So I decided to try to cycle around China, in one big 20,000km loop, and write a book about it. But as Yoda said – do, or do not; there is no try. He knew there were not nearly enough books about China or about solo cycling journeys, and I can always just put some blog posts in a pdf and call it an e-book.
From the UK to China was about 13,000km for me. I done a good few since, in south-east Asia, but this trip, and the terrain, will be a much bigger challenge than the journey from the UK. I can’t not do it, though, and break out in an inane grin whenever I look at the route map.
Attempts to “plan” this large trip have got a bit out of hand. I even applied to attempt a Guinness World Record, built a new website in English and Chinese, and was dangerously close to starting a spreadsheet for sponsorship ideas. I’m going to call time on spreadsheets and sponsors and carry on cycling instead.
So here it is. Day dot. Entry #1. T-minus two months or sooner, sitting on an island in Thailand with my finger hovering over publish wondering what I am getting myself into.
The planned route inspires simultaneous fear and excitement – from big mountains to remote deserts and industrial megacities. Feedback from friends, family, China junkies, cyclists, and anyone else that happens across this is very welcome!
It is about 22,000km in length, goes as high as 4,700m, and is a rough plan with one obvious potential shortcut. Some highlights:
- The Tibetan plateau
- The Taklamakan and Gobi deserts
- The Mongolian steppe
- The north-eastern region of Heilongjiang, close to the borders with Russia and North Korea, extending up to a latitude of 53°
- The eastern seaboard
- The global manufacturing centres of the Pearl River Delta.
Go to the map page for a short summary of destinations along the way, with pictures.
My to-do list
- Finish planning the route – not so keen on fixed plans, but being 4,700m high, in the desert, or just south of arctic permafrost at the wrong time of year would not be the best.
- Pack as little as possible – it could get much worse.
- Learn a bit of Tibetan and Uyghur – 6 years of Mandarin will be pretty useless for long stretches.
Thank you for reading, and please feel free to join me along the way if anyone is tempted!