Archive for the 'Out There Biking news flash' Category

Taking a break…

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Taking a break: a warming cup of sugar-packed chai on a Spitian backroad.

So, what next for Out There Biking?

With the whole world up in arms with talk of the credit crunch, and the accompanying (or is it encouraging?) blanket media attention, we’ve decided to take a year out for 2009. Cara’s pursuing her medical studies, and I’ll be off to stretch my legs with some bike travels in the Americas.

So this last post, for now, is to thank all to all those who have joined us over the last few years. We’ve really enjoyed running these trips and meeting you all, and I know we’ll miss the high mountains of Spiti and Ladakh come August. We’ll keep you updated with regard to future plans for the tours, but if you can’t wait, then do check out Redspokes, who also run some great rides in the region.

In the meantime, we aim to leave the site up as there’s plenty of general information to be found there, should you want to go it alone. (It’s down at the moment, while we change over our server package.)

All the best for the New Year.

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Spiti in late September. This year we were lucky with the weather, until the very last day, when an almighty storm lashed down. A few days later, the region was blanketed in snow – we’d only just made it out in time…

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A home away from home. The Sunshine Guesthouse, our hangout in Manali.

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OTB’s inimitable Mascot. Those who have met him will be pleased to hear that Chandra’s living the good life in Tabo, lounging in an apple orchard and barking at marauding sheep.

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Baba Phunsok and a completely perplexed member of his extended family. Baba’s one of our fantastic support crew, without whom we couldn’t run these trips.

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Cheeky Bike Gromit. Our bike are always like magnets to the local kids, who materialise from nowhere to clamber aboard and fettle with gears.

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The girls tend to be a bit more shy, and if you’re lucky, will reward you with one of their winning smiles.

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And lastly. There are few places as fascinating and complex as India. While our trips are tough, they can never be compared to the life of one Delhi’s many cycle rickshaws…

Pics 1 and 4 copyright EF

Diamox and acclimatisation

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People worry about acclimatisation, given the relatively short time of the trips and the altitude we’re riding at. We’ve tried not to make our itineraries too tight, so they should allow everyone to acclimatise as we ride – but we all respond differently to these unknown conditions.

Diamox (Acetazolamide) is increasingly being used by travellers to high altitude destinations. It’s a well established drug that’s commonly used to treat glaucoma and other medical conditions. It acts to reduce the amount of bicarbonate that the body produces and also causes some water to be lost. It’s a weak diuretic and it alters the balance of chemicals in the blood. These changes stimulate the respiratory system to breathe more rapidly and therefore get more oxygen into the bloodstream. As such, it has been shown to have a positive impact in acclimatization for some people.

We learn things every year from running these tours, and last year a few riders found it to be a real benefit, while others didn’t get on so well with taking it. But it’s certainly worth thinking about, and discussing Diamox with your physician.

Contact Details

Cara and I are backwards and forward over the next couple of weeks – I’m off desert-touring with my brother and Cara’s heading down to the Vercors for some quality tarmac action and French nosh at Gastrobiking. So if you want to get in touch, please cc your emails to caracoolbaugh@yahoo.com and cassgilbert@yahoo.co.uk

We’ll both be checking our mail whenever we get the chance.

Thanks (-:

Chandra: official mascot

chandra one fine morning

Cara thinks I’m getting broody for a pooch.

This summer, we befriended Chandra, a mountain mongrel. Well, we fed him and sensibly, he hung around for more. We found him at Chandra Tal (after which he’s named), a high altitude lake on the edge of the Spiti Valley. A tough little fellow, he slept outside at 4200m curled up in a tight ball like a furry woodlice. He was an instant success with all the dog lovers on the tour, and even Cara relunctantly agreed there was something rather special about him. So it was with sorrow that we said our goodbyes when it was time to ride on.

But our paths were to cross once more. As luck would have it, we found Chandra lounging in the sun at an Indian dhaba – a truckstop – in the windswept settlement of Battal, a couple of weeks later on round 2 of our Spiti Epic trip. Perhaps lured by promise of more home cooked leftovers, he followed us back to the campsite, some 15km away. Everyone took to him, and over the next couple of days he trotted alongside us as we rode (cunningly shortcutting the switchbacks) or hopped in the jeep (and generally vomited en route) to meet us at the campsite.

At night, Chandra slept in the porch of our tent, out of the wind. Relative luxury. I’m a bit of a soft touch with dogs so I had to make the boundaries very clear, I was told. Tent Porch: Ok. Inner Tent: Bad. Apparently, dogs don’t understand ‘special occasions’, like Christmas and Birthdays, so *no* meant *no*. Or at least, all except for the one night, when he drove us insane by barking for hours on end in the middle of nowhere (protecting us, he would have us believe). On this one occasion I was allowed (or rather, instructed) to invite him inside, where he soon fell fast asleep; allowing us to too.

His origins were something of an enigma. Someone said he was a shepard’s dog, but that the shepard had gone home for the winter and left him. It wasn’t long before I was contemplating the logistics of bringing him back to the UK. We inspected his teeth and admired the sheen of his coat. He was as fit as a fiddle, and at 20kg, he’d fit nicely into the wicker basket in my two wheeled bike trailer. Although there were a few ‘lookalikes’ in the area (he was a mongrel after all), none of the others had his gentle demeanour, his characterful scar across the nose or unusual half-docked tail. But as it turned out our driver, Phuntchok, offered to take him to his family home for the winter in Tabo, where he could live like a king in an orchard.

He was a good pooch, and we’ll miss him. Hopefully we’ll catch up next year. Who knows, maybe he’ll have sired some pups we can smuggle back in our Camelbaks…

cheeky chandra

Tell your friends! Custom-built tours…

Our aim is to put together well-researched tours that don’t cost a fortune, yet are adventurous, off-the-beaten track and have a chilled out vibe. As a small company, filling the trips is always our biggest challenge. So if you’re part of a cycling club, or have a group of like-minded friends, we can not only tailor make the tours to your requirements (by tweaking the distances or number of days), but offer a discount too.

We prefer not to go above a group size of 8, plus the two of us, which has worked well in the past. It’s a nice, sociable size without making too much of an impact wherever we go. Just give us a ring and we can discuss things.


Please check out our main website for details on our bike trips to the Indian Himalayas.

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