24-hour Cycle Challenge: Beijing to the End of the Great Wall

I’ve become interested recently in the concept of “Micro-adventures”, a movement that I believe was started by serial adventurer Alistair Humphries. The idea essentially is that you don’t necessarily need to quit your job, sell all your assets, and hit the road halfway around the world to live an adventurous life. Often you can find these types of experiences nearby- whether in your backyard or immediate surroundings and even usually using tools and means close at hand. One can have an adventure, and the accompanying benefits, with very little investment of time or resources. “Local Discoveries, Great Escapes” as Alistair puts it.

This idea has become particularly appealing to me in the now over a year since my motorcycle ride around China. As I find myself continuously anxious to find new ways to travel and have new experiences while still trying to focus on some of the more near-term goals that I’ve set for myself (like writing a book), I’ve also been trying to find ways to satisfy the itch for a new challenge.

Inspiration for just such an opportunity came in the form of a blog post on a friend’s website, Challenge Sophie, called “How to Train for Cycling London to Paris in 24 Hours“.

Sophie (who chronicles her endurance challenges and adventures, including several Ironman events as well as her being the first person to cycle the length of the Alps and summit the tallest mountains in each of the 8 countries they traverse) describes the cycling challenge, which she has now completed 6 times as…

The London to Paris sportive offers you the chance to complete one of the world’s most iconic challenges between these two incredible cities. It involves cycling 199 miles / 320 kms over a 24 hour period. Departing from Greenwich, London at 4pm on Saturday 2nd May, and finishing under the Eiffel Tower within 24 hours on Sunday 3rd of May.

Reading about this exciting challenge, and of a kind very different from the type of long distance trips I’ve done in the past, started to get my adrenaline pumping and my imagination running.

Introducing the Beijing to Old Dragon’s Head 24 Hour Cycle Challenge

Where the Great Wall enters the sea

Where the Great Wall enters the sea

I’ve only just recently, in the past year, started to become interested in cycling. Up to now, the longest ride I’ve ever done was a two day, 140km/100mile trip out to The Great Wall outside of Beijing last October. But my interest had been piqued so I started poking around for an equivalent route to the London to Paris challenge here in China. That’s how I found that the distance Between Beijing and Qinhuangdao (a motorcycle trip Amy and I actually did a couple years ago) was almost exactly the same distance as London to Paris – 320km/200 miles. A trip from the center of China’s ancient capital at the Forbidden City to Old Dragon’s Head, the eastern terminus of The Great Wall (and the point where it enters the ocean)- what could be more perfect than cycling between two of China’s most iconic historical sights!

So the idea started to take shape and an itinerary set. The plan is to start in front of The Forbidden City early afternoon on the first Friday or Saturday of June, cycle east towards the coastal city of Qinhuangdao via the G103 and G102 National Roads until reaching our final destination approximately 16-20 hours later. We’ll probably find a place to nap half-way through in the middle of the night aiming to get to the ocean by mid-day the following day. (The start time is subject to change as we consider road conditions, closures, and actually being able to enter the Great Wall scenic area when we finish)

Amy will be joining me for the training and the actual challenge in June and we’re also getting a group of other cyclists involved as well. Finally, we’ll be using this opportunity to raise money for a local charity, Education in Sight, which helps kids in rural China test their eyesight and provide free glasses for those that need them. It’s a great organization as well as a cause whose core mission is very much in line with charities Amy and I have supported in the past. (For those interested, donations can be made via their website here or via their online fundraising campaign here).

More Updates to Come!

Cycle training on the roads

Cycle training on the roads

In the coming months, I’ll be stopping by the blog to share tips and progress reports on the training. Seeing that this is the first cycling related endurance challenge I’ve ever done, it will be a learning process as we experiment with gear, training plans, and cycling routes. So stay tuned! If you’re in Beijing and would like to join us for any of our weekend practice rides or planning on being here in June and would like to join for the 24-hour Challenge itself, get in touch via email or in the comments below!

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