As was reported in a previous post, fellow Southerner Rich “Big Dick” Johnson decided to take an epic bike ride across China in the name of local charity Ban Rajawadee Foundation.  Below is a report on this monumental jest, told in his own words..

‘A woman came into the store asking for some deep German mining equipment’. After mile 60 of today’s edition of ‘I used to work in Chicago’ Doug was getting pretty irritated with my sexual innuendos and a little worried at what my imagination could produce with just him for company.
We are on day 4 of our China charity cycle ride from Beijing to Guilin and in the middle of a 48 hour rainstorm. Having left Beijing and entered into the mountains we were rewarded after 3 days of uphill with 1 day of complete downhill cycling past the iconic Great Wall of China. Into the valley and past power stations, wind farms and too many Jackie Chan look a likes we headed south for Xian. Arriving 12 days later, my job there was to renew my visa, (officially meant to take 5 days) but after charming the metaphorical pants off the immigration official, I was rewarded with my extended visa in a mere 2! — details of the sex of said immigration official is not important.  The extra days saved meant our “100 mile day in the rain, 90 mile day whilst throwing up and cycling in the dark ride” was not wasted.

During the ride we both carried up to 20kg worth of kit including tents, clothes, food and water.  At the end of each day we would set up camp where ever we could find some spare land in the densely agricultured country.  Set up the stove for a Michelin star equivalent of pot noodle, and then enter the sweat pit sauna that was our tent before a 4.30am start the next day.

Armed with the Chinese language standard of a deaf mute, ordering food was always an entertaining performance for all involved.  With impressions of chickens, cows, and pigs, coupled with dodgy drawings of a bowl of noodles, meant that whatever they brought out was always a surprise, but thankfully usually delicious.  Feeding time also allowed us to play a game of ‘Toilet Scale’.  The game is simple, one of us would go to the toilet, come back and rank it on a scale from ‘Fritzel’s family basement’ to ‘Lucky’s bedroom’. I will allow the reader to decide which end of the scale each location would be found.

Leaving Xian we were met by our friends the mountains again, straight over the top leaving Shanxi province and entering into Hubei we finally pointed our tyres south and would just keep on going.

After our final rest town in Jingzhou and entering the final week of cycling both of our immune systems were as useful as Mickey Ferraris in a game of catch. To give you an example, this is a teaser. Fortunate enough, on the this leg of the trip we were invited by a local bike shop into a hotel and taken out for an evening meal and beers.  Nothing says welcome to my country than a big plate of pigs ears, whole edible crabs, and ducks feet.  This showed just another example of the kindness and generosity we regularly encountered on this trip with the locals.

With hard bolied sweets finally being produced by the two riders we entered the final two days of our trip.  Beautiful misted mountains stood either side of us as we meandered up and down the final mountain pass. Onto the final road heading into the city we had as our goal for the last 27 days. Standing in front of us stood the Moon Padoga of Guilin.  We had made it! 3063km, 1 tyre, 4 punctures, 4 spokes, 1 pannier rack, 1 cycle computer, 2 pumps, 1 gear cable and endless saddle sores later and we were in Guilin celebrating with China’s finest watered down beer.

As you can see, certain points on this trip were incredible hard, both mentally and physically (more so for Doug due to my 3 hours of ‘I used to work in Chicago’). But apart from than the personal challenge, we also had the goal of raising money for a local charity Ban Rajawadee Foundation.  With the money raised we bought one light weight wheelchair and a set of E-Learning books for the children, who currently have 720 kids to one physiotherapist.  The children in the home suffer from both severe mental and physical dissabilities many of who are orphans.
Thank you to everyone for all your donations. You should be made aware anyone who did not donate will have to straighten Darrel’s chest hair whilst listening to Dr. Anthony Abu talk about……well anything.

Photos and updates of the trip can be found on Facebook on the group China Charity Cycle 2012.

We would both like to thank everyone during our cycle in China who helped us with directions, food, water and anything else, truly a great country filled with honest and helpful people.

Big Dick Johnson