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!