Links and Further Information
Cycle Touring, in Asia and Elsewhere
Pavel Protopopov's Russian translation of the part of this website dealing with the Manali-Leh Highway is here.
Per Löwdin has a website describing trekking and cycling trips in Asia, including a page specifically on the Manali-Leh highway with lots of photographs. Be warned though-his pages are big and take some serious downloading if you've a slow connection. He was also very helpful when I emailed him with specific questions about the road before we set off on our trip-cheers, Per.
Raju, whom we met in Manali, organises treks and cycle tours in Kullu and Ladakh including along the Manali-Leh highway, and is a pretty good bloke. His phone numbers are 0091-1902-259334 (residence) or 0091-98160-56934 (mobile), website here. If you need a guide, and a van to carry your kit, get in contact with him. If you can't find him by email or on the phone, he usually hangs out at "Chopsticks" restaurant on the Mall in Manali-he's the bloke in the cycling jersey.
Tracksterman (a.k.a. Pete Jones) used to have a great site on cycle touring in Asia and the UK, but seems to have become a bit disenchanted with the web now and has sadly decided to take down his site. Following the letter if not the spirit of the law, this link is to the Wayback Machine's archived version of his site.
Another useful site on the Karakorum Highway is by David Leathern: plenty of advice on all matters pertaining to cycling in Pakistan and China.
Corax has a tremendous site with lots of useful information such as distances and altitude profiles for several routes in high Asia.
The Ordre des Cols Durs is the club for people who enjoy cycling in high places. They publish a newsletter and have information collated by members on big hills and their cyclability in many parts of the world , especially the French and Italian Alps.
The Rough Stuff Fellowship is the British off-road cyclists club founded about 20 years before the mountain bike was "invented". They publish a club magazine of off-road rides, and maintain lists of off-road passes and routes navigable by bike.
A book that everyone planning on cycling this part of the world should read is Journey to the Centre of the Earth, by Richard and Nicholas Crane. It describes a mid-80s expedition from the coast of Bangladesh through India, Nepal, the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau to the "Centre of the Earth", which they defined as the point farthest from any open sea. This turns out to be somewhere north of the Gobi Desert. The great thing about their expedition is that it redefined what is possible-those guys were totally unsupported, yet they did the trip on lightweight road racing bikes with almost no kit, averaging 100km/day. Now, whenever anyone tells me that to do x "you have to have a mountain bike/suspension/2.5" tyres/GPS/whatever" I always think of this. I believe that this book is currently out of print, but it was been made available on the internet briefly and may still be read here.
Nick Crane has also written Cycling in Europe with ideas and advice for good tours in most European countries.
Francis' and Sheila's Virtual Alps are a wonderful resource for the Alpine cyclist, "reviewing" hundreds of cols and with plenty of great photographs.
The Trento Bike Pages contain a library with reports and information on touring in many countries, mostly in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
George Farnsworth maintains a site entitled "Travel with Bicycles", with variably up-to-date remarks from many different travellers on different airlines' and airports' attitudes to taking bikes as part of one's luggage.
Fixed Gear Riding
Sheldon Brown of the Harris Cyclery in Newton, Massachusetts has a wealth of information about riding a fixed gear on his website, including articles on why it's so great, how to convert an old bike to fixed gear and is also a source of parts.
Fixedwheel.org is a British site about riding fixed on the road, with technical information on converting bikes and a fairly comprehensive list of suppliers of fixed parts in the UK. Update October 2005: The domain is still there, but the site content appears to have vanished.
Fixed Wheel is another British fixie site. Its emphasis is on road timetrialling using a fixed gear, of which there is a long tradition in the UK. As if to prove the fix's undoubted superiority, the 10 and 25 mile time trial records are still held on fixed I believe, even in this age of titanium 20-speed "speed of thought" transmissions. Wish the bloke would get his apostrophe licence though.
The fixed gear list is a mailing list about riding fixed gear, mostly on the road. You have to subscribe, but it seems to be pretty spam- and flame-free.
Spiritual Guides have a page with brief summaries of many villages, monasteries and places of interest in Ladakh.
Jan Bruyndonckx of Belgium has a page in which he describes his experiences in Ladakh, and others on other parts of India.
Although I don't read French and so haven't read his site (sorry!), Fred Ferchaux has a site describing cycling in many parts of the world, including on the Manali-Leh Highway.
British citizens require a visa for India, valid for 6 months after issue for up to a one-month stay. The cost is £30 (2001), and the form is available at the Indian High Commission website. Although nowadays no special permit is required to visit Ladakh, as was the case up until about 20 years ago, it is probably best not to complicate things by saying that one plans to visit Ladakh; just put a standard Agra-Delhi-Manali-type tourist itinery on the form.
The Lonely Planet discussion forum, called the "Thorn Tree", has groups on both India and cycling. There's a lot of dross posted there, but luckily the cycle group at least seems to be one of the ones with a fairly high info:crap ratio.
When planning medical kit and vaccinations for a trip, nothing beats the Royal Geographical Society Expedition Medicine guide (2nd edition.), edited by David Warrell and Sarah Anderson. ISBN 1 86197 434 5.
My club is the Edinburgh Triathletes.
Rob Blomquist's Trilog Excel Spreadsheet is now here.
Xtri.com is a brilliant triathlon site, with an emphasis on long-distance, draft-free (i.e., as god intended) racing.
Slowtwitch, run by the former boss of Quintana Roo, is a good laugh, and has pretty good on reviews of new cycle kit and so on.
The British Triathlon Association is the UK's governing body, and have a list of races on their site.
St John's Street Cycles have a good range of otherwise not-easy-to-find bike stuff, especially good for touring. They do a fast mail order service as well, and know what they're on about.
Edinburgh Bicycle aren't cheap, but they have some touring-related stuff, and also do mail order. (Not that I care, as they are just round the corner from me).