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Old 10-14-08, 05:27 AM   #1
Al Downie
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Need a push?

Since I posted the Himalayas thread, I’ve received messages from a few people saying things like: “I really wish I could do a tour like that some day…”, and I’m wondering if many people just need a bit of a push, like I did.

The very first spark of the idea happened a couple of years ago, when I was browsing through the bargain section of the local bookshop, and found a book called ‘Tibet Overland’, by Kym McConnell. It was only 50p, so I snapped it up, thinking it would be a cool thing to have lying around on the coffee table in case any hot chicks ever visited me. Every now and then I’d pick it up (to wipe the dust off, mainly) and have a look through it, wondering what it takes to organise something like that, and just how much effort it must take to cycle in the mountains. Then I’d put it back down and watch some more TV instead.

Some time later, I was chatting to a hot chick and the subject of cycle touring came up. Before I could stop myself, I said: “I’ve been thinking about a tour in Tibet”, and then I was trapped like a rabbit in headlights, as she became really enthusiastic about this fictitious plan which I’d just made up on the spot. “When are you going???” she said. “Can I come too???”

And that was it - all of a sudden this pipe-dream had become a reality! I started researching on the web, looking at likely and popular routes, eg Lhasa to Kathmandu, enquiring about visas, permits equipment and so on. In fact, the more I learned about Lhasa and Tibet in general, the less enthusiastic I became about that part of the world – seems the Tibetan culture is becoming more and more diluted. Later on, I bumped into a very enthusiastic Buddhist and we got to chatting about the area, and he suggested I should look at Ladakh instead. And after a very short Googling session, the Leh-to-Manali plan was hatched, and the rest of the story is all about fiddling with the bikes, weighing stuff, and waiting for the taxi to take us to the airport!

It’s not the kind of thing I normally do. I’m not that dynamic, really. Even now, after I’ve done it, I look at the photos and it seems like someone else’s holiday! I think it has changed my perspective though - the very first thing I did when I got home was strip the bike down and convert it back into a ‘proper’ MTB, but now I find myself wanting to put the racks back on, and the Marathons, and just pack up and go somewhere. Anywhere. Now that I know it’s all doable, I just want to do it!

So my advice to anyone who’s ever thought about an adventure tour but then put the book back on the coffee table, is simply to throw money at the problem. Book the time off, buy the tickets, and enjoy the ride! You only live once – don’t let logistics prevent you from trying stuff. Go an’ do some stuff.

Bon chance, et bon voyage!
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Old 10-14-08, 07:47 AM   #2
rodar y rodar
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Some time later, I was chatting to a hot chick and the subject of cycle touring came up. Before I could stop myself, I said: “I’ve been thinking about a tour in Tibet”, and then I was trapped like a rabbit in headlights, as she became really enthusiastic about this fictitious plan which I’d just made up on the spot. “When are you going???” she said. “Can I come too???”
That`s the funiest story I`ve heard in weeks!
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Old 10-14-08, 07:50 AM   #3
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So did you did you score with the hot chick in the end?
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Old 10-14-08, 07:55 AM   #4
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Great post, thank you!
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Old 10-14-08, 08:14 AM   #5
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Our push came when we watched our mothers die at quite young ages... not to be too depressing here but all you have to do is watch one loved one go before their time to realise how short life can be. Clearly I agree with the sentiment of your post... get out there and do it. Savour the moment!
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Old 10-14-08, 09:01 AM   #6
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A huge inspiration to my lady and me, cheers for that. Were in the planning stage now!
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Old 10-14-08, 09:06 AM   #7
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Wonderful story. I wonder if my desire to tour is distantly rooted in a need to impress hot chicks? Probably. You're right on with the advice to "throw money at the problem." As much as the thrifty cyclist may hate to admit it, touring decently requires a significant initial outlay. I've built my own panniers, bought second-hand wool shirts etc. and it still adds up. And the best sleeping bag you can afford is always a good choice.

This reminds me of something I was thinking of the other day... the intense (and quite logical) self-doubt that can plague the tourist, especially when solo. There's no voice of doubt and reason quite so loud as when you lock your door and make those first few turns of the pedals with a ton of crap strapped to your bicycle, wobbling off down the lane. It's like getting up before dawn: you just need to have faith that once you're up and out there, the reward will make itself apparent. And it does.
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Old 10-14-08, 09:09 AM   #8
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So did you did you score with the hot chick in the end?
Right! How can you leave us hanging like that?

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Old 10-14-08, 09:22 AM   #9
Al Downie
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I couldn't possibly say.
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Old 10-14-08, 10:19 AM   #10
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I couldn't possibly say.
Oh, come on, don't become a gentleman now!
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Old 10-14-08, 04:43 PM   #11
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My push came from a friend who told me, "If you wait for everything to be "right" before going on a tour (or making any major change in your life), you'll never do it. Sometimes you just have to make the decision ... and go."

So I did.
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Old 10-14-08, 05:20 PM   #12
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I agree that is a great story and one I needed to hear.
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Old 10-14-08, 05:42 PM   #13
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My push came from being unemployed and realizing that the only thing of value which I possessed was a bicycle.
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Old 10-14-08, 06:40 PM   #14
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great story, thanks for sharing!
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Old 10-14-08, 11:47 PM   #15
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That is a great story! Good for you for doing it!

Our push came when we suddenly came to the realization that we were spending waaayyyyyy more time with other people's kids than we were with our own. And we decided to do something about it.
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