Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars inspiring guide to the other kind of mountain biking, 1 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Himalaya by Bike (Paperback)
HbB enabled a first timer like me (with no interest in domestic or European cycle touring) to try something I'd not think possible. I'd wanted to visit the Karakoram and Ladakh for years and the book offered an easy way of doing it, detailing the practicalities of riding across the motorable roads of High Asia: the why, how, where and when.
As we observed again and again, incredibly it was just about all researched by the indefatigable Laura who thinks nothing of scooting 600 metres up a side valley to check out a nice village after diligently recording details and impressions over hundreds of kilometres. Furthermore, unlike regular formulaic guidebooks, she's given the space to express herself with an enthusiastic and chatty style, fills out the route descriptions with interesting anecdotes and has a lyrical way of describing her surroundings.
The hotel and resto details have inevitably got dated in places; on both trips we carried a more recent, stripped-down LP or Rough Guide. But HbB fills out the crucial details for the places in between which don't change much and can be useful for other independent travellers, notably the Bulleteers who commonly visit Ladakh and HP (a subject which is outlined in an appendix).
If I have one reservation, it might be that she makes some long climbs sound a bit easy - in India I had to finish the very highest passes in a lorry, or we jeeped long rough sections to save time as it was late and snow was already falling. I also found some of the incremental distances on switchback stages (such as Tanglang La northside) seemed up to 20% short, possibly due to a memory-saving setting on the GPS tracklog odometre (a mistake I've made myself doing similar stuff). The Himank mileposts seemed pretty accurate. The maps are great but where present, would be even better if they fully depicted additional road details leading off the main route to both the suggested diversions mentioned in the text as well as unlogged but rideable excursions of which there seem to be plenty on the KKH and in Ladakh/Spiti. And although the gradient profiles are a vital feature in a cycling guide like this, it sure would be nice to have an impression of the surrounding relief featured on the maps too.
Marrying the idea of independent cycling touring with the world's highest roads may sound like nuts to all but a committed pedal-bashing hardcore who might scoff at a book like this. Me, I suggest that if you accept you can't ride every mile in the Himalaya due to intestinal dysfunction, lack of air or just plain laziness, lifts are always at hand so making the trip less daunting for recreational cyclists like me, while offering one of the most satisfying and inexpensive ways of exploring this amazing region at your own pace.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Aug 2013 13:37:40 BDT
Why did you give 4 stars ?

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Aug 2013 19:59:27 BDT
C. Scott says:
For the reservations I gave in my review, Dmitry. Great book but not perfect.
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