Miles from Nowhere: An Excerpt from the Adventure Travel Classic

Dreaming of hopping on your bike and exploring the globe? Enjoy an excerpt from the new edition of the inspirational classic, "Miles from Nowhere: A Round-the-World Bicycle Adventure," by Barbara Savage.
Mountaineers Books Mountaineers Books
February 26, 2020
Miles from Nowhere: An Excerpt from the Adventure Travel Classic

Originally published in 1983, Miles from Nowhere: A Round-the-World Bicycle Adventure  tells the exciting and heartwarming tale of Barbara and Larry Savage’s 23,000-mile bicycle odyssey, which took them through 25 countries in two years. It has provided inspiration for legions of modern travel-adventurers and writers over the years. Tragically, author Barbara Savage was killed in a cycling accident just before the book came out. 37 years after it was first published, we are thrilled to release a new edition of this classic cycling adventure. This new edition features an original foreword by award-winning writer Tara Austen Weaver, as well as an insightful interview with Barbara’s widower, Larry.

Below please enjoy an excerpt from Miles from Nowhere.

revised map.jpg

Map credit: Martha Bostwick


A bear encounter, from the chapter "Canada"

“We’re had,” I muttered. “I haven’t got the strength for another twelve or thirteen miles or whatever it is we’ve got left to McBride.”

“Me neither. But we’ve got to do it,” shrugged Larry. “We’d drown camping here.”

I knew there was nothing else we could do, so I waded back to the road and started pedaling again. Every time I coasted down an incline, blasts of arctic air whipped my body and threatened to freeze my legs into place. Pushing the pedals and holding onto the handlebars became incredibly painful work. Out of pure desperation I started to sing. It was a long rambling song, which I made up as I struggled to keep my legs moving. I called it “The Ride to McBride,” and it talked a lot about what stupid idiots we were for not stopping and setting up camp when we first saw the storm coming toward us; about the quart of frozen water in my shoes; about the tears streaming down my already saturated face.

 While the storm loosed its fury upon us, Larry and I had a tough time hearing or seeing much of anything. If I wanted to say something to Larry I had to pull up alongside him and yell. But even then he couldn’t catch all I was saying. So it surprised me when, not more than a half hour after I’d started singing, I heard a faint rustling sound. I turned my head to the right, toward the shoulder of the road where I thought the noise came from, and there, thirty feet away and charging straight for us, was a gigantic black bear. A split second after its massive image registered my brain, I remembered that someone somewhere had once told me that bears can run at speeds up to thirty miles an hour. I opened my mouth and filled the air with a deafening, bloodcurdling scream.

 The bear froze. It was now about fifteen feet to the side and slightly in front of us, and it looked taller and wider than I’d ever imagined a bear could grow. It lifted its head and strained to peer through the sheets of water that separated it from us, and I suddenly realized that it hadn’t been coming after us – it had only been trying to get across the highway before a car came by. Since we didn’t have any headlights or noisy engines, it hadn’t noticed us coming up the road.

The beast made out our outlines almost instantly, and the sight of us – bizarre creatures, half human and half machine – was enough to send its five hundred pounds into the air. While airborne, the body turned one hundred eighty degrees and landed facing the forest. Its legs were running even before they contacted the ground, and the moment they did, the animal barreled off into the forest at full speed. Over the downpour we could hear it crashing into the trees. 

Barbara.jpgFifty minutes later, drenched and unable to steady our shivering bodies, Larry and I crept into McBride. We knew the local campground would be flooded, so we pulled ourselves and our bikes through thefront door of the aging Hotel McBride. There was no one in the lobby, but I could hear people talking in the dining room as I peeled off my rain jacket and watched a giant puddle form around my feet.

“Well, I’ll tell you one thing for sure. It’s the worst storm I’ve ever seen,” said one of the voices from the dining room. “Even old man Evans says it’s the worst.”

“Has to be. Didn’t you hear the news? It’s flooded our Edmonton. They’re in a real mess over there.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet. Well it better quit pretty soon or there’s gonna be real trouble here too. My yard’s already under more than a foot of water.”

The manager appeared at the front desk. He took a quick survey of us and our bikes, then shook his head.

“Caught you on the road, did she? Looks like you two took quite a beatin’ out there. Don’t know how you survived it. Myself, I’ve never seen a rain worse’n this one. I’d a thought she’d a’washed you two right off the pavement. I got one room left and it’s all yours. Room 20. The bath’s across the hall.”


MilesFromNowhere_Cover_Final_WEB_F.jpgTo read more about Barbara and Larry's adventures, you can purchase Miles from Nowhere here.


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