Leysin, January 2, 2011
Sitting here in my apartment in sunny Leysin, Switzerland, it's about time to draw the saga of the Silk Road Ride to a close and tie up a few loose ends. I've enjoyed just about every minute of the entire process (OK, aside from the six months spent recovering from rheumatic fever in 2002!) and I hope that this blog can help convey some of that excitement to you, my readers.
Here are a series of links that should help summarize this three-stage, eight-month, 17,750 km trip. There are maps, photo galleries, daily riding stats and a few news articles about the trip. I figured out that I rode for about 1185 hours at an average rate of 15.0 km/h, was in the saddle for 197 days (six and a half solid months), passed through 11 countries (and one semi-country, Nagorno-Karabakh), climbed an estimated 190 000 vertical metres (that's 22 times the height of Mt. Everest above sea level) and turned the pedals over 3 million times. Not bad!
These bare statistics, though, do not capture any of the essence of the trip. This trip was far more about the landscapes, the cultures, the ruins and the people along the way. Camping beside the Great Wall of China or beneath the tomb of Han Wu Di, traipsing awestruck through Bukhara, Samarkand, Esfahan and Ani, riding past emerald lakes like Sayram, Issyk Kol and Lake Van, crossing the Tien Shan and the Pamirs and the Elborz: these are what this trip was about. Staying with herders in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and townsfolk in Iran, crossing paths with fellow riders, having long conversations with people along the road, and feeling the connections between people and culture and history was what made this journey so worthwhile and helps explain why I stuck with it over the intervening years. The purely physical, while obviously integral to the trip, was really just a means to an end. I was confident that I could make it to the end of the Silk Road; what really mattered were the experiences along the way.
I hope that for some of my readers, this will inspire you to undertake your own dream voyages or projects. Life is short: play hard!!
Stay tuned to graydonstravels.blogspot.com for future trips!
Daily riding summary charts
Facebook photo galleries
Two more articles in Italian about the same thing.