Miles from Nowhere by Barbara Savage

This is the book that started it all. I read Miles from Nowhere for the first time way back in the mid-80’s – right around the time when I was in the Peace Corps in Honduras and a friend was cycling around the USA. Reading Barbara’s tales of traveling around the world on her bike helped me see the connection between those two very separate events. I remember riding the bus around Honduras and thinking, “If Barbara and Larry can ride their bikes through countries like this, surely I can too!”

Miles from Nowhere recounts the tale of Larry and Barbara Savage, a young couple who set out to see the world on bicycles. It took them two years to pedal through 25 countries. Along the way, these neophyte cyclists encountered warm-hearted strangers, bicycle-hating drivers, rock-throwing Egyptians, over-protective Thai policemen, and great personal joys.

This book is one of my all-time favorites and one I recommend to each and every person considering taking a tour on a bicycle. Barbara tells the tales in such a way as to make you feel her joy and her pain. You will travel along with her as she experiences the world in ways most of us can only dream of.

Miles from Nowhere: A Round the World Bicycle Adventure

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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7 Responses to Miles from Nowhere by Barbara Savage

  1. Roy C January 21, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

    An amazing journey I have read and re- read this book and love all I read – it inspires me to undertake a similar journey.
    I have done shorter trips in New Zealand and Australia and loved every minute. Still contemplating but need to do as age getting on. Roy The Boy

  2. michele May 22, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

    This book was so much fun to read. I want to bicycle now!

  3. nancy May 22, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

    I love that book! I credit Barbara for getting me out on my bike – a LONG time ago!!

  4. Mike November 21, 2011 at 1:15 am #

    Well, no, it’s not the book that “started it all”. Go back another century and read about Annie Londonderry!

    The book is interesting, and it illustrates the things to do — and the things not to do. Out of 5 stars, this only earns a 2.

    This is a personal travelogue, not a guide. The book was surprising lacking in moments when Barb relates “i learned this” and “this technique was effective”; rather, she spends far too much commentary on mosquitoes, rain, squat toilets, and so on.

    Despite the many stops that the Savages made to mail their film back home, they sure chose a surprisingly few number of photos to include in the book.

    It spends surprisingly few pages on Europe while spending inordinate time on mudane or miniscule details of Egypt and India, neither of which seem to have offered much pleasure in any sense of the word.

    Though adding a few facts that Larry must have related to her, the book overwhelmingly focuses on Barb’s one-sided view of the journey. Though indeed pointing out some of the joys along the way, her pessimistic tone clouds a surprising number of pages — including multiple times when her incessant negativity very nearly caused her husband to split. One can only wonder at times what the more emotionally-stable (Barb’s insight, not mine) Larry’s story might have been.

    The reader quickly realize that the suffering that Barbara Savage relates is in no small part self-inflicted. Despite the fact that her husband was an engineer, presumably having earned a decent salary, it seems the couple chose to spend more of their limited budget on alcohol than on clean & safe lodgings.

    The reader infers that today bike travel need not be such a downer. Not only is technology and bicycle infrastructure better today, even the most novice cyclists can avoid many of the Savages’ negative adventures. One would hope that, for example, a bike traveler wouldn’t ignore the advice of locals, eat ice cubes of dubious purity when one member of the party is already suffering dysentary, or insist on battling rude Florida drivers on extremely unsafe roads just because the parallel bike path was rough and included curbs to hop.

    Yes, the book is a good read. Just don’t go into it looking for advice or thinking it’s an inspiring story of beauty and positive vibes.

    • Nancy November 21, 2011 at 9:41 am #

      @Mike,
      Wow! When I said it was the book that started it all, I was referring to me. Miles from Nowhere was the book I read that encouraged me to jump on my bike and start bike touring – I was so impressed with the travelogue and their experiences that I wanted to head out!

      Yes, the book was written by Barbara and was written from her perspective. That’s OK. Yes, she chose to have relatively written about Europe and more from Egypt and India. That’s OK. Yes, the journey was hard and she was brutally honest about the self-inflicted hardships. That’s OK too.

      It’s her book and she can write it as she wants.

      I don’t think Barbara ever intended for her book to be anything more than a travelogue. I don’t think she intended it to be a guidebook to help others plan and implement a bike tour. For me, that’s OK – I wanted to read about her experiences, not about how to pack a bike.

      For me, a good read is what I was looking for and it’s what I got!

  5. joe March 28, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

    let us not forget what we read on page 325 “In Remembrance”. Barbara Savage and her husband Larry, took on a momentous challenge: to pedal around the world. The Savages broke new ground pedaling in countries and parts of the earth where foreign bicycle tourists had probably never ventured, covering over 22,000 miles, pedaling bikes and camping out, in the far corners of the earth, that 95% of us will never see. It took tremendous guts. I applaud her and Larry for doing what they did. I further applaud Barbara for writing it all down for us to read.

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