Cycling in a skirt

One life, some bicycles. A million possibilities, zero clue!

How to write a book in just 2000 days


So, it seems that after a mere 2190-ish days (or a paltry 6 years) I have finally written and published a book.

Yes it’s about cycling.

Yes it’s about cycling in a skirt.

Cycling in a skirt, solo, across Canada to be precise.

I’d like to clarify that I haven’t actually been writing for each and every one of those 2000+ days even though it does feel like it at times.

There have been many (many) days when I have been doing other things such as going to work, or riding my bike, navel gazing or eating way too many chocolate biscuits. In fact the actual writing part can probably be broken down thus:

30%: Percentage of time spent thinking I should be writing but not actually doing it.

30%: Percentage of time spent sitting down to write then getting distracted by Facebook, housework, food, cycling, squirrels….

5%: Percentage of time spent staring at a clean blank page entitled Chapter 1 and wondering how to start.

NB in the end I simply wrote the heading: CHAPTER TWO and started typing from there.

10%: Percentage of time spent actually typing.

As I’ve found out too the writing turned out to be the easy part. Once the words are on the page then comes the task of making sure that they are going to make some kind of sense to the rest of the human population.

This means proof reading, which in turn means cajoling/bribing/pleading with long-suffering friends to spend hours of their time wielding a red pen over your masterpiece. Because you’ve spent so long looking at these words on a page you become blind to the mistakes, bad spelling, tortuous grammar or just that bits only make sense in your head, not anyone else’s. A good 3-4 months therefore has been spent proofing and editing (and yes I am sure there are still a few errors despite all of this).

Finally, add in to the mix the publishing process itself with its minutiae of decisions on every aspect of the book’s mechanics which you know nothing about. Everything from the intricacies of indented and justified layout, to font size and choice to mirrored margins to cover design and the actual proportion of writing time barely registers at all. Incidentally, I  now know way more about the differences between the tails of serif vs sans serif fonts than anyone could possibly need in several lifetimes.

Editing and publishing therefore have easily taken up the remaining 25% of the process/time.

It’s fair to say that, like the original bike adventure, writing the book has been an epic journey, a thoroughly exhausting, frustrating, emotional and uplifting one. However, the process of writing and publishing has enabled me to relive that time spent cycling across Canada and to process it in a way that was just impossible at the time.

Riding on my own day after day, from place to place across thousands of miles, my time and my energies were completely occupied with the basics of living; food, shelter, sleep, muffins. Life became very small. What it didn’t allow much time for was looking at the journey as whole, I was just too caught up on surviving in the moment.

Coming back to my notes a year or so later gave an opportunity not present before, to look at the journey in its entirety from a broader perspective, without the immediate feelings and physical strains present during and just after the trip.

It’s amazing too how easy it was to recall every aspect, even after so much time had elapsed. How reading just small prompts in my diaries, a name here, a plate of food there, a comment on the weather, could conjure back an entire scene including landscapes, smells, people, feelings and conversations. With the benefit of hindsight too it’s also possible to see the (many) mistakes and less that bright decisions I took, as well as just the sheer distance covered.

Writing the book has also enabled me to reconnect with a number of people I met along the way, especially those who gave me a bed for the night, much appreciated food and even more appreciated hope, companionship and courage. Writing about the people as much, or more than the places will always remain a highlight, as will the opportunity of being in contact with them again to discuss the book and beyond.

It’s also brought me closer to those people around me now, friends and loved ones who have helped to bring this project to fruition. The manuscript, once completed, actually sat mouldering on my my laptop for nearly 2 years, a combination of apathy and fear meaning that I did nothing with it.

So what made me finish that journey that I started so long ago, both cycling and writing?

In short, friends and loved ones.

  • The inspiration of a septuagenarian  friend who published her own first novel.
  • The offer of another friend to proof read the manuscript.
  • Help from an unexpected source to design the cover and format the photographs.
  • Gentle (and tough) love and encouragement from those who are dear to me, with words, kindness, patience and cups of tea.
  • Knowing we have but one life and (and in homage to those people I miss who are no longer here) we need to live it as bravely as possible.

So now the second part of the adventure is complete, or is it just beginning? The book, my story is now out in the world. I have a lot of nervousness about that, feelings of vulnerability both about sharing such a personal story and the way in which it’s written. But, stories are best shared and I hope that it at least entertains a few folk along the way and maybe even, on a good day, inspires one or 2 others to chase after those rainbows that they’ve always meant to follow.


How To Cycle Canada The Wrong Way is available on Amazon in both paperback and kindle e-book formats, see links below.

UK: ** Canada: ** USA: ** Australia: ** India

Germany:** France: ** Spain: ** Italy: ** Netherlands


Author: cycling in a skirt

A forty-something, journeying through life on two wheels. Possessor of limited common sense and practical ability, but full of a passion for adventure, life and bicycles. Writing about the highs and lows of cycling, cycle touring, skirts, silliness and the daily struggle not to grow up and be responsible.

37 thoughts on “How to write a book in just 2000 days

  1. Very pleased to hear about your book!
    Can’t wait to read it.
    Karen x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations! I sent the link to my wife. 😉👍

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you! It feels very good to have finally finished (both the ride and the writing) 😁


  4. I can’t wait to read it ! As you know I hope to ride to the cottage (Camp PedalWORKS 😂) from Vancouver while I’m still able. I’ve been hesitant to do it alone. Your book may be the inspiration I need.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I think it would be a great adventure whether you made your commute solo or in company. Definitely worth the effort! Hope you enjoy the book and I’ll watch your posts to see what you decide next year 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ooh I hope you enjoy it 🎄 Happy Christmas! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  7. An excellent read and what an epic trip!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. It does take a while to eat that mych cake. But, with training, you do improve 😆

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Lorraine (Cycling in a Shirt finally has a name 😂), I truly enjoyed your book.

    It is imaginative, informative, adventurous, personal, dramatic, comical, and it even has a little sex 😂It’s a must read for anyone considering a cycle touring trip, particularly one across Canada. It is packed with practical tips on what not to do. Beyond that, it is an inspiring adventure story about a young woman (forty-something) looking for something more in life. I was left wondering if there will be a sequel. Where did she go next? What ever became of Tom? Did they continue travelling together? Did they marry and pedal off into the sunset together. I suspect that would only be in the movie version. And that would be a good idea. It has the essential ingredients for a good movie. In particular, I liked how the book was crafted with daily personal notes, peppered with email exchanges with your sister who was embarking on an adventure of her own. I even learned a little about breast feeding. You are a gifted writer, and I look forward to reading other work by you.

    I regret we live a continent, and ocean, apart. Otherwise, I would suggest we meet for a coffee (or beer). If you ever return to Canada, let me know. I have a cottage north of Toronto (Camp PedalWORKS) and spend the summers there, and would be pleased to meet up. And, if you ever consider cycling across Canada “the right way” (west-to-east), I’m looking for company.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Gosh, what a lovely comment to wake up to. Thank you for your kind words and really happy that you enjoyed the book. My sister will be most glad about passing on the breast-feeding tips 😆 as for a sequel…’s a possibilty!

      Liked by 2 people

    • A thought just occurred but I’ve been trying to reach a wider Canadian audience with the book. People were so kind whilst I was there but also interested in bits of the country they hadn’t seen. I wonder if you would feel like reviewing the book on your blog at all as part of your planned trip? No worries at all if not , it’s just with all your cycling in Vancouver and Camp PedalWorks you have a lot of experience and knowledge.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I have a page called “Cycling Books” on the blog where I list cycling books I have enjoyed. When I add them to the the list, I also briefly discuss them in a blog post. I was thinking of adding your book, and writing a brief review.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I would be honoured 😊 Maybe one or two people may also be inspired to join you on your trip to the cottage too. Cycling the ‘right way’ across the country of course!

        Liked by 2 people

  10. As for future travel plans, if you feel like dropping me a line with your email (If you do it through my ‘sharing inspiration/stories page’ it’s secure) if I’m back in Vancouver it would be lovely to share bike tales over a beer.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “The manuscript, once completed, actually sat mouldering on my my laptop for nearly 2 years, a combination of apathy and fear meaning that I did nothing with it.” That’s kind of where I am. Although my journey was mostly around town, nothing so epic like your trip. I didn’t lose a ton of weight, or find the love of my life, or anything so dramatic. But finally just today I found out a worker at a bike shop I frequent is a big reader and has offered to be a beta reader. We’ll try one chapter and hopefully it doesn’t suck and she’ll read the whole thing. I understand you’re not really supposed to ask friends or family because they’ll be too nice, or more likely not even bother to finish. But you seemed to make it work. Maybe I can try again to find more readers. Anyway, congrats on completeing your trip and getting your book out there. Further tips would be welcome should you care to share. FYI, I found your blog via Idle Cyclist. Thanks and best wishes for your ongoing journey!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there, thanks for the comment. Don’t feel alone you’re not the only one with fears about their writing but, the fantastic thing is, we all put ourselves out there by writing articles and blogs and even books. Personally I love reading the blogs that people have written and I’m sure others think just the same for your writing. It can be great to get a few trusted people to check your work for grammar/spelling/general sense. Other than that believe in what you’ve written and, if you’re proud of it, you’ve done your job. Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there, thanks for the comment. Don’t feel alone you’re not the only one with fears about their writing but, the fantastic thing is, we all put ourselves out there by writing articles and blogs and even books. Personally I love reading the blogs that people have written and I’m sure others think just the same for your writing. It can be great to get a few trusted people to check your work for grammar/spelling/general sense. Other than that believe in what you’ve written and, if you’re proud of it, you’ve done your job. Good luck!

      Liked by 2 people

  12. I really like reading – I read the back of cereal packets, traffic signs, people’s t-shirts – pretty well anything. But I’ve found it really hard to read cycle touring books. Hills go up. They go down. The wind blows. Cyclists get tired – but it’s worth it in the end. Blah, blah, blah.

    So I was really pleased to find that “How to Cycle Canada the wrong way” had me turning the pages and missing lunch. I like the characters who looked after Lorraine, the will she/won’t she moment with Tom, the pain of bad mechanics, the weird statues, and the doubting, and I loved the food. This is a cycle touring book with heart and cake, both of which I definitely approve of.

    If I have a niggle its that I could do without the emails as a literary device- I like the new niece at home angle, but I wanted more story out of it.

    That’s nit-picking though. Well done and more please.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Sarah, thank you very much indeed both for reading the book and for taking the time to comment. I love hearing from people and I’m really glad that you enjoyed it too. Funnily enough my original plan for the book was to base it around the many emails I exchanged with family and friends. In the end though just the single (and most important) thread made it in but heavily reduced. In some ways I would have loved to tell the parallel stories of all the people I wrote to, maybe that’s another book for the future. Great comments and ideas. Thank you.


  13. I’ve just finished reading your book – loved it. Thank you for this. I’m preparing for a Quebec->Alberta trip next summer. I’ve spent the last year tweaking, testing, doing overnighters in the rain, anything to get a feel of the journey ahead.
    I must admit that I was horrified at your lack of, well, everything 🙂
    Wonderful, insightful writing, I hope to meet as many wonderful people as you have.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Really pleased you enjoyed the book your comment really made me chuckle a lot, you’re so right! The great thing about being a rookie is you have no idea what you’re doing so no idea how unprepared you are. Sounds like you have a fantastic trip planned, I hope you have an amazing adventure. Wishing you fair winds and lots of camp spots. 🚲


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