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'Why Don't You Fly?' Back Door to Beijing - by Bicycle [Kindle Edition]

Christopher J.A. Smith
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
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Book Description

In May 2000 Chris Smith left his comfortable Worcestershire home, but instead of cycling the routine twelve miles to work, he kept on pedalling.
Thirteen months later (having fallen off six times and worn out three sets of tyres, three chains and two pairs of boots) he arrived in Beijing.

During a gruelling 16,500-mile examination of physical and mental stamina he traversed scorching deserts, scaled lofty peaks, crossed mighty rivers and risked extinction in the chaotic traffic of the cities. He ate and drank in roadside cafés in the company of inquisitive lorry drivers and shared dormitories with farm hands and mosquitoes in remote Chinese villages. He survived bugs, blizzards, cockroaches, heat, hurricanes, sandstorms, cyclones, stone-throwing locals and lunatic drivers. Sceptical western existentialism encountered religious fatalism in the cafés and teahouses of the Middle East and India during a physical and spiritual journey that constantly raised questions about attitudes and values widely taken for granted in the West.

‘Why Don’t You Fly?’ is the account of an epic quest to rediscover a misplaced sense of identity in which exhilaration and exhaustion trade positions against a backdrop of prodigious physical endeavour.

'Fascinating reading.' -- 'Limited Edition' Magazine

'Smith's smart, honest prose is crafted superbly and peppered with wonderful moments of drama, dialogue and real humanity'. -- 'Asia and Away' Magazine

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Review

'Fascinating reading.' -- 'Limited Edition' Magazine

'Smith's smart, honest prose is crafted superbly and peppered with wonderful moments of drama, dialogue and real humanity'. -- 'Asia and Away' Magazine

From the Inside Flap

In May 2000 Chris Smith left his comfortable Worcestershire home, but instead of cycling the routine twelve miles to work, he kept on pedalling.

Thirteen months later (having fallen off six times and worn out three sets of tyres, three chains and two pairs of boots) he arrived in Beijing.

During a gruelling 16,500-mile examination of physical and mental stamina he traversed scorching deserts, scaled lofty peaks, crossed mighty rivers and risked extinction in the chaotic traffic of the cities. He ate and drank in roadside cafés in the company of inquisitive lorry drivers and shared dormitories with farm hands and mosquitoes in remote Chinese villages. He survived bugs, blizzards, cockroaches, heat, hurricanes, sandstorms, cyclones, stone-throwing locals and lunatic drivers. Sceptical western existentialism encountered religious fatalism in the cafés and teahouses of the Middle East and India during a physical and spiritual journey that constantly raised questions about attitudes and values widely taken for granted in the West.

‘Why Don’t You Fly?’ is the account of an epic quest to rediscover a misplaced sense of identity in which exhilaration and exhaustion trade positions against a backdrop of prodigious physical endeavour.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1690 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Pen Press; Kindle Edition edition (6 Sept. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0097G7A24
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #360,599 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Out of the dearth of travel literature around at the moment, there are only a handful of books that grab my attention enough to make it difficult for me to put down once I've started. Christopher J.A. Smith's, 'Why Don't You Fly?' (Back Door to Beijing - by Bicycle) is one of the few that keeps me turning the pages.
This cycling odyssey from his home in Worcestershire to Beijing is a good read. His style of writing flows throughout. There are wonderful descriptions of landscapes and people he meets and he writes with just enough self decpreciation and touches of cynicism that keep his feet (and the readers') on the ground through his use of dry humour and insightful thoughts. His intellingent and perceptive writing explpores not only the logistics and stamina of a long, arduous journey and the inevitable discomforts that go with it, but also the way it changes his outlook on life, not just on the journey itself but how it effects the everyday, humdrum routine back at home.
There are the usual stories that come with a book of this genre; bits breaking and falling off the bike, punctures and hair-tearing-out problems with bureaucracy, familiar in most travel writers' tales. But with Why Don't You Fly', the humour is subtle and gentle, such as the time when he tries to overcome language barriers by explaining, to the amusement of a local, that he is riding around the world on a tomato!
The combinaton of insightful, intelligent comment, descriptions of places and people and gentle humour is very good. The book is for anyone contimplating such a journey themselves, a sort of 'go for it anyway - take that window of opportunity when it presents itself' kind of mentality which is inspiring.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Candid and compelling 27 Dec. 2010
Format:Paperback
Like other readers I have read a few cycle touring books. Chris Smith has completed a superhuman journey by bicycle and he takes the reader over extreme highs and down into extreme lows along his journey. His book is well written. His writing is at his best when he is describing enounters with local people or officials. His description of some of the fellow cyclists he meets and travels with along the way almost verge on charicature, although they do not become wholly implausible. For me he he is at his most insightful when he writes of the communities he is travelling through. He gives brief historical and political summaries of each country and region he passes through which is very informative whilst not being too turgid for the reader who is not too keen on pages and pages of history. Clearly he is often constantly the centre of attention in many impoverished communities particularly in India and Pakistan, which was undoubtedly very wearing on him in terms of privacy, but he could have still taken a little more effort to tell us about the lives of the local people and the communities that he encountered and those that helped him. Occasionally I had the impression that the arrival at his destination at the end of the day or completing 80-100 miles each day took precedence over his journey. The journey is more important than the arrival. I also found his apparent ignorance of or little patience with his bicycle infuriating. Every long distance cyclist should have an intimate knowledge of how their steed works and how to maintain and repair it on the road particularly in case where a problem occurs in the middle of nowhere. That's just common sense. Never the less this is an enjoyable, well written and insightful account of a challenge to cycle 18,500 miles to Beijing. It is a travelogue up their with the those of Nick Danziger and Alistair Humphreys.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much complaining! 9 Aug. 2011
By PHaire
Format:Paperback
This is an ok account of the authors trip from his home in England to Beijing. For me though, there is too much complaining about, well just about everything, body pains, locals, scenery, food, etc. It certainly didn't inspire me to hit the road as a few other cycling books have. If you want good cycling books you should read Josie Dew, Dervla Murphy, Anne Mustoe, (why are they all women?) and Tom Kevill-Davies also known as the hungry cyclist. I've found them far more entertaining.
As for this book, as I say, it's ok. There are interesting snippets of local colour but the author points out only the negatives mainly (except for China, which he loved) and for me I ended up skipping pages just to finish.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This guy needs to get out more...how ironic 4 Oct. 2012
By Ian
Format:Paperback
I took this book with me on holiday to inspire me for my next major tour. Unfortunately it did not do so. As another reviewer has stated, this guy is a grade one moaner. I really don't know why he bothered going to be honest if this is the sum of his experiences. I get the impression that this guy spent far too long driving lorries long distance and grew to like his own company too much.
He does visit some amazing places and see some amazing things but it is all made negative by his constant depressive anecdotes and complaining.
He has no real knowledge of cycling so don't expect any thoughts on technical aspects or relating to other cycle tours. I feel he did the trip to help himself become a better person after losing a girlfriend and being stuck in a job he dislikes. If it has, I'm pleased for him. If only it has had the same effect on his writing skills and outlook on life.

I give it two stars as it has some interesting aspects but if your looking for inspiration...don't bother
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ
AN ENJOYABLE READ!!
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. Ann M. Wakeham
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the top of the pile
Fantastic book. I just feel guilty that I bought a secondhand copy, where the author gets no royalty. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Andy
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
Excellent book. Engaging, funny and informative. Christopher JA Smith is an emotive and articulate writer. This book will have you travelling along with him.
Published 8 months ago by martin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
An extremely inspiring read
Published 11 months ago by Susan Glover
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
I'm a truck driver too & love cycling but what you have done must have been a amazing experience. I would highly recommend this book to read even if you don't ride a bike.
Published 12 months ago by warren evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable reading
An entertaining read, I really enjoyed reading this book. Recommended for anyone with a passion for cycling, travel or just wants a window on the world from the comfort of their... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Tsuname
2.0 out of 5 stars Not about the bike!
If you've bought this book expecting to read tales of life in the saddle which include technical details about cycling and/or the bike itself, then I'm afraid you are about to be... Read more
Published on 7 Aug. 2012 by David
4.0 out of 5 stars Back door to Beijling
This book was purchased for my son who intends to ride a solo bike to China in two years. By all accounts he likes the book very much.
Published on 26 Jun. 2011 by Mr. Ca Sturdy
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cracking Read
This is a real page-turner of a book that gripped my attention from the off. The author has a wonderfully readable style and soon has you riding every mile of his 16,500 mile trip... Read more
Published on 22 Jun. 2011 by Milemuncher
4.0 out of 5 stars Humerous and well written
This is an excellent read on a cold winters night, waiting for the Spring to come and I can get on my bike.
The book is well written and flows along very nicely. Read more
Published on 15 Feb. 2011 by Stephen Lindley
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