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Archive for May, 2011

A day off the bike in Litang

May 25, 2011 By: abi Category: News

A Tibetan guy stops me and offers me some 'Tibetan medicine.' It is a worm that can cure all ails. I politely declined in my best Tibetan!

 

 

On top of the world; Litang and the Tibetan Plateau

May 23, 2011 By: abi Category: News

Lijiang and The Tiger Leaping Gorge

May 14, 2011 By: Jaye Category: News

Abi and I gear up for the intense road pollution.

On the way to Lijiang Abi spots a lovely breakfast stop down this cobblestone road.

A local woman on her way to the farm pops over to see what we are up to.

We've learned to spot the local roadside toilets, this one (building to the left) was surprisingly clean!

The women in China always seem to be hard at work, often carrying huge loads of vegetables or happy children.

Snack & stretch stops, crucial for a long days cycling.

Unfortunately many of the dogs we see in China are kept chained up 24hrs a day. We send them lots of love and affection!

Incredible views here after a steep climb to this lookout at 2,800m.

We stop to buy some local honey, too fresh to pass up!

Finally after an 85km day we settle in to a cozy restaurant in the old city of Lijiang for some dinner and relaxation.

We take a few 'rest days' while in Lijiang, which end up including a fair amount of work! Here Abi updates the website and researches for the days ahead.

The bikes need a good cleaning.

The old city of Lijiang is a fascinating place, you never know what will appear around the next corner.

Fantastic views of Yùlóngxuě Shān, known as Jade Snow Mountain, 5596 m (18360 ft).

We find a very nice coffee shop with incredibly expensive but delicious Yunnan coffee.

Abi makes friends with a woman who helps us out at the post office. People are often eager to get a photo with us so we've started doing the same!

15km outside of Lijiang we stop at the picturesque Lashi Lake for breakfast.

After climbing back out of Lijiang we stop for lunch. We're very thankful for the 'pick and choose' Chinese restaurant set-up. Usually the vegetables taste like they were picked the same day!

Surprisingly it is very quiet in the gorge, most people hike the upper trail, so cycling the lower road we are immersed in silence except for the roaring Yangtze below.

The only Tiger we see!

We're both getting absolutely exhausted but we push through another 20kms to Sean's guesthouse located in the center of the Gorge.

The sheer vastness of the gorge is magnificent.

We arrive at the Sean's guesthouse just before dark, have a delicious meal and retreat to the comforts of a small room with a giant window overlooking the gorge.

The next morning we update our log books and take in the tremendous landscape.

Blue skies ahead for the cruise out of the gorge.

We run into two New Zealanders who have cycled the exact route we're heading on, to Litang and Chengdu. Very helpful!

One of the many curious village boys checks out Abi's bike.

Quick stop as the temperatures climb to a scorching 45C!

360 degrees of inspiring landscape!

After a few goat and chicken crossings we find a pristine camping spot.

A night spent under the stars with a snowcapped mountain to wake up to.

Crystal clear snow melt was piped throughout the area, perfect for washing up by the campsite!

 

 

One Day by Jaye. Episode 2

May 08, 2011 By: abi Category: News

Day 21: China, Yongping to Douge
Distance – 92km, Riding time – 8 hrs 20 minutes
7am
After an early start to the morning in Yongping we head to the local market for a quick breakfast of red bean steamed buns, banana, fried dough, and fresh warm soy milk. Necessary calories for the long day ahead and delicious! Our presence in small towns such as Yongping causes quite the stir and we’re still adjusting to eating while 20 or more spectators watch, point, laugh, and occasionally inspect our bicycles or ask us questions in Chinese. Personally I attribute the attention to Abi’s new hair do, striking strawberry blonde with shaved sides..I’m not sure too many rural Yunnanese have seen the likes of this style.
The cycling starts off beautifully, perfect temperatures, clear smooth tarmac, and hardly any vehicles in sight. From our map we know we are gradually descending back down to the Mekong for the 3rd time of the trip. But the focus is on enjoying the moment, despite knowing once again we are only sailing down hill to crawl back up.
Midday
Eventually we begin reaching overpasses which are all under construction. Initially we walk our bikes across, but then that becomes impossible and we are forced to join other cars and trucks on the unfinished dirt road detours to the side of each overpass. Every time we get some momentum on the slight downhill, another detour pops up, both daunting and frustrating.
As we approach a big gorge, we are instructed by a passing trucker once again to take the detour. This one leads sharply downhill and we follow the soft packed dirt road uneasily, wondering if we have made a wrong turn somewhere along the way. The view clears and we see the bright blue green Mekong flowing below, the highway bridge is under construction hundreds of feet above us in the sky. A bit discouraged by the insanely dusty road we’ve found ourselves on and with no shops in sight, we decide to stop for a bit of lunch from our food stashes before beginning the arduous ascent.
4pm
Huge trucks begin practically squeezing us off the narrowing dirt road and I realize it is 4 o’clock, the least ideal time to be cycling on Chinese roads due to rush hour. We stop in for a cold drink at the first sight of a road side shop. Unfortunately no one here recognizes the name of the town when we ask how far it is to our destination for the night. Not a good sign. The only thing worse than cycling up unpaved roads with large trucks blowing toxic fumes directly into your lungs is this situation compounded with not knowing if you are actually going in the right direction! We consult the map again, no, this has to be right. “Slog on”, Abi’s two word statement sums it up.
Finally after 2 hours of steep climbing, and confirmation from a local that we are headed in the right direction, a town appears. Since the road signs are often only in Chinese, and our map only shows smaller city names in English, we have to rely on asking people along the way to make sure we are still on track. (We learned this the hard way after traveling 50km in the wrong direction a few days ago.) Abi asked a group of construction workers once again for our destination, this time we are greeted by an enthusiastic thumbs up. Yes, Douge, ahead 8 more kilometers.
I began cycling ahead, excited, exhausted, hungry and getting cold as the road is at an incline once again. It’s 6pm and we’ve cycled a tough 82 km already. The scenery changes and becomes more mountainous, a river runs beside us and pine trees accompany the rocky slopes ahead. The area seems desolate. Is there really a town coming up?
7pm
We come across a few men overlooking some more construction and ask them. Shit, they don’t have a clue what town we are speaking of. Is it our mispronunciation of the town’s name? Regardless we decide our only option is cycling on, cycling through it. Several times over on this trip already I’ve come to this same conclusion, sometimes the only way forward is through the challenges and uncertainty ahead, it seems an excellent metaphor for life. If the town doesn’t come up within the next 6 km’s we decide we’ll camp here in the woods. It’s isolated enough, beautiful, and we’ve got just enough food and water we can filter for drinking.
As darkness edges in I turn on my bike light and try to relax into the state of unknowingness. At this moment I’m particularly grateful to not be cycling alone. Thankfully as we approach the 90km mark, lights suddenly appear in the distance. We finally reach what looks to be a mining or industrial town. Thick smoke hangs in the air creating vague shadows and an eerie feel to the town which seems to be on it’s way to sleep. We catch glimpses of half-lit faces as doors close to compounds. Down a small dimly lit alley we spot an old woman sitting in the window of her shop. We buy two Cokes. She tries to give us a third, but we’ve caught onto the scheme of getting more than we want and no change. Abi gestures once again for the change and eventually we get the money and continue on our way.
We’re directed ahead to a crossroads. After a brief chat (half in Chinese, half gesturing) with a police man, we understand our options to be either cycling ahead 10 more kilometers or walking down the street a bit and inquiring at what looks to be a restaurant. Given our state of exhaustion and not having eaten a proper meal all day we quickly agree upon the latter option.
9pm
Our room is decent enough and cheap. Hot food is on the way. A loud group of drunk Chinese men fill the room with chatter, but we’ve arrived. Home for the night, the air is cold, smoke gently sweeps into the restaurant. After the meal and a shower I drift to sleep listening to the rain pound the shingles and not so distant thunder crackling in the sky, thankful for the roof over my head and a night of rest.

Dali, Yunnan Province, China

May 06, 2011 By: abi Category: News

I caught my first glimpse of Dali from a height of 7800 feet, finally I felt like what I was doing was real. This had always been an important milestone for me on this trip, like “once I get to Dali, I can put everything into perspective, breathe and asses the next leg of the trip.” So now I have arrived and here are some of the photos from the day of arrival and the day off the bike.

The day began by cycling out of Nanjian along a river in this beautiful valley.

2 minutes along the road a bustling farmers market appeared. Cycling slowly through something like this gives the real flavour of the local culture.

Aubergines are big business in this valley

 

The first sign for Dali in English, it was confirmed, we were on the right road!

 

Many of the signs aren’t in English so I try to memorize the Chinese characters or I have to stop and hold the map up to the sign and check that they match up. It can be surprisingly difficult if the fonts are different or if there is a slight difference in spelling.

After 70 kilometres of slight ups and downs next to a meandering river in a valley, the reality of what is ahead becomes clear. I could tell from the map that there would be a climb in the last 30 kms before getting to Dali, but neither Jaye or I were expecting a 20 kilometres climb up to 2400 metres!

 

Stopping for much needed energy

And after 2 hours of ascent we reach the top!

So after climbing to almost 8000 feet, we start to descend and round the corner this big mountain appears. I think to myself, if I am this high already, how high is that mountain ahead....and more importantly, do I have to climb it!!

The 'New' Dali city from above. All I knew about this city was that the 'Old' Dali was on the other side of it and I would have to try to navigate us through this big Chinese city at rush hour, with no map, to get to our final destination

These clouds made a perfect duvet for the mountain range which surrounds the Ancient City of Dali

We caught this stunning sunset sky on approach to Dali.

We managed to get into the Ancient City of Dali just before dark and have some dinner before asking around for a good, bike-friendly youth hostel. We were directed to one about 700 metres away and it was almost 10pm before we got checked in with the bikes safely locked up and all luggage up the 3 flights of stairs to our room. Exhausted!

Jaye enjoying our first taste of cafe culture in China. Not a bad view either!

All rested up and off to Lijiang we go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fabulous Fund-Raising Team!

May 01, 2011 By: Jaye Category: News

While Jaye and I are living in a world of uphills and downhills here in China, the CycleInstead fund-raising committee are working hard to get the money rolling in for SAMH. The last fund-raiser was a very successful wine-tasting hosted by Jonny & Lisa Rowatt and Mary Collins. There was a blind tasting where the winner had to identify 6 wines, guessing the grape and area, also a splendid raffle with donated prizes from local businesses. The event raised 580 pounds!

 

The Committee members are:

Brenda Wingate, Alastair Wingate, Michelle Methven, Lorna Crook, Mikey crook, Sarah Stephenson, Mat Stephenson, Lorna Morrow, June Cormie, Fran Walker, Emma Patterson and Donna Thornton. They meet regularly to discuss different ways to raise money and have fun in the process! The next fund-raiser is a pub quiz, organised by Mikey and will be held at the Phoenix bar, Broughton Street on Tuesday the 3rd of May. Entry costs 3 pounds, there will be a raffle and prizes too.

 

If you want to host a fund-raising event or get involved in anyway please don’t hesitate to contact me using the ‘contact me’ form in the menu bar above.

Oh, and don’t forget to donate by clicking here!

  • Mission Statement

    Explore the landscape, explore the options; encouraging awareness of suicide prevention through an epic bike tour from Chiang Mai to Edinburgh.

    Let’s move forward, one revolution at a time.

  • listen to short excerpts from the road by Abi

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  • The proposed route


    View CycleInstead Route 2 in a larger map COUNTRIES I WILL CYCLE THROUGH (subject to change): THAILAND, LAOS, CHINA, KYRGYZSTAN, UZBEKISTAN, KAZAKHSTAN, TURKMENISTAN, AZERBAIJAN, GEORGIA, TURKEY, BULGARIA, ROMANIA, HUNGARY, SLOVAKIA, POLAND, GERMANY, THE NETHERLANDS, ENGLAND, SCOTLAND
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    “Success in life depends as much upon a vigorous and healthy body as upon a clear and active mind.” ~ Elsa von Blumen, American racer, 1881
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