Cyclist braved fever, near death during 10-day Tibet Challenge

Wang Yongjian, 35, one of 31 cyclists who were chosen to take up the demanding ride called the Tibet Challenge last year, almost did not make it. But having got through, he is ready to go again. Yang Feiyue reports.

It is a route that has seen the blood, sweat and tears of many cyclists.

Wang Yongjian, 35, went through hell during a 10-day bicycling trip from Sichuan province's Kangding to the Tibet autonomous region in October 2015.

Photo: China Daily/ANN

"It snowed heavily on the first day of the ride," says Wang.

"The road conditions on the second day were horrible."

Wang who had high fever during the ride, felt he was close to dying as his body temperature dropped. To make matters worse, he was also chased by dogs.

Yet, despite the trials, the reward was completing the ride.

Wang was one of 31 cyclists who were chosen to do the demanding ride called the Tibet Challenge.

The riders cycled approximately 2,000 km at altitudes of 4,000 meters above sea level, and rode up and down 16 snow-capped mountains. During the course of the ride, they were on their bikes for around 13 hours daily.

The event is held to let people test their limits, says Letour Sports in Guangdong province's Guangzhou, the organizer of the event.

While more than 500 people wanted to take part in the ride last year, only 31 passed muster.

The Sichuan-Tibet route features dramatic and breathtaking landscape, says Cheng Wei, media director of the event.

"Some parts of the route are tortuous, some are steep, some straight and some are shrouded in mist," says Cheng.

The cyclists experience rain, snow, hail, frost, wind and the blazing sun almost every day.

"You can feel the four seasons in a day," she says.

Photo: China Daily/ANN

The snow-capped peaks and fickle weather show you how frail humanity is.

The vast expanses of green and the snow-capped mountains left a big impression on the cyclists.

During the ride, the cyclists spent five days in the wilderness, where the temperatures are sometimes-11C.

"We saw a thick layer of ice over our camp one morning," says Cheng.

A film documenting the event was launched in Beijing on April 16.

It is meant to record the thrills and spills of the event, and the organizer hopes it will attract more cyclists to take part.

During the ride, some contestants fell, some passed out and some encountered altitude stress, says Cheng.

Only nine riders completed the challenge.

Cheng says: "It is the experience people will remember for the rest of their lives."

Meanwhile, more such cycling routes will be launched soon.

Cheng's company is now working on the development of cycling routes from Sichuan's Chengdu, Qinghai province's Xining, Kashgar in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Yunnan province's Kunming to Tibet's capital Lhasa.

For the upcoming October event, contestants will be divided into two groups.

While both groups will be allowed to cycle together, the professional riders will cover a longer distance daily, says the organizer.

The route for this year's ride will be the same as last year.

For those planning to take part in this year's event, Cheng suggests that they carry special cycling and camping equipment meant for high altitudes, and train for cycling in extreme environments.

"The equipment should be light, help you keep warm and shield you from the wind," she says.

"It's also necessary to carry energy supplements," she adds.

Wang says he wants to continue taking part in similar cycling events as the organizer has announced plans for new routes.

Last year's bittersweet experience has changed his view of life.

Photo: China Daily/ANN

"It was so worth it," says Wang.

"More importantly, I overcame my inner fear, self-consciousness and anxiety, and the experience woke me up to the fact that nothing matters, except life and death."

A 10-day journey

Day 1:

Zheduotang-Zheduoshan-Kangding airport-Tagong temple-Xindu bridge

The route runs 117 km and cyclists have to climb over Zheduo Mountain. The Tagong temple and prairie are highlights along the way.

Day 2:

Xindu bridge-Gaoersi Mountain-Nyagchu-Xiangkezong

The route runs 95 km. Gaoersi Mountain is one of the best vantage points to view the snow-capped mountains. It's challenging but beautiful´╝Źtake a break and take it all in.

Day 3:

Xiangkezong-Jianziwan Mountain-Kazila Mountain-Litang-Heni village-Haizishan camp site

The route's length is almost that of the previous two put together. Cyclists experience what it's like to walk on air and camp in the wild.

Day 4:

Haizishan camp site-Haizi Mountain-Batang-Zongbala Mountain-Markam-Lawushan-kou-Lawushan camp site

The route runs 220 km and features a nearly 100-km downhill track, which offers a delightful riding experience.

Day 5:

Lawushan camp site-Rumei-Jueba Mountain-Dengba village-Dongdashan pass-Zogang

Jueba Mountain is less than 4,000 meters high but very difficult to climb. The snow-capped Dongda Mountain might claim the last bit of your strength.

Photo: China Daily/ANN

Day 6:

Zogang-Banda-Yela Mountain-Baxoi-Jida

The route runs 230 km. There are 72 sharp twists and turns down the Yela Mountain and a 40-km continuous downhill track. The mountainous track drops abruptly away to a precipitous cliff. The river roars right under the Nujiang bridge.

Day 7:

Jida camping site-Anjiulashan pass-Ranwu-Songzong camp site

Cyclers can enjoy a breathtaking view of the tranquil Ranwu Lake, green fields and snow-capped mountains along a 110-km section of the route.

Day 8:

Songzong camp site-Bomi-Guxiang-Tongmai-Lulang

The route runs 210 km. Cyclers will spend the whole day in a forest and enjoy views of the imposing snow mountains, a glacier and colorful plants.

Day 9:

Lulang-Sejila-Bayi-Gongbo'gyamda-Niyanghe camp site

The 240-km route offers splendid landscape scenery featuring a blue sky, green water and a golden mountain, and is the hinterland of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

Day 10:

Niyanghe camp site-Songduo-Mila Mountain-Maizhokunggar-Lhasa Bridge

The route runs 230 km and Mila Mountain is the last mountain of the journey.