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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Two friends from China pedal across the U.S.

Two friends from China pedal across the U.S.
By:  Michael Lander

Xiaoxin Cheng and Peiwu Wang rode through many small towns and cities across
the United States on their cross-country bike ride from July to October 2014.

Xiaoxin Cheng and Peiwu Wang are from
Beijing, China and the two friends had a dream to see and travel across America. 

Rather than seeing it in a conventional way, as most tourists do, the two chose, instead, to make a cross-country, 5,000 mile (8,046.72 Km) trip, from
Vancouver, B.C. to New York, N.Y. on what has to be one of the best ways to see and experience America.  They decided to do this on a bicycle.

Cheng and Wang met many friendly people along their cross-country trek who
were interested in their ride and what they thought of the U.S.

The 54-year-old Cheng and the 52-year-old Wang began their 85 day cross-country cycling adventure in Canada on July 24, 2014, traveling approximately 58 miles each day, as they rode from one coast to the other.  They followed a cycling map that they purchased from
Adventure Cycling Association with a significant portion of their route going along the TransAmerican Trail.    

"We met many good people who showed a strong interest in us and they wanted to know how we felt about the United States," Cheng said.  "They also wanted to know what our motive was for doing such a cross-country ride, too," he added.

The two cyclists from Beijing rode about 58 miles a day and made an effort to visit
a few interesting places that they could find along the way.
"Our purpose... was to realize a dream and to learn more about the land and its culture," Cheng said.  After they completed their ride, the two traveling companions felt that they had not only achieved an incredible feat, but they had also come away with a whole lot more.

"We saw the real U.S. that most Chinese never get to know," he said. 

Cheng said that they saw a wide variety of scenery, terrain, and climates in their long journey that they completed on October 17, 2014.

The two friends had dreamed of visiting the U.S. and they could not think of a
better way to do that than on a bicycle.

Their ride did not come without some challenges, however.  There were some cross-cultural communication issues and there was an occasional lack of adequate services, just to name a few.  Safety and unfamiliarity with the roads was an especially big concern for them as well.

The two traveled extremely light, taking as little as they needed, and they spent most of their nights, (all but about 20 of them), in a tent that they brought with them for their journey. 

A key part of the success of this cross-country trip came from the preparation that the two took before they even left Beijing. 

It took Cheng and Wang 85 days to ride from one coast to the other and they
tried to travel as light as possible so as not to make the trip any harder than

"We did lots of short distance rides, about 60 to 100 miles a day, near Beijing.  The longest ride that we did together was a 700 mile trip in 2012," Cheng said.  "Teamwork was also a fundamental factor to our success," he added.

Aside from accomplishing an amazing feat that many cyclists might be a little apprehensive in attempting to do themselves, the two cyclists also feel that they benefited in ways that they did not expect. 

Cheng made a 2,063 mile trip with his son that took the two of them across
mountains with the ultimate destination of Kathmandu in Nepal.

"We discovered a lot more about ourselves," Cheng said. 

The two realized that this journey that they took was an intensive process of self-development and growth. 

After sharing his experience with his friends, many of them told him that the trip that he took was nothing less than a miracle.

As miraculous as the cross-country ride might have seemed to Cheng's friends, he is no stranger to challenging long-distance bike rides.  In 2013, he and his 23 year-old son rode from
Chengdu, China, through the Himalayas, to Kathmandu in Nepal.  It took the two of them 50 days to ride 2,063.574 miles (3321 km) and they crossed 24 mountains with elevations that often exceeded 13,123.36 feet (4,000 meters).

Cheng takes a break and is able to take in some beautiful scenery with some
mountains in the background, some of which were similar to those that they
had to ascend.

Cheng, and his friend, Wang, are from
Beijing.  This is the second largest city in China and it is the political center for the country and home to the country's largest businesses, palaces, temples, and other treasures. 

China, itself, is a land rich in history, beauty, and culture.  It is known to many in the West for its Great Wall, panda bears, Feng Shui, Tai Chi, and for having invented gunpowder, paper, and printing and for being the most populated country in the world and for having the world's fastest growing economy.

Cheng poses with his son during their ride together through the Himalayan
Mountains in 2013.

When looking back on his remarkable trip, Cheng sees it as being more than just a bike ride. 

"The trip can be summarized as being a journey and an adventure of discovery, learning, and excitement," he said. 

In every sense of the word, it was a trip of a lifetime that neither his friend nor he will ever be able to forget.