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. I’m Sorry, I May Have Lied…to myself.

    Upon the turnback in Tibet and reaching my mileage goal (Which is a funny story. I thought I had told everyone it was 15,000 miles, so there was no celebration but more feelings of defeat) I was pretty set on resting the bike and getting a backpack for Xinjiang and the K’stans…because, well, winter is upon us.

    If you don’t know anything about Xinjiang, it has 2 seasons…summer and winter. It’s famous for it’s wind and sand storms, i.e. blowing a train car of the tracks and I heard a story of a British cyclist being killed in a wind storm taking the Southern Route of the Silk Road (NW Qinghai) in no mans land.

    Well, I have 2 weeks until I set off. In the meantime I’m getting a TB and Hep test…as I’m still physically not up to par. They recommend people that hangout with homeless people get tested. I WAS living on dirt floors with nomads. Also, TB kills a lot of people in Asia and Africa. I had a lot of Tibetans coughing near me, on me, snotty nosed kids sneezing and their mucous getting on me, or mixing my tsampa with their bare hands. (They also don’t use toilet paper)

    Also, I’m having new wheels built, my repaired Brooks saddle is on it’s way from England, and…I bought replacement handlebars. The Soma Sparrow 560mm.

    The idea of hitchhiking around Xinjiang is exciting because it’s different and the idea of walking around without worries of my bike getting stolen OR broken…is great. BUT, the idea of being in an automobile passing by nomads and locals…tears my heart apart. Also, I don’t have my get-away ride anymore and it’s a little more difficult to go meandering through open’ness or getting up mountains. The photos people love, and I love, are taken from when I was solo and invited in with people. Being in a car, bus…that’s not going to happen…or maybe it will?

    I’ll be monitoring the weather conditions every day and there is a storm coming in, maybe I just stay put. Whether on bike or foot. My Work Visa doesn’t expire until Jan 28th, so in all reality…I could spend winter in Xinjiang, head into Kyrgyzstan (Jan 27th) and be in Kazakhstan in early March (that’s close enough to Spring to not freeze, right?).

    I’m hoping someone out there, in cyber world, can offer some advice or wisdom…or an answer will come to me from the heavens.

    In the meantime, I hope you take a look at the photographs for sale…I really really need some winter gear. Or you could mail me your old stuff.

    Godspeed.

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  2. Thanks Mike On Bike and Jeffery in Kazakhstan

    You both have given me some great words of advice and wisdom. It’s the generosity of strangers that always keeps me moving forward.
    www.mikeonbike.com

    Leave a comment!


  3. 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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