Risk's Ultralight Hiking

The skills involved in setting up a light backpack serve well for both hiking and touring. Learning what is really necessary and then finding high quality gear that meets my honest needs leads to much less carried and more fun. I hope this journal is as much fun to read as it is to write.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Jupiter's Travels

I have just finished reading Ted Simon's "Jupiter's Travels." Written in the late '70s, it is a fascinating 450 page romp through the world.

Ted was about 40 years old when he began his 40,000 mile ride around the world. His travels took him the length of Europe and Africa, before taking a ship to Brazil. Thence, he rode through Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and the Andes backbone to the northern end of South America.

He traveled through Central America, Mexico, the SW US, and then took off for Australia, the Malay Peninusula, India, and the Pakistan/Afganastan/Iran/Turkey path back to Europe.

What is remarkable to me about the journey is not the accomplishment of the trip, but the people and the stories and the writing that makes it all come to life. Precious snippits of truely wonderful writing pepper the entire book - from the section that starts out: "I first thought of becoming a god as I was riding north from Madurai..." to the conversations with Truckies in Australia.

Ted has a self effacing way of describing the incidents and the life of being on the road that made me feel like I was there - and many times glad that I was not there!

I understand from his website that he has done it all again in his 70s... The book will be coming out next year. See:

Along the way, Ted has learned great lessons of what is needed for a bike trip and what is not. Mostly, it is a matter of what is carried in the skull, not what specific spares are carried. For me, much of the book's attitude and humor is summarized by it's first paragraphs:

"When the fuel reserve ran dry too, and the engine choked and died, I guessed I was ten or fifteen miles from Gaya. The thought was disagreeable. It might mean spending the night there, and somewhere I had read that Gaya was the dirtiest town in India.


I tucked my gloves into my helmet and stood by the bike looking up and down the country road and across the field of green wheat wondering who was going to help me this time, and what it would lead to. I did not doubt that help would come, and with it most probably some unexpected twist in my fortunes. It had taken years to achieve that measure of confidence and calm, and as I waitied I allowed myself some pleasure knowing it."


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