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Good Reads  Natural History  Biography, Exploration & Travel

The Life Cycle 8,000 Miles in the Andes by Bamboo Bike

Biography / Memoir New
By: Kate Rawles(Author)
464 pages
Publisher: Icon Books
The Life Cycle
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  • The Life Cycle ISBN: 9781785788673 Paperback Jun 2024 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 1 week
Price: £11.99
About this book Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

One woman's journey through South America – and the devastating story of our planet's disappearing biodiversity

Pedalling hard for thirteen months, eco-adventurer Kate Rawles cycled the length of the Andes on an eccentric bicycle she built herself. The Life Cycle charts her mission to find out why biodiversity is so important, what's happening to it, and what can be done to protect it.

From the Pacific Ocean to rainforests and salt flats, Kate learns that armadillos can cross rivers by holding their breath, that Colombia has more species of birds than North America and Europe combined, and that, in threatening species and ecosystems, we're tearing down our own life support system. En route, she witnesses the devastation of gold mining and oil drilling but finds hope in the incredible people working to regenerate habitats and communities. As she reaches the 'end of the world', she realises that to tackle biodiversity loss we all have a role to play.

Customer Reviews


Kate Rawles is a writer, cyclist and former university lecturer in environmental philosophy who uses adventurous journeys to raise awareness about environmental challenges. She writes for a range of publications, is a mountain and sea kayaking leader and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. She lives in the South Lakes, Cumbria.

Biography / Memoir New
By: Kate Rawles(Author)
464 pages
Publisher: Icon Books
Media reviews

"The best travelling companion you could dream up. [Rawles'] conversational style, ear for an anecdote and searing observations focused on our need to protect biodiversity are a tour de force [...] Her language is easy and her sense of humour rarely more than a heartbeat away [...] I finished the book with a sense of regret that the adventure was over, inspired by the awesome and deeply melancholy at the hells she visited along the way. Welcome to the complexity of the real world"
– Tim Smit OBE, co-founder of the Eden Project

"The Life Cycle's pace is brisk, the vistas magnificent, the many characters encountered along the way compellingly and entertainingly brought to life. Even the all-important diversions [...] leave one feeling stronger, more resolute than ever to support the causes and organisations she champions. This is such an informative, uplifting and truly important book, making all the right connections across many different areas of concern"
– Jonathon Porritt, author and campaigner

"Profound and funny, philosophical and gritty, this book shares both the pain of an incredibly brave woman traveller and the enchantment as she meets the pioneers of lifestyles that seek to restore biodiversity rather than exploit it. A gripping read for anyone who cares about what we're doing to the planet and how we can change it"
– David Shukman, former BBC News science editor and visiting professor in practice at the LSE's Grantham Research Institute

"The Life Cycle will change your life. Or it should. Here is one of those rare flowers of a story whose message is as powerful, and urgent, as the beautiful writing used to tell it. It will move you, as it did me. Open it, but don't just read it. Savour it"
– Carlos Zorrilla, environmental activist, writer and photographer

"Rawles built a bamboo bike for one, but with this book she takes each reader on her heart-wrenching and heart-warming ride through South America and into the pounding soul of the vibrant biodiversity we have ignored for way too long"
– Christiana Figueres, co-host of the Outrage and Optimism podcast and former head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

"A call to arms to protect what's left of our precious natural world. Kate's explorations open up new perspectives, helping us understand how our daily choices impact on people and species that may be far away, but with whom we are intimately linked and co-dependent"
– Helen Browning OBE, organic farmer, author and CEO of the Soil Association

"Kate's epic 8,000-mile journey on a bamboo bicycle was a fabulous adventure, but she also harnesses the power of adventure to inspire environmental action by bringing to life the tragedy of biodiversity loss that requires profound systemic change to tackle"
– Alastair Humphreys, author, adventurer and host of the Living Adventurously podcast

"A beautifully written story of eco-adventure and eco-pilgrimage. Every page of this book is a testament to courage and commitment. It is as much an inspiring travelogue as it is a plea to care for the diversity of life on our precious planet. Crossing the continent of South America on a self-built bamboo bike and encountering radical eco-activists along the way is an enchanting narrative told passionately by Kate Rawles, herself an eco-warrior. Reading this book is an immensely engaging and entertaining as well as heart-breaking experience. Read this book, you might become an eco-activist!"
– Satish Kumar, editor emeritus Resurgence and Ecologist and founder of Schumacher College

"Kate Rawles is an extraordinary woman – keen adventuress, intrepid cyclist, curious thinker, passionate environmentalist and a fabulous storyteller. Riding with her along high Andean roads but also through terrifying traffic, we get fascinating insights into people, environmental projects and the threat to biodiversity and our beautiful planet. I loved this book"
– Andrea Wulf, author of The Invention of Nature

"In this remarkable journey from one end of South America to another on a self-made bamboo bicycle, Kate Rawles brings the biodiversity crisis to vivid life. And she does it in a way that is at once thrillingly gripping, intimately heart-breaking, touchingly funny and full of fierce hope [...] Few books have illuminated so clearly and honestly what is at stake. A magnificent, inspiring and unforgettable ride."
– Julian Hoffman, author of Irreplaceable

"This fabulous book will make you want to live more fully, buy less junk and appreciate our world more. It will also make you want to rewire the whole economy and scream about the mess we are making. And it will make you want to jump on your bike"
– Mike Berners-Lee, author of There is No Planet B

"I was captivated by Kate's unique ability to take such complex and paramount matters and craft them into a thrilling, meaningful and accessible story. Her joyful and inquisitive personality shines through as she brings the reader along for the ride, while she and Woody pedal on down to the end of the world. The Life Cycle will be taking pride of place on my bookshelf"
– Jenny Graham, world record-breaking endurance cyclist, presenter and author

"'An epic tale, passionately and powerfully told, which is less a simple travelogue and more a call to arms for urgent action to save our planet's precious biodiversity. Travelling with her self-built bamboo bike Woody (the UK's first 'home-grown' bicycle), Rawles is an authentic, compelling narrator who acts as a living epitome of the eco-values she espouses. Fascinating – and often frightening – facts and figures leap from every page as she works her way down the length of South America, meeting a vast array of inspiring experts, activists and eco-warriors along the way. A deeply thought-provoking and essential read"
– Rebecca Lowe, author of The Slow Road to Tehran

"Riveting, poignant and laugh-out-loud funny. From the "heart of the world" in Colombia to the devastating lead mines in Peru and from the coloured lakes of Bolivia to the final breathless dash for Ushuaia, The Life Cycle is un-put-downable. Its imagery will stay with you long after the last page is turned. From her own extraordinary endurance – and the stories of those she met along the way – Rawles has conjured up a kaleidoscopic "cosmovision" for our times: a passionate call to fight for the soul of the natural world – and, in doing so, to rescue our own."
– Tim Jackson, author of Post Growth: Life After Capitalism

"Rawles clearly and succinctly explains a range of contemporary environmental issues [...] Told with high-quality, well-organised writing, it's a coherent message that integrates perfectly with [her] own uncompromising determination to complete this inspiring journey in her own way."
– Chris Fitch, Geographical

"[The Life Cycle] is about encountering nature up close, about biodiversity and habitat loss, and the destruction of ecosystems. The writer's observations – of people, places, wildlife – are endlessly diverting, her prose engaging and unpretentious as she takes us along for the ride"
– Rose Shepherd, Saga Magazine

"First-hand experiences are interwoven with copious facts and figures [...] an environmentalist's call to arms."
– Anna Temkin, Times Literary Supplement

"British writer and cyclist Kate Rawles has a penchant for raising awareness about environmental challenges through her own adventures – and inspiring action in the process"
Smithsonian Magazine

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