With plenty of sunscreen and a cold beer swaddled in his sleeping bag, writer and botanist Jim Malusa bicycled alone to the lowest point on each of six continents, a six-year series of “anti-expeditions” to the “anti-summits.” His journeys took him to Lake Eyre in the arid heart of Australia, along Moses’ route to the Dead Sea, and from Moscow to the Caspian Sea. He pedaled across the Andes to Patagonia, around tiny Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, and from Tucson to Death Valley. With a scientist’s eye, he vividly observes local landscapes and creatures. As a lone man, he is overfed by grandmothers, courted by ladies of the night in Volgograd, invited into a mosque by Africa’s most feared tribe, chased by sandstorms and hurricanes yet Malusa keeps riding. His reward: the deep silence of the world’s great depressions. A large-hearted narrative of what happens when a friendly, perceptive American puts himself at the mercy of strange landscapes and their denizens, Into Thick Air presents one of the most talented new voices in contemporary travel writing.
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Table of Contents
Introduction: An Odd Character in the Bush 1
Tucson to Darwin: A Wonderful Place to Bring Your Ex-Wife 11
Darwin to Lake Eyre: Bloody Big Stretch of Salt 17
Tucson to Cairo: We Cannot Guarantee Your Safety 57
Cairo to the Dead Sea: Do Not Forget That You Are in a Holy Place 74
Tucson to Moscow: Once in Russia There Was No Rich and No Poor 115
Moscow to the Capsian Sea: Special Training for Survival 124
Tucson to Puerto Montt: It All Comes on Ships 163
Puerto Montt to Salina Grande: This Wind Is Just an Everyday Wind 170
Tucson to Djibouti Town: Usually in Afternoon We Are Eating the Khat 209
Djibouti Town to Lac Assal: Nobody Has Come on a Bicycle 231
Tucson: That Sounds Just Awful 265
Tucson to Death Valley: Way Down in That Hole Where There Ain't No Noise 269
Bicycle Touring and Books 315
About the Author 321
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Into Thick Air: Biking to the Bellybutton of Six Continents based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
This book is very well written and is an easy read. There is a great mixture of cultural, geographical and historical information provided throughout the book. Malusa also adds a some wonderful humor into the situations he finds himself in. This book is the story of six amazing journeys, journeys that are unique, exciting and not even thought of by most.
Author Jim Malusa takes us on six separate bike journeys, each to the lowest point of a continent. Only Antartica is excluded from this list. The journeys are compelling, particularly jaunts through South Russia and Eritrea, where one's safety cannot be guaranteed, and Malusa can tell a good story, mixing in historical and cultural tidbits along the way. What I found a bit frustrating about this account was the lack of time references. It took me a while to figure out-- and only through hints, inferences and doing some math--that the trips are spaced years apart. Some of them occurred in the 1990s. Few cyclists can undertake such trips, but those of us who have done cross-country journeys would have benefitted by learning a more about the type of bike, panniers and other equipment Malusa carried. One thing I did like, and that is often sadly lacking in travel narratives, is the customized maps. All in all the book is worth reading even if you have not pedalled a bicycle since grade school.