Richard Crane and Nicholas Crane


Book review by Anthony Campbell. Copyright © Anthony Campbell (1999).

The Crane cousins have already made one rather controversial cycle expedition to the top of Kilimanjaro; the present book describes what seems to have been an even more difficult journey, this time to a point in Central Asia which they calculated to be at the centre of the earth. It took them 58 days, and they covered over 3,300 miles over Himalayan passes that added up to three times the height of Everest.

They had an obsession with the weight of their equipment; this was hardly surprising in view of the amount of climbing involved, but even so they did take it to surprising lengths: it included cutting the labels out of their clothes, drilling the handles of their plastic teaspoons, and even dispensing with a front changer on their bikes (they used their heels and fingers to shift the chain from one chainrng to the other!). They give full details of the stuff they carried. Both wore contact lenses, which they cleaned every morning in their mouths (not a medically recommended practice but they got away with it). Astonishingly, there were only four punctures in the entire journey.

The trip itself is vividly described, in a racy style, and there are plenty of photographs. They had innumerable hair-raising adventures. At the end of their journey they encountered resistance from the Chinese authorities, but yes, they did reach their target, though not entirely by bike; they took a plane and a van for part of the way, though they did ride the final kilometres by means of a ruse.

If you are a cycle tourist you should certainly read this book, while if you enjoy reading travel books with accounts of discomforts and near-disasters, this is one for you.

%T Journey to the Centre of the Earth
%A Crane, Richard
%A Crane, Nicholas
%I Bantam Press
%C London
%D 1987
%G ISBN 0 593 01291 7
%P ix + 238 pp
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