Fellow Fauxbos Update (The Steve Edition)

Good fortune has brought two new Fauxbos into my life!  Both of the Steve variety.  I’m please to introduce you to:

 

1) Dr. Stephen Fabes

steve f

Shared Exploits: 160km off-road bikepacking, 30km trekking, and not inconsiderable amounts of beer and apple pie over two weeks on the Annapurna Circuit, October 2014.   

I first heard about this guy nearly two years ago at a couchsurfing clothes swap in Taipei.  Another participant saw my bike and said “Oh, you’re a cyclist?  You cycled 3 months and 5,000km from northern China to get here?  Yeah, that’s cool.  I’ve got a friend who’s a cyclist, too.  He’s been on the road for three years – did Europe and Africa first, then flew to South America, rode up the Andes and the west coast of the USA, and is somewhere in Alaska now, probably about to reach the arctic ocean.  Oh, and he’s a doctor.”  That sure shut me up.

Fast forward two years and Steve is still waaaaaayyy ahead of me, with 5 years, 6 continents, 60,000km, and a bajillion page hits under his belt now.  (Proportionally, though, it’s not quite as bad a walloping as it was way back when.)   He’s turned it into quite a life, writing articles for CNN, AdventureCyclist, the Cycle Tourist Handbook, and other reputable publications, as well as giving presentations here and there –  sometimes even for $$$!  Way to go, bro!

I had been following Steve’s blog, Cycling the 6, since then.  Oddly enough, though, it was Steve that got in touch with me while scouring the net in search of info about cycling across Myanmar; it seems like our band of Fauxbos made a bit of a splash on the biking blogosphere.  I advised him as best I could, then continued wandering around India’s Northeast with Chris the Shaky while Steve, in a hurry to get back to England and return to normal life, booked it straight towards Nepal.  Our paths crossed in Darjeeling, where we spent a few days awkwardly asking each other the same questions we get tired of answering to locals – route, distances, gear, problems, gear problems, danger spots, top 10s, and so forth.  Somehow, when your interlocutor has suffered through the exact same stuff, it’s not so monotonous to talk about.

Fate had more in store for us than just a few days’ conversation, though.  A month later, Steve and I reconvened at Mango Tree Eco Resort, just south of the start of the Annapurna trekking circuit – not to trek, but to bike it.   Due to a freak Bay of Bengal dry-season typhoon, the higher elevations on the Annapurna circuit received a freak 36-hour snowstorm that dropped about two meters of white stuff over trail and non-trail alike, making it impossible for us to cross Torong La pass (5416m) and set personal records in the process.  Still, we had a great time agonizing together over whether to push on or turn around, commiserating about the state of the “road,” and marvelling at the uncanny, otherworldy beauty of the Manang valley knee- (sometimes waist-)deep in powder.

Fun fact: On his blog, Steve often makes light of his enormous appetite and the scoffs it engenders in locals who happen to see him sit down and dine; I hereby corroborate every word of it.  It was no rare occurrence for him to polish off his second helpings of rice and lentils before I had finished my first, and I’m pretty sure that in Darjeeling I saw him down a 3,000 calorie breakfast platter before the waiter had managed to set it on the table.

Steve’s on the last year and last leg of his trip, hoping to cross the Himalayas while it’s still possible and make it back to England sometime in 2015.   Read his blog while you still can – it’s recently been voted the tenth most popular cycle touring blog in existence , a title which I hope to steal, and mayhaps surpass, once his trip winds down!

 

 

2)  Thomas Stevens

aka the Original Cycle Fauxbo / Shenaniganist

stevens 220px-Thomas_Stevens_bicycle
The Man The Legend

I haven’t met Tom here, since he’s been six feet under for the last eighty years, but thanks to his book “Around the World on a Bicycle,” (1896), I know more about his cycle shenanigans than I do about my own.  I highly suggest you read the book for yourself (it’s free on Project Gutenberg), as it’s full of interesting details about what cycling the world was like before anyone had ever done it before.  Forget GPS and self-pitching tents –  bicycles themselves didn’t even exist in most of the places Stevens visited outside of Europe.  He often sleeps outside without shelter, fires his revolver at wild animals for sport, pushes his bikes for miles on end through country with no roads at all, “sups on naught but the memories of [his] noontide repast,” and in general kicks my ass in just about every possible way.  Oh, and he rode a penny farthing!  All this and more in the first 100 pages of volume one of the book!

From the preface:

“We found that modern mechanical invention, instead of disenchanting the universe, had really afforded the means of exploring its marvels the more surely. Instead of going round the world with a rifle, for the purpose of killing something, – or with a bundle of tracts, in order to convert somebody – this bold youth simply went round the globe to see the people who were on it; and since he always had something to show them as interesting as anything that they could show him, he made his way among all nations.”

Choice Quotations and Excerpts:

“I am suddenly confronted by a pond of liquid mud that bars my farther progress down the mountain. A recent slide of land and rock has blocked up the narrow channel of the stream, and backed up the thick yellow liquid into a pool of uncertain depth. There is no way to get around it; perpendicular walls of rock and slippery yellow clay rise sheer from the water on either side. There is evidently nothing for it but to disrobe without more ado and try the depth. Besides being thick with mud, the water is found to be of that icy, cutting temperature peculiar to cold brine, and after wading about in it for fifteen minutes, first finding a fordable place, and then carrying clothes and wheel across, I emerge on to the bank formed by the land-slip looking as woebegone a specimen of humanity as can well be imagined. Plastered with a coat of thin yellow mud from head to foot, chilled through and through, and shivering like a Texas steer in a norther, feet cut and bleeding in several places from contact with the sharp rocks, and no clean water to wash off the mud! With the assistance of knife, pocket-handkerchief, and sundry theological remarks which need not be reproduced here, I finally succeed in getting off at least the greater portion of the mud, and putting on my clothes. The discomfort is only of temporary duration; the agreeable warmth of the after-glow exhilarates both mind and body, and with the disappearance of the difficulty to the rear cornea the satisfaction of having found it no harder to overcome.”

“Business is generally suspended, and in every shady nook and corner one sees a swarthy ragamuffin stretched out at full length, perfectly happy and contented if only he is allowed to snooze the hours away in peace.”

“I emerge upon a level plateau of considerable extent, across which very fair wheeling is found; but before noon the inevitable mountains present themselves again, and some of the acclivities are trundleable only by repeating the stair-climbing process of the Kara Su Pass.”

“With something of a penchant for undertaking things never before accomplished, I proposed one morning to take a walk around the ramparts that encompass the Persian capital.”

“Inshallah! fortune will favor me with better dues to- morrow; and if not to-morrow, then the next day, or the next.”

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