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ss triple helix - summer 2016,  The unicyclist, the vicar and the  paediatrician

The unicyclist, the vicar and the paediatrician

Peter and Joe Sidebotham

Troubador, 2013, £8.95 Pb 144pp, ISBN 9781780885155
Reviewed by Sarah Maidment, Trainee GP based in Oxfordshire

As a Christian doctor, a keen cyclist and having previously ridden the 1,000 miles from Land's End to John O' Groats, I felt adequately qualified to do this review. The book is written by a Christian Paediatrician, Peter Sidebotham, who tells the story of his 16-year-old son, Joe, as they ride together from Land's End to John O'Groats on a unicycle.

The opening chapters recount their less-than-perfect training and preparation for this epic adventure. Joe and his dad are by no means 'seasoned cyclists'. Joe would probably describe himself more as a 'stunt man', having found his way into unicycling via circus skills workshops.

Spurred on by pledges of sponsorship (for charity), an exciting challenge and Joe's enthusiasm, the unicyclist [Joe, on one wheel], the Paediatrician [Peter, on two wheels] and the Vicar [60-year-old David, on a three-wheeled recumbent tricycle] begin their journey from Land's End.

Even the best travel authors and most highly-acclaimed cycletourists at times struggle to captivate their audience, as they write about what can become a fairly mundane trip from A to B, ticking off the miles. Peter's account is interspersed with snippets from Joe's audio-blog, telling their story from different viewpoints. Their journey is interspersed with mishaps and unfortunate events, which make a compelling read. I was disappointed by the amateur style of writing but could not help feeling impressed by their efforts, with a real sense of 'good for them', for what they had achieved.

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