Tuesday, November 17, 2009


In China, you can pick up a bottle of Jack Daniels for €20. Or you can pick up his imitation twin brother for €3.50. It tastes the same. The bottle is the same size and design. The labels are very similar. They are even positioned beside each other on the supermarket shelves. If you look closely you can almost see 'JACK' giving 'JIEKE' a dirty look.

When cycle tourers talk of great bike rides across the world, the same places keep popping up;- The Karakorum Highway in Pakistan, 'The Road of Death' in Bolivia, the Pacific Highway south of Los Angeles, the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan, the 'Friendship Highway' from Tibet to Nepal, following the Danube through Europe. What does it take to create one of the world's great cycle routes. The list is long but not definite. One cyclist ideal tour could be another's nightmare. While the Friendship Highway is the world's biggest downhill, following the Danube to the Black Sea is a mainly flat riverside breeze. But for me,- to qualify to be one of the world's great cycle touring routes, you need a few key things. Firstly, you need downhills,-big downhills and with that you need massive climbs. Secondly, the landscape must be incredible and the more variety of scenery, the better. And thirdly, its such a treat, if the area is populated by and interested people.Global Cycle Ride is my sixth big bicycle ride which has included 37 countries totalling 32,500KMs. But the road I'm presently on is proving to be one of the greatest. Highway 101 from Xining through Guide towards Daflag has just been almost totally resurfaced with asphalt. It just opened last week and I reckon in time, it will become one of the world's great bike rides. Firstly it has those big downhills. Speeds in excess of 60KMH were reached and the front pannier bags scrapped against the tarmac as I leaned the bicycle sideways in the bends. And the climbs were hugh. Each day over the last 4 days, I've hit new GCR altitude records. It presently at 4382M.And the landscape we are passing through is just superb. The variation of terrain is incredible. We've had arid steppe with yak herders in full traditional Tibetan dress, massive sand dunes, fields of snow to the horizon, red rock canyons with vultures circling overhead, freewheeling along side cascading rivers, snow topped mountains filled with colour from Tibetan prayer flags and so much more. And the third thing on my personal ideal touring route is that the area is populated by an interested people.

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