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Adventure Cycle-Touring Handbook

by: Stephen Lord & Neil & Harriet Pike



Read more about Stephen Lord

1) Rohantime interview. Read more.
2) The Sunday Times cycling blog by Matt Rudd, 19 December 2010

Matt Rudd: The one thing keeping me from riding to Kathmandu

"Last Tuesday a copy of the Adventure Cycle-Touring Handbook outrageously found its way to my desk. I’m not sure how. It wasn’t in an envelope. It wasn’t delivered in any noticeable way. On Monday night it was not there; on Tuesday morning it was: 300-odd pages of temptation.

Consequently, Tuesday was a write-off. Should I answer these 427 grumpy emails or should I read about which derailleur is best for tackling the Karakorum Highway? It was a no-brainer.

The author, Stephen Lord, is an example to us all. He used to be a banker but he chucked it in to cycle the world. If only all the bankers had done that, hey? Sure, he’s a proper mentalist, but he looks happy in his little photograph, halfway up some precipitous, dusty road somewhere very, very far away.

He begins by telling you how to prepare for a long-distance trip ... lots of cool-if-you-like-cycling, mind-numbing-if-you-don’t stuff about air transport, portable stoves, GPS, suspension, mid-desert maintenance and how to stay comfortable in the saddle (impossible).

That’s only part one. Part two covers the suggested routes. You could do Europe, though that’s hardly going to impress anyone. How about Turkey to Thailand? It took one couple 498 days to tackle that particular stretch, most of which appears to have been spent applying for an Iranian visa.

Fun though it sounds, I can’t see my wife letting me off for that long. No, I fancy Lhasa to Kathmandu. That’s a piffling 720 miles, including the side trip to Everest base camp. And it includes the world’s longest downhill: a 2½-mile drop over 104 miles. Probably quite important to tackle that route in the right direction: the world’s longest uphill sounds less appealing, doesn’t it?

Still, how long would that take if I trained all winter? A couple of weeks; maybe three? And a half? Might get away with that. Or the Pacific Coast Highway. Or Baja California ... nice beaches. I could grow a beard and live off shellfish. I could fall asleep by the campfire. I could wake each dawn to begin the simple rituals of a life of cycling: brush teeth, pack tent, get on bike, pedal. Lovely.

I’ll be honest, part three of the book is not for the faint-hearted. It contains stories from actual cyclists who’ve done actual long trips. There’s a bloke called Igor who’s been bitten by a dog and had his bike nicked. He uses words such as “catastrophic” and “diarrhoea” a lot. There’s a woman called Amaya stuck at a roadblock in Equatorial New Guinea. In general, there seems to be an awful lot of rain.

But no matter, I thought on Tuesday evening: I’m going to do it. I’m going to go on a long-distance cycling trip. And then on Wednesday morning I woke with a sudden and depressing realisation: the trip is cancelled. It wasn’t the diarrhoea, the rain, the wife. It wasn’t even the Iranian visa. It was the panniers. Stephen Lord may be smiling in his photo but look at all his panniers. I would need panniers, too. Big ones. And I hate panniers. Not only do they reduce your beautiful, light, steerable bike into a cumbersome, donkeyish two-wheeled nightmare but also they look uncool.

That’s the only thing stopping me, honest."

Adventure Cycle-Touring Handbook