The Cold War has always fascinated me. As a historian and a behavioural economist, it presents one of the most turbulent and captivating case studies of human interaction, economic systems, and cultural polarisation.
Last year, I read and reviewed Herbie Skyes’ ‘The Race Against The Stasi’ – it was a great read and a real insight into the cultural and sporting differences imposed under communist control.
Tim Moore’s ‘The Cyclist Who Went Out In The Cold’ provides a post-communism view of the countries on the Iron Curtain divide; all from the seat of a communist produced shopping bicycle. His 10,000 kilometre journey along the Iron Curtain Trail (EuroVelo Route 13) is a humorous yet also historically interesting tale of discovery.
From his start at the most northern tip of Finland, Tim Moore rides south; through endless snow-covered pine forests, battling with hypothermia, and becoming an expert in the art of sauna meditation.
From Finland to Russia, then onto Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Austria, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, and finally Turkey. This is a journey with an incredibly diverse mix of backdrops, but also huge cultural differences.
Moore’s experiences riding a vastly inadequate bike, along one of the most challenging touring routes in Europe, are predictably painful and funny. From battling snow drifts to running from Hungarian road-side dogs—the trials and tribulations are never-ending.
As someone that grew up during the Cold War period, Tim Moore’s insights on the cultural differences are equally captivating. The vast difference between a Russian city and a manicured German village are to be expected; but Moore describes them from such a personal perspective that it pulls you into the true culture of the different countries.
Entertaining, witty and historically fascinating; this is a captivating book to read. You will find yourself wincing and laughing out loud in the same sentence.