I recently finished reading Anne Mustoe’s Two Wheels in the Dust: From Kathmandu to Kandy (2001), a book about biking the route of the Ramayana’s major characters Rama, Sita and their divine assistant, Hanuman, the monkey king.
I’d hoped that this adventurous woman, who’d be in her 80s by now, was still going strong. Unfortunately, she died in Syria in 2009, on what turned out to be her last bike ride.
I have a copy of the Ramayana, but found it difficult to read. No superlative is ever too much where this epic is concerned, which makes for hard going. It must work better in song or theatrical form. Now that I’ve seen it through Anne’s eyes, I’ll try to read it again.
Last November, I spent a month in Nepal. While in Kathmandu, I glimpsed a beaten up long distance cyclist pushing his rig through the Thamel neighborhood. He was the dustiest person I’ve ever seen, and had his gear wrapped in torn black garbage bags. He disappeared before I catch up and chat. The fact that I wanted to “catch up” with someone who looked like a dangerous vagrant says a lot about how long distance cycling changes your outlook on life.
Where ever I travel these days, I check the terrain for cycling possibilities. That's what riding long distance in France, followed by long distance in the USA, and in New Zealand does to you. For now, I won't be broaching the subject of riding from Nepal through India to Sri Lanka with non-riding friends, as they'd think I was crazy. With the right mindset, which solo female cycling in the subcontinent would demand in spades, I think it would be a grand trip.
Thank you Anne Mustoe, former headmistress, and late-to-riding pioneer, for lighting the path for the rest of us.