Time in Tibet:

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Potala Palace, Lhasa Tibet

Day 9: Lhasa again

We've made it back to Lhasa with no one getting hurt, no major damage to the bikes and no major incidents with the local authorities. An accomplishment. We arrived early afternoon and made a "parade" lap around the Potala Palace, the major landmark in downtown Lhasa. Once complete we lined up for pictures in front of the palace. Once finished we headed for the hotel and then off to the local internet cafĂ©' which caters to American and other foreign tourists with great coffee and free wifi.  Sitting in the big comfy chairs we shared stories and favorite moments and checked our email. Something we probably won't take for granted again. The rides finished we all felt the accomplishment and a small sense of disappointment that it had ended.

Photos here:


Day 9: Back to Lhasa

We're heading back to Lhasa this morning, at 270km/180mi it will be a decent distance to cover but the big challenge will be the traffic once we get to the outer edge of Lhasa. The traffic gets quite challenging we're told and should make it pretty interesting.

Day 8: Shigatse Arrival

The ride to Shigatse was fairly easy but very tiring. We were all quite beat from the full length day to basecamp and having a short ride definitely was part of the solution. We arrived shortly after lunchtime and made our way to a local restaurant for a relaxing lunch and then on to tour the Tashilhunpo monastery.

Pictures here:


Day 8: Shigatse

Today we have a reasonably short ride. We are headed to Shigatse, approximately 230km/150mi from Dingri. It's the second largest city in Tibet at nearly 100,000 residents. We should arrive at or around lunchtime. This will be a welcomed short ride since we are all feeling the after effects of a hard day to Everest.

Mt Everest Basecamp

The Tibetan name is Mt Qomolongma.

Day 7: Mt Everest / Basecamp: Success

We made it. In what was possibly the hardest and most emotionally draining day on the road, we made it to Qomolongma basecamp. After several hours of heavy dirt riding, we rounded a major corner into the final valley approach and there was Everest. Huge and glorious it made the previous sightings seem insignificant by comparison. As we pulled into basecamp I think everyone sensed the magnitude of the moment. Each person had come here for a specific reason and mine was no less significant. The altitude made for a challenging physical effort -  at 5,200m/17,060ft every step felt like twenty. We climbed the hill that contains the marker and it took a bit of work to get there.  We each took some time to call friends and family (the 3G coverage from basecamp is remarkable!) and took a moment to reflect on the achievement.

After all the photos were done we climbed back down to enjoy a traditional lunch in one of the many tents near basecamp. I think it must have been 120degrees in the tent but after the long ride up it felt like a welcomed sauna break.  Then it was time to go.

The return trip took less time then the approach since we knew the road. It made the return much faster since our confidence in the single track gravel road was much higher and riding faster was a possibility. We made it back to the hotel quite late (another tricky military checkpoint after three previous ones) and had a quick dinner before retiring for a well earned night's sleep.

Day 7: Mt Everest / Basecamp

Today is possibly the hardest day of the trip. We need to cover nearly 110km/75mi to reach basecamp. The distance isn't the challenging part. In order to make the destination we'll have to ride across heavy offroad "moonscape" covered with rocks, gravel, occasional sand and cliffs with a major dropoff.  Most, if not all, of the distance is so bumpy (an understatement) that we'll be riding the whole way standing up in order to use our legs as shock absorbers. There is also a 17,200ft pass we'll need to achieve (remember the bike wants to die at 17,000ft) so the half way point will be interesting.

 Challenging, exhausting, but with a huge payoff. We have a very hard day ahead.

Day 6: Arrival at Dingri

We rolled into Dingri rather late, having had a bit of a day. We covered 400km/250mi during the day and true to their word, the BMW R1150GS died at exactly 17,000ft, with almost 1.5km and another 500ft in elevation remaining to the pass. We grafted on an oxygen bottle to provide additional O2 to the mixture but it just wasn't enough to keep the bike running. After securing a tow rope, we towed the bike the remaining 1.5km to the top of the pass.  I'll post video of the fun once I can get near a faster internet connection.

 We also met Tang Guo Chao who was riding from Guanzhou city in the province of Canton. A native Chinese man, he was on a bit of an adventure himself crossing the country on a BMW F650GS with another friend. He didn't speak any english so our trusty interpreter Vincent talked with him about his journey.  Great to meet another traveler on the road

We also got our first glimpse of Mt Everest (known as Qomolongma to the Tibetans). What a sight. You really can't describe the grandeur of seeing something so prominent and so legendary for the first time. It was truly a sight to behold. Now we get ready to head to Everest basecamp.

See the photos in the flickr library:


Day 6: Heading to Dingri

We're riding to Dingri/Tingri today, for the next jump for Mt Everest and basecamp. The city has several names due to the chinese, tibetan and western naming conventions. We are supposed to be crossing the highest elevation today at 17,570 ft. I've been told the BMW R1150GS I'm riding conks out at 17,000ft due to not enough oxygen in the burn mixture. Wonder what that means for the humans.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Day 5: arrival in Jiangzi

Jiangzi is a tiny agricultural village with almost no western
influence. We arrived here late in the day after riding and re-riding
some amazing roads through a high mountain pass, a glacier and several
small villages. With minimal traffic and no speed limit 185kph was
occasionally a reasonable speed. Time for dinner. More chinese food.

Day 5: heading to Jiangzi

With a 330km ride today we're basically on a straight run to the city
of Jiangzi. Long twisty roads await.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Day 4: Arrival in Zedang

We arrived in Zedang after a very long day riding a road (politely optimistic term for this) called 306 Provincial Road. It was ultimately 160km (100 miles) of dirt, gravel, very fine sand and very large rocks. Due to the extremely bumpy terrain we were riding standing up for the majority of the 100 miles, using our legs (and back, ouch!) as shock absorbers. Crossing a major mountain pass at 4910m (16,100 ft) was a highlight of the day. While it wasn't the highest pass (that comes tomorrow at 17,500) it certainly was a thrill. We ended the day at the Tse Dang hotel in the town of 60,000 people. The hotel is used primarily by Chinese central government people so we definitely turned a few heads when we all walked into the lobby with our technical riding gear completely covered in dust and dirt from the day. Today was definitely a great warmup for Everest, in nearly 3 days time. We're all excited for the challenge of that one!

Tomorrow it's all windy paved roads on the the way to Jiangzi.

Photos should be up in a few hours on the flickr page:


And as usual you can track us live on the GPS page:


Day 4: The road to Zedang

Today we head for Zedang. Another 330km ride but very different from
the road to Langxian. Nearly 210km of the ride will be dirt, loose
gravel and rocks with a soft sandy shoulder. That means we'll be
covering nearly 2/3 of the day standing and at a much more reduced
speed. It's a single track, rarely used road that will likely prove
very useful for the day we ride to Mt Everest base camp.

Remember, you can follow us live from here:


Due to technical difficulties...

I hadn't mentioned it before but due to the number of questions I
thought it worthy of a post here.
In China we have no access to facebook, twitter, blogspot, and many
other popular social networking sites. This makes posting very
challenging and editing nearly impossible. Luckily I'm still able to
email posts to facebook and the across-tibet blog but can't view them
directly so I'm unable to make edits and corrections. flickr is still
accessible but with 100's of MBs of pictures it just takes a while to
upload. We're likely to have more limited intrnet access from here on
out but I'll be sure to write and then post from the local internet

Day 3: Arrival in Langxian

Ater what could be considered the best ride ever, we arrived in the
small town of Langxian. This town primarily supports the local chinese
military and is very small with a very limited number of hotel
services. With such a short ride distance we stopped several times at
several monasteries and had the opportunity to meet many of the local
Buddhist monks and a number of the locals. Following the visits we set
out on some of the best stretches of road we've seen with great road
surface, very few cars but still the occasional livestock to be
avoided. Yaks, pigs and goats seem to enjoy wandering the roadways in
Quite possibly this has been the best riding day ever.
We're working on a video feed, but with limited internet access it is
proving to be challenging... stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Day 3: lunch break

Witha short riding day today we've stopped to visit two monasteries.
We've stopped in Milin for lunch at a very nice hotel restaurant. Many
of us have started to gravitate towards more basic foods after several
days of experimental foods. Rick, our Chinese tour leader, has a
penchant for exotic foods. Steamed white rice has now become a staple
item at each meal but surprisingly it's usually not even offered.
After lunch we're back on the road headed to Langxian.

Day 3: Off to Langxian

Today we head to Langxian. It's an easy (relatively) ride of approx 330km. Twisty canyon roads leading to a relatively primitive town. This is the rest day leading up to the next big push which will be Zedang. Looking forward to a great day of riding and good weather. Bayi was interesting but it's time to keep moving. Don't forget to follow along live on the GPS page:


Photo Update

Finally caught up on photos from the past few days. Check out the flickr library of ride photos all through Ride day 2. Now I just need to start catching up on the stories behind the photos. Enjoy!


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Day 2: lunch break

We've stopped in Songduo Yicun for lunch in a little restaurant. This
morning's ride was crisp and fast but the roads were pretty rough.
Beautiful countryside with lots of farms and yaks. We took a 10km
detour to visit the Drak Yerpa monastery and hermitage. High in the
mountains up a dirt road it was a riding challenge.

If you check out the live GPS page you can see where we are having
lunch right now!


Day 2: we head to Bayi

Today we head to Bayi, 480 kilometers away through another high
mountain pass. Yesterday's at 17,200 was a challenge but we all passes
with flying colors. Today's pass is close to 17,000. Oh, and there's a
military checkpoint too.
Woefully behind on updates and photos but hopefully i'll some time
(and energy) to post a bunch tonight from Bayi.
Follow along live on the GPS page!

Riding day 1: done.

Day 1: First riding day complete, lessons learned. Like avoid the yaks
and chinese military trucks!

See the gps track on the Spot tracker page ------>