Full Tilt is a classic travelogue that describes the journey of Dervla Murphy from Ireland to India.
The author took the challenging expedition in January 1963 with her 2-year old bicycle named Rozinate.
In those days in the absence of technology, she used paper maps to plan her route and calculate the distance from Dunkirk to Delhi.
Her preparation for the journey was simple one with a saddle bag, bell, lamp, a pump, and pannier bags. Before leaving Ireland, she posted ahead four tyres to various British Embassies and consulates to use them enroute.
On her way, she battled rough weather, and extreme temperatures such as snowfalls, lashing rains, winds and blazing sun.
She rode on the top of mountains, with valleys, negotiated hairpin bends, pedaling on the endless roads with unplanned stays in the remote areas.
She carried a .25 pistol to ward off threats from strangers and animals and used it when she doubted her instincts.
Dervla Murphy lived on the generosity of unknown people, sought help from policemen and authorities for her stay, visa and paperwork.
The solitary rider once fell ill, fainted and broke her ribs and was advised not to cycle for a month by an Afghan doctor.
In another instance, she got bitten by a Scorpio on her toe and had to get treated for it .
She was in luck to be hosted by dignitaries from the government and military offices and rejoiced at the local flavor of food, festivals and cultures.
Enroute, she witnessed an unusual sight of an eagle killing a snake and lunching on it and escaping landslides along the route.
Full Tilt is based on a daily diary of the author which she maintained while riding through the Balkans, Iran, Afghanistan and – over the Himalayas – into Pakistan and India.
A solo traveler on a bicycle with a revolver in her trouser pocket was a rare occurrence in those days and caught the attention of people wherever she went.
It took six months for Dervla to arrive in Delhi. She extended her stay in India and worked with the Tibetans and enjoyed a few more treks in the Himalayas and south-west Nepal.
In February 1964, Dervla took a return flight back to Ireland with a dismantled Roz by her side.
Dervla Murphy set a great example of long-distance travel on a bicycle and pioneered a form of adventure travel that has inspired generations.
Over half a century after it was first published, Full Tilt remains a hugely popular classic of travel writing.
Full Tilt is a highly engaging story of a women traveler and a must read for everyone.
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Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai
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