ExSaf Cycling TeamThe 8th Cycling

The 8th Cycling:Cycling in Desert Again

Cycling route: Luntai County – Minfeng County

Date: May 21, 2012

Number of participants: 15

Distance: 589km

The first 11 cyclers had tried many other places after the desert. However, when they mentioned cycling, they always talked about the first one in the desert. They still remembered their breakdown and helplessness at that time. For us, who had never tried cycling in the desert, the desert was mysterious and sacred.

In 2012, six years after the first cycling in desert, ExSaf Cycling Team members from Northwest China Region would try the cycling in desert again. The route would be from Luntai, via Tarim Road to Minfeng. Totally 15 persons participated in the cycling. Xiaoyu and I were cyclers out of the quota of the cycling team.

Xiaoyu was the son of a colleague in our company and participated in the cycling around Qinghai Lake in 2007, when he was still a high school student. After five years, he had finished his study in university and now was working in Beijing. Xiaoyu had a kind of calmness which was not in accordance with his age. He said that was a gift cycling gave him.

I used to be a member of ExSaf, but I left the company one year ago. I still remembered the three stories that Su Yihua told me when he interviewed me, one of which was about the cycling in desert. He described his pains in the cycling in a very normal way and tone. These three stories and my later experiences in cycling to Inner Mongolia and Tibet brought great influence to me. For me, the cycling in the desert would be a pilgrimage.

In the past cycling activities, there was only one female cycler, me. But there were four this time, Guo Shaoting, Yan Xin, Yue Juanjuan and me. We meant to divide the cycling of each day into two parts and each of us would cycle for part. We would take rest at the interval of 25km. After knowing this, Su Yihua suggested that each of us should cycle for a whole day, so that we could experience more from the cycling. So we decided that Yan Xin should cycle for Day one, Guo Shaoting for Day two, I for Day three, Yue Juanjuan for Day four and we four should cycle in turn for Day five.

On May 22, 13 cyclers set off from Luntai. Su Yihua stayed in Luntai because he had a fever.

There was no wind and the cycling in the morning was quite smooth. The cyclers were cycling at different speeds and the gap between Tian Shangchao in the front and Zhao Yongchao at the back might be up to 5km per hour. Zhao Yongchao thought he could not keep cycling for a whole day. He cycled very slowly and hoped that someone would help him.

By the side of the road in desert, the watermelon shed they saw in 2006 was still there, but the watermelons and the uighur girl were not. Six years had passed, we were more experienced in cycling now and we could not understand their pains in the 1st cycling.

We had lunch in the same place as they did in 2006, Tarim Restaurant. The lunch was also the same, Sinkiang noodles and meat roasted with rose willow. We set off after one hour.

In the afternoon, there was suddenly a sandstorm before we cycled for 30km. All vehicles passing by lit up their headlights. The yellow sands were flowing quickly on the road, like sand ribbons. The sky and the desert were in the same color. In the endless sand fog, we had to push our bicycles forward. It took us a long time to move forward for 10km.

The destination of Day one was the first well house, which was same as in 2006. When we arrived at the first well house, we decided to challenge ourselves and keep cycling for another 12km. We would end the cycling of the day at the fourth well house.

After the cycling of a whole day, Yan Xin was extremely tired and the first well house was her limit. When hearing that the team would go further for another 12km, she collapsed, blaming that the person who had made this decision failed to keep his words and giving up the last 12km of Day one.

At that night, when talking with people living in the well house, I learned that the slope at the 45th well house was the steepest and largest one. I calculated our progress and found that would be on Day three, my day. I didn’t think I could climb over that slope, so when Guo Shaoting told me that she was unwell at that time and wanted to change the order of cycling, I sighed with relief.

On Day two, May 23, it was my turn for cycling.

I remembered that, in our cycling in Tibet, I fell far behind the team and I tried to catch up with other teammates but couldn’t make it. I was short of breath, lost my rhythm and even fell down from my bicycle. So I was afraid that I would be the last one again this time. I set off very early in the first section. I dared not to look back and I was afraid they would surpass me. With all the fears in my mind, I began to understand the feeling of Zhao Yongchao.

Zhao Yongchao was still the last one. He said, if he could change his bicycle for a better, he could have stayed in front of the team. He was not happy with his own bicycle.

Having participated in cycling activities for twice, I knew whether the bicycle was good or not did not have much to do with cycling. But where was the fun of cycling? In both the first and second sections, I stayed in front of the team. Gradually, I felt more confident and was not afraid of being surpassed any more. When I found my own rhythm of cycling, my worries disappeared.

On the road in desert, I felt the fun of cycling for the first time and, for this reason, the soreness in my legs was alleviated. I could keep my cycling speed at about 25km. When we finished the cycling of that day, I, for the first time, believed that I could also cycle to Inner Mongolia and Tibet. How silly I was when I tried to avoid the 45th slope.

The fever of Su Yihua was gone and he came to join us from Luntai County at noon.

As Yue Juanjuan got injured during the warm-up cycling in Day three, I had the chance to cycle again on May 26. I followed Su Yihua all the way till we arrived at Minfeng County.

In the desert, I had the chance and courage to face my fear and I finally understood the fun of cycling.