The best books about travel adventures on two wheels

Who am I?

I’m a writer, living in southwest France since 1995, and previously in Kenya for 20 years. Travel has always been my passion. I’ve written about hiking across France in Best Foot Forward, touring the perimeter by camping car in Travels with Tinkerbelle, cycling through the Marne Valley in The Valley of Heaven and Hell, and a Kenyan safari in Safari Ants, Baggy Pants and ElephantsRecently, due to COVID and with an elderly dog that suffers from separation anxiety, I couldn't leave for any length of time; I satisfy my wanderlust by reading other people’s adventures. My taste is for tales that include plenty of humour, and I’ve selected five which I have particularly enjoyed.


I wrote...

The Valley of Heaven and Hell: Cycling in the Shadow of Marie Antoinette

By Susie Kelly,

Book cover of The Valley of Heaven and Hell: Cycling in the Shadow of Marie Antoinette

What is my book about?

As a nervous cyclist, I don’t think anybody who hasn’t wobbled round the Arc de Triomphe at rush hour has truly known fear. This is my fourth and possibly favourite memoir, combining travel and history. On an electric bike, I cycle with my husband 500 kilometres through France’s idyllic Marne Valley, in parallel with the route taken by Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI in their failed attempt to escape the guillotine. It’s their story, and our story. There’s champagne, too.

The books I picked & why

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All the Gear, No Idea: A woman's solo motorcycle journey around the Indian subcontinent

By Michèle Harrison,

Book cover of All the Gear, No Idea: A woman's solo motorcycle journey around the Indian subcontinent

Why this book?

India has always fascinated me, so I was intrigued to read this account of a 30-year-old woman riding 17,000 miles through the sub-continent, alone, on a motorbike. Never having previously ridden a motorbike, she takes a 3-day crash course on how to do so. What could possibly go wrong?

Nonchalantly tackling muddy jungles, deserts, and virtually impassable terrain, frequently breaking down, she muddles through with a mixture of ingenuity, optimism, and the never-failing help of the local people. 

A satisfyingly honest and self-deprecating account of a remarkable achievement by a woman who believed she could, and so she did.

All the Gear, No Idea: A woman's solo motorcycle journey around the Indian subcontinent

By Michèle Harrison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All the Gear, No Idea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


The author quits her high-flying job in London, orders a classic Indian Enfield Bullet motorbike and goes off for a year on a 17,000 mile circuit of India. She wants adventures, and as a solo traveller, has plenty of them. Follow her on her travels discovering an unknown world of motorbiking, wanderlust and Indian life. Humorous and well-written, this refreshingly honest book recounts her numerous mishaps, both on and off the bike. This story shows how a can-do attitude can compensate for inexperience and will appeal to those with a « just do it » attitude to life. And for…


Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain

By George Mahood,

Book cover of Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain

Why this book?

This made me laugh until I cried. It blends a harebrained idea with a social experiment. Two men decide to cycle from the southernmost tip of England to the far north of Scotland. They have no bicycles. They also have no clothes, food, or money. 

Barefoot, wearing nothing but Union Jack boxer shorts, off they set in a freezing gale. The outcome of their journey will depend entirely on the kindness and generosity of strangers.

Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain

By George Mahood,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Free Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**THE AMAZON #1 HUMOUR AND #1 TRAVEL BESTSELLER**

"...spent last night laughing so much my coffee came out my eyes..."
"...this book is quite simply the best I've read in years..."
"...a completely bonkers challenge and a brilliantly funny read, I couldn't put it down..."
"...it reminded me of some of Danny Wallace and Dave Gorman's best bits..."
"...this wonderful story had me crying with laughter more often than not..."
"...inspiring, uplifting, need I say more? Quite brilliant..."
"...funny, totally engrossing and actually quite moving..."
"...one of the most heart-warming, genuinely funny books I have read in a long time..."…


Moods of Future Joys: Around the World by Bike Part One: From England to South Africa

By Alastair Humphreys,

Book cover of Moods of Future Joys: Around the World by Bike Part One: From England to South Africa

Why this book?

A beautifully painted account of the author’s journey through Africa, as much about his conflicting emotions as about cycling. Mainly eating jam sandwiches, and sleeping in dangerous places and filthy hostels, he pedals his way towards South Africa across Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and war-torn Sudan. He finds friendship in unexpected places, and disappointment in others.

It appealed to me as both a cycling adventure, and having lived in Kenya I was keen to read about his experiences in Africa.

Moods of Future Joys: Around the World by Bike Part One: From England to South Africa

By Alastair Humphreys,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Moods of Future Joys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This enthralling account details Alastair Humphrey's epic journey across Africa, through Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya. His experience is at times brutal, and though he faces loneliness, despair, and harsh conditions, he also survives through trust in the kindness of strangers.

Moods of Future Joys is a story of the triumphs over adversities, of one man who set off from his home in Yorkshire to cycle the world, fundraise for charity and... to live a little.


The Beardless Adventurer and her inconvenience: A first-time cycle trip across Europe

By Donna Marie Ashton,

Book cover of The Beardless Adventurer and her inconvenience: A first-time cycle trip across Europe

Why this book?

This is possibly the worst cycling adventure ever undertaken. It makes my list because everything that can go wrong does. Her bicycle is too big. Everything is shut. There’s no hot water in the showers. Yet still they pedal on.

Even the Greek island cruise is a disaster.

Acerbic, honest, extremely non-PC, it’s a schadenfreude delight. I rather unkindly couldn’t wait for the next catastrophe to strike this couple, because it made me laugh so much.   

The Beardless Adventurer and her inconvenience: A first-time cycle trip across Europe

By Donna Marie Ashton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Beardless Adventurer and her inconvenience as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Inspiring proof that you need neither be under 25 nor even bearded to have a terrific adventure.” Alastair Humphreys, Author & Adventurer When Donna and Iain, a couple in their late forties with no previous cycling experience, decide on the spur of the moment to cycle across an entire continent, you can rightly assume things might not go according to plan. Armed with little knowledge but much determination, they attempt a self-supported cycle tour, carrying everything they need and camping along the way, normally the domain of hardy, beardy adventurers or Olympic athletes. Join The Beardless Adventurer and her inconvenience…


Llama Drama

By Anna McNuff,

Book cover of Llama Drama

Why this book?

A vivid, amusing account of the author and her friend cycling and sleeping in the wild from Bolivia to Argentina. It is a story of determination and endurance as they push themselves to the extreme, always taking the hardest, highest route. Exhaustion, frustration, and sickness put their friendship to the test. 

As somebody who is the polar opposite, always seeking the easiest way, I was fascinated by this couple’s approach to adventure, and awed by their achievements.  

Llama Drama

By Anna McNuff,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Llama Drama as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**WINNER of the 2020 Amazon Kindle Storyteller Literary Award**

"Llama Drama is simply hilarious. If anyone wants something witty and moving at the same time. Also, something empowering, then this is the one for them. I literally inhaled it." -  Claudia Winkleman, TV Presenter and Author

What Amazon readers are saying about Llama Drama:

★★★★★ “Loved every minute of it!”

★★★★★ “An antidote for the madness of 2020”

★★★★★ “Truly inspiring”

★★★★★ “A brilliant book for anyone interested in travel, conquering their fears, cycling, adventure, South America”

★★★★★ “I couldn't put it down!”

★★★★★ “Buy the damn thing. It’s awesome!”…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in cycling, South America, and World War 2?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about cycling, South America, and World War 2.

Cycling Explore 9 books about cycling
South America Explore 29 books about South America
World War 2 Explore 1152 books about World War 2

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Africa Solo, Watery Ways, and Wild if you like this list.