Jim Malusa pauses on a salt flat in Death Valley.

Bicyclists frequently head for the loftiest pass, but Jim Malusa headed the other way: to the lowest point on six continents. He’ll recount those trips, and the book he wrote about them, in a talk at the Arizona Senior Academy beginning at 3:30 p.m. Thursday (Oct. 26).

From 1996 to 2001, Malusa embarked on a series of “anti-expeditions” to the “anti-summits.” His first trip took him to Lake Eyre in the arid heart of Australia. Next he followed Moses’ route from the valley of the Nile to the Jordanian shore of the Dead Sea, and then raced against winter through Russian farmlands, from Moscow to the Caspian Sea.

Later journeys found him battling the winds of Patagonia while pedaling across the Andes to Salina Grande, taking a chance in tiny Djibouti to reach Lac Assal in the Horn of Africa, and finally riding from his Tucson home to Death Valley.

Malusa is a Research Scientist in the U of A’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment. He long ago discovered that bicycle touring is a dandy way to see the world, and subscribes to the notion that travel without surprise is merely an agenda.

For his presentation at Arizona Senior Academy, Malusa will read from his book, Into Thick Air (Sierra Club Books, 2008), and show slides of the land and people along the road to the world’s great depressions.

Into Thick Air was one of six “under the radar” reads picked by NPR’s Nancy Pearl for her 2014 Summer Reading List. A review in the New York Times Sunday Book Review said “…his descriptions of desert landscapes can be extraordinary…You can almost feel the dry gusts turning Malusa’s lips into cracked leather.”

Posted by Mike Maharry, Academy Village Volunteer

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Oct. 26: A Bicyclist’s Journeys ‘Into Thick Air’
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