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Who is Christopher J A
By the age of seven Chris Smith was excelling at Geography tests involving countries
and oceans and rivers and capital cities. During the long summer vacations at university he hitchhiked the length and breadth of Europe and thumbed his way into Africa and Asia. After graduating he spent three hideous months injecting jelly into pork pies in order to fund a trip to the USA, where he drove cars from New York to San Franciscoand back.
He went on to drive six-axle lorries all over Western Europe, the Eastern Bloc, Scandinavia, and
eventually to the Soviet Union and, after its dissolution in 1991, to the former Soviet Republics. During the frozen winters he had to contend with sheet-ice a foot thick, and an armed Russian policeman would ride in the passenger seat between Moscow and Kazakhstan to prevent attacks by bandits. He gave up this nomadic existence to work in a number of management positions but never really took to the office environment of computer and telephone. Following a split with a long-term girlfriend and redundancy, he announced – to general disbelief – that he was going to attempt to cross the Eurasian landmass by bicycle. He lives in the picturesque
Worcestershire town of
Bewdley and keeps in tip-top condition by cycling 25 miles every day to and from
work – just in case he should ever feel inclined to pedal his way around
(Click the picture for a larger image)
opted for S.J.S. Cycles’ Thorn EXP, a custom-made long-haul expedition bicycle with Reynolds 725 steel tubing.
26-inch heels made for a low centre of gravity and stability under heavy
loads, and in keeping with a philosophy that favoured toughness and longevity over high average speeds, I selected Vredestein Spider 26 x 1.9 tyres. A 26-42-52 crank-set was married to an eight-speed 11-34 cassette, the
massive 52-tooth outer chain-ring enabling the maintenance of high
cruising speeds on well-maintained asphalt. On Turkey’s precipitous Black
Sea Coast, however, I was twice obliged to use bottom gear. After some
initial misgivings (I’d never used cleats before) I chose Shimano M535 SPD
pedals, both for extra push-pull torque on hills and to ensure that my
feet were always firmly anchored to the optimum position on the pedals.
Disengaging my boots never proved to be a problem when coming to a halt,
and even during falls my feet automatically separated themselves from the
pedals. Luggage was placed in Carradice panniers (mounted front and rear),
an Agu bar-bag, and a standard kit bag that was slung on top of the rear
panniers and secured to the rack with a bungee strap. A Cateye Enduro 2
trip-computer logged daily times and distances".