October 21st, 2016

Silk Road trek proves no smooth ride

Updated: 10:38 am, Sep 23, 2016

A HARDY Leamington teenager has become one of the youngest people ever to cycle the ancient Silk Road.

Will Hsu, together with friend Charles Stevens from London, have just returned from an epic 10,000km ride from Beijing in China to Iran’s capital Tehran along the former trade route between east and west known as the Silk Road.

The pair have exceeded their £25,000 fundraising target for A Child Unheard which works to improve the lives of children in Africa through education, sports and arts.

The challenge saw them travel through nine countries in 114 days, climbing to over 4,000 meters as well as descending below sea level.

And between the two bikes they went through 11 inner tubes, three tyres, two chains and eight brake pads – together with a few other parts.

Along the way, the 18 year-olds have blogged about the journey and even encouraged people to donate by shaving their heads – which they also say made the long days wearing helmets much more comfortable.

The friends took a gap year before heading to university and wanted to do something worth while with their time. Will is now at Bath University studying International Development and Economics and Charles is at St Andrews studying History.

Will told The Observer: “The Tian Shian Mountains and Pamir Mountains which are in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan were stunning. “They were a truly unique place where winding roads snake up in the mountains making for grueling cycling but more rewarding views.

“The people of Iran were also really special. They were the most welcoming and generous people we met along the way -we were cycling down a hill when a car slowed and an outstretched arm handed us a bag of apples and drove off before we could even say thank you.

“There was also a scary moment in the desert when a driver must have fallen asleep at the wheel and spun off the road, flipping his car just 100metres behind us, we’re lucky to have been where we were.”

The Silk Road gets its name from the lucrative Chinese silk trade which created a network of trade routes from Asia to Europe.

Fewer people have cycled the Silk Road – infamous because it is considered to be the longest, hardest, hottest and coldest route in the world – than have climbed Mount Everest.

Visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/BeijingtoTehran to sponsor Will and Charles.