions and wolves, not to mention rattlesnakes and tarantulas. Worse, the rewards for all this effort are strictly limited. Unlike in the Tour de France, there is no fabled yellow jersey and no prize money.
Yet, undaunted, and in spite of never having owned a mountain bike, Paul Howard signed up. Battling the worst weather for generations, drinking whiskey with a cowboy and singing karaoke with the locals, Howard’s journey turned into more than just a race – it became the adventure of a lifetime.

Two Wheels on my Wagon: A Bicycle Adventure in the Wild West

Bandit Roads: Into the Lawless Heart of Mexico by Richard Grant

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There are many ways to die in the Sierra Madre, a notorious nine-hundred-mile mountain range in northern Mexico where AK-47s are fetish objects, the law is almost non-existent and power lies in the hands of brutal drug mafias. Thousands of tons of opium and marijuana are produced there every year. Richard Grant thought it would be a good idea to travel the length of the Sierra Madre and write a book about it. He was warned before he left that he would be killed. But driven by what he calls ‘an unfortunate fascination’ for this mysterious region, Grant sets off anyway. In a remarkable piece of investigative writing, he evokes a sinister, surreal landscape of lonely mesas, canyons sometimes deeper than the Grand Canyon, hostile villages and an outlaw culture where homicide is the most common cause of death and grandmothers sell cocaine. Finally his luck runs out and he finds himself fleeing for his life, pursued by men who would murder a stranger in their territory ‘to please the trigger finger’.

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A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain

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Anthony Bourdain, life-long line cook and bestselling author of “Kitchen Confidential”, sets off to eat his way around the world. But being Anthony Bourdain, this was never going to be a conventional culinary tour. Bourdain heads out to Saigon where he eats the still-beating heart of a live cobra, and travels deep into landmined Khmer Rouge territory to find the rumoured Wild West of Cambodia (Pailin). Other stops include dining with gangsters in Russia, a medieval pig slaughter and feast in northern Portugal, the Basque All Male Gastronomique Society in Saint Sebastian, rural Mexico with his Mexican sous-chef, a pilgrimage to the French Laundry in the Napa Valley and a return to his roots in the tiny fishing village of La Teste, where he first ate an oyster as a child. Written with the inimitable machismo and humour that has made Tony Bourdain such a sensation, “A Cook’s Tour” is an adventure story sure to give you indigestion.

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The Mango Orchard: Travelling Back to the Secret Heart of Mexico by Robin Bayley

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As a child, Robin Bayley was enchanted by his grandmother’s stories of Mexican adventures: of bandits, wild jungle journeys, hidden bags of silver and a narrow escape from the bloody Mexican Revolution. But Robin sensed there was more to these stories than anyone knew, and so he set out to follow in the footsteps of his great-grandfather.
The Mango Orchard is the story of parallel journeys’ a hundred years apart, into the heart of Latin America. Undaunted by the passage of time and a paucity of information, Robin seeks out the places where his great grandfather Arthur ‘Arturo’ Greenhalgh travelled and lived, determined to uncover his legacy. Along the road Robin encounters witches, drug dealers, a gun-toting Tasmanian Devil and an ex-Nazi diamond trader. He is threatened with deportation, offered the protection of Colombian guerrilla fighters and is comforted by the blessings of los santos. He falls in love with a beautiful Guatemalan girl with mystical powers and almost gives up his quest, until a sense of destiny drives him on to western Mexico and the discovery of much, much more than he had bargained for.

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Tequila Oil: Getting Lost In Mexico by Hugh Thomson

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It’s 1979, Hugh Thomson is eighteen, far from home, with time to kill – and on his way to Mexico. When a stranger tells him there’s money to be made by driving a car over the US border to sell on the black market in Central America, Hugh decides to give it a go. Throwing himself on the mercy of Mexicans he meets or crashes into, Hugh and his Oldsmobile 98 journey through the region, meeting their fate in the slums of Belize City. Thirty years on, Hugh returns – older but not necessarily wiser – to complete his journey.
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