Beyond the Bike

Stories from Stuart and Claire's original & recent journeys….
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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!


We made it!! The towers of Shanghai city gleaming out of the pollution


From Zhuhai, we made the ferry crossing to Kowloon and then thought we were in for an easy 20km cycle to our friends’ house in the New Territories. Not quite. Only 20km but over 500m of climbing, much ofit over 10% gradient. We were rewarded with a wonderful welcome in a stunning location, many thanks to Caroline and Ed for putting us up and putting up with us and all our gear! In Hong Kong, we caught up with lots of old friends, including Mell and Mark Harvey whom we stayed with at Kapishya in Zambia back in October! Two more school talks and one at the Royal Geographical Society also filled our time.

We kept our fitness up with a few hikes ready for the final group ride aroud the island, that would take us through the 10,000km mark. Our ride to their house had us a little worried but it had been planned by a local (thanks to David for helping with this) so we were sure it would be alright.



Stunning Hong Kong trail hiking.


Our little group of cyclists met early one Saturday morning. We were  joined by Paul, a BA cabincrew member who also goes by the name of Madtraveller. He has riden his Brompton over 30,000 miles in nearly 75 countries, making some great videos in the process, including one of Beyond the Bike in HK!. He arrived with 2 of the legendary folding bikes. Along with one kindly lent from local dealer Flying Ball, we had 3 Bromptons, the tandem, a road bike which had never been ridden before and two super road bikes with experienced cyclists who looked us the rest of us and wondered what they were letting themselves in for.  Oh the irony! Within 15 minutes Barney’s handlebar had snapped, so off he went home. An hour later David got not one but two punctures, so off he went home. The super-duper road bikes were out of the ride! It wasn’t all clear yet as Isabelle went flying over her handlebars but bravely got back on the bike again.


Literally blood, sweat and tears were shed on our 10,000km ride.


The hills were just as hard as we had imagined and especially for the three gear Bromptons!  Becks, Ed and I all rode it for a bit and then we were resigned to putting it in a taxi to take it up the final hill. The beauty of having a Brompton!  


Bromptons and Paul from BA 


We all made it to the top of the Peak, exhausted but elated, 50km and 1200m of climbing - not bad for out final ride!  Then it was on for some proper (and long drawn out celebrations).  Huge thanks to Ed, Paul, David, Barney, Isabelle and Becks for joining us and of course to Brompton for lending us two bikes.


Ed did seem a little too big for the Brompton!


Just before we flew back to London we had four days in Shanghai staying with Anna Willetts and family. We spoke at Wellington College International- very fitting as our last school abroad as we start our “London Revolution’ by speaking at Wellington College/Telegraph Festival of Education.  Obviously our ‘final ride’ in Hong Kong was not going to be our final ride. Anna found us great road bikes (which took a while to get used to) and we joined the Pudong Cycling Club for a 150km ride around the city.  It was quite an experience! We were dropped early on as we slowed down and even stopped at red lights (apparently not something worth doing in Shanghai!), the traffic and the pollution were appalling. The ride was fun, but probably not one I need to repeat!


A quick break mid-ride in Shanghai with Anna.


Our final experience in Shanghai was getting to the airport, we caught the Maglev train which went from 0km/hr to 300 in two minutes making the 35km journey to the airport (almost) literally fly by!  Fun and games ensued at Pudong International Airport with increased security (no umbrellas now!?) as last week someone threw a home-made mini bomb into the departure queue…has this been reported at all, we don’t think so, no bad news ever comes out in China…


0-300km/hr in two minutes!


Obviously our Shanghai ride was not to be our final ride. On returning to the UK we embarked on our London Revolution   which would bring our total distance up to 11000km and hopefully our total fund-raising to £50,000. More on this coming soon. ..

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