Gone Cycling to China intro

The Challenge:

In June 2017 John cycled with his guide and a support vehicle leaving Kunming early on the morning of 13th June to The Stone Forest in Shilin and from there on day two to Puzhehei. On day three he cycled to Bamei, total mileage since start 188m. Day four from Bambi to Baise located in the west of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and from there to Bama on day five. Day six took him to Hechi on the southern end of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau and from Hechi to Guilin on day seven. Total mileage since start 550m. Day eight to Yangshuo, day nine to Guangning and then the finish in Guangzhou. The total cycled mileage was about 680 miles, but thats only half the story. There were plenty of hills!

John set himself a personal goal. One that confirms his mantra

“We’ve got Parkinson’s, it hasn’t got us!” 

To see the video that was used to promote this challenge go to:

Gone Cycling China Advert

To see the video that puts 10 days into 11 mins, have a look here:

Gone Cycling to China in 11 mins

Day Six: Bama to Hechi

A quiet day. No dramas. Just the boys having a good cycle ride.

Breakfast in the hotel was a non event, there was nothing John could stomach so it was agreed to pack the car and go into town and find some grub that would give him energy. At the same time the car needed a good clean after its forestry trip of the previous day and petrol. So we spent a happy 30 mins strolling the shops and buying up cakes, fruit and hi energy (at least we think they are) drinks to consume along the way, and then we set off at about 0940.

The area is surrounded by the Phoenix mountains on the north west and the Fenging Mountains to the east, the road to Hechi cutting through the ranges giving us dramatic back drops and super cycling along excellent surfaces. The tallest mountain is 5,554ft so you can get an idea of the geology we were travelling through. The boys loved the cycling and devoured the kms arriving in Donglan for some much needed lunch.

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A very attractive town with a river running through its centre. The afternoon was a repeat of the morning, cycling mostly down through the valleys and soaking up the wonderful landscapes.

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As the driver and videographer wait during the cycling part of each day for the cycling duo to turn up at the end of each section we are normally close to a food outlet or shop, and is the case insects of all sizes gather to feed. Here is an example, this one is about 8cms in length seen this morning.

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The photo of the duck bus at the top of the page was taken in the petrol garage forecourt in Bama at the start of the day. I think the ducks had a one way ticket…

We drive into beautiful Hechi and have dinner in a goat restaurant. Excellent food and a fascinating evening. The owners of this posh restaurant wanted their photo taken with John and Mark and then the customers asked for the same! We were celebraties! We had beer and cigarettes offered, it is rude to say no, and there were many toasts. Really moving.

John and I have been travelling south west China now for 7 days.We have not seen another European or American. Wherever we go we cause warm interest. The Chinese are such generous lovely people.

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Day Six video can be watched via the following link. It purposely contains a 5 mins section caught on John’s head cam that captures the arduous and monotonous nature of a long ascent cyclists sometimes have to endure on their journeys, so bare with John! There is also exciting coverage of a long descent!


Day Eight: Guilin to Yangshuo

At last the boys could do some serious miles on their bikes today. We hit the road around nine thirty after John and Mark had had breakfast in the Macdonalds across the main square from the hotel and managed to negotiate a way out of this vast and beautiful city towards Yangshuo. Having reached the countryside Sang and Alex had designed a route to take the boys off the main roads and through the countryside and its villages without the large trucks and buses to make life difficult. This was perfect cycling. Almost flat, with bountiful market gardens on either side with rice, vegetables and fruit growing in healthy and large numbers. Along the way the small villages were being added to by new university campuses as Guilin expands. These complexes are possibly no more than a few years old and their infrastructure hasn’t been updated to the on-line maps. This led to issues with navigation as the satnav in the car would say that a road exists to a certain village only to find when we got there that the junction no longer remains. This is no great problem for a car as we can simply drive a mile or two down the road and find a new way in, but it adds to the workload of the cyclists who get a little upset riding up and down a new road waiting for the car to decide the next direction to take!

Lunch was had at about 1230 and as you can see from the image John has started an interest in being bi-lingual!


The afternoon cycling was much the same as the morning, going in and out of hamlets and villages and through rolling countryside surrounded by karst mountains. In the middle of a quiet side street in a small town called Jixiang we could hear music coming from one of the shops and here was a barber having a quiet few minutes playing his two stringed Erhu instrument with a snake skin sound box beside his 100 year old barbers chair. We listened to his perfect performance with wonder and awe. This is what we wanted to see of old China. Perfect.

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We arrived in Yangshuo at 7pm and found a hotel overlooking the river as the sun was starting to set. What a perfect day.

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You can see the video of the day’s conversations and an erhu being played here!