Bettina Selby

Riding the Mountains Down

A journey by bicycle to Kathmandu

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

Bettina Selby didn't take to cycling until she was middle-aged but she has certainly made up for it since, having become a professional travel writer, largely though not exclusively as a cyclist. This book records her first long solo journey, from Karachi to Kathmandu. Predictably, she was greeted with surprise by many of the people she met along the way, who were not used to seeing cycle tourists at all, let alone solitary female cycle tourists. At times she found the overwhelmingly masculine environment too much for her and dissolved into tears. She kept going, however, and eventually left the plains and embarked on the mountains, her real goal, where she explored the Himalayan valleys. She had difficulty in obtaining food at times; she lost weight and suffered ill-health due to amoebiasis. In one village she was attacked by a mob and only escaped thanks to one young man who rescued her; finally she had to take refuge in a church. This was her most dangerous encounter but not the only alarming adventure she had; these included avalanches, dacoits, and amorous advances from men met on the way. In all, she covered 5,000 miles and climbed a lot of mountains.

This is an interesting and readable account of an impressive journey. There are good photographs (the author used to be a freelance photographer). Details of her equipment are provided for the technically minded.

%T Riding the Mountains Down
%S A journey by bicycle to Kathmandu
%A Selby, Bettina
%I Victor Gollancz
%C London
%D 19884
%G ISBN 0 575 03451 3
%P 232 pp
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