ExSaf Cycling Team

The 1st Cycling:Cycling Across Taklimakan Desert

Cycling route: Luntai County Sinkiang – Minfeng County

Date: September 16, 2006

Number of participants: 11

Distance: 589km

At 8:00am, the 11 cyclers got on their bicycles and set off from the hotel of Luntai County, starting the cycling across Taklimakan Desert……

In fact, cycling across Taklimakan Desert was cycling along Tarim Road going across the desert. The road was 566km long, with Luntai County in the north and Minfeng County in the south, which was the destination of our cycling.

After we left Luntai, it was windy and we cycled against the wind. The 11 of us were finally together. Many of us hadn’t been cycling for a long time, so, after we set off from Luntai, we cycled very fast at the speed of over 20km……

We took a rest by the monument for over ten minutes. We took photos, learned safety precautions on entry into a desert road and set off again. We stayed close to each other in the first section of cycling, but after we set off again, the distance between the teammates became larger. I looked forward, but could not see the teammates in front of me. Beside me, there were only three cyclers, Shi Yaping, Gao Jianyuan and La Wenmin.

At both sides of the road, there were only sand-grass, rose willows and continuous sand dunes. I had pains in my legs and hip and felt like there were some needles in my knees. The pains were also lingering in my mind, “When can we finish this travel of 12km?” At this time, we saw a watermelon shed at the roadside and two uygur girls were selling watermelons. I took the chance and suggested, “Let’s buy a watermelon.” So we stopped and bought a watermelon. In fact, it was just an excuse for me to take a rest…

After a while, we continued the cycling. Soon I found there was only one person around me, Gao Jianyuan, who was in front of me, not far away, and I could not see anyone else. My pains became sharper. There were many rose willows in the desert and, as a result, there were many mosquitoes. They chased me and bit me on my arms, my back, my legs and even my hip. I could not concentrate on cycling and became more and more anxious and upset, thinking about stopping and taking a rest all the time…

I did not know how long I had cycled before I saw there were some houses ahead. When we set off in the morning, we planned to have lunch in Tarim. Except such houses, I could not see any other house around. “It’s Tarim here and we can take a rest and have lunch…” I said to myself and called the teammates ahead. They answered me, “Keep going. There is a restaurant about 1km away and we are here waiting for you.”

At this time, 1km was longer than 10km for me, because I could not continue cycling any more. “There are so many restaurants here. Why should you choose the one at the other end of the bridge?”

I could not keep cycling, so I just pushed my bicycle forward. I cycled for a while and pushed for another. It took me a time longer than that I needed to walk for 1km in normal times to finish this 1km. Finally I went across the bridge and saw other teammates. There were many restaurants at the other end of the bridge, but only one at this end.

They came up to me and took over the bicycle from me. I restrained my anxiousness and pains, pretending that everything was O.K. I walked over and sat down. My legs were just like two pieces of wood. When I sat down, I could not even stand up. I wanted to talk with others about my pains, but when I saw them washing their faces, washing their hands and making jokes with each other, I stopped.

After lunch, I lay down for a while. However, soon after I lay down, they said we should set off now and arrive at the next well house today, which was over 60km away. In order to protect the road in the desert from being covered by the desert, many rose willows were planted at both side of the road. Along the desert road, there was a well station every 4km, which was used for irrigation of the rose willows. We called such well stations “well houses”. After we entered the desert, we could not find other places for shading but the entrance of these well houses.

I almost collapsed when I heard that we had to cycle for another 60km. Soon I was the last one again. I could not see anyone else except Gao Jianyuan.

I did not know how I managed to finish the 60km in the afternoon. When I arrived at the first well house, all other teammates had been there for over 2 hours. It was really painful for me…

The cycling in Day two was even more torturing than in Day one. In the afternoon, when I arrived at the well house designated for rest, other teammates said that I cycled too slowly and had affected the cycling of the entire team. They asked me to give up. I felt ashamed when I thought I became a burden of others. I got on the support car without saying anything. I stayed on the supporting car and arrived at the next rest point. I was lying on a bench in the well house when I heard loud voices outside. I guessed that must be other teammates who also arrived. I felt ashamed as I exaggerated my pains and became too anxious. I failed to concentrate on cycling but my pains and, as a result, I made myself anxious.

After adjusting my conditions, I took my bicycle out of the support car and decided to continue the cycling. I concentrated on the cycling skills and methods. Though it was still painful, I could see the teammates ahead!

In the subsequent days, I kept cycling and could stay close to the team. The pains in cycling were also alleviated…

When we are in front of any difficulty, we should not get anxious but stay calm, and the difficulty will be much easier for us!

After 5 days, all the 11 cyclers arrived at Minfeng County…

From left to right: La Wenmin, Gao Jianyuan, Wang Yang, Ya Qiang, Xizi, Su Yihua, Xue Tao, Guo Aimin, Xiang Jinghui, Ah Guan, Shi Yaping, Zhang Peijun

  • Picture 1: Gao Jianyuan was cooking rice

  • Picture 2: Ah Guan was slicing a cucumber for cold vegetables dish in sauce

  • Picture 3: At the night of Day four, the birth party of Gao Jianyuan and Zhang Peijun We bought 9 bottles of beer from a town 21km away from the desert road and prepared two dishes.

  • We looked like a big family…

  • In a store close to Minfeng County, we took a photo.

  • There was a small village in the depopulated zone of the desert. The villagers had difficulties in finding potable water. We gave some water we carried with us to the villagers. The village was about 20km away from the desert road.