FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
69-YEAR OLD MAN CYCLES FROM XINING, QINGHAI TO LIJIANG, YUNNAN:
F.A. Hutchison, ('Hutch' / 'Haqi') a retired writer-poet/acting teacher, and an inveterate world cyclist just completed, 'Xining to Lijiang or Bust!' - this a 2,200KM / 1,320 mile cycling trip that took him 38 days (through Qinghai, Sichuan, and Yunnan Provinces). 'We rested in Yushu (Qinghai Province) and several other towns in Sichuan and Yunnan. I think we rested 10 days, cycled 28 days.
This trip to investigate a route for a cycling 'rally' of the same title. 'We're proposing to the governments of the Provinces involved that this is a great way to promote, not only tour cycling, but tourism in general. But, a rally isn't a race, and something cyclists of all ages can participate in, receiving prizes from communities they reach. The farther they go, the more prizes obtained. Some, children and elderly cyclists might only make it to the first town (50-100KM), but young men, seeking fame and fortune, will attempt to go the entire distance (over 2,000KM). Each year the start/finish will reverse (one year Lijiang, one year Xining).
'We applied to the PSB in Yushu (Qinghai), to continue on highway #214, this through eastern Tibet. But, when refused, we decided to go through Sichuan. This proved to be an even better route, as the scenery was stunning and the people delightfully friendly. In addition, we saw many cyclists on this route (highways #217 and #318)! Chengdu to Lhasa a popular cycling trip (highway #318), taking you through Litang.
Four cyclists started from Xining, July 17th: Hutchison, Bjorn Harding from Sweden, Mr. Yang (from Shanghai), and a Tibetan boy named Sonam. 'One day Bjorn ran into a lone Chinese woman, English name 'Hanna' (Zhang). 'Hanna' was cycling from Lanzhou to Lhasa and this all by herself. But, she joined our group in Madol (Qinghai), where we rested for two nights. Bjorn, being so strong and having a lighter bicycle went off to investigate the 'Animaqing Shan' (a holy mountain for Buddhists). The only thing exceptional about Madol (gateway to the headwaters of the Huang He / Yellow River) was the exorbitant rate for a hotel room (300RMB), the most expensive of the entire trip (including Zhongdian / 'Shangri-la').
'Eventually, after Yushu, Mr. Yang and Ms. Zhang went off to Lhasa together (on a bus). Bjorn, having a deadline to return to a job in Sweden,' went ahead. I continued with Sonam, roughly one week behind him. But, ultimately Sonam (only 26-years old) wasn't strong enough to make it. I sent him home (Xining) on a bus from Garze, Sichuan. From Garze all the way to Lijiang (650KM) I was happily alone!' comments Hutchison, American by birth.
'From Garze ('Kangze') you head south on highway #217, to Zhongdian ('Shangri-la'), this 'stretch' the most demanding terrain (and highway) of the entire trip. Everyday you face going over a mountain from 3 to 4,000M ASL, and sometimes two in one day! Additionally, the highway was not always the best. There was one section of 17 kilometers (just before a village named Wengshui) that was knee deep in mud. I had to get off and push through it. By the time I got to Wengshui, Ms. Fiets (the name of my bicycle) and me were covered in mud!'
'The 'theme' of this trip has to be either 'rain' or 'rushing water!' Out of the 38 days I'm sure at least 30 were cloudy, and half of those it rained. I would have to investigate, but I'm wondering if the summer of 2009 wasn't the wettest ever in this part China? All the streams and rivers were overflowing, destroying the highway in many sections, rivelets of water streaming down hills. 'I remember going over one pass, with Sonam, and then caught in a sudden storm. I didn't have time to put on my rain gear so I got drenched. We stopped and spent a couple hours with Tibetan nomads, in the shelter of their black-haired yak tent (it leaked). We waited for the rain to subside trying to dry our clothing, boots, etc., by their 'hearth' (fire). Of course, they were so curious about us. But, Tibetan people in general, very friendly! So many times the children would come running, yelling, 'HELLO! HELLO!'
'From Zhongdian ('Shangri-la') I joined highway #214 again (what we started out on in Qinghai) and coasted down to the Chang Jiang ('Yangtse') River ('Tiger-Leaping Gorge'). This section of highway #214 so good (and down hill) I covered 100KM in six hours (the fastest day of the trip). In contrast, one day we made only 21-kilometers, when Sonam complained he was ill!
'All in all this trip was amazing, the fact that I could complete it!
I've cycled all over China in the last three years, some 20,000KM, and never had faced anything like this! Last Fall/winter I cycled, with a hearing-impaired ethnic Chinese boy, from Xining to Lijiang, but we took the eastern route through Lanzhou and Chengdu. This was easy compared to western route through southwestern Sichuan. But, we have a saying in the West, 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger!' So, I guess I'm stronger for it!'
'Next summer we cycle from Xining (or Lijiang) to Lhasa, on to Mt. Kailas, and finally to Kashgar (Xinjiang), some 5,000+KM. This summer's trip was great preparation for maybe an even greater challenge!
FOR ADDITIONAL DETAILS CONTACT F.A. HUTCHISON ('Haqi') AT:
13108885911 (Mobile #), or email:
www.haaqi.com (Xining and Lijiang).
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Labels: Cycling China