Friday, October 30, 2009

Adventure Travel: Riding The Silk Road


This was the subject of my story today over at Gadling as well, but thought I'd mention it here too. I've written about the Tour d'Afrique before, discussing how great of a cycling adventure I think it would be, riding from Cairo to Cape Town, and crossing through much of Africa in the process.

Now, the organizers of that cool event are preparing for another long distance ride, this time going from Istanbul, Turkey to Xi'an China, over a 6600+ mile course that will also cross through Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan as well. That may sound like a bit of a random ride, but it actually a very historic path, as participants will be covering the length of the Silk Road, an ancient and vital trade route that once connected East and West.

The event will get underway on May 22nd of next year, and will take roughly 16 weeks to complete. Those weeks are broken up with 92 days of riding and 22 rest days, with one travel day across the Caspian Sea thrown in for good measure. The trip will be highlighted by a ride up the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan, with cyclists climbing above 15,000 feet, only to later plummet to depths below sea level while camping in the western desert regions of China. The road will vary from well paved to cart paths, with just about everything in between, and the riders will average about 70 miles per day across the length of the ride.

Unfortunately, not all of us have 16 weeks to dedicate to such a ride, but that doesn't mean we'll be left out in the cold, as the road is broken down into seven separate legs that can be ridden singularly or in an combination should you decide to not go for the full on experience. The cost of the Silk Route ride is currently set at €8500, but there is currently a promotion in place that will cut €400 from the price if you book the trip before November 15th. The prices for the individual legs can be found at the bottom of this page as well.

This looks like an amazing experience, with an incredible mix of physical challenge, high adventure, history, and culture. I can't think of a better way to explore this unique part of the world than from the back of a bike, which will let you follow in the footsteps of some of history's most mesmerizing characters, like Alexander the Great, Marco Polo, and Genghis Khan. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go start training!