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Topic: Xinjiang Cycling Tour

Posted on: 13th Jun 2012 7:11 PM    Quote and Reply


Hi Joe, that must have been an awesome trip! 
While I acknowledged that the desert highway may be "plain", it's the experience of going through it that makes the difference.  And yes, I've extended my itinerary to venture off-tangent to other attractions in Urumqi... provided I could still walk upright after 3 day of torture at your six!

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Posted on: 14th Jun 2012 12:53 PM    Quote and Reply


Good luck and do enjoy yourself! Will be once a lifetime experience in the desert.
I took a coach crossing the desert from Hetian to Korla. It paused once for toilet break during mid day and once I got out, I could feel sand in my mouth already and the wind was considered little.. have something to cover your face from the sand...


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Posted on: 14th Jun 2012 6:44 PM    Quote and Reply


Thanks Joe, point noted.  In fact I was already considering wrapping up like a ninja without getting a heatstroke at the same time!

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Posted on: 18th Nov 2012 1:04 PM    Quote and Reply




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Posted on: 18th Nov 2012 7:59 PM    Quote and Reply


Quote:
"Formerly posted by 6GHz: Hi all, just want to do a sensing here if there are anyone interested in the Xinjiang Cycling Tour, organised by Chan's World Holiday. It is about cycling through the Taklamakan Desert Highway in Xinjiang province. It will be a combined event with cyclists from other parts of the world too. Some details as follows:

Duration: 8 days

Departure date: 30 Sep 12

Itinerary:
Day 1 - Singapore - Guangzhou - Urumqi (4-star hotel)
Day 2 - Urumqi - Korla - Lunnan (coach, 3-star hotel)
Day 3 - Cycling ~170km (overnight at campsite)
Day 4 - Cycling ~126km (overnight at campsite)
Day 5 - Cycling to end point ~150km (3-star hotel)
Day 6 - Minfeng - Korla (coach, 4-star hotel)
Day 7 - Korla - Urumqi (coach, 4-star hotel)
Day 8 - Urumqi - Guangzhou - Singapore

Terrain: The Desert Highway is a tarred road, mostly flat with undulating levels.

Bikes: Road bikes provided. But if you are bringing your own bike, deduct $80 from the fare (but may incur extra luggage fare).

Costs: About S$2.2k inclusive of air tickets, taxes, accomodation and meals, and at maximum discounts.

Map: Red and green line


Disclaimer: I'm neither working at the agency nor having commissions through it. It's just out of pure interest to check if there are like-minded people out there.
"

I believe only those not aware of bike fit would rent from them the bikes for the event.

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Posted on: 18th Nov 2012 8:00 PM    Quote and Reply


Quote:
"Formerly posted by sweetsue: That sounds nice, but those are too long of consecutive rides touring on bikes for only three days. "

Seems to me the participants expected to be giving up during the first day.

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Posted on: 18th Nov 2012 8:02 PM    Quote and Reply


Quote:
"Formerly posted by 6GHz: Using the bikes provided is always a concern, and according to what I was told, it will be roadies from Giant.  That is why I would rather bring my own.  And for the planning, yes it's three consecutive days which could be taxing... but that's where the challenge comes in!  Training is definitely a must, and I believe six months leadtime of consciencious training should do the trick.

Do buzz me if you're interested. "

The logistic is suspicious standard?

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Posted on: 18th Nov 2012 10:10 PM    Quote and Reply




We were back from the Xinjiang cycling trip - thankfully in one piece.  It has been nothing short of an epic experience.  I will post the summaries here to share what we have gone through, and also an interest check to see if there are more like-minded people out there who dream of riding in faraway lands.

Day 1 - Urumqi

It wasn't an easy journey to begin with - six hours to reach Shanghai, waited listlessly for five to get the connecting flight, then another five to reach the famed Urumqi (Uyghur, translated as 优美的草原), top off with a 14-hour butt-numbing land journey to reach the fringe of the desert.  It is dumbfounding to experience the vastness of this autonomous region in China, more than 2,200 times the land mass of Singapore.  You just have to behold the magnitude of its enormity yourself - towering snow-capped mountain ranges, rolling grass plains, miles of industrial establishments, and more miles of empty spaces - words fail me.

Introducing the three other desert rats, two with their spouses.  All are retirees - one reaching mid-60s, one with grandchildren, and one with two stents in his arteries.  All had had round-Taiwan, Singapore-Pattaya and other 170km-a-day credentials.

In stark contrast, my buddy and I had East Coast Park to begin and end with.  And we cringed as we approach our bus emblazoned with such blatancy at the Urumqi airport.

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Posted on: 18th Nov 2012 11:18 PM    Quote and Reply




Day 2 - Luntai : 沙漠绿洲


We started the dreaded 730km land journey in the morning to the fringe of the desert at 轮台.  Along the way, we encountered the notorious public toilets.  While we measure hotels by its star statuses, we self-rated their slit-in-the-floor 公厕 by metres (of visible excrement towering like stalagmites beneath).  The stench was immensely dense and potent enough to suck the air out from your lungs like some osmosis process - and this is from someone who has next-to-zero olfactory sense.

After agaonising multiple hours where city views melted far into the background, replaced by derelicts and wasteland and emptiness, we had this oasis (油缘宾馆) dropped onto our lap, literally.  A 5-star abode out of nowhere and a satellite town complete with rundown arcades, restaurants, KTVs, dubious bars and parlours.  Belonging to China Petrochemical (the biggest conglomerate I was told), it is a town catered for their workforce.

Guarding its resources in the desert jealously, together with certain civil and strategic assets, the Taklamakan Highway which we would be riding on is not opened to the public - you'd need connections and approvals to get in here.

And we have one more rider who joined us today.  Coming from Shenzhen, he braved a 2D3N train journey just for this event.  He made our journey from Singapore like a walk in the park.

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Posted on: 18th Nov 2012 11:29 PM    Quote and Reply




Day 3 - Tarim Basin : The First Pedal Stroke

We proceeded to the Tarim Basin, the entry point into the Taklamakan Desert to sort out our bikes.  And my earlier apprehension of using vintage bangers was put to rest.  Thanks to the Xinjiang manager, all were newly purchased Giant hardtails, with Suntour 120mm suspension forks, full Acera/Altus components and Tektro mechanical discs.  Not top-of-the-line models, but definitely miles better than what I was informed earlier.

Someone said there are places you can get to by road, and there are places you can only get to by being on the road.  And there we go - the first pedal stroke through the desert.  It was momentous.  The sense of freedom and curiousity is both overwhelming and intimidating.

Never seen a desert before, the sight beckons.  Landscapes from rows of 胡杨树 that gradually thins away into spiny shrubs to nothing but featureless windswept sand dunes, it was something to behold.

Eight hours later, we pitched tents in the desert for our first night, as someone spotted a wolf scurrying by.  The air was chilly, the surrounding eerily silent, lit up only by the moon and the blanket of stars.  There was this 滚滚黄沙, 清风冷月 feeling.  We huddled together for dinner, then a merry tock-cock-sing-song session with the Xinjiang support personnel who came complete with Chinese barley beers and their ubiquitous 新疆白酒.  Carrying a minimum of 50% alcohol content, it tasted like nothing we had before.  It was an acquired taste adn we fell in love with it.

In Xinjiang, if you're able to finish the wine offered by your host, it becomes a catalyst to tear down all walls and barriers to forge friendships.  Getting boozy in the desert was so intoxicating it's liberating.

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