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Shanghai to London: where the wild things really are!

Bhagat SinghBhagat Singh Posts: 125
edited August 2011 in Tour & expedition
I spent 4 ½ months working in Jiangsu province where I spent my weekends enjoyably cycling in the rural regions of the province [some pics at http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/] and have some useful advice should anyone want to cycle in China. However I’m not posting here about my experiences but, in case you've not heard yet, about the very notable exploits of a Chinese cyclist Zheng Sheng who arrived in London on July 19 from Shanghai after 136 days on the road. This means he must have braved the late Winter/Early Spring of North China, Mongolia and East Russia and this on an all in budget of £1300 [including cost of bike and gear].
The report at end is from an online China newspaper but there is a more expressive slide show embedded in the video at http://shanghai.xinmin.cn/msrx/2011/08/15/11720321.html. You can get a reasonable translation of the Mandarin report there in Google Chrome and the second photo probably exhibits what a budget of £1300 [including cost of bike and gear] over 136 days implies for food intake. But then the Chinese are very durable and adaptable as I perceived in my time there.

http://www.enbar.net/en/2011-08-09/cont ... 6584.shtml SHANGHAI - When Zheng Sheng tried to persuade a number of bicycle companies to sponsor his "crazy dream", almost nobody took it seriously.
 
"I hadn't traveled abroad before, so it was my dream for a long time to cycle across Eurasia," said 23-year-old Zheng.

Zheng Sheng, a 23-year-old from Yunnan province, stands before Big Ben in London on July 19 after spending 136 days cycling all the way from Shanghai to the British capital.
 
Since 2008, he had cycled from Shanghai to Sichuan province and later from Sichuan to Tibet. However, a trip to London by bike was a different challenge. Starting on March 5, he spent 136 days traveling 11 countries - China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Britain - and finally arrived in London on July 18. Having researched maps for four months, the fresh graduate resigned from the company in Shanghai where he had worked for just a couple of months and set off the second day after he received all the visas.
"I was very confident at the beginning, but after I left China, I gradually felt fearful that I might get robbed," he recalled. Luckily, the trip was a safe one, except that he had been followed by a wolf for two hours in Kazakhstan. Zheng brought all the necessary things in his pack, but due to his limited budget - only 13,000 yuan ($2,000) collected by his sister, friends and himself - some of the gear was not of good quality. "For instance, my tent, which only cost 215 yuan, is only waterproof on the top. When it rained, I had to sleep on wet ground. Although I had my sleeping bag, the experience was still terrible," he said.

Zheng believes that the safest place to sleep is somewhere people are not familiar with, so most of the time he set up his tent in forests if he could not find lodging. He even slept next to a cemetery twice because he was too exhausted to find another place. He rode more than 100 km on average every day, but most of his food supply was just bread, as the food in Europe was too expensive for him. Later he learned to add some cheese to the bread, which offered more energy. The big fan of Coke didn't buy a single bottle on the way, and he could only fulfill his wish by visiting a Coca-Cola exhibition in Paris. He even didn't buy any fruit during the trip. "In Europe, I often saw some fruit trees on the road side. I ate a lot of them, as I believed little pesticide was used on the trees. However, I suffered from diarrhea once after I had some cherry-like fruit in France," Zheng recalled.

He met quite a few warm-hearted people on his way who offered him a free meal or a room for the night. "Sometimes, the owner of a restaurant would offer me the meal for free when they saw me coming with my bike," said Zheng, who lost 7 kg on the way. "Once in Germany, a German man even paid the bill for me. He told me he loved cycling too and we shared many of our own experiences."

Zheng made many friends on the way, and in the notebook he took with him there are more than 10 pages of contacts. Apart from visiting tourist attractions in different countries, Zheng regularly updated his blog. When he could find free WiFi in places like McDonalds, he would write long journals and post some of the pictures he took. Otherwise, he would update his micro blog by text messages.He specially bought a single-lens reflex camera before the trip. In the capitals of the countries, he would take a picture of himself holding the Chinese flag.
 
Zheng didn't tell his parents about the trip beforehand, as he didn't want them to worry. "I made regular phone calls to my mom so that she wouldn't notice that I was abroad. I was careful enough to take the time difference into consideration," he said. After he arrived home in Yunnan province at the end of July, he finally told his mom about the adventure, but in rather simple words. "I told her that I traveled to Europe recently and sometimes rode a bike on my way," he said and laughed.
 
Zheng will return to Shanghai soon and look for a job. As he wrote in his blog, his "new life begins". "I'm very confident for the future," he said, "because I know very well that I have the ability to make my dream come true."
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