9 April UPDATE: We did it!!! After 262 days on the saddle across 20 countries we crossed the finish line at the top of Victoria Peak, Hong Kong, on 28 March 2015. We featured in newspaper (SCMP), radio (RTHK3) and magazines (TimeOut), and the next step is the post-production of a short documentary that was filmed in our last few days.
In total we pedalled 17,298 kms – we would LOVE to hit our original donations target of £1/km cycled, so please keep clicking and donating HERE! Thank you all for your amazing support!
Nick and Laurence x
23 Feb UPDATE: We’ve been celebrating Chinese New Year in Chongqing, just 1600 kms or so from our final destination in Hong Kong! It’s hard to imagine our expedition is in its final weeks.
In January we crossed the Taklamakan Desert, one of the largest shifting sand deserts in the world, making what we believe to be the fastest unsupported north-south crossing. We covered 559 kms from Luntai to Qiemo in 47 hours and 19 minutes. Since then we’ve pedalled across the Tibetan plateau, through the provinces of Qinghai and Sichuan and dozens of passes at altitudes of over 4000m, enjoying amazing Tibetan hospitality. Though we were now safely on Chinese tarmac, the wind and cold trumped the Pamirs for difficulty and proved a very tough test for us at high altitude. On 1st February we reached the expedition’s highest point at the Bayankala Pass (4824m). From that freezing spot we’ve made our way down to Chongqing and are now about to head south through Guizhou, and then directly east towards Guangzhou and Hong Kong, through the villages of Guangdong province. We loved the plateau, but are both enjoying being back where we can breathe and feel our toes properly!
Thanks everyone for the massive support. It really helps us on the bikes. We’ve nearly made the distance, but we still have a way to go to reach our target for Prostate Cancer. Please consider www.justgiving.com/journeytotheeast
We end our odyssey on the top of The Peak in Hong Kong, at noon on 28 March. The countdown begins!!
Nick and Laurence x
1st Jan UPDATE: We have reached Kashgar!!! We spent the last two months of 2014 cycling from Kazakhstan to China’s most western border. To do this we had to cross 1,800km of desert in Uzbekistan (called the Kyzyl Kum), followed by the Pamir mountain range in Tajikistan, where we spent long stretches at altitudes of 4000m+. Before we reached the Pamir plateau we also spent a short but very intense week on one of the biggest drug highways in Afghanistan. In the Pamirs, temperatures dropped to lows of -45C and we were confronted by wolves on one (quite bleak) occasion. We both suffered because of the altitude and from severe food poisoning. For Christmas we were forced to take shelter in a Kyrgyz hut after our final pass when the weather closed in. We were in no-man’s land, a 20km blizzardy stretch between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It was a quieter event than usual, as we stuck to instant noodles (the festive beef variety) and dry bread before setting off at dawn the next day! You can read about all our recent activity on the Blog section of this website.
What next? Well, although we have arrived in our 20th and final country – China – we still have our work cut out for us to get to Hong Kong. Around 7,000km still separate us from our destination, which gives you an idea of just how vast China is. This is nearly twice the distance we cycled from London to Istanbul last summer. What’s more, around half of this distance will be across desert. In January, we aim to cross the Taklamakan Desert, one of the largest shifting sand deserts in the world. We have also set ourselves the challenge of bisecting the middle of this vast desert from north to south, aiming to cover 550km of sandy nothingness over a period of only two days. The New Year will start pretty much as 2014 ended: with very long days on a bicycle!
After the Taklamakan Desert we will ascend onto the Tibetan plateau in February, in the provinces of Qinghai and Sichuan, which will see us cross dozens more passes at altitudes of around 3500m. It will be cold and snowy again. Then we will head south to the rice paddies of Guizhou, and directly east across Guangxi, Guangdong and Hong Kong. We are both hoping it will be warmer in the south by then!
Stay tuned, there is plenty more to come.
Nick and Laurence x
29 Oct UPDATE: We are onboard a ship bound for Kazakhstan! The Iranian government is not allowing British independent travellers into their country, so we have had to reroute through Georgia and Azerbaijan, and then take a ferry across the Caspian Sea. Not wanting to skimp on kilometres – and not succeeding in getting a transit visa through Turkmenistan – we are now heading due north to Aktau. Two thousand kilometres of desert and one thousand kilometres of mountains separate us from the end of Stage Two: the Chinese border. Now it gets tough. Follow all of our progress here!
1st Sept: We have made it to Istanbul! Over the summer we crossed 12 countries and covered over 4,000km, as well as raising £5,000 for Prostate Cancer UK. Now we are at the juncture of Europe and Asia. But this is just the beginning. The team of three – Nick, Laurence and Will – has been reduced to a team of two as Will finishes his planned European stage here. He returns to the UK with the hope of being able to join us again for the third and final stage: China, in 2015.
On 15th September, Nick and Laurence embark on what will probably be the most challenging stage: Central Asia. This will be from Istanbul to the westernmost border of China, which they hope to reach by New Year 2015 – a distance of roughly 6,000km. We will cross the entirety of Turkey (which is a lot bigger than you think!!), cycling along the Black Sea coast, before dipping down into Iran for a month. Then come the Stans, starting with the one-party state Turkmenistan which only grants foreigners a 5-day transit visa. We will have to cycle an average of 160km per day across the country to avoid overstaying our visa and facing the potential of a huge fine/prison time in what is known as the Turkmenistan Dash. After Turkmenistan, we cross the length of Uzbekistan, stopping off in Bukhara and Samarkand for a break from the desert. And finally, over the Christmas period we will be ascending the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan, undoubtedly the most hardcore as well as the most beautiful section of the expedition. We will spend 45 days at altitudes of 4,000m in December, at temperatures dipping to -30C in what is still one of the most remote parts of the planet.
We have been overwhelmed with the level of support from back home, for which we are very grateful. Please do keep this up as it makes all the difference out here!!! If you haven’t already, do please spare a few pounds for men everywhere by visiting http://www.justgiving.com/journeytotheeast.
Nick and Laurence x