Seoul to London: 10 hours on a jet; a few comfortable days by train, and for four intrepid adventurers, a hell of a long way by bike
In April 2009, the four members of the Braking Boundaries team will attempt to ride unsupported between these two cities, a total distance of over 16,000km – almost the entire breadth of the Eurasian landmass.
Each member of the team has his or her own personal objectives which they will be hoping to fulfill by journey’s end, but we all share some common goals.
First and foremost, there is the desire to prove to ourselves that with the right attitude, proper preparation, and careful planning, a few determined friends can take on the world. Discovering our limits, both physically and mentally, will be a very practical exercise in self-discovery; the answer to both questions will determine the duration and even the very outcome of the trip. Trust, teamwork, and mutual support are vital to our success.
Doing this independently, without the crutch of a benevolent sponsor or family trust fund, has been a source of great pride for the team members. We’ve relied largely upon our own grit and hard work to get us this far, just as we will rely on it on to get us through the long days and miles ahead.
The desire for independence raised a very valid question: what to do with offers of help and financial assistance? Why not, we concluded, pay it forward to those who really need it: people struggling to achieve their own dreams and ambitions, people for whom that helping hand, that timely gesture, might mean all the difference.
It is with this in mind that we have settled on the micro-lending organization Kiva as the official team charity. Their stated aims dovetail nicely with our own can-do spirit: like-minded folks helping others to achieve wonderful things. Their work has enabled thousands of enterprising individuals and groups to make their dreams a reality. And because of the nature of their development program – repayable loans rather than one-off donations – it is a gift that will keep on giving for many years to come.
Our current planned route (and by planned I mean more “rough guide”) starts us off in South Korea leaving by ferry from Incheon for Dalian, China. From Dalian, it’s off to Tiananmen square Beijing before heading through central China to Xian. From Xian, we will cycle on across the rest of China and maybe take in a desert along the way to the “Stans.” The possibility of going through Kyrgyzstan into Kazakhstan has been mentioned or just heading straight into Kazakhstan itself from China – this will be decided on route.
Russia will be next, traveling across Kazakhstan to the Eastern border and down the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan and Armenia before crossing into Turkey. Then it’s along the coast of the Black Sea toward Istanbul and up into Greece. A quick swim across the Mediterranean Sea near Albania will take us to Italy for some delicious food, before traveling up the boot and into the rest of Europe with some Alpine action along the way. Finally, it’s across the Channel to mother England for a cuppa with the queen before heading off for a visit with the Irish, possibly through Scotland along the way.
And there you have it – sounds good on paper, right?
So that’s it in a nutshell. The date is set. The plans are made. We have the bikes. We have the desire. Now all we need is a little luck and a lot of pedaling. See you at the finish line.