An Unexpected(ly) Scenic Detour #SR2014
The call came through a couple of hours after the last riders completed Stage 15 of the Silk Route. The lead vehicle had left 3 hours earlier to scout the next day’s route but now had some bad news; a tunnel that the riders were meant to pass through halfway through Stage 16 had collapsed and the intended route was no longer possible.
Over the next 3 hours a scouting/Google Maps-ing/elevation profile checking/endless phone call making communications frenzy ensued as the staff plotted out a new route to get the Silk Route riders over or around the mountain range that the collapsed tunnel had so recently passed through. A new route was soon found within a short time but, as the staff had to break it to the riders at the evening meeting, it was going to be one hell of a ‘scenic’ detour, to say the least!
Over the next three days the riders discovered gears on their bicycles that some of them didn’t even know existed before, such was the steepness of some of the climbs and descents. As any cyclist will tell you though, a long hard climb will nearly always come with a great reward, and never has that belief been truer than for the Silk Route Expedition’s 2014 very own detour.
Within an hour the riders were winding their way up deep canyons surrounded by dry mountains, before the scenery changed once more to the never ending green terraced hills that saw us all the way to Lanzhou. Words struggle to describe the incredible amount of work that must be required to turn such steep hills into arable land. The photos speak for themselves!
The days were long and hard but there were no complaints as the scenery gave all of the riders a new found inspiration to get to the top of the next climb. On the second morning alone we counted seven big climbs before lunch. Tough cycling it may have been, but the riders had such big grins on their faces at the end of each day that we’re seriously thinking about making this detour a more permanent feature on the Silk Route!