The 2023 Silk Route: A Web Of Choices
“To follow the Silk Road is to follow a ghost. It flows through the heart of Asia, but it has officially vanished leaving behind the pattern of its restlessness: counterfeit boarders, unmapped peoples. The road forks and wanders wherever you are. It is not a single way, but many: a web of choices.” – Colin Thubron, Shadow of the Silk Road
The 2023 version of our classic Silk Route Cycling Expedition will be quite different from the one we originally envisioned just a couple of years ago. Now starting in Almaty, Kazakhstan instead of Beijing, China it will still be an incredible cycling adventure, following many of the historic paths linking the East to the West. This revision, one which opens up many new exciting possibilities for our riders, is just another in a long history of changes along the vast network of roads that have come to be known collectively as the Silk Road.
No other legendary route conjures so many images in the minds of travellers as the Silk Road does. Yet no such concept even existed until 1877 when a German geographer, Baron Ferdinand von Richthofen, coined the term. What did happen, probably since ancient times, was humanity moving from one part of the world to another, whether in search of food, security, trade or, just as our company has been doing since 2007, for curiosity and adventure.
The term, Silk Road, seems to suggest a single defined track that this movement followed. In actual fact, to quote the website – Diplomat – there is “a common misconception about the historical Silk Road, namely that it was a “road” with actual start and end points.” In her book – The Silk Road: A New History – historian Valerie Hanson writes, “The ‘road’ was not an actual ‘road’ but a stretch of shifting, unmarked paths across massive expanses of deserts and mountains. In fact, the quantity of cargo transported along these treacherous routes was small” adding that “‘Silk’ is even more misleading than ‘road,’ inasmuch silk was only one among many Silk Road trade goods. Chemicals, spices, metals, saddles and leather products, glass, and paper were also common.”
The Diplomat article goes on to suggest that “The concept of the Silk Road is, in fact, relatively new, and people who lived along Central Asia’s trade routes would have never heard of it, although people sometimes spoke of a road to Samarkand, the central point of Eurasian trade routes. Nonetheless, despite this plurality in paths, most did converge eventually at a few large oasis hubs and nodes, like Bukhara, Samarkand, Fergana, Merv, Kashgar, and Khotan. Trade was always precarious, and wars and disruptions could easily reduce its volume.”
Why am I bringing this up? Well, since our inaugural Silk Road tour in 2007, we have taken different roads to cycle between west and east and east to west but at all times we have kept the essence of the Silk Road, the ‘hubs’ in.
This is all to announce that the 2023 version of Silk Road Cycling Expedition will be different than the ones we have run in the past. It will be shorter but nevertheless it will still be a grand adventure of linking the east to the west. Given the new reality, we at TDA Global Cycling are very excited that we will be able to cycle from Almaty, Kazakhstan to Istanbul, Turkey. Considering that none of us have the ability to predict the future, as I for one am well known for repeating – grab each opportunity, as you never know what the future will be. The Silk Route ride is not about any specific road but rather it is a journey of discovery and adventure.
Starting in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and finishing in Istanbul, Türkiye this legendary cycling adventure will take riders along the ancient silk trading...