Exactly one year ago today, at 1pm on July 19th, 2013, Amy and I departed on what would turn out to be a 146 day, 34,153km/21,221 mile motorcycle ride around the world’s most populous country.
The trip was a major undertaking that involved partnering with Chinese companies, fundraising for a Chinese charity, and taking a Chinese motorcycle through some of the most intense climates in the world. We rode through the Mongolian Steppe in the midst of the rainy season, sandstorms at the edge of the Gobi Desert, and snow and ice in the Himalayas. Looking back on it all, what is really remarkable about the whole experience is that, as late in the game as January 2013, Amy and I were only planning on taking a 1-2 month trip from Beijing to Yunnan in the South West of China. Within a month, and less than 6 months before departure, the idea had grown into a ride through all 33 provinces of China and an attempt to break a Guinness World Record.
One of the major reasons Amy and I wanted to embark on this adventure was to, after 3 years of living in Beijing, have an opportunity to experience more of what China had to offer. We definitely got that. We stayed overnight at a Mongolian yurt camp in the middle of the biggest rainstorm of the year, got invited to a funeral in Ningxia province, visited the largest stone Buddha in the world in Sichuan, gave a speech at the largest motorcycle exhibition in Asia, and much, much more. At the end of it all, the experience was so much more than just about the challenges that we faced on the road, because most importantly what it became about was all the people, places, and culture that we experienced along the way.
Having now fully acclimated back to life back in “the real world”, with all the mundanities of grocery shopping, commutes to work, and replying to emails, it’s almost hard to believe that one year ago today, Amy and I were packing up our motorcycle with all of the possessions that we would be using for the next 4+ months. On that first day, the reality of what we were setting out on hadn’t sunk in, but soon that reality of life on the road, was the only one we knew anymore.
The Great Ride of China for me was a culmination of all the other experiences I had had before leading up to this trip: my Appalachian Trail thru-hike in 2005, my first trip to China in 2006 hiking in Yunnan with my good friend Greg Root, my first trip on a motorcycle from New York City to Florida with my dad in 2007, my study abroad in China in 2009 when I attempted a trip down the coast with my friend and classmate at Tsinghua Karl Kurszelnicki, all up to when I decided to move to Beijing full time in 2010 after graduating from university.
It was an amazing adventure, one that will certainly have a profound influence on me far into the future. It was an experience for which I am incredibly grateful and could not be happier that I had the opportunity to share it with an amazing travel companion and someone whom I love dearly. Thank you for putting up with my crazy ideas Amy and for everything you did to make The Great Ride possible!
Finally, we also just recently received some really incredible news regarding our fundraising efforts. Our charitable partner Free Lunch for Children, who raises money to help feed poor children in rural China, has just finished going through all of the donations made directly or indirectly through our trip. Between the media exposure, special events, our end of trip auction of a CFMoto motorcycle, as well as all of the individual donations from our friends, family and followers we managed to more than double our goal of $19,000 to feed two schools for a full year. Our final fundraising total has come out to more than a quarter of a million RMB at ¥259,552! That’s the equivalent of USD$41,809 or £24,469 and will be enough to buy over 86,500 school lunches for rural school children around the country! So one final thank you to everyone who helped to contribute to this very worthy cause as well as all of those who supported us throughout this incredible journey of ours!