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Why Don't You Fly?

16,500 miles from Worcestershire to Beijing on a bicycle .
No accomplice. No support crew. No engine. And no ghost writer! . 

You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were;
and I say, 'Why not?'  (George Bernard Shaw)

‘Why Don’t You Fly?’ is the amazing story of a single handed bicycle ride from the UK to Beijing with a round tour of the Indian sub-continent thrown in just for fun. 

“The unusual response to redundancy had neatly polarised reactions amongst family and friends. My sister and youngest brother had loved the concept of a bicycle ride across Asia and their enthusiastic support helped me through those times when, assailed by doubts, I wondered if I ought to go through with it.

My other brother, though, was less sure. ‘It seems a very Chris Smith type of thing to do,’ he remarked dubiously when he phoned from his apartment in Manhattan.

My father pronounced himself undecided as to whether it was a good or a daft idea, or a combination of both.

‘I don’t think you should go,’ declared a former girlfriend. ‘It’s too dangerous.’

‘Eighteen months by bicycle?’ exclaimed a friend who clearly thought that I’d finally lost my sanity. ‘Why don’t you fly, Christopher?’ he continued with the exaggerated patience normally reserved for the very young or the mentally retarded. ‘Instead of taking eighteen months to get to Sydney you’d be there in eighteen hours!’

Subtitled ‘Back Door to Beijing – by Bicycle’, this is an exceptional book about an exceptional journey.. In describing a parallel inner journey that investigates the nature of being, ‘Why Don’t You Fly?’ has transcended divides of gender, age, class and education to entrance even those readers without any previous interest in cycling or foreign travel because this is much more than a travelogue or a book about a bicycle ride; ‘Why Don’t You Fly?’ is a book about the human condition

No ghost-writer.
Smith’s smart, honest prose is crafted superbly and peppered with wonderful moments of drama, dialogue and real humanity.  (Asia and Away Magazine)

man and bke

"Mad dogs and Englishmen......"


"Karl Marx and Careful Driving "
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Why Don't you Fly?
Published by Penn Press www.penpress.net

Find synopses of all 23 chapters with pictures of the journey

See maps of the route with additional pictures



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