Friday, May 28, 2010

Book Report: "French Revolutions: Cycling the Tour de France" by Tim Moore

This is a review of the book French Revolutions: Cycling the Tour de France by Tim Moore.

I checked this book out of the library with very low expectations. It looked like a joke and quite honestly that's what it was.

I read about 5 chapters of it and decided to research what other people had to say about it. A lot of people made reference to being stylistic similar to Bill Bryson's writing style. This helped me understand the intentions of the author a lot better.

I'll start with the positive aspects of the book. I really admired Moore's goal to conquer the route of the Tour de France. Even if it's only part of the route or even something similar to the route. That is an extremely large goal to undertake, quite honestly much more thank hiking the Appalachian Trail, as Bryson did.

The text seems to reflect that he prepped for this trip much in the same way that Bryson prepared for his trip down the Appalachian Trail. He did a little bit of research, bought a mid-range bike, took a spinning class and rode down the street once on the bike. Even with these minimal preparations, I will give him credit for seeking advice from people that know, at least moderately, what they're talking about. Even if he only listened to about half of the advice.

The journey started off on the wrong foot. He had trouble getting his bike into the country, he had trouble getting his bike onto the train, he had trouble getting the tour route even after the route had been released.

Impressively when he was able to get moving on a route that was somewhat like the Tour route he actually rode pretty well. I found the way that he described his amateurish mistakes and mishaps entertaining. Additionally I liked the way that he went into some interesting history about the Tour, telling stories that I never heard and going into details I had not heard for stories that I did know.

On the negative side the guy is a complete narcissist. Even though the book is about him, he still is obsessively absorbed in himself. Second only to himself, he seems to have a strong sense of pride in his country and really dislikes how things are done in rural France. He cuts down a majority of the places that he stays. In a lot of situations he is downright rude to the staff at the restaurants that he eats at and the hotels that he stays at.

Finally he possesses a strong need for recognition. Don't get me wrong, what he did was no small feat, but the way that the novel reads suggests that he was just short of screaming at people, "Look at me! I'm riding the Tour de France route, aren't I the bomb?!"

The worst part of the whole experience is that, in the end, the experience is not in the least bit life changing. He goes back to his old life style, watches the tour but doesn't ride his bike anymore. He doesn't even seem to have any interest in it nor in fitness in general.

To me it seems as though the negative aspects of this book far outweigh the positive aspects. However the strangest part of this books is that I couldn't put it down. Even though there were a lot of things that I really disliked I read the it through cover to cover. I give him a lot of credit, he is a really good writer. It takes a lot to write a book that I read through even if I don't like the content.

In summary I generally liked this book. I'm not sorry that I read it and I definitely don't think that I wasted my time. With that said, I'm not certain that I would recommend buying it. It is definitely worth a read if you don't have to lay down any money for it, but I'm only going to read it once and feel no need to make it a permanent part of my personal library.


  1. That book sounds painful to read. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Bill Bryson but it sounds like this author didn't quite pull it off. The plot had potential... too bad.

  2. That is really nice to hear. thank you for the update and good luck. France Tour Guide