You’ve gone too far this time, Sir! – A cycle ride to the heart of India by Danny Bent
As well as a love of cycling, I’ve always had a love of India. But, those two never seem to be natural partners. I have many goals, achievements and targets in the world of cycling, but none of them involve cycling to the cultural melting pot of India. I have a weak constitution as it is. I think a few weeks of Delhi belly would leave me worse for ware. Anyway…
You’ve gone too far this time, Sir is an entertaining travelogue about one guy’s cycle ride from England to India. It is a potpourri of stories and anecdotes along the way, mixed in with a good sense of humour.
In recent years, it’s become almost popular for people to attempt record breaking cycles around the world. But, despite the record for cycling around the world has been broken several times, it doesn’t alter the fact that it’s a huge achievement to make it round in one piece. The effort of cycling up dusty Himalayan passes – nearly as tough as the difficulties of negotiating tense border controls, flea invested hostels and a lack of clean water.
“..I’d made it so far. I’d endured the wild dogs in Poland, the sand storms in Kazakhstan, the vodka drinking in Russia and the guns pointed at my head in the Ukraine. Surely I hadn’t gone through this for nothing – to be thwarted by lack of organisation…” (lack of Visa in Uzbekistan)
The book isn’t just about India, but the whole gamut of countries along the way – Germany, Czech, Ukraine, Russia, China, Pakistan. India. The journey gets increasingly difficult and the characters more bizarre and unexpected as you travel East. If you think folk are strange up north, I don’t advise stepping in David’s footsteps…
It’s the kind of story, which leaves you thinking – It’s really quite fun to read about this journey, but I’m glad it’s not me being been cut up by combine harvesters, and being asked by drunk Russians – why haven’t I got a wife?
As well as cycling through the slums of the Indian sub-continent Danny’s ride is also about raising money for the Charity action aid. Dan clearly has an empathy with those he meets – from Albino’s ostracised by society to young people driven to desperate circumstances. It’s not just about the bike and cycling. In fact, as a cycling aficionado, it would be nice to have more details on the essential cycling aspects – like did you use Shimano or Campag?, what is the optimal cadence for combating pot hole roads in India? What was your average power output and Vertical Assent per Metre on the Himalayan climbs?
There is a certain stream of consciousness to the writing. One minute a gun pointed at his head, the next minute sitting around a table drinking vodka with most of the village; then a sentence about guilt over Britain holding onto the Falklands islands or something like that. But on the flip side you get a warts and all insight into the journey – you feel like you’re having a real insiders view of the cycle journey – someone willing to offer their heart and soul. Most of all you pick up on the author’s self-depreciation and humorous description of rather bizarre situations.
I read it on the plane to New York, and enjoyed the read. Fairly light and enjoyable. I would recommend it.
You will admire his courage, pluck and ability to tell a good yarn. But, most of all you realise sticking to 100 mile sportives is more than enough challenge for you and your bicycle.