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The Lead Goat Veered Off

by Neil Anderson

The Lead Goat Veered Off by Neil Anderson


The Lead Goat Veered Off


If you want happiness for an hour -- take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day -- go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year -- inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime -- help someone else.
~ Chinese Proverb

e plopped ourselves down on the grass beneath a couple of palm trees. I bit into some goat's cheese as a bespectacled old-timer with a shock of white hair crossed the road and hobbled over. Despite the abundant sunshine -- a total reversal from the previous day's fog-filled sog-fest -- he was bundled in a warm coat. He sidled over to us, sat on the ledge next to me, and began to chat. Even though I had wanted to eat uninterrupted, I was happy to see him -- anyone with a face that crusty had to have some interesting tales.

He didn't speak English, but my Italian was improving, and I was positive I comprehended everything he said. At least sometimes. Maybe.

Of course, sign language helped a lot, and, like all Italians, the old gent was a master of charades. He pointed to his cane, and held up three fingers. "I've had this cane for three years," he was saying. Or maybe it was his third cane. Or maybe he had killed three cats with it. Who knew? I nodded and he continued.

"I live across the street," he gesticulated. Or maybe he had a friend over there. Or maybe that's where a cat had been run over. This was fun! I nodded again.

"There's snow in the mountains," he pantomimed. Oh, too easy, I sniffed. Give me something harder.

"A woman I know, lives near Cagliari, speaks four languages, and has travelled around the world." Well, don't look at me -- it was his charade.

Next, in grand sweeping motions, his fingers pretended to pry open his chest: "I had heart surgery," he was saying. Or he played the accordion. Or he was deathly allergic to cats. Some things were difficult to construe. Whatever he was trying to tell me, I didn't laugh and say "Buono!" I may not have known much Italian, but I had enough sense not to laugh when someone was telling me something I didn't understand and say: "Good!" They might be saying: "My wife just died." Laughter (even a nervous giggle) at an inopportune time was a surefire way to get oneself into trouble. I was sure misunderstandings were the number one cause of wars.

The old codger pointed to his timepiece. "It's time to go home to have the lunch my daughter prepared for me." I was good at this! We wished each other well. He leaned heavily on his cane, looked me in the eye, and was off.

I had been sitting in the sun the entire time. I glanced at the thermometer on my handlebar bag. It read 30 degrees Celsius. "Boy, we're lucky we're here in their coldest month!" I said. "The summers must be scorching." I recalled what Tony had said: "Even the tourists shouldn't go outside at midday."

"We should go for a swim," Sharon said.

Sweat beaded my brow. "Sounds like a fine idea to me," I responded.

We studied our map and picked out the closest lake. It was near Siurgus -- in the mountains. I wasn't surprised. Most of Sardinia's lakes were in the mountains, enclosed by gorges.

We set off, trying to convince ourselves that the climb would make the swim that much more refreshing.

In a few kilometres we left the sealed road and turned onto gravel. As I bucked along the washboard surface, I wished my bike had shocks. "Are we back in Portugal?" I complained.

"This is way better than the roads we cycled in Portugal," Sharon said. She was right -- roads on Sardinia had been excellent compared to Portugal's butt-numbing cobbles.

We arrived in Siurgus not a moment too soon. We had run out of water a kilometre back. A group of boys played on top of a rock wall. "Acqua?" I called to them. "No acqua," they replied, shaking their heads. The boys made rude farting noises as we rode off. I laughed. "Kids are kids no matter where we go in the world!"

We entered the village square and faced a lengthy row of nine elderly men leaning against an eight-foot high rock wall. Looking contented they chatted animatedly, enjoying one another's company while warming their old bones in the sunshine. It looked a great way to spend one's old age.

Two boys on bikes pulled alongside us. We stopped, and recognized them as the farters. The lads chattered away. I couldn't understand one word they said. I stood there, staring at them blankly. Judging from their mirthful expressions, it was a unique experience for them to meet a mute. They jabbered away some more, eyeing me quizzically. I finally stopped them, pointed to myself, and said: "English."

They seemed to understand -- at least they stopped their gibberish. I took out my camera and they hammed it up as I snapped their picture. Their hospitality improved immediately. "Acqua," they said, motioning us to follow.

When we passed in front of the men, I stopped and asked where we could get water. I wasn't putting all my faith in the young farts. The old gents pointed to the bar on the far side of the plaza.

We pushed our bikes over and leaned them against the tavern's wall. Sharon ventured inside with two water bottles while I sauntered back to see if the men would allow me to take their picture. I held my camera aloft to show my intention, and asked if it was okay. The old men grinned their approval, evidently pleased that someone considered them photo-worthy.

I carefully framed the men, the green benches, the high rock wall, and was about to push the shutter when a woman, completely garbed in traditional black, sallied forth, walking in front of the men. The old men's voices held traces of indignation as they yelled at her: "Get out of the way, old woman, can't you see we're having our picture taken!" She continued sedately on her way, ignoring the elderly rapscallions, looking neither left nor right. I caught her square in the middle of the frame. Sometimes the best shots were the unplanned ones.

I thanked the men for allowing me to take their picture, and they introduced me to their group's patriarch, Señor Gomez. Apparently, the younger men considered themselves spring octogenarians. I doffed my hat reverently and solemnly shook Señor Gomez's hand. He stood on the curb, peering up at me through his hat brim, a gleam in his eye and a smirk on his twisted kisser. At 94 years of age, he was still undoubtedly full of verve and vitality.

Sharon returned from the bar with full water bottles. We took long gulps, and replaced them in our holders. Turning around, we saw several of the old men had wandered over and surrounded us. With the help of the young boys and a middle-aged woman, they asked us questions while inspecting our gear. We did our best to satisfy their curiosity with a combination of pigeon Italian and hand signals. The woman, astute at guessing our Italian pronunciation, relayed the information to the old-timers who nodded their heads in fascination.

"Vino?" one fellow enquired, inviting us inside the bar for a drink. Wine and cycling, especially in the hot sun, didn't mix well. It made us lightheaded and dizzy. To the old men's delight, Sharon mimed a wobbling cyclist. They guffawed at her crazy antics, then asked: "What do you drink?"

"Acqua," I replied, pointing to my water bottle. One old man scoffed. (I may not know much Italian, but I know a scoff when I hear one. And that was clearly a scoff.) Evidently, water wasn't high on their list of consumables. Maybe we had hit upon their secret to longevity?

They persevered, naming off a long list of what they considered acceptable drink. Sharon and I finally wised up, and decided to practice our slow-down-and-live philosophy. We consented to having a beer with them. They fairly danced with excitement upon realizing their persistence had paid off, and escorted us into the bar. In the dim light, our eyes -- adjusting from the bright sunlight to the dark interior -- made out men playing cards. As our entourage wove its way between the tables of card players they glanced up, greeted us, and immediately resumed their concentration. Apparently, entertaining Lycra-clad foreign cyclists was a common everyday occurrence.

The young boys had tagged along. One old man tried -- unsuccessfully -- to shoo them back outside. Reaching the counter, we were again surrounded by the old men. The youngsters stood on the fringe, staring at Sharon. They must have been wondering why she was in the bar -- she was the only female in the place. As we discovered in Portugal and Spain, a woman in a rural bar was uncommon. I gave Sharon credit. Each time she ventured into a drinking establishment, she furthered women's rights.

"Ching-ching!" we proclaimed, hoisting our glasses and clinking them with our new compadres. The cold beer was savory. The hot day made it slip down effortlessly. It wasn't long before we quaffed another. We brought out our map, and showed them the route we had taken so far on Sardinia. The tiny men crowded around, discussing where we had been. They pored over the map a long while trying to pinpoint their village. One old man finally turned to me, and loudly explained, "We're all blind!"

I turned the map right-side-up for them, refused their offer of another draft, then pinpointed Siurgus for them. Half an hour, and another beer later, Sharon and I tottered off to continue our lake search.

In the neighbouring town of Donigale, there was another rock wall identical to the one we had left behind in Siurgus, and, like Siurgus, it too was lined with old Sardinian men. "How did they get here so fast!" Sharon exclaimed, pretending she thought they were the same men we had left behind in Siurgus.

"Maybe they know a shortcut?" I answered in jest.

Laughing, we yelled "Ciao!" and waved to them like they were long-lost pals.

We eventually came to the lake, but it was situated far below the road. And the water, enclosed by a ring of sharp gravel, was low and scummy-looking. It wasn't at all inviting. As well, the day had cooled and swimming didn't sound nearly as appealing as it had when we were sweltering. "I'm not swimming there," Sharon confirmed, and we continued on our way. I hoped the gusty wind was pushing us towards a sheltered camp spot. After our boar intrusion I needed a quiet night to recharge my batteries.

In an hour, we came to a small plot of trees next to a plowed field. The deciduous trees made a poor windbreak, but since we were between two small villages, I felt it would be a good place to spend the night. "We won't be disturbed here," I said, as I leaned my bike against a tree. "This is perfect."

Barely dusk, I crawled inside the tent, and got ready for bed. I had just gotten comfortable, when, on an invisible side road, three cars and a motorcycle stopped to drink some beers. I couldn't believe it! There we were, in the middle of nowhere, and someone had chosen that exact spot to meet?

I lay awake, unable to sleep, as the clink of beer bottles continued into the night, and took the time to reflect on past strange encounters. Two vacationing Australians we had met in Spain -- Rae and Nigel -- had told us: "There is no perfect spot." It was true. Like us, they were free-camping (unlike us, they had a motorhome) and each evening they would scout a town for a perfect spot to park their motorhome for the night. "We would be awakened by any number of occurrences," Nigel said, laughing in his good-humoured Aussie accent. "One time," he recalled, "we were in a tiny village and found an idyllic spot beside a little church. We thought it was perfect. But, I'll tell you mate, it was hardly that." He sniggered, then continued, "Every fifteen minutes, the bloody church bells gonged! Midnight shook the motorhome!" Nigel laughed so heartily he had to wipe tears from his cheeks.

While Nigel composed himself, Rae took over: "We camped in a deserted wood once and it turned into a parade route. That parade probably happened only once every hundred years, but that was the night. I was beginning to think we were being watched."

I lay quietly, thinking Rae's same thoughts to myself, while listening to the tinkle of beer bottles from the direction of our uninvited guests, and worried that the drunken partiers would discover us.

In the distance, a dog barked and my mind wandered again. Not once had we heard anyone tell a dog to shut up. The amount of barking endured in Europe wouldn't be tolerated in North America -- too many gun owners. Silence would prevail. I recalled nights I had trouble sleeping because dogs were yapping. When Sharon and I had started free-camping we were paranoid that dogs could hear us. Or smell us. (Or, more likely, both.) We always worried we had camped in their territory, and wondered if that were the reason they kept up their persistent racket. But, as the nights passed, we realized dogs just always barked -- often for no particular reason. One would start, another would answer, and they would bay back and forth all night. I wondered if dogs ever woke the next day with laryngitis and wondered "What the heck was I doing last night?"

One night in the mountains near Granada in Spain, I had lain awake listening to some asinine dog answering its own echo. What a din! The echo made it sound like a pack of twenty mongrels. When he eventually quit barking, I couldn't sleep. It was too quiet. I had lain awake in the silence, staring at the tent roof, waiting for the dog to bark. I was tempted to rouse Sharon and tell her: "Do you know that stupid dog hasn't barked for nearly half an hour?"

Another bottle clinked, jarring me back to the present. Car engines sputtered to life, then puttered off into the night. And I finally drifted into dreamland.


ByGuide says:

"The Lead Goat Veered Off is a travelogue that humorously describes a three month portion of the Anderson's European bicycle tour. The author's engaging narrative whisks the reader along as a silent third party to intimately experience Sardinia, Italy. This personal narrative is a joy to read, not only for cycle tourists, but, indeed, anyone who enjoys the thrill of vicarious travel."



AdventurousTraveler says this about the bicycle touring book: The Lead Goat Veered Off:

"For anyone with an ounce of romance in their soul and adventure in their heart, here's a book that will engage and delight you."
Jan Bark,


To receive a signed copy (personal inscriptions available)

order The Lead Goat Veered Off from Cycle Logic Press

The Lead Goat Veered Off

ISBN 096867402X

256 pages

In stock

 "I loved your book. So much I gave it away, and had to order 2 more, another one to give away and one to keep."

Linda Campbell


Books are shipped via first class air mail. Delivery to Canada and the United States usually averages five to seven days. Deliveries to Europe, the UK, New Zealand, Australia and other overseas destinations averages seven to ten days.


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Back cover

More Lead Goat ...

Leave the hectic pace of life behind... lose all sense of time... fall in love with a place...

"Canada's answer to Willie Wier and Joe Kurmaskie, Neil Anderson combines beautiful rides with social commentary, capturing the soul of touring -- meeting the culture whose home you're riding through. The tale ranges from serious cycling to anecdotes too improbable to be made up." Josh Putnam

Join Sharon and Neil for a bicycle touring adventure in The Lead Goat Veered Off ...


The Lead Goat Veered Off

The Lead Goat Veered Off



What readers are saying

The Lead Goat Veered Off

"Based on the excerpts I read on Cycling 101 website, you are a hoot of a writer. I was laughing out loud at breakfast table and spilled cereal all over the place!! I'm looking forward to reading the whhhhhole thing." [The Lead Goat Veered Off" review referred to above]

"The reading is great; I will be ordering Partners in Grime shortly."
John D Midyette, CPA

"Several months ago I threw your book in my panniers, I had saved it for lonely nights on the road. That was a good decision. I enjoyed the book very much and found it to be very entertaining, funny and inspirational, in all, a very good read. [...] Thanks for a great read."
Coy Harvel in Alabama (roadlitter)

"I just returned from 10 days of sailing followed by a boat delivery and finally had time to enjoy "The Lead Goat Veered Off" while relaxing in quiet anchorages. A wonderful book for anyone that has ever toured or dreams of touring. The only disappointment in the book was that it had to end -- I wanted to continue the tour with them."
Michael Collins aka The Old Grey Cyclist

"Oh man, hilarious!"
Julian Cook

"Oh, wow! Guess what? I just finished your book (Goat...)!!!!! I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading more of your adventures. I'll probably order the one about grime? (forgot the title!) soon."
Jerry in Lodi

"I think I speak for the majority when I say that we are looking forward to the sequel (or prequel as you seem to have followed George Lucas's form in telling a story)."
Sandra Procyk

"It's highly entertaining."
Lynn Charbonneau, Mountain Equipment Co-op book buyer

"The tale of a Canadian husband and wife team that abandon the every day world of home and jobs to explore in Europe. This is the story of their winter riding on the island of Sardinia off the coast of Italy. Join them as they experience the physical and spiritual highs and lows of long distance touring."
Adventure Cycling Association, Cyclosource

"None of the Sardinians could believe that people would actually sell their home for an adventure..."
Susan Jones, The St. Albert Gazette

"The title gives no hint of the humour and human interest between the covers of this delightfully funny book."
Dawn Johnson, The Similkameen News Leader

"It's an ideal book for a trip where you have a number of small bits of time to devote to reading. It's 75 short stories which hang on the story line like underwear on a clothes line. You can read one of them, lay it down for a while and come back without losing your place or the story line. [...] It explores just about every emotion that a couple can encounter on an extended tour. It does so with vivid word pictures and rare humor. Neil writes like I like to read. I highly recommend it."
Jim Foreman

"I didn't want it to end."
Joan Muir, Librarian, Okanagan Regional Library

"... more than one disturbing incident in the book [...] [R]ecommended to anyone who has ever wanted to get away from it all without leaving their living rooms."
Dave Hazzan, The Similkameen Spotlight

"I really, truly loved the book! Lots of laughing out loud, and so descriptive I felt like I was there. The sit back and enjoy the moment feel of the book is very much in tune with our current efforts to slow down, be more mindful, enjoy life, etc."
Lisa Koebel

"'scuse me for mentioning (and don't be offended!), but from the couple of chapters I've read on the web, you don't write like an American (take it as a compliment) you seem to have a more 'British' sense of humour."
Allan Nelson

"Loved the Lead Goat! Looking forward to Partners in Grime! Keep up the adventures!"
Donna in Tucson

"I could picture myself in some small village in Italy with the Mediterranean scenery and smells of the Italian food coming out of the houses."
Shelley St. Amand

"I have begun reading The Lead Goat Veered Off and as a result almost missed my bus stop this morning."
Linda James

"Enjoyed the book immensely. Great narrative description of situations. Made me want to do more cycling, however without some of your hardships. Would love to see more pictures of your tent setup and bicycles loaded. How on earth did you get that tent and all the food and water and fuel on board. I'll have to check out your other sites of travel. Keep on writing and traveling."
Barb Fraser

"More fun and adventure than I can stand!"
Dave & Cathy in sunny San Jose

"I have been meaning to send this message for weeks, but time just gets away from us somehow. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed your book. Such a treat to sit down and read. I will admit, I don't take the time out too often to do that anymore, but once I started your book I couldn't put it down. Thank you Neil for the 'personal touch.' Take care, and I can't wait to read the next one!"
Cindy Maisonneuve

"I read your book and it was hilarious.  My husband really enjoyed it as well...Thank you very much."
KJ Klontz

"Yours and Sharon's adventure is very descriptive and hilarious. Get this... I had taken a friend up on spending the morning on a fishing boat, out on the ocean (Port McNeil area), and when things got quiet, I finally had the first chance to crack open your book. By the time I was finished the first page I was in hysterics, tears rolling down my face, and people staring at me in wonderment! The whole thing was quite a spectacle. I can't wait to finish it."
Karen Beaupre

"I laughed my @$$ off !!"
Sean D. LaFave

"I just finished the book and it was great, keep up the good work.
Please let us know when the next one is out."
Milt Dowhaniuk

"Your book reminds me of Bill Bryson [...]. I hope you continue writing as you are very gifted -- I particularly like your sense of humor."
Lori Martin

"My name is Cindy. My parents are from Sardinia and we go back there all the time, so the book was a wonderful surprise for them. I haven't had a chance to read it yet but my mother just loves it. She would like you to know that if you find yourself in Edmonton any time that you are invited to our house so that you can have some of that Sardinian hospitality in Canada. We'd love to serve you some sheep's brains or wormy cheese. I know you loved it when you tried.

I'm very serious with the invite. I want to meet you right away to find out about everything you have seen. Even though I grew up here, I have gone back [to Sardinia] several times and know the island quite well. However, I think you and your wife know it in a way that not even Sardinians know.

Anyway, I just wanted to say hello and let you know that the book is wonderful. I hope that we can meet some day, if not in Edmonton, maybe you can visit us in Sardinia. My parents still have a home there, which means you could sleep in a real bed!"
Cindy Puddu -- A Very Impressed Sardinian

"Just finished "The Lead Goat". Wonderful book. I couldn't put it down! You really do write so that the reader feels like they were along for the ride too. I love it when a book captures me enough that I laugh out loud, and I did, plenty of times. Thank you very much."
Shelley Godbout

"Wonderful. Felt like I was there. Informative. Clear, easy writing with lots of humor and lyrics."
Lance Grolla

"I have your book and think it's great. My wife had first crack at the book, loved it, and wouldn't give it back until having finished reading it three days later."
John Weiss

"I planned to take this on a tour but don't think I can wait."
Mr. Jackie Smith

"[T]his is beyond my wildest dreams .... what a hoot!"
Kathleen Perreault

"Based on what I read (I did partially read the posted chapters), I wouldn't buy your book."
Joe Stafford

"Based on the fact that this seems exactly like my kind of book, since I've corresponded with the author, and drool to self-transportate in Sardinia (or anywhere in southern Europe (hell, anywhere in Europe) before my brain pops and my gut obscures my toenails), and the fact that Joe Stafford sounds like a real wiener, I'd buy this book just to show him up!"
Galen Wilkerson

"Get a copy of The Lead Goat Veered Off by Neil Anderson."
Jim Foreman

"I get great pleasure re-reading The Lead Goat Veered Off."
Paul Carter

"I cant wait to start reading it on tour next week."
Kathy Rumball

"I can tell this book will finish way too soon."
Kelly Iniguez

"I just finished the "Sardinia Picture Album" and I'm hooked:-) Please grab that "Lead Goat" and send it to me!"
Dave Ogilvie

"I find myself unable to put the book down as I must see what happens next!"
Misty Gaythorpe

"GREAT BOOK! Funny, well written, and a joy to read."
Diane, HubBub Custom Bicycles

"I saved your book to take with me on the Nevada trip, but I didn't get to the part where you had to fight the headwinds until after I had called for my son. If I had read that part before, I might have been tempted to stick it out, and really have messed up my knees :-)"
Dwight N. Tovey

"I can see we share many similar ideologies."
Gael Dumelie

"Just wanted to let you know what I thought about the book. [It] was a great read! Light and easy and very humourous. I think you captured the quirky characters very well. I also liked the amusing interplay between you and Sharon. [...] Your book certainly makes me want to get out there ..."
Robert Nemeth

"Your book was totally fantastic."
Darrell Brewer

"Well, it is still in the top three, but now it is #1."
Larry Schellhase

"It's quite incredible to me to finish reading a book, get on a computer, and commence writing the author a letter. It's an amazing world! I thoroughly enjoyed your book, though it took me a few chapters to get used to the quite-tongue in-cheek style... [...] Thanks also for all the nice quotes -- they give a pause for thought, and show a deeper side to the wry wit. I'll close with my favorite blessing from my journals: "May the best of your past be the worst of your future." (Italian saying, if I'm not mistaken)."
Mordechai Friedman; in Jerusalem, Israel

"[...] Even her mom, non cycling person, loved [the excerpts]. So, she told me she just had to order the book. Glad she did. I know, she will LOVE it."
Moni Neville

"I enjoyed reading your book [...] Let me know if you are writing about any of your other trips."
Leonard Smith

"The only disappointment in Lead Goat was that you seemed to have missed Putzu Idu. No cycling trip to Sardinia is complete without a visit to this resort ghost town, where the dogs lie on the road until June or a cyclist, whichever arrives first. Otherwise, the book was perfect."
Eric Schaffer

"[C]ame upon your book on sardinia on .... i've had my eye on that little island [...] the steep mountains, gorges, small gravel roads intrigued me [...]"
lev bereznycky

"Would you believe until I read ... I always thought it was The Lead (as in metal) Goat Veered Off, not the LEAD Goat, as in the one at the front! He he."
Eric Mathurin

"After finding where I left off at your web site, and before starting to read more, I was most pleased with how little my left hand was holding and how much was still in my right hand."
Dick Janson

"I thought the book was hilarious!"
Sherry Bokenfohr

"... it has made me laugh out loud on several occasions. [...] I would recommend it to anyone that enjoys a good cycle touring tale."

"I am just finishing your book and already wish there was a sequel -- I am enjoying it so much!"
Susan Klingler

"Thanks for the quick service on the book. Many times it seems like I'm there with you. Am enjoying it very much, except for the fact that I can't read a page without wanting to drop everything and take off with our recumbent trikes."
Spencer Walsh

"Thank you for the wonderful Sardinia story. I discovered a lot about Sardinia reading it. I was surprised to find so many men named 'Louie.'"
Debbie James

"My husband ordered your book and proceeded to tell me snippets along the way. When he finished it he made me put down my third Harry Potter book and read it. Reluctantly I put down Harry and co. and picked up the Lead Goat. I loved it from the start, and could not put it down."
Larissa Gammidge

"I want to tell you, I really am enjoying your book! I have looked at your web site a couple times and as I read your book, I can relate to the pictures I've seen there. [...] This type of book is what it takes to give us a good kick in the imagination (not to mention the ass!) Well, I am almost finished and will be needing more reading material... I'll keep your name on my search list!"
Phil M. Breidenbach

Partners in Grime

by Neil Anderson

Partners in Grime cover

ISBN 0-9686740-1-1

"You know, the book had one awful feature ... it ended!"
Galen Wilkerson

Partners in Grime excerpt

The Big Inning


thud sounded at the back door. Crossing the carpeted entryway, I yarded open a heavy metal storm door, and peered out into all-encompassing blackness. A blast of January air smacked my T-shirted torso like a Polar Express freight train loaded with ice blocks.

"Hello?" I called out.

The greeting vanished, snatched from my windpipe into a maelstrom of whirling snow pellets. A lump of whiteness, unobtrusively blown against the doorsill, rose, pushed past me, and staggered four steps inside before collapsing.

"What do we have here?" I grimaced, recognizing a scrap of multi-coloured scarf peeking forth from beneath a corner of the white mound. Having struggled three blocks from the nearest bus stop through a paralyzing whiteout, my wife appeared more akin to an abominable snowman than I dared mention.

"Yeti!" I exulted, throwing caution to the wind. "Welcome home!" No response. "Ah, life on the edge of the frozen prairie," I muttered, slamming the door.

"Frosty the Snowman?" I guessed.


"Icicles for sale?"

The slumped figure stared at me through ice-rimmed eyes, casting tiny daggers my way.

"Why did the snowman have a grin on his face?" Cold silence met my question. "He heard the snowblower was coming." Did I detect a faint smile from the snowdrift?

"Hoo boy," I said, surveying the mostly motionless heap of melting snow. "Lucky I have a car." Another unblinking glacial glare from behind frozen lashes telegraphed I was not endearing myself to her.

"Guess what?" I intoned, ignoring the wise adage: When one is in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. "We received a wonderful letter from the Sidewalk Police today. They're threatening to fine us severely if the snow's not removed from our sidewalk within 48 hours. I phoned and informed a Gestapo that I had already swept the sidewalk ... should I vacuum it too?"

Sharon rolled her eyes. "You know," she said, finally thawed enough to move her lips, "maybe the rat race isn't all it's cracked up to be ... after all, even if you win, you're still a rat."

I twisted my lips, nodding, and concluded that frozen brains were short on insight. "Maybe," she continued, "we should do something while we're both still young and healthy."

"Like what?"

"I don't know ..." Her voice trailed off. She summoned strength and picked herself off the floor. She struggled, removed her sodden woolen overcoat, and draped its dripping bulk on a peg over the boot tray. "How about cycling around the world?" she asked. "Now's our chance. No kids. No mortgage."

"Hmmm," I heard myself reply. "Sounds good." Warm tropical breezes sashaying amongst palm fronds already danced through my mind like pernicious nymphs. "Anything has to be better than this," I murmured, gazing out at a frozen white world and envisioning turquoise as a perfectly delightful colour for water. "Will there be hills?"

"Of course not," came the sweet reply.


To get your signed copy

buy Partners in Grime direct from Cycle Logic Press

Partners in Grime

256 pages

ISBN 0968674011

In stock

Books are shipped via first class air mail. Delivery to Canada and the United States usually averages five to seven days. Deliveries to Europe, the UK, New Zealand, Australia and other overseas destinations averages seven to ten days.

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What readers are saying

Partners in Grime

"This careening ride is aptly titled and unpolished in all the right places. It rolls over you like a hippie at the height of summer -- jazzed on chlorophyll and flinging fistfuls of butterflies at the sun.  Neil's follow up to Lead Goat may just remind you of when things still felt new, messy, unwieldy and real -- like love, guitar licks and adventures yet taken."
Joe Kurmaskie -- Author of the Bestsellers "Metal Cowboy" and "Riding Outside the Lines"

"I finished the Partners in Grime, and in early spring I will be starting my '06 tour and need a good book for the hold-up days in my tent. I really enjoyed the last book [...] my room mate enjoyed your book also. He stated he would like to take up bike touring. [...] Anyway, if you could get off you duff and get the next book out, I and others would appreciate your effort. I find your books not only entertaining, but also inspirational, something to shoot for.      Coy in Al."
Coy Harvel

"I recently purchased and received a copy of Neil Anderson's "Partners in Grime". Once I started reading this 256 page book I was absolutely hooked and I ended up consuming it in a single day of reading. It's been a long time since any book, including ones about bicycle touring, has had that kind of effect on me."
Jamie Noble -- Bicycle Touring 101

"Dang, Canada has a speedy post office! I loved Lead Goat, and I am loving P in Grime. I spend little time on email lately since I'm either on my bike or on the couch reading your book. Life is good!"
Lance Bermudez

"LOVED IT! It made the many indoor winter miles on my stationary wind trainer fly by. Can't wait for 'goat' to arrive."
Norm Reuss

"I can very much identify with your daily grind in the book. I really feel like I am there as I read. I also appreciate the puns and bad jokes :) Thanks for keeping that part of me awake and alive."
Galen Wilkerson

"After reading Lead Goat (knowing it will be a while yet before the movie is out) I needed another fix of your writing and adventures."
John Midyette

"I've been meaning to tell you that I finished reading your book awhile back, good stuff! Your book left me with a couple of odd notions. I think I didn't have any spikey haired dumpster diving iguanas in my childhood so my imagination didn't develop, it's like a blank page and easily influenced. I watch a movie or read a book and away it goes with other thoughts and ideas based on what i just experienced. I watch a Charlton Heston movie and I suddenly get an inclination to lead people to the promised land, or go out and buy a really big gun. When I read your book I was also reading a Leon Uris Book so now, I can imagine taking my bike and pedaling to Israel or, taking my bike and stuffing it in our pizza oven."
Kevin Kunderman

"Your style of writing is fun to read. (I was an English major in college and so may have a bit more appreciation of things literary than some -- but then maybe not.) In any event I've really enjoyed your stories."
Terry Tillman

"I have also bought and read "The Lead Goat Veered Off" and enjoyed it tremendously. If you have another book please let me know so that I can purchase it."
Virgil H. Aviles

"Is your new book, Partners in Grime, available yet. I loved your first effort. If available, what's the chances of me ordering an autographed copy from you, even if I have to pay a premium because of the special handling. (I realize that you can't sell them as cheaply as Amazon!)"

"Loved your books too!"
Ralph Mitchell

"The pecking order is simply a reflection of "arrival in the Thumlert household" rather than any order of merit, intrigue, or picture quality! If Partners in Grime is anywhere near Lead Goat Veered Off the "order of merit" will shift significantly! Cheers!"
Ian Thumlert

"I received your book yesterday and am very excited about diving into it. Thanks for the inspiring inscription - I knew you could pull something off. ;-) I also eagerly await your next books (rumor has it two more are in the works!) BTW - Texas has some awesome areas to cycle through and you'd never get cold! Thanks again."
Lori Marten

"I'm enjoying reading your book very much. [...] My all-time favorite spot to read is in bed.  I read before I go to sleep at night and this is causing problems with [my husband].  I end up laughing out loud at something that you've written and I wake him up.  Oh well, he'll just have to deal with it."
Shelley St. Amand

"Partners in Grime is the most amazing book I've read in a long time ... and I read a lot! You have such a talent with words. And a laugh a page, too. You are too witty ... I feel sorry for Sharon! Well done, young man."
Dean Stinson

"I have been reading Partners in Grime and I got to tell you I sure have gotten a lot of laughs! What a great book!"
John Merrifield

"I wish I had one-tenth of your skill with the English language!"
Frank Ogrinc, Author "English For Idioms"

"I read your latest book -- great! Just the thing to read before the summer's touring season to get the juices flowing."
Kathy Perreault

"Such a good read, in nice, small bites that fit around weekend family activities. I have been wearing a "hoodie" and carrying the book in the big pouch. It has me chomping at the bit to get out and tour."
Larry Parker

"Thank you for the many hours of entertainment."
Cynthia & Fritz Feldmann

"We absolutely love Partners in Grime. Annette started reading the book but had to stop every second page to read aloud a particularly funny or interesting paragraph. The kids got so interested, now we're reading the book for family story time before bed. We are all enjoying the book very much."
Loran & Annette Bokenfohr, Janna, Joseph, Anne, Robbie and Mary

"I started your book last night -- love it so far! Your book really is great; I had tears in my eyes when I read the chapter about Cinnamon Buns and Baba."
Heather Koller

"Just wanted to tell you I am thoroughly enjoying your book -- Partners In Grime!!!  [...]  Sharon deserves a medal for all she went thru!!!   And I love your sense of humour!  I'm about 1/3 thru it!!!  Can't put it down!!!"
Joann Gabriel


"Partners in Grime" excerpt


"The male is a domestic animal which, if treated with firmness, can be trained to do most things."
~ Jilly Cooper

We pedalled into Sarnia. Built along the banks of the turgid, turquoise and azure, Saint Clair River, it displayed gardens bursting with flowers. My favourites were dazzling red hot pokers. Heavy industry had spent a load of money disguising chemical plants and smokestacks. Everything looked clean ... as long as one only looked skin-deep. (Like my mother was fond of saying: "Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes all the way to the bone.")

Leaving Sarnia to the Bobs of the world, we arrived at a campground in Mooretown. In front of a travel trailer, two large women lay sprawled across lawn chairs. We wheeled over to them and discovered they wanted an exorbitant sum for a tiny plot of ground. We only want to sleep here, I thought, not buy the place. In hopes of wrangling a discount, I tried out my new spiel.

"How much is it for round-the-world cyclists?"

The two women shuffled in their chairs, eyes wide, mouths agape.

"That's more the response I have been looking for," I whispered to Sharon.

"In that case," the smaller of the two large women chirruped, "nothing!" She pointed to a piece of grass. "You can stay right here beside our trailer."

I nodded. Blankly. The woman's free offer hadn't registered in my teeny-tiny brain. Perhaps Sarnia Bob still had me rattled, too? Not one to quit when I'm ahead I added we were on our honeymoon. Which was true. Technically. But when they assumed we had just been married, I dumbly nodded again. (I like to think that what I lack in honesty I make up in charisma.)

"Newlyweds!" the woman exclaimed, her eyes twinkling. "And you're riding around the world on bikes? Honey," she said, giving Sharon a pensive look, "you must really love him." I was about to inform the woman that it had all been Sharon's idea, then, at the last moment, decided to keep quiet. From her ample bulk, I assumed she wouldn't understand how anyone on earth could want to do such a thing. Besides, I had already opened my big mouth wide enough. Was there room for another cycling shoe in there? Sometimes, I thought, it's better to keep your mouth shut and let them think you're stupid, rather than open your mouth, and prove it.

"Oh, yeah," Sharon drawled, giving me a sideways look, "he's good for a laugh now and then."

"Well, it sounds like you'll fit right in," the large woman replied with a shadowy smile. "My name's Pat," she said, thrusting a meaty paw toward us. Half-turning her torso, she jabbed a thick thumb toward a neat fellow two-thirds her size, standing in the travel trailer's doorway, tea-towel in hand. "That's my husband, Klaus," Pat said, a half-smile crinkling her lips. "He's part German and part Ukrainian ... I call him my little geranium."

I chuckled and waved. Already, I could tell we were in for an entertaining evening. "This is my sister, Judy," Pat said, introducing the even larger woman next to her. Pat gazed around, then pointed out a wee wisp of a feller running to another trailer over yonder. "That's Judy's husband," Pat said, giggling. "We call him 'Speedy.'"

The vast size difference between husband and wife struck me as comical. I smiled, pondering. Do the biggest women always marry the smallest men? Was it one of life's little rules? Somewhat similar to those with the biggest butt, invariably always seem to sport the smallest fanny pack? Then again, I thought, perhaps it's all just an unfortunate optical illusion.

"Are you hungry?" Pat asked, jolting me from my daydream.

"No, we're fine, thanks," Sharon answered. My stomach demurred with a reflexive growl.

"We've finished supper," Pat went on, "but it's no trouble for Klaus to fix you a burger."

I glanced toward Klaus. Still framing the trailer's doorway, he grinned, slapped the tea-towel over his shoulder, and about-faced into the trailer.

"Men never do anything unless people are visiting," Pat informed Sharon, beginning what would turn out to be a very long list of newlywed tips. "But if you have guests they will do everything - making it look like you do nothing. So," she said with a sly grin, "the secret is to always have lots of company!"

In short order, Klaus reappeared with two deluxe burgers and two cups of tea. Sharon and I sat at the picnic table. "Train your man early," Pat advised Sharon. "They take time, so don't waste a second!"

"Oh?" Sharon replied. "How long does it take?"

"Thirty-one years," Pat replied. I almost choked on a chunk of cheese. If Roseanne ever needed a stand-in, the woman could fill her shoes (and then some).

"I plan on writing a book on men and marriage," Pat stated.

"Good idea," I said. "What's the title?"

"I'm calling it Pat's Pointers: A Guide for Today's Wild Wahini. My motto: 'Make your man laugh at least once a day, and he'll never leave you.'"

Sounded good to me. Klaus delivered tea to Pat and Judy, then settled himself into a lawn chair. Talk turned to the usual questions of routes and how many kilometres a day we did. Then they shifted gears, asking what our parents thought about our trip.

"They're worried," we confided, "but they're supportive." Looking from a more senior perspective, they had said, "You only live once - so you may as well make the most of it." And, when they realized we were going away for a considerable length of time, they said, "You know, two, three, even four years are going to go by whether you do it or not." That was true. So, we thought, 'What would we rather be doing? Climbing the corporate ladder one shaky rung at a time (possibly sawed off mid-step), or off exploring the big wide world?' Happily, travel won out. After all, who would voluntarily choose being cooped up inside all day breathing artificial air and seeing with artificial light when there are mountains to climb, roads to ride, rivers to swim, and new friends to meet?

Did I mention copious amounts of food to be eaten? Barely finished licking our fingers from our first helping, Klaus hustled over with another humongous burger.

"We decided we'd rather be doing this," Sharon said, "than stuck in some dead-end job."

"Just waiting to die," I added.

Pat lurched upright. "My dad's 80," she said. "And he's just waiting to die." She paused, her eyes moist. "I went to see him the other day," she said. "He greets me with 'Hi, Fat Pat.'" She frowned. Her head bowed. "I asked him, 'Dad, do you want to go to a birthday party next week?'

"'Probably be dead by then,' he says.

"Well, if you're not dead, do you want to go?

"'Okay, but I'll probably be dead. Don't make any plans around me.'

"Okay, Dad," Pat grimaced, enjoying her one-woman two-sided dialog. "He's so stooped over," she rebounded, giggling, "he reminds me of the letter 'n.' It looks like his suspenders are way too tight and they're pulling the poor old guy over. 'Hey, Dad! Your suspenders are too tight!'


"Never mind." Pat paused. A crease furrowed her brow. "Yep. He's just waiting to die."

There was silence as we digested Pat's remarks. I decided then and there that I intended to wear out rather than rust out.

"So!" Pat burst out suddenly, breaking our ruminations. "Enough of my morbidity!" She looked directly at Sharon, ready to dispense more bang-up newlywed tips. "What do you guys do about sex?"

It was Sharon's turn to nearly choke.

"Well, I've got some advice for you," Pat said, "on how to avoid sex." Oh, great. "Can't use the old headache excuse anymore," she griped, pursing her lips into a beguiling pout. "Some dumb doctor loused that one up. 'Sex reduces stress and actually helps your headache go away.' Terrific! I've had to go and change my entire tactic since that sordid piece of research. Now I say to Klaus, 'Rub my back.'" Her voice dropped to a whisper as she demonstrated. "The secret is to keep twitching your shoulder until he falls asleep."

I hoped Sharon wasn't paying too close attention.

"Men are quite ignorant about the female physiology," Pat continued. "Like, I'll wear pads for three weeks straight. 'Sorry, hon, not tonight.'" Her face twisted into a cherubic grin.

Hmmm. I'd watch for that one.

Pat was full of good ideas. "Another thing you can do is tell him to go to bed and you'll be right there. Keep checking every so often. 'Honey, don't fall asleep watching TV. Hon?' When he doesn't answer anymore, it's safe to go to bed." Good thing we sold our TV!

Klaus served mugs of hot chocolate.

"Speaking of 'safes,'" Pat went on, "the other day, our grandson asked Klaus, 'What's a condom, Grandpa?' Klaus tells him: 'An apartment building.' I felt it my duty to correct Klaus," Pat sniffed. "'It's a raincoat for a penis,' I told him. Don't want the kid gettin' no wrong ideas." I nearly spat out my hot chocolate.

After another round of 'helpful' newlywed advice, Sharon and I were ready to hit the showers. I rummaged through my panniers, searching for fresh clothes. "You can shower together if you like," Judy piped up. "The one on the end is for handicapped. It's nice and roomy!" I considered that the most helpful tip of the evening.

Sharon and I traipsed off happily to the showers.

"Hey!" Pat bellowed. "You're holding hands! Newlyweds!" she shouted. Then, in mock disgust, directed at Sharon I presumed, "You haven't learned one thing I've told you, have you?"

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A cycle touring book by our world cyclist friends Cindie and Tim Travis

The Road That Has No End

How we traded our ordinary lives for a global bicycle touring adventure

Cindie and Tim Travis: a self-described "ordinary American couple" who decided to live their dreams They saved their money, quit their jobs, sold their possessions, and set off to travel around the world by bicycle. Leaving from Arizona, USA on March 31, 2002 they have been on the road ever since -- and plan to continue to bicycle tour and travel for the next several years. Their web site contains their ongoing around-the-world travel blog as well as a photo journal with tons of cycling pictures -- updated regularly, on location. If you get a chance, check out their site: That's their book "The Road That Has No End" below....

317 pages softcover
over 150 photos

Telephone orders: Call 1-800-247-6553 toll free in the USA and ask for The Road That Has No End or ISBN 0-9754427-0-8

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More bicycle touring books for your reading pleasure

 The Lead Goat Veered Off

by Neil Anderson

(Click cover for more info on this book)

The Lead Goat Veered Off by Neil Anderson

256 pages softcover

colour photo section


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 Partners in Grime

by Neil Anderson

(Click cover for more info on this book)

Partners in Grime by Neil Anderson

256 pages softcover

colour photo section


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