In April 2010, Eleanor Moseman left Shanghai on a journey of more than 10,000 miles, across 3 countries, on one bicycle. This is where she updates from the road.
  1. Ever since…

    …Mongolia I have been wrestling with myself.  (Mongolians like to wrestle too).

    A half a kilometer before crossing from China to Mongolia, it had been difficult.  One thing after the next.  It seemed THAT NOTHING went the way it was suppose to.  I know you should prepare for incidents like this…but seriously, never in my life had there been days after days of everything just down right sucking!

    (I would have more photos but since that camera was stolen I’m missing some stuff).

    We tried to ride North from Zamyn Udd but the road disappeared – literally.  I had been warned to NOT FOLLOW jeep/motorcycle tracks as they can lead you nowhere, or your death.  After attempting to talk to two truck drivers (from big Russian-wheelers), one woman, and a young girl in a pink silk dress – we asked them about the roads and he just pointed towards Zamyn Udd spreading his arms back and forth horizontally. (I understood this as saying the roads are everywhere).

    This is where we tried to hitch hike.

    Looking South towards China:

    Looking North towards Ulan Bator (where we wanted to go):

    This little girl was spending the afternoon before the Sand/Wind storm blew in throwing rocks at a horse.

    We met some great people.  Thank god this little fellow could speak Mandarin and Mongolian.  We may actually owe our lives to him.

    They make ‘em stronger in the North.

    We did finally make it to Ulan Bator, which was a complete fiasco and nightmare.  And where I killed my  budget getting back to China.

    After a couple of days of finding maps, talking with people, weighing the pros and cons.  We did set out on a very cold and windy morning.  We passed truck after truck coming from the West, loaded sky high with dog? pelts.

    It was so windy, barely making it at 8km/hour.  I was extremely sluggish (I ended up getting really sick that night).  It was gorgeous but I was freezing, slow, and just feeling really dogged.  Jason rode ahead of me but returned when he noticed I was not near.

    We stood on the side of the road and watched a storm roll in.  Storms on the plains are amazing…this isn’t an uncommon experience.  You can see it in the distance and time it for duck and cover.  You can also get an idea how long it’s going to last.  This is where I sat, looking out, and made the decision to head back to China.  And this is the exact place where my dreams fell apart.  Take a note of the road conditions…um, I mean jeep tracks.

    I’ve longed for Mongolia for years now.   There is something about the stories, the photos, everything…that has drawn me to this land.  Well, needless to say, it gave me a really good ass kicking.  Jason built his bike frame so I was also concerned about his bike holding up, along with his 25kg limit aluminum racks.  Do I regret turning back, probably not…but I regret trying to go North West when I would be face to face with wind.  And I’m talking about a wind you probably have NEVER experienced.

    I think of Mongolia AT LEAST once a day and it’s usually when I’m lying in bed recounting my rotations and playing the “what if” game.

    So, I threw out the idea to my pen pal, Ed, of the Torugart Pass from China into Kyrgyzstan.  I’m playing with the idea of just heading out of China and pass through the K’stans to get back into the North West side of Mongolia.  I could at least have a hell of a tailwind to Ulan Bator.  Can I handle eating all the boiled lamb…probably not.  But I think I could handle the non existent roads, and it will be a hell of a lot easier to hitch hike as a solo cyclist.  I just can’t be defeated and maybe I’ll get to see Lake Baikal after all.

    One of my ideas was to catch a train in China to get to Lhasa.  But yeah, sounds like a super touristy place.  If you know me in the bit least…you know I go in the opposite direction of tourists.   So, what would I do once I get to Lhasa?  Go to India…then where?  I’m kind of getting stopped in those tracks…so it’s to the K-stans.  From there…I don’t know.  That Russia Visa is a pain in my butt!!!!  I may have some guanxi to use for this.

    So now I’m thinking of doing a circuit into Ulan Bator or heck…just go to Europe.

    Please stay tuned as I’ll be back on the saddle in about 2 months.  Just got my Visa renewed for another year…that’s the most important thing right now.

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  2. Pause…just press ‘PAUSE’…for a minute!

    Financial banking crisis – I must go back to Shanghai to work this out.

    Also, Jason wants to leave China in December so I must move.

    I’m devastated to say the least…actually, I don’t know what I’m really feeling. My eyes are swollen from hours of crying…feeling like a failure…seeing 16 months of work and dedication ‘end’.

    No, I think not…I don’t give up that easily. It sucks when you are defeated by money, or lack there of. Of all the obstacles I’ve faced, money is the one that wants to stop this adventure.

    I’m in Qinghai, and upon arrival, I was immediately charged to keep going. It’s absolutely beautiful here, riding through mountains, spotting a lone monk down in a valley. Old temples and Muslims whizzing by on their motorcycles. No coal in the air here.

    This post is going to be much shorter than how I really feel and what I’m thinking…as I am really confused and scattered. I didn’t think this would happen, and so abruptly.

    I checked my account less than 12hours ago and have already lined up a substitute teaching job that will bring in 2500 rmb and hooked up with some previous students to bring in some cash.

    Ohhhhhhh, you haven’t seen the last of me Western China…you sure haven’t.

    What has the last 4 months done to me…made me hungry, ‘like wolf’. I want my language skills to be the best and I want to make those images that say something – real. Not just your touristy run of the mill stuff.

    I wanted this so bad…I wanted this trip, this ride, this experience, so bad. I haven’t worked this hard for something in a long time and there is no way in heck I’m going to be defeated by something like, money.

    Yeah, I read the blogs of other cyclists…and their whole thing about, “we aren’t sponsored, we are doing this on our own dime…blah blah blah”.

    Well, just because you are sponsored doesn’t mean you have a big fat bank roll. Being sponsored meant that I, you, spent countless hours researching and writing emails to companies. With perhaps 1 in 10 willing to help. Do you know what it feels like to ask for help, it’s not really all that dignifying, at least for me. That’s a personal battle of mine for another time – I hate asking for help.

    Being sponsored means you can’t just quit because you are tired or feel like it.

    It also means promising things in return for their generosity and support.

    Don’t worry sponsors – I’ll be back in that saddle in no time.
    Don’t worry fans and friends – I won’t disappoint – I promise.

    With a little time and money making, I can hopefully repair my failing drive chain, get tires (I only had 3 flats 2 days ago…yeah, 3 in one day – balls!), a new pair of shoes, and a better pair of shorts (i’ve got raw saddle sores).

    My 2 months plan – make money, repair the ride, make some images locally, pack my crap up except 4 panniers and that beautiful and lovely Saga. Oh, and of course, post some pics.

    Tailwinds and Godspeed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    5 comments


  3. 2 Week Recharge and then off to Mongolia (be sure to use the 110 and not the 220)

    Jason has been updating this for me, but this is yours truly.

    Well, after the awful fiasco in Xin’BaErHeYouQi around Hulun Buir, I took a train from Wulanhaote to Chifeng.

    What happened that was so awful?  I’ll skim the surface for you.  I met 3 young men, ehem, let me rephrase, I met 2 young men and 1 monster.  After treating me to dinner I found myself having the monster “help” me to find a place to sleep for the evening.  I was locked in a room for 3 hours knowing that his intention was rape and possibly steal my belongings.  After 3 hours of me pleading and crying for release and him repeatedly telling me he would kill me – I got away.

    The scream I let out still doesn’t even sound like my voice.  The next 5 minutes are a haze.

    2 nights later I stayed on a Mongolia “Dude Ranch”.  I needed that.  These people gave me some faith in humanity.  The 3 people were “Mongolian” but I have realized there is a difference between ethnic lineage of Mongolian and those that live culturally as Mongolian.  Mongolians LOVE to drink…they LOVE to sing…they LOVE Americans.

    There was a boy on the ranch – “Bao’tur”.  He made me very nervous – even behind his silver reflector aviator sunglasses – I could see that he was one of the most beautiful boys I have ever seen.  His delicate and such unique face framed by soft curled dyed brownish hair.  It was not a sexual attraction nervousness, let me say that, but the fact that he was BEAUTIFUL.  Jason says, “that guy looks weird” – you may think that too – but this boy was beautiful.

    When I was practicing English with “Bao’tur”, “But’tur”, “Nancy”, and “Jake” – Bao’turs’ voice would go very high pitch and awkward sounding.  He made up for this silliness by the his natural appearance riding the horses – with no saddle.

    I slept in my first yurt.  It was a cement one, a permanent one.

    I returned to my Chinese “family” in ChiFeng last Saturday.  After another “boy” tried to scam me and who knows what else at the train station in Wulanhaote.  Luckily I stopped that one before there even was the option.

    Greeted at the train station at 5:30 am by my dear friend and “sister” Lotus.  Captain was there too.  It was so wonderful to see familiar faces and feel true, genuine love, from friends and family.  While in Chifeng, I was on the radio station speaking Chinese, danced for a large group of Eighth Graders, and had “little rain drop” (Lotus’ dear daughter) tell me my arms are like peaches.  I have hairy arms…you should see my legs!!!!

    After spending a relaxing, yet hot, weekend in Chifeng, I arrived in Shanghai Monday night.  I’ve never been one to run to the Gate and throw my arms around anyone.  But I shuffled (flip flops) past everyone and ran into Jason’s arms.  Yes.  Like a movie.  My luggage being one very dirty tanktop and pants and a load of Inner Mongolian Milk candy and Cheese.  Gifts.  Dirty clothes and candy.

    I have officially hit “Dirt Bag” status – and so proud of it.  People are amazed by my tan lines.  I’ve been told I look like a Chinese farmer and the man next to me on the plane kept looking at my arms and then his.  He was a little corn’fused.

    On July 1st, my final riding day of NorthEast China – I hit 5000km.  If you do the math, I did this in 2 months – with more than plenty rest days.  I plan to do the next 2 months, 6000km.  This will be Mongolia.

    Jason will be joining me for Mongolia – but don’t worry – I still plan to make a record amount of solo kilometers through China.  I guarantee that.

    While in Shanghai, I will be eating NOT Chinese food, though I have had 2 Chinese lunches.  I lied.  Let me rephrase…I will not be eating Chinese food when we can afford not too.  Still have got to reserve money.  The attempted rape drained 1000kuai out of my account really fast.  Taxi ride to next town and an air conditioned hotel.

    I’ve got a great paying job this week and that will more than definitely put my finances back to where they were before I started.

    One massage thus far, as I hope to regain feeling in my left middle finger.  I lost feeling and it’s completely numb – during the first week of my ride.  Pinched nerves?

    I’m going to go through some photos and maybe put a couple up here…I know you are dying to see some.

    Recently, I’ve had correspondance with your recent comment’or Edward Genochio and new correspondance from Evan Villarrubia, Portrait of an LBX www.portraitofanlbx.com

    Ed and I share a lot of similar stories and he’s been a great guy to talk with when I’m feeling beat the hell up.

    Evan and his cycling companion are still on the road in China.  I got a really nice email from him giving me props for doing this.  He said that he and his buddies have often discussed how difficult this would be for a woman…well, I’m doing it.  And to hell with that monster – I will NOT let any person ruin this for me.

    I’ll keep you all up to date

    3 comments


  4. A fellow cyclist.

    I think you all should go check out Edward Genochio right now!!! Interweb pals can make life, and planning, a bit easier.

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