Who can join me for one of the toughest and most exhilarating bicycle rides on the planet?
I would like to start from Chengdu in mid-September 2005, at the end of the summer rainy season, ride across western Sichuan Province to Dege near the Tibetan border, then take the northern route across Tibet to Lhasa. The first section--to Dege--takes 2-3 weeks; no permit is needed to cycle here. We will need permits for the Tibetan section, which will take 3-4 weeks; to get them it's necessary to have a vehicle, driver, and guide who will accompany us from Dege to Lhasa. Peter Snow Cao of Bike China Adventures in Chengdu has offered to arrange the permits and other details. He has a very good website, www.bikechina.com.
Some cyclists attempt eastern Tibet without permits, but run a considerable risk of arrest, fines, and confiscation of their bicycles. I wish to avoid that. With a small group we can get the permits to ride legally.
Cycling in Tibet requires considerable determination! On a Lhasa-Katmandu ride, half of my group became discouraged and dropped out along the way. Physical conditioning is important too, but the ride should be within the reach of an average cyclist in good shape.
The guidebook "Tibet Overland" by Kym McConnell (Trailblazer Publications, 2002) is particularly good and has a lot of info for cyclists. Lonely Planet just came out with a new "Tibet". For information on western Sichuan, see descriptions and travelogs at www.bikechina.com.
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