Thursday, October 11, 2007


some snaps of trip:

flickr map

flickr collection

Saturday, October 6, 2007


The end.

Writing this sitting in an airplane flying back to Shanghai. Well trip is over and pleased about that as getting too cold in that part of the world and seen the places we would have gone through for last remaining 2 days. Will be nice to see the family again and visit the hospital to find out if I have broken my coax.

Hold on for the next exiting installment / trip. Will fat oliver stay cycling and not gain the 0.002 kg he lost during the trip after his 100th chocolate bar, will mowah knees repair themselves, will John be able to walk again, and will I be able sit down.

Friday, October 5, 2007


From: Between Dunhuang and Anxi
somewhere west.




mini hills, desert, oasis and lake.

wind and cold.

JJ>>Good breakfast, paid up our luxury hotel and hit the road in a mini van. Did that for 2 hours (140km) and past some very boring desert. Got dropped off in a small town in the middle of nowhere. Ride started off very nicely down small country roads. Then the wind really started to blow and got cold. Fought against that for a few hours and hit the highway. Boring scenery again and getting too cold combined with seeing he forecast yesterday made us cancel the rest of the ride and get in a bus to our finial destination. That was a wise decision as started to rain and cycling in that at 3 degrees would have been no fun. Arrived Jayuguan, washed, met a guy cycling from Spain to Beijing, eat and slept.

- a note to other cyclists who might be board enough to be reading this. Highway between Jayuguan and Dunhuang is boring and the old 315 starts and stops and hits the highway. Don't bother cycling on it. There is a much nicer roads going through green townships for much of the tourney. Speak to a taxi driver and get them to tell you the names of the small towns south of the highway of Anxi or west of highway of Yumen. A much pleasanter ride.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


JJ>> Rest day. Visited the caves. Too many people so gave up! nice lunch. town not saying much. forcasted snow in Jiayuguan. we do not have cold weather clothes so i do not like the sound of this! anyway have to check out what to do.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


From: Liuyuan
To: Dunhuang
KM: 135
Time: 5.23
Average: 25.1
Terrain: downhill, flat
Other: nice easy day, desert and oasis.

JJ>> Left early after instant noodles. Think best average of trip and a pleasant days cycle. First 60km slow downhill with back wind meant only one or two peddle strokes for first two hours. Then an easy flat through oasis's and desert. Stopped for a melon and then lunch sitting in a oasis cotton field (must be a big crop here). Strange to see lush green and avenues of trees again. Arrived in Dunhuang to our luxury hotel at 3pm, a bath and a needed massage. My ass is killing and looking forwarded to a day off the bikes tomorrow. In a good mood as have completed the original mission without one car ride and my trip of last year. Still two days ride ahead but that's relatively easy.

OM>> That was the easiest 140km i'll ever do. it's known in the cycling world as, ' a really easy days cycling' and for good reason. now staying at the fanciest hotel yet.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


From: Xingxingxia
To: Liuyuan (Gangsu)
KM: 93
Time: 4.15
Average: 22
Terrain: desert
Other: still tired after the last day.

JJ>>Late start off at 11am after noodles for breakfast. Hard to push on as warn out from day before. After too many stops we make it into Liuyuan. Nice to have a hotel room with a toilet and hopefully some hot water later. Nice dinner, few beers, DVD and sleep.

OM>>This was more like it.. 80k, really nice slow ride as we were both wacked out. As we approached the town it felt like i was cycling through sticky toffee pudding. We watched the Flying Scottsman on DVD at a 1 star hotel to try to get some inspiration but it was crap and did nothing for us. worring about the next 140k ride we fell asleep with a few beers in our bellys'.

Monday, October 1, 2007


From: Hami
To: Xingxingxia
KM: 210
Time: 10
Average: 21
Terrain: oasis for first 30km. Then desert for 180km.
Other: too long a day.

JJ>> start the ride at 8.30 feeling hungover from too much KFC and DVDs. Slow start to the day with slow uphill and wind against us. Hit some town after 80km and filled up our lunch boxes and bought lots of water. After that just desert. Not your sandy type but more rocks, boulders and quite a lot of greenery. The road go's slowly up down up down, imagine a 200km circle with ridges every 10km. Stop for lunch after 120km. A nice brake from a sore ass and the sun. Carry on slowly, always hard getting cycling again after lunch. Sun starts to set around 8pm, put on the lights and slowly dodge the trucks and cycle our way up hill to Xingxingxia. Arrive at 10.15 absolutely nackered. By far the hardest days cycling. Armpit of a hotel. Eat, wash and sleep.

OM>> Thought we were doing so well to have done 12okm before lunch, an easy 80 i thought, put my head down and do 4 hours and we'd be there, but it just wasn't that simple. The wind was slightly against us and by the time we were back on the road it was about 4. i soon realised i was really tired. then it started getting dark and we were nowhere near our destination. we'd also been told there was an 18k climb at the end. we were on a small road with lots of trucks, wind and up and round and up and round. i thought Xingxingxia would never come. then over and round a corner we saw lights in the distance and it was a long free wheel into the town/truckstop to the nastiest place we'ed stayed yet. we were exhaused but i guess felt we'd achieved something.

At 10k we saw this sign..

Interesting landscape.

Sun goes down.

Noodles and a beer.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


JJ>> Hami - rest day 2. Did not even make it to some tourist site. Very pathetic. More internet, KFC for lunch :), john off, DVD, internet, KFC, DVD and sleep. Fucking lazy but needed it.

Now that's what i call an oasis...... mmmmm

Saturday, September 29, 2007


JJ>> rest day. John is out!!! His Achilles is hurting too much to walk much let alone ride long days. All the way from England to Shanghai to Xinjiang and 3 days riding and then you injure yourself and cannot go on. Problem with Achilles injuries as I well know is they take months to sort themselves out. Only now me and Oliver. Depressing that john and mowah are our out.

Anyway have to push on and half way through the trip. Two days rest here will help as bodies are tired and need repair. Hami seems like a nice enough place. Larger and greener than Turpan. Next leg onto Dunhuang will probably be hardest of trip.

Spent today resting, organizing, packing up john (he is off to HK), internet and eating. Tomorrow some tourism as would be nice to see at least one sight along the way.

Friday, September 28, 2007


From: Hong Shan Kou
To: Hami
KM: 189
Time: 8.28
Average: 22.3
Terrain: 43km uphill then nice downhill followed by flat ground 100km into Hami.
Other: very strong wind against us while going up hill.

JJ>> Woke at 6.45 after a night of sleeping on wood planks to a breakfast of plain buns, seaweed soup and greasy potatoes. Dark and windy outside. Sun rises and wind dies down a little. On the bikes at 7.30 and non stop wind blowing in the wrong direction combined with a hard assent for 40 odd KM's make this one of the hardest uphill I have ever done. Arrive at 1550m at the top, wind changes direction and we sail downhill for 70km. Stop for a very welcome lunch by a oasis farm overlooking snow peaked mountains. This is more of what the trip is mean to be about. Back on the bikes and 70km we hit Hami. Very nice local school girl on a cycle shows us the way to the hotel. Nice to be here and nice hotel. John does not seem much better. Oliver demands Han food so we have a rather bad hotel dinner. Then sleep.

OM>> Woke at dawn and went out to the back of the place we were staying to do a 'big one', to use a local phrase. The guy told me to go behind a wall past a sandy windswept hut. The scene felt like a post-apocalyptic wasteland covered in the remnants of past guests with a sharp wind and barking dogs. The first 2 hours of riding was hell.. up up up against a nasty headwind. i thought it was going to be a really tough day. but the road eventually turned so the wind was more in our favour and then came a 10k descent.. it was so nice to free wheel for a while. The rest of the day was flat and nice to ride.

Both very happy to see flat ground.

Had lunch here.

Didn't give us chopsticks so Oliver carved some from twiggs. "Being quick to addapt to ones suroundings is key in any survival situation", he said.

This was a new road under construction beside the highway which we used for about 50km to get away from the trucks.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


From: Shanshan
To: Hong Shan Kou (mouth of red mountain)
KM: 132
Time: 6.30
Average: 20.4
Terrain: long slow climb to 1270m.
Other: up with wind in the wrong direction.

JJ>> Tired. Staying in a 10rmb truck stop. Having a beer and looking over some desert with mountains in the background. A long slog mostly uphill with the wind blowing against us made today quite a tough one. Lunch of noodles under a low overpass to excape the sun. Oli and myself tired. Little too tired to write this so over to oli.

OM>>Down to two today as we put John in a taxi this morning with a pulled muscle. We entered the desert at about 11am. Cycling in the desert is a very different basic cycling experience. Now there is very little reason to look up as it looks the same every time you do. It made the day very different and I really struggled for a while because of it... and my legs hurt. We eventually arrived in our destinaion which I thought would be a town as it is listed on the map, but it is infact a truck stop. We have a small room in the back of an (eatery(?)). Our room has two straw beds, a coal stove and a ver dusty floor. Lots of trucks are starting to turn up, I think it's going to get busy. Really tired, long ride tomorrow with a big up hill. Looking forward to some food and a good sleep.
Unfortunately my camera has corrupted some of my photo's so only a few images :( Managed to take some photo's off the screen)

Nowhere to stop for lunch today so we picked up some food from a small town in the morning.

fresh noodles

Start of the desert.

End of day

Our room.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


From: Turpan
To: Shanshan
KM: 107
Time: 5.13
Average: 20.4
Terrain: Small long hills, desert.
Other: I crash again and john is out (hopefully not for whole trip)

JJ>> early rise and early breakfast. Get on the bikes and head 43km east to Thousand Buddha Caves. Don't see many caves or any Buddha's but scenery is impressive and a nice grape oasis. Lunch of normal veg and noodles and back on the bikes.

60km after lunch, weather is fine but getting hot and wind is against us. Desert all around with some hills running on the side. Looks like the moon again. Arrive in Shanshan and Johns Achilles is shot. He will get a taxi to Hami and rest for 3 days and we'll see if any better by then. If ok he is back on the trip. If not he will have to fly back. Kind of crazy having half the team shot in such a short space of time. I am aching after stupidly falling over again and my achilles is also not doing so well. Anyway, hopefully a relatively easy one tomorrow followed by a tough 210km the day after.

Dirty beginning

Bert on a bike with Daddy in China..

Thousand Budda Caves. A bit of a forced tourist location.

Local transport

The last of John

And let this guy be a lesson to all of us...

Especially those who find themselves trailing at the back.

Haircut in a small town which cost 60 cents


From: Turpan
To: Turpan
KM: 0

JJ>>Poor mowah is out of the game with two buggered knees. Brief visit to the hospital, two x-rays and the doctor says to rest for a week. He will make his own way down by bus to see some of the sites along the way and then fly back earlier. We all feel kind of sad for him - shit.

No real time to see the sights but at least we can get things organized for next leg of trip to Hami. Nice lunch, visit to supermarket, clean bikes, organize bags, plan trip, beer in grape garden, dinner in market with dancing fountains.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


From: Urumqi
To: Turpan
KM: 205
Time: 8.24
Average: 24.4
Terrain: flat, downhill, flat
Other: wind wind wind, 1 flat

Late rise as everything is two hours behind Beijing time. Large healthy breakfast and then hit the road to another wet, raining and cold morning. Mowah gets another flat 1 hour into it and john comes to the rescue again. Bloody cold and wet. No one can feel their hands or feet. Get stopped by the police for going on the highway and their get our way on the G312 (the main road we are traveling on and ends or starts in Shanghai - 4200 km away). 2 hours later we decend away from the mountains, the weather starts to clear and walm and we have a decent backwind and sail into DaBaCheng 100km from Urumqi. Meet a local couple who are cycling against the wind in the oposit direction and 65years old - hats off to them. Good lunch of noodles and veg. Mowah's knees are buggered and he cannot ride anymore so he gets himself a taxi to turpan. We get on our way.

The wind starts to pick up and downhill through buitfull mountains. Hard to describe, brown earth, small green ground cover, rolling hills, snow peaked mountains in background and desert in forground. The wind really starts to pick up as we make our way down. I have never done 65km on a flat, let alone not peddling and using the brakes. Impossible to go in any direction other than with the wind behind you. After about 2 hours of that the G312 turns into a high way and we are stopped again by the police saying we cannot go forward as too windy. We turn around and slowly push our bikes agaist the wind in the opposite direction. 1 hour pusing we make 2km and bloody tiring. Arrive in a petrol station on the highway and decesion time wether to get a bus to turpan or try and cycle it. Some people say fine, others say impossible and too dangourous to do in force 10 winds, others say 20km and others 70km longer. Typical no one knows exactly how long or how the winds will be. Anyway we make the decesion to cycle it down the highway which I start to seriously regret 20 minutes later. As soon as the wind is to our side we get blown all over the road into a hard sholder of gravel every 5 minutes. Trucks come by, the wind stops for 2 seconds and then starts again and we get pushed and pulled all over the road. Not a pleasent thing when you are on a highway with speading trucks or cars. 1 hour of that and we are all tired and fed up. Oliver finds the remains of the old road and we decide to take that so we don't have to deal with the trucks. Terrible road which starts and stops and wholes everywhere but sheilded a bit by the wind. Start to make better progress and night falls. Lights on the bike, slowly slowly and then have to rejoin the highway again. Luckly wind is behind us now and we sail our way into Hami and arrive at the hotel 13 hours after the start. Nice dinner of roast chicken, lamb kidney and noodles which is a bloody nice welcome to energy bars. Good sleep and now off to the hospital with mowah to sort out his knee.

The pork chops departing the hotel.

Bert, ours mascot.

Cold and wet and frozen fingers and feet.

Another Flat Tire

The weather brakes and things get nicer.

Fellow cyclist. going in the other direction - west and against the wind and twice our age!

Down hill to the desert.

Afternoon and in a rather strong wind. Not to sure where we are or where we should be going.

This is what happens when you pee in a force 10. Wip lash.

A long way to go and its getting dark.

Dinner in the local market



From: TianChi
To: Urumqi
KM: 104
Time: 4.25
Terrain: downhill, then small hills
Average: 23.5
Other: cold, 2 flats

JJ>> Cold and wet start. After a over priced breakfast we made our way slowly down the mountain. I managed to skid out and end up on my ass. Not a good start. Hour downhill followed by mostly flat good road. Nice lunch of noodles and wantong. Rain all day which is kind of strange for this part of the world. People very friendly. Checked into an overpriced 4 star hotel and looking forward to a good dinner. Feeling the trip is starting and look forward for a long day tomorrow.

OM>> Great to finally get on the road after months of training and a re-occurring voice telling me I’d be the fat moaning kid at the back. I was happy to find this was not the case and I should be fit enough. It was a wet and cold day, not what we were told to expect by our guide/Justin… We stopped for lunch at the side of the road at a local market where we had bowls of won-ton soup and buns. It made me really appreciate traveling with two Chinese-speaking people who understand the culture well. The landscape was really beautiful and area interesting to cycle through. Although the weather was cold and wet it created a good atmosphere. Very happy to get warm and dry at the end of the day mind.

The trip starts! The boys with their toys

Down hill from Tian Chi where JJ wipes out. Cold, little snow and not what we expected.

typical landscape

5 start hotel in the middle on nowhere

More flats!

Lunch! A good one as they always are.

A happy eater.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


KM: 5.5
Terrain: up
Average: too slow to mention but it's not the start so does not matter.
Other: none.

JJ>> late rise as the time zones here are rather fucked up and following Beijing time which is two to three time zones out of sink. Decent breakfast followed by a bus trip which is allowed as not the start of the journey, TianChi (Heavenly Lake). 140km from Urumqi. Extremely short ride up the mountain to some ok yurts next to the lake. Nice place and luckily tourists just seem day types so not so busy. Lovely walk around half of lake, snow peaked mountains as backdrop. Good dinner of our normal 12 dishes and 12 beers.

OMM>> We built our bikes in front of a bemused crowd at the bottom of the mountain. I’m not sure what they must have thought. I couldn’t help feeling that while we looked serious and experienced it was being constantly undermined by a few wobbly bellies and the occasional double chin. The 5k(?) ride was humbling for me, I have realized how much I hate to climb.

It was absolutely beautiful once we reached the top and got away from the tourists. The pic’s say it all... The yuk we stayed in was very cosy, there was a low table in the middle that we ate at and an area of floor to sleep on. I love yuks :)



KM: 0
Terrain: lots
Average: 550kmh
Other: not feeling great.

JJ>> managed to leave Shanghai after a night on the piss. Oliver managed to loose his credit cards and John sitting next to me on the airplane sweating like a pig. Flying over lots of mountains and deserts. Urumqi is not saying much, well compared to much of what else is around here it probably is. Good dinner of the normal xinjiang fair and a long walk around the city looking for tupper-ware, maps and other odds and ends. Early sleep other than the occasional call from a chicken or as oliver would call them whores.

OM>>I only had 1.5hours sleep so I was a bit tired. I really like this place it has great energy. It's been a bit of an eye opener for me, for.. if before I left you showed me a map and asked me to point to the "arse end of nowhere", I might very well have pointed to Urumbiq, so to find such a vibrant city at the end of my ignorant finger has made me achingly aware of my unworldlyness... Looking forward to the rest of the trip.

The only annoying thing about this place is that overdressed women knock on your hotel door at half hour intervals during the night to offer you their trade. This ruined what I thought would be a good night sleep.


KM: 75km
Terrain: very very wet
Average: 20kmh but oli wants to go faster.
Other: wet.

JJ>> Oliver arrived 17th and John 18th in wet Shanghai. Good to have them them here and good to get going in a few days.

JKJ>> Got off the airplane to a slightly drizzly city with many familiar smells. After a little battle getting the bike into the back seat of the taxi, I'm on the way to Just's. On arrival at Just's I'm told "get the bike built, then we're having lunch and going for a ride." Over lunch I find out that a typhoon is hiting Shanghai. We'll, I've never gotten so wet in my life, but it was warm rain and a good way to overcome not sleeping on the plane. Also even though it was 75Km it felt like nothing. Wow, I thought, this bike touring thing is going to be really easy. (I fear this is a foolish thought) .

OM>> Justin took us on his typical training route. Yes as mentioned it was very very wet, with 50 yard, foot deep puddles. Cycling in shanghai is a very different experience from mine in New York, where I have been spoilt by rolling hills, tweeting birds, furry little chipmonks and not too many obstructions. In shanghai there are, as anyone might have guessed, hundreds of other cyclists, motorized bikes, scooters, tuk tuk's, cars, mini bus's and coaches, all in the cycling lanes and driving with lawless abandonment.

The photo is of the rain at the hotel where john and I waited for Justin to have his meeting. It was a fancy hotel, we were drenched, leaving a wet and muddy trail. So we told reception we had a business meeting and asked if we could use their health spa to dry off. We hung our clothes up to dry in the sauna like a couple of gypo's and retired to the loby for a pot of Earl Grey and waited for Jusin to return.

(rain in Sheshan - the burbs of shanghai)

JJ = Justin
OM = Oliver
JKJ = John
MY = Mowah