HimalayasX2011 expedition notes, Letter to the Korean Herald

Dear Kirsty,

My friend forwarded the great story I read on the Korea-UK 13,620km cycle home. My story is different in several ways, but I would definitely like to share it with you and the Korea Herald.

I came back to South Korea on November 17, 2006, (fives years ago this day) and returned to teaching ESL. In 2007, I purchased a Korean-branded LESPO mountain bike and began to train on nights and weekends outside of work. In the fall of 2007, I took the LESPO from Sokcho to Busan in 5 days. From then on, I would begin blogging about the experiences on blogger, with my Korean-World adventure blog, sharing perspective about adventure bicycle touring and expeditions for free, through a long list of personal contacts I’ve met in social media (Facebook for one).

Through the social media and adventure connections (Facebook, Blogs, Twitter), I learned a great deal about long-distance touring and exploring, and made donations to several campaigns privately to help fund their project, or forwarding to several non-profit charities. In 2009, I announced being prepared to ride my bicycle 32,000km from Alaska to Argentina, I am still preparing now for that launch in 2012!

Over the summer of 2011, I completed a 3200km solo expedition (10% of the Arctic2Argentina) of western China’s Xinjiang/Uyghur Autonomous Region, Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces by bicycle. I supported several (amazing) non-profit and public interest foundations, IDEAS – Intestinal Disease Education & Awareness Society of Canada and ETE – Education Through Expeditions, UK as a Global Ambassador on expeditions.

This expedition over the summer was my first motorless expedition, in less than 60 days I returned home to Korea. Traveling by passenger ferry to Tianjin, train to Beijing (repairing and adding last minute components on the same Blackcat MTB, another Korean brand that I purchased on Gmarket.com in 2009, now with over 10,000km!), and another standing train ride (3240km, 36 hours!) in a cramped space occupied with many seatless passengers and my bicycle and equipment piled to the ceiling of the smoking car!

I survived the train marathon with blood clotting and swelling in my feet and ankles, only resting for a few days (taken in by a local Urumqi resident, and now friend Mark, a former professor in Urumqi’s university MBA program and Managing director of an oil company), after a short visit to the hospital, more bicycle brake repairs with Uyghur local bicycle pros.

I began the 3200km of cycling across the Tian Shan Mountains in the Borohoro ranges between Urumqi and the northern (G314) Karakoram highway. I visited families in Korla, Xinjiang/Urghur Autonomous Region on a weekend 360km detour, and continued to Luntai, where I crossed the Tarim Desert Highway across the center of the Taklamakan Desert solo, with 6 pieces of Nan bread, 6L water supply (refilled at Desert Well stations), Oatmeal for breakfast, and a sprinkle of dried raisins and apricots.

I was given a Chinese tonic, used as a remedy for explosive diarrhea, which made a food supply entirely useless for 552km/5 days across the barren desert expanse. After the Taklamakan crossing, I celebrated in Mingfeng with locals, ate a meal, and continued on the southern Silk Road (G315) across numerous villages and deserts until reaching Hotan, where I turned south and cycled the worst roads of my 20 year cycling career, with careening trucks, dirt and stone tracks, while the entire highway undergoes construction projects.

I pedaled towards the northern Himalayas. I hitch hiked with mining workers, then camped at a mining camp where I repaired my rear wheel (cracked inner rim, alignment done successfully). I met Uyghur motorcyclists on their way south, lending my bicycle pump for their flattening front tire, sharing Nan bread.  And finally riding over the Himalayan ranges of Cudi. I was diverted by military back to Kashgar, and I flew out to Sichuan to begin 1500km of further exploration of Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces, riding entirely through them along the Tibetan borders.

The expedition was amazing, challenging and at times extremely dangerous (riding through blackened tunnels 2-3km in length while dodging transport trailer trucks narrowly, free riding along the Himalayas without guardrails, and covering 80-100km per day in all sorts of road conditions, or where there were no solid roads (just ponds or rivers flowing through them) and quite often, where the roads have no names, only numbers.

My cycling adventures have been shared on Facebook, and in my blog which now has over 2700 international visitors per month, reading various posts written myself, or completed by other adventurers. My blog features Google translate, allowing visitors to peruse articles and photo descriptions in their native languages. I also promote and encourage “Cycling in Korea”, which is why the Korean-World is in the top charts on Google.com  I have some brief videos prepared from the expedition this summer on Vimeo.com   My passion for adventure cycling has been fueled on Cycling in Korea over the past five years and it continues today.

If this story interests you, or seeing the updates from Facebook posted below, a sample of my photography on the expedition, please let me know. I can be reached at 010.8075.5121 or Skype: prof.brian.perich

***Previous solo expeditions by motorcycle, 1994-1998. I completed 24,000km (in 60 days) while criss-crossing of the United States and western Canada on a motorcycle. Story detail here: http://korean-world.blogspot.com/2010/09/perich-to-pedal-from-arctic-to.html

I would love/appreciate the media interest. For the upcoming planned 32,000km cycling expedition from Alaska to the Arctic Circle of Canada and down to Argentina, I am definitely in interest of finding Korean sponsors. The first stage begins next summer 2012.

Kind regards,

Brian Perich – Adventure cyclist, Father, Teacher living in South Korea

http://korean-world.blogspot.com

$49, 3240km train to Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China (stand-room only)

Ticket of no-return. 1-way to Urumqi!Ben Bndr – support for the expedition and tour around The Summer Palace, Beijing, ChinaThe Summer Palace, Beijing, ChinaMeeting internationals with France, Canada, Germany represented. The couple in middle are Canadian cyclists from Quebec riding 1/2 way around the world on Kona’s!The Summer Palace, Beijing, ChinaCycling in China – Yes!The Summer Palace, Beijing, ChinaThe Summer Palace, Beijing, ChinaThe Summer Palace, Beijing, ChinaThe Summer Palace, Beijing, ChinaThe Summer Palace, Beijing, ChinaThe Summer Palace, Beijing, ChinaThe Forbidden City, Beijing, ChinaOops, maybe this train idea was a big mistake?Stacked to the wallsHigh Fives! Expedition begins to reach out!Everyone chatting, keeping positive it will soon be overThis was the overnight section of the train journeyFully loaded ‘train’ touring in ChinaSweaty and tired but positive about moving forward on this train, get to me the start of the HimalayasX2011New light, 29 hours away from Beijing, 7 more hours to go!New light, day 2 of train rideMusic DJ – on the train caravan to UrumqiHimalayasX2011 supporting nonprofitsComing from…going to…Expedition cyclesOpen thoughts, open roadsHigh mountain desert is what you will find south of Urumqi. Further west along the Tian Shan ranges you will find glaciers and waterCamping is majesticBicycle build by An Dae Gi – KEVIN BICYCLES, GANGNEUNG, KOREA – Recycled parts, frame has 13,000km nowI captured this with a Sony HandycamSock changeRiding high top, rebar load being transported to Aksu on G314 which is China’s extension of the KKH Karakoram HighwayWon Jen Gwon, Picked me up without water or resupply available for 50kmFlat top southboundCampsite in the Tian ShanTian Shan Mountains cut into the blue skies of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (with Beijing administration)Rest on the road, daily nap sessions under the shade of highway signs, no other shade available, 100km a day on the bikeLifted before getting hit in a sandstormUyghur cultures and big smilesPetroChina smilesTourist information center out in the middle of ???PetroChina workers outside Luntai, last settlement before crossing Taklamakan Desert (455/522km)HimalayasX2011 expedition supporting IDEAS http://nogutsknowglory.com and ETEhttp://www.etelive.orgTaklamakan Desert crossing north-south (note: sandstorms occur at night regularly)Haligul at Toksun. She is a nurse at a local hospital and her town is divided by the mighty G314 highway intersecting with a river for irrigation of the local farms and householdsLast stop for food! Nan bread for the entire Taklamakan Desert crossing, call me crazy, you’re right! Carried only 6 loaves across 5 days of desert until reaching Min Fung This is real, here’s the Wiki link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarim_Desert_HighwayMeeting more Uyghurs in Luntai, the friendly family invited me to free watermelon with their friends and childrenWatermelon for free, grown locally on the edge ofthe desert using irrigation methods of old and the roadways are lined with Poplar trees for shade and to protect the areas from desertificationLast settlementsEntering the Tarim Desert Highway linking G314 and G315 (northern and southern Silk Roads) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarim_Desert_HighwayCut by bicycle tools, ate by handExpedition is fully-loaded Taklamakan Desert, Cudi Himalayas, Chengdu to LuguHu Lake, Sichuan to Deqin/Baima Snow Mountain, YunnanGood morning Taklamakan, fully positive I can do this entire ride and live to tell friends about it!Schwalbe Marathon Tour Plus tires, the only way to ride!Getting across the line, the finish, the expedition is only started and the positive energy is running through me. Thanks to all my friends (James Penlington, Tim Copeland, Mi Sung, Mom and Dad, Chris, Rob Hill, Antony Jinman, An Dae Gi, Mechel Kai, Lee Engdahl and friends I met on the road that made this an incredible experience in survival, endurance, and personal achievement.

    • In the summer of 2011, I successfully launched my first independent expedition by bicycle.Starting from South Korea, I crossed the Sea on a passenger ferry to Tianjin (30 hours), cycled through Beijing,rode a train while standing for 36 hours (3240km), to the start of the expedition,Urumqi, Xinjiang/Uyghur Autonomous Region of western China.

      From Urumqi, I immediately started out cycling in the deserts. From the city of Urumqi, you enter

      the Borohoro ranges of the Tian Shan Mountains, high deserts contain rivers winding through the giants,

      complete with camels walking these tracts, both roads and rivers to the locals.

      After crossing the Tian Shan ranges, it’s desert again in continuum. I managed to ride the G314

      Karakoram Highway which runs parallel to the original route still used by locals, a bumpy route,

      but not the worst in the area. Along the highway, there were long stretches without settlements or villages.

      If you needed water, it was best to ask passerby’s on the highway, which is why I stayed close

      to this route.

      I met two Chinese friends before crossing the Tian Shan, and I promised to visit their families in

      Korla, this happened to be a great diversion for the expedition.

      More deserts and finally the oasis that is Korla, a mixture of Uyghur and Chinese cultures,

      a mixture of foods, music, languages, and development projects, a new and old city, modernizing in China today.

      Once the weekend passed by in Korla, it was a long ride back to the Tian Shan, to reach Luntai.

      This is the last official Uyghur settlement entering the Taklamakan Desert (455km/552km).

      The exit to the Taklamakan Desert was reached in 5 days, 552km, 6 pieces of Nan bread, 1 bowl

      of noodles (cooked at a well station), oatmeal, raisins, apricots and water.

      It doesn’t take much to cross the desert with only a small food supply, it’s definitely enough.

      It’s hot and dry, it requires patience and planning to be out in the sun, or taking cover under a sign post

      in the middle of the day, under a survival blanket on the side of the road, sleeping in a pump station, or napping

      under the sunlight on the side of the road, which road? This is the Tarim Desert Highway built and maintained by Sinopec

      and China Petro, and the purpose to keep the oil coming out of the ground.

      There are 108 wells across 552km of the desert, although the water causes bowel irritation

      (nothing stays inside believe me, this would explain the small ration of Nan bread), H2O

      provides basic hydration.

      The Taklamakan Desert is a relatively flat landscape, but you will ride over

      rolling hills. I enjoyed my time in the desert, and went on to ride the G315 Southern Silk Road,

      through some amazing villages and towns along with the Uyghur cultures that have flourished

      there since centuries ago.

      After Yecheng, I leave the G315 and follow the S219? towards the Himalayas.

      These are today’s highlights as posted on Facebook. Thanks for visiting the Korean-World,

      and I hope you enjoy the education about exploring it provides too!

      The expedition was completed in less than 60 days, traveling 3200km by bicycle, 36 hours

      3240km by train (standing room only, I will be posting a video shortly to image this),

      500km or more by hitch-hiking, 30 hours by passenger ferry, independent expedition,

      self-supported and self-sponsored too. The expedition wasn’t about setting a world record

      for cycling, it was intended to become an educational journey supporting several non-profit

      foundations that are involved in community development, good will missions, and charity.

      (: Brian – Cycling in South Korea, English teacher, Father, Adventurer

      Recent Updates from Facebook:

      If I remember that thought correctly, I said… “Damn, I think this is it! The Himalayas!”

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