Paris to Beijing bike ride follows ancient route

By Zhuan Ti ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-09-08 17:08:36

Paris to Beijing bike ride follows ancient route

Simon Poniard and Basile Pottier took seven months to travel from Paris to Beijing along the ancient Silk Road by bicycle. [Photo/Xinhua]

It's a long journey by bicycle from Paris to Beijing along the ancient Silk Road. But it was a special and exciting experience for Simon Poniard and Basile Pottier, who took seven months to cover the 12,500 kilometers and 10 countries.

The two Frenchmen, both 27, started their journey in Paris on Jan 27, and rode their self-made bicycles until they arrived in Beijing on Aug 9.

They said except for the name, they knew little about the Silk Road. "The Silk Road was the most convenient and efficient riding path between Paris and Beijing," said Poniard.

The cyclists traveled through countries including Italy, Greece, Turkey and Yajikistan during their trip. Pottier said they were amazed at how big Chinese cities were and when they arrived in Luoyang, in Henan province, they cycled 25 kilometers just to get around the city, which would be unimaginable in France.

The two adventurers said they were also impressed by the differences between each region in China. They rode through the desert in Xingjiang Uygur autonomous region, fighting harsh, hot, dry and windy weather. In contrast Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang, was modern and filled with high-rise buildings and a cosmopolitan atmosphere. The cyclists visited a Carrefour SA store, which was one of the sponsors for the ride, and said it was nice to see the French household brand in China.

Poniard said at times the challenge was extremely boring as they cycled for weeks without seeing anyone.

The two young Frenchmen spent more than a month making their bicycles themselves, with each one costing 2,000 euros ($2,590). They used seats from the United Kingdom, frames from the United States and gears from Japan. Each of the cyclists carried luggage that weighed more than 20 kilograms and the bikes had to be extremely resistant and reliable.

Their Paris to Beijing Silk Road bicycle tour promoted sportsmanship, exploration and daring to challenge, but also aimed to educate Westerners about China and its ancient oriental path, said the sponsors of the ride.

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