November 7/07 9:21 am - Triumph In Sight for Canadian 'Silk Route' Cyclists
Posted by Editor on 11/7/07
Triumph In Sight for Canadian 'Silk Route' Cyclists
With just two weeks and 1200 kms to go, the 37 cyclists of the inaugural Silk Route Bicycle Expedition - 19 of whom are Canadian - are nearing Beijing, the final destination of this ground breaking trans-continental bicycle odyssey.
Having set off on their historic journey from Istanbul, Turkey on August 4th, the Silk Route cyclists are close to achieving their goal of being the first modern bicycle caravan to have ever cycled from the Mediterranean Sea to Beijing - a distance of 11,000 kms in just 107 days.
"It's been a magic expedition" said Expedition Leader and Torontonian Shanny Hill.
"Over the past three months, we have traveled through eight countries and while we've experienced radical extremes in temperature, elevation and road conditions, we've been rewarded with incredible adventure, hospitality and cultural and scenic diversity."
Silk Route is the third expedition in an exciting new cycling category that the company, Tour d'Afrique, is pioneering - Trans Continental Bicycle Races and Expeditions. Their other two renowned annual events are Tour d'Afrique (12,000 km from Cairo to Cape Town) and Orient Express (4000 km from Paris to Istanbul).
Apart from experiencing the sheer joy, exhilaration and freedom that comes with crossing a continent by bicycle, one of the goals of the company is to raise awareness of the damage being done to the environment through society's increasing use of motorized transportation.
"We do these epic journeys because we like the adventure, but also because we believe that the bicycle is an important tool in fighting global warming." said Henry Gold, Company Founder and environmental activist. "By cycling 11 000 kms in 107 days, we are sending out a message and pointing a way towards how bicycles could be used in every modern city as a means of alternative, sustainable transportation."
No stranger to trans-continental bicycle expeditions, Sault St. Marie cyclist JJ Hilsinger is a veteran of the Tour d'Afrique expedition through Africa. Reinforcing the call to the world to stop global warming, Hilsinger decided to participate in the Silk Route to bring focus to the cause. 'My challenge is to pedal 11,000 kms, riding continuously for an average of 110 kms per day. Your challenge is to make a personal pledge to save emissions of one tonne or more towards the goal and in doing so, adopt a more sustainable lifestyle." states Hilsinger's website, www.youbetican.com. His overall challenge is to get enough pledges to save a total of 11,000 tones of CO2 emissions, one tonne for every one kilometre of the journey.
Having followed in the footsteps of Marco Polo, General Zhang Qian and Genghis Khan, through Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and China, the Silk Route has been an experience like none other.
"For 2 months I was on a drug-free high - that is if you don't include vodka & beer!" said sectional rider Lilli Hrabchak from Selkirk. "Every day brought fun, adventure and triumph. I laughed enough to add 10 years to my life. I tasted new foods, danced to new music, shared stories, food and drink with the locals, learned about parts of the world of which I was ignorant, and shared the experience with some fantastic fellow cyclists who I shall remember always."
Yet another Tour d'Afrique veteran, Lorrie Schmidt from Calgary, is one of a handful of cyclists on the Silk Route who have managed to retain EFI status. EFI riders have the distinction of having cycled Every Fabulous Inch of the road from start to finish.
Both an expedition and a race, the current race leaders are Scott Miller (America) Sandra Simon (Austria) and Chuck Giles (America).
The cyclists will cross the official finish line at approximately 13h00 on Sunday 18th November at approximately 13:00 hours at Jia Long Sunny Hotel, 75 Chaohei Dajie, Dongcheng District, Bejiing.
Registration for 2008 Silk Route, Orient Express and Tour d'Afrique is now open.
Register online at www.tourdafrique.com.