Helen Moat sets out to cycle across Europe, with her teenage son, on her sit-up-and-beg bike aka The Tank . She's not sure whether she is running away from the past or pedalling towards it. As she cycles the Rhine and Danube through the days of unfolding spring, the sky filled with birdsong, she senses her bird-loving father is by her side. Increasingly, she loses herself in her surroundings and memories of a childhood spent in the outdoors of rural Northern Ireland. Gradually, the natural beauty of Europe's great waterways bring healing, as does the kindness of friends and strangers along the way. She feels a sense of belonging on a continent shaped by war and peace, peoples divided and reunited, a shared history. But when the birdsong fades across the parched, late-summer landscapes of Bulgaria and Turkey, Helen finds herself recalling the troubles and confronting a suppressed secret. This is her life-affirming account of an unforgettable, if sometimes bumpy ride.
Helen Moat is a travel writer and freelance journalist. While trotting the globe, she has learned that slow travel is always best. In 2015, she cycled from Rotterdam to Istanbul and is hoping to continue her exploration of the world in a similarly slow vein.
"A prayer of a book. A hymn to the healing power of cycling slow."
– Chris Dolan
"An engaging account of her journey on 'The Tank', an upright Dutch-style bicycle [...] She uses the emotional and physical distance between the scorched plains of Turkey and the soft green fields of Northern Ireland and the increasing closeness to her son to accept a difficult truth about her father, who is fading as she gains strength and calm. This is a stand-out work of honesty and integrity, loss and hope as revealed through the seemingly simple act of turning the pedals on a bicycle."
Alan Brown, author of Overlander