Beyond the Bike 2015/16 - Bamboo with a View.

Stories from the people, places and personal challenges encountered by riding a bamboo bike through Africa and Asia.

Claire has spent the last ten years as Classics teacher (Head of Classics at Rugby School for seven years and most recently teaching at Colfe’s School in London). When Stuart asked her (on their second date) if she fancied cycling to China it sounded like the obvious next step, despite being a cycling novice! She will be riding a bamboo bike made by a social enterprise in Uganda. She has been learning Mandarin and it is hard to say which she has made most progress in – cycling or Chinese – both proving very challenging at times.

Claire Le Hur

Beyond the Bike returns...

We got back to the UK on a very cold and grey day, a few days later we had Brexit and all the ensuing madness - a political revolution in London, or just more of the same on (super) fast-forward?  Stuart's blog from a year ago as we left London proved remarkably prescient when predicting a 'bloodbath in the corridors of Westmister'. We were starting to wonder why we had bothered to come back to England, so to take our minds off things we got back on our bikes and made sure we cycled over 11,000km (as we had reached 10,000km in Hong Kong).

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Claire Le Hur

Bromptons and BA join Beyond the Bike

Two final rides. Two final cities. Three very different bikes.  In Hong Kong we cycled past our 10,000km target accompanied by a motley collection of bikes and friends. At the end of June we finally made it to Shanghai. We are now back in the UK, which really has not yet sunk in and we are NOT enjoying the English weather!

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Claire Le Hur

China: A Country of Contrasts

As Deng Xiapeng and Mao Ze Dong both said 'One country, two systems'. Although they were talking about Macau/Hong Kong's relationship with the mainland, we saw this to be true in so many different ways. It is quite fitting that our final African country was one of huge (probably more well known) contrasts; geographic, ethnic and economic. Our final Asian country and of the entire journey (or the small part of the enormous country we have seen) really is also one of startling contrasts. Our first month was spent in the South of this huge country, travelling through the provinces of Yunnan, Guangxi and Guangdong en route to Hong Kong.

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Claire Le Hur

Laos PDR - Please Don't Rush

We rushed through Laos (covering the entire country  from southernmost to northenmost border in three weeks, cycling around 800km and 'cheating' on two buses. Despite our speedy journey, the affectionate version of PDR (People's Democratic Republic) was ever so true as we found out very quickly (if that is not a paradox!). In fact, we were told the same joke we had been told in several African countries - 'In the west you have the watches but in Laos (or Africa) we have the time.' Laos is one of the most relaxed countries we have visited with plenty of cyclists. Despite its hilliness (sometimes 20% climbs), we really enjoyed our time there -  on a few of its 4000 southern islands, in the Mekongside villages and in its two main cities. The only time it was totally crazy was during Pi Mai or New Year.

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Claire Le Hur

Cambodia - Rebuilding itself with a little help from UWS.

We saw three different sides to the smallest country in our Asian odyssey (except Singapore). Firstly, the incredible ruins of the powerful Angkorian Empire that dominated  the region 1000 years ago. Secondly, the memorials and stories of the terrible  Pol Pot regime only 40 years ago. Finally, a country trying to rebuild itself, trying to escape its recent past and its more powerful neighbours. Our group ride with United World Schools (UWS) really demonstrated how Cambodia is being rebuilt, slowly but surely. Our week with UWS yet again humbled us and made us realise how lucky we are and how important the work they and Beyond Ourselves (in Zambia) is doing. 

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Claire Le Hur

Sustainability - The Capacity to Endure

Our own endurance challenge has opened our eyes to the importance of sustainability in bikes, phones, chocolate, clothes,  dragon fruit, toilets… as well as the wider ubiquitous and all important issues of deforestation and drought.

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