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Self Publishing via Kickstarter

By ActionGeek. Posted in Books | No Comments »

Writing and publishing a book has been on my LIST for a long time, and now it’s time to tick that one off! Last year I entered, and won the inaugural World Pasty Championships, and this year I successfully defended my title. The amount of interest from the public and the media was massive so I figured there would be genuine interest in a book. I’ve written plenty of blog posts and articles over the years, on a wide range of topics from food to poker, game development to tarantulas and more, but I’ve actually written a book. Since I don’t have any contacts in the publishing industry I decided to go the self publishing route, and to try and part fund the publishing via a campaign on the crowd funding website Kickstarter.

The book is provisionally titled How To Make An Award Winning Cornish Pasty, and starts with a detailed history of the pasty before delving into ingredients and techniques, and of course sharing my award winning pasty recipes, and a collection of other pasty and pastry recipes. I’m seeking £1200 in funding, with pledges starting at just £1 and I have some great rewards for backers, ranging from digital and print copies of the book, T-shirts, advertising opportunities for businesses on www.ProperPasties.com and more

Please take a moment to view the Kickstarter Page and pledge your support – every single pledge really does count no matter how small.

Proper Pasties Kickstarter Campaign





Becoming An Ironman – Book Review

By ActionGeek. Posted in Books, Ironman | No Comments »

I ordered Becoming An Ironman (by Kara Douglass Thom) from Amazon the day I made the decision to start training for Ironman UK 2011.  The blurb says it’ an “unforgettable ode to an extraordinary endurance sport – a book for anyone who wants to become an Ironman” and it doesn’t dissapoint.

The author writes well and gives a good introduction (after the foreward by John Collins, founder of the Ironman) and the rest of the book is a collection of other people’s first time experiences, some more successful than others but all of them truly inspiring.

Kara did interviews with nearly 200 Ironman athletes, and took the 37 most interesting and inspiring of those stories to relay in the book.  They are grouped into several lose categories, such as fast finishes, close calls (almost didn’t make it), DNF (did not finish) and early years (tales from the first Ironman events) and each story tells of the training, the fitness but most of all the emotion of completing 140.6 miles under your own steam.

I loved the book, though it did scare me a little in places and had me thinking “what have I got myself into”.  Stories like Lucie Martin who was hypothermic by the time she finished with a temperature of 93 degree, and ended up needing 3 litres of saline IV in the medical tent, or comments like Jane Fratesi’s after finishing – “No way was I going to train next year because it had killed me that year… I am not training for the Ironman next year, no way!”

But even after reading some of the “horror stories” of people not making it, needing medical attention or being disqualified and having to stop half way, the book has really inspired me that this is something I really want to do.  Without exception every single story was about pure joy and satisfaction on completing the Ironman – I wonder how my own Ironman story will play out next year?





Top Ten Action and Adventure Books

By ActionGeek. Posted in Books | 3 Comments »

I have to admit it, I’m a bit of a book addict.  I love books – books about computers, books about travel, books about science, books about poker, sci-fi books, classic literature, cyberpunk you name it – if it’s a book I’ll read it.  One of my favourite types of book though are books about action and adventure, books about people pushing the boundaries, taking risks, and really experiencing life.

My book shelves are packed with these sorts of books, and I thought I’d share ten of my favourites in the hope that it might inspire people to share some their own.  So if you have some suggestions make sure you leave a comment below…

Over The Edge
Michael Bane

This book charts Michael’s attempts to try everything on his list.  From ice climbing to extreme mountain biking, kayaking off a waterfall to running the Death Valley ultramarathon this is the story of someone going all out to try some awesome adventure sports, and it’s well written and funny too!  This is the book which inspired me to start my own LIST and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in action, adventure, extreme sports and in finding and pushing your own limits.

Base 66
Jevto Dedijer

This is the story of one man’s quest to become a BASE jumper.  After jumping with a parachute from a building, an antenna tower, a bridge and a cliff Jevto became the 66th official fully fledged BASE jumper.  The book charts his attempts to make his early jumps, some near death experiences, and tells of adrenaline, terror, horror, joy and friendship.  If you’re interested in extreme sports them this one needs to be on your bookshelf.

Flying With Condors
Judy Leden

This is the only book on the list I’ve read twice!  It’s about Judy’s adventures with hang gliders and para gliders.  It starts with her struggling to learn to fly, and follows her journey to becoming a three times world champion, six times British womens champion, and from crossing the English channel to flying with the eponymous condors in the Andies.  If you’re at all interested in flying or adventure you’ll love this.

Between A Rock And A Hard Place
Aron Ralston

This book alternates chapters telling stories of climbing in Colorado – avalanches, snowstorms and adventure, with a detailed account of a near-death accident when the author was canyoning alone and his arm got trapped by a rock which moved as he climbed over it.  Knowing he was in a place that few people visit, he spent several days hoping for rescue and trying to free himself before eventually amputating his own arm, knowing the alternative was to die.  Aron holds nothing back in his telling of the story, but don’t think this is a book about someone cutting their arm off – it’s a book about living life to the full, adventure, climbing, and pushing your own limits.  One of my favourite books of all time.

A Bike Ride
Anne Mustoe

This is the story of an ex-headmistress who gave up her job and cycled solo around the world for 15 months during the 1980s.  It’s quite refreshing to read about someone who you wouldn’t expect to be much of an adventurer doing a trip like this.  Anne was 54 at the time, and wasn’t in great physical shape before she set off – she just decided that she was going to do it, and nothing would stop her.  Really makes you think “if she can do it, I can do it”

Long Way Round
Ewen McGregor and Charley Boorman

I watched the TV series of this adventure when it was first shown in 2004, and instantly wanted to get a motorcycle!  The book is just as good as the series, and charts an awesome 20,000 mile ride around the world.  Even though they had a support crew and cameras on them you get a real sense of adventure which is infectious.  I’ll always remember this as the reason I got into motorcycling!

Triumph Around The World
Robbie Marshall

There are a lot of motorcycle adventure books, such as Jupiter’s Travels and Running With The Moon, but this one captured my imagination.  I’m not sure if it was the style of writing, the encounters he describes along the way, or the fact he was riding a Triumph Trophy, but when I do my first long distance motorbike trip this is the book I’ll cite as being a major inspiration!

Dark Shadows Falling
Joe Simpson

Joe is probably better known for Touching The Void, another great book, but this one  is even better in my opinion.  It covers Joe’s own climbing adventures, mixed in with reflections on a number of climbing tragedies and goes into the morals and ethics of climbing and adventure sports in general.  While Touching The Void is a more powerful story, this goes a lot deeper into why people choose to attempt extreme climbs, head into the mountains and put themselves at risk.

One Step Beyond
Chris Moon

Quite a different book to the others on this list, but even more inspiring.  While this book certainly involves adrenaline and adventure, it’s not about someone seeking adventure, but rather a brave and hugely inspirational individual coping with harrowing adversity and showing immense inner strength.  Chris was working on a landmine clearance team in Cambodia when he was captured by the Khmer Rouge, but through superb leadership skills managed to free himself and his colleagues with their lives.  After than, an accident while clearing landmines and lost his lower right leg and arm.  Not only did he survive, but he completed the London Marathon less than one year afterwards, and went on to become the first amputee to complete the 250km Great Sahara Run 2 years later.  A truly inspirational book.

Last Breath
Peter Stark

Another book which doesn’t immediately seem to fit with the others on this list, but I still felt I should include it.  The other books on this list are about life, and living it to the full.  At first glance this book appears to be about death – what happens to our minds and bodies in those final moments when an adventure goes wrong, but in fact it’s through talking about what can go wrong and explaining both the science and psychology behind it that Stark manages to shed some light on why people are drawn to extreme sports and adventure.  It’s certainly not for everyone, but I found it very interesting, and there is lots of real-world useful information in there which could help save lives for anyone who finds themselves in a perilous situation.

So there we go, my top ten adventure books.  So come on, why not share some of your own favourites?  Please leave a comment below telling everyone what your favourite books about action and adventure are!





Be Iron Fit

By ActionGeek. Posted in Books, Training Log | No Comments »

It was COLD getting on the bike at 7am this morning, but the ride itself was OK – I couldn’t stop thinking about what it will be liking starting a 2.4 mile swim at that time in the morning though! But I got my ride done, and tomorrow I start my swim training which I’m both looking forward to and apprehensive about. I’ve never been an overly strong swimmer, but I’m determined to change that so I’m reading through Total Immersion and watching YouTube videos on correct stroke technique and breathing every day – we’ll see how it goes tomorrow!

My new book arrived from Amazon though – Be Iron Fit by Don Fink. It has a 5 star rating on Amazon, and appears to cover everything from Ironman history through early prep and training, through 3 complete 30 week training schedules right up to what to do on race day and after the event. I’ll read it over the next couple of weeks and post a quick review when I’m done, but after flicking through it last night my first impression is that it looks excellent. The other book I’m currently reading (yeah I know – I’m a total book geek, I always buy them faster than I can read them… and I read pretty fast!) is Becoming An Ironman by Kara Douglass Thom. It’s an excellent compilation of various amateur and professional athlete’s first attempt at the Ironman and I’m really loving it. It’s very inspiring, if a little off-putting in places, and again I’ll post up a quick review in a few days when I’m finished!