The END!

The END!

Well I made it! 10,647 miles, 364 days, 20 countries and countless punctures. It’s a weird feeling, a mix of the satisfaction of achieving a huge goal as well as the relief of not having to strive for that goal anymore.

After my last posts historical jaunt around Nanjing I spent a cozy evening reading by the hostels little koi pond…

DSCN0615 Knowing that Nanjing was the last really big city before Shanghai I was hoping to see something soon that I knew we get me excited. The first road sign showing Shanghai!..

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Well I lie, that was actually the third sign, the first two were in places where stopping would’ve been stupidly dangerous. It put a huge smile on my face though. Shanghai. I’ve been thinking about this for a year now.

Having hit that sign it started to dawn on me that this was really the end. I started trying to savour everything, getting weirdly emotional during my snack breaks in bus stops by the side of the road. “This is one of the last grotty bus stops I’ll be sitting in for a while” I though to myself…

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A tailwind pushed me along fast on that first day I made a solid 150km to Changzhou. I’d planned to do less and this extra distance would give me an afternoon in Suzhou, the Venice of the East. Changzhou was unremarkable and I headed off early the next morning to have as much of the afternoon left to wander the canals of Suzhou. (If you are reading this and wondering how the names are pronounced, ‘zhou’ is pronounced ‘chow’ so Suzhou comes out as Sue-Chow etc.)

Remember that I have no maps at this point and am navigating based on memorising internet maps in the morning on my laptop so it took me quite awhile to find the cities hostel. I got a lovely tour of the city wall as I tried to find my way…

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Eventually a nice Chinese guy on a scooter who I asked directions from actually guided me half way there and soon I was on the main canal street…

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I went straight out for food as I knew of well known dim sum place on this street and quickly put down my order for pan fried dumplings with sesame seeed…

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Spinach spring rolls…

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And some incredible shrimp dumplings in a decorative wrap…

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All that with a large beer and a view of the canal for under £5. I headed out again alter for some more streetfood and to see the canal at night…

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When you check into the hostel here they give you a bunch of 50p off vouchers for the hostel bar. One of the receptionists seemed to have a bit of an eye for me and quietly slipped me a huge stack of the vouchers! I spent the night drinking some of my favourite Dark Weissbier imported all the way from Munich for less money that the local beer!

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I quickly fell into trap of having a few beers alone whilst reading where after a couple of hours your mind feels completely sober but once you attempt to stand you quickly realise that you’ve had a bit too much. I promptly went to sleep it off, chastising the local occupants of the dorm who had decided getting hammered in the dorm at 1am whilst others tried to sleep was acceptable behaviour.

Feeling a little worse for wear in the morning I powered on planning to stop on the western outskirts of Shanghai setting me up for a very short morning to the finish. The road I’ve been following, the G312, has been under going an increase in capacity. Not in the usual add more lanes but by adding a new layer! A 200km double decker road is not something I have seen before…

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It was quite nice in the end as most cars were travelling on the “express” upper deck leaving me in the cool shade down below. In a few sections road works tried to divert me but having no map I thought sod it and pushed through the barriers so I could keep things simple and stay on the G312…

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Closer to the city the upper deck vanished and the tarmac and surroundings became much more immaculate than the rest of China. The palm trees gave a particularly LA vibe to the place…

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Rolling on slowly down the cycle lane suddenly a sign caught my eye, the start of Shanghai!!!

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I’d officially cycled to Shanghai from London! Although it didn’t feel particularly special as I wasn’t at the Bund yet, my self designated end point. I rolled into the first hotel and went out around sunset for food, actually having to walk back out of Shanghai before finding somewhere. It felt weird having the outer limits of the Shanghai Metro right next to my hotel, so close to the end…

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I woke up the next morning and it took about a while for it to sink in, this is it, the last day. I was half excited and half apprehensive about it. In a weird way the challenge of a trip like this becomes a huge part of your identity. You are a cyclist. You are cycling from here to here. That part of me will be over. A roller coaster of emotions.

I lept back onto Al Humphries (A cycle touring legend) mantra of “Everything will be better in 10km” so I got on the bike and headed into the centre. Traffic was getting crazier and the cycle lanes disappeared in the denser city centre. Down a canyon of high raise blocks I spotted the Pearl tower,  a key feature of the Pudong skyline with its unique design.

I turned towards it and immediately noticed “no bicycle” signs everywhere and a traffic cop trying to wave me off the road. Sod that I can see the finish. One thing a year on a bike will give you is thighs of steel so I powered off past the police towards the Bund.

More streets with no bike signs and more whistles being blown at me but I pressed on crossing the final road onto the waterfront. There is a raised viewing platform but the disabled ramp had a couple of police standing near it. I stepped on the pedals and squeezed through them before they noticed me and smashed it up the ramp onto the platform riding down it for a hundred metres before stopping, putting my hands on the rail and savouring, with a huge smile, that I had done it!

I got to enjoy this for around 20 seconds before the police caught up with me and I heard the shouts of “NO! NO! NO!” coming from behind me. Fantastic timing I thought, I need someone to take my photo. I turned around thrusting my camera at one of the police officers and shouted “YES! PHOTO!”.

His tone and expression changed to a little smile and he said “OK but then you go”. He took a couple shots and I spent what felt like five minutes checking that at least one of them was decent. I’ll let you be the judge…

The END!

The END!

I was led away back to the street by the police. I was on such an emotional high that this had actually been a more fun ending than I could have planned.

I quickly bought a tourist map form a newsvendor and headed south toward the Train Inn hotel. Finding no apparently safe way to cycle across the river I ended up going over the hard shoulder-less  Lupu motorway bridge for 2km. As the cars flew past to my side I contemplated how annoying it would be to get in an accident now.

20km later I was in the hotel, who upon finding out where I had cycled from and the fact I was now finished promptly handed me some free beers on the house despite it being 11am. Down they went and off I went to my room in the parked up sleeper trains…

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As many bicycle tourists will tell you it is all to easy to vegetate when you have time off but thankfully I met a few people at the hotel. Turns out everyone was in the same boat as me in that this was the cheapest place to stay  in the city considering all the hostels were sold out for the National holiday.

Our multi national British-Mexican-Polish group spent a few days whirlwind visiting sights all over the city…

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I quite liked this clash of architecture styles with the old building on stilts with the nearly complete Shanghai tower in the background, the second tallest building on earth…

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Everywhere in the city was super busy with all the national day tourists making getting everywhere quite stressful especially being in a hostel 40 minutes out of town.

I got a nice shot of the famous Peace Hotel where Noel Coward wrote the play “Private Lives” whilst flu stricken…

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Also saw a few small scale police parades that we assumed had something to do with the celebrations…

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One evening we all headed out to one of the famous club’s here in Shanghai, Mook. After an hour long taxi ride to get there, during which the driver almost drove us home as he figured we’d already had too much to drink, we finally made it to the place.

I’d never seen anything like it. Despite our grotty backpacker appearance we skipped the queue, didn’t have to pay the steep entrance and were in clear violation of the dress policy. Clubs here are keen to attract westerners as it makes the places popular with wealthy locals.

Despite feeling that this policy was quite discriminatory we headed on in and the promoters tactic seemed to work as I saw tables and tables of wealthy young Chinese dropping insane amounts of money on alcohol. Two events I saw were a small bathtub being lowered on to a table containing at least 30 bottles of Moet Champagne and at another table someone receiving an order of five bottles of Johnnie Walker Blue Label.

Both of those orders would cost well over a grand in an off license in the UK, with table service in a high end nightclub these people were spending several pounds on each round of drunk. At one point a guy by the dance floor drunkly ordered 20 or so cocktails and just started handing them out.

The morning hours hit and the 6 of us squeezed back into a taxi and headed off to the hostel before struggling to make it our for another day of sight seeing…

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The Shanghai Science Museum, the scale of the architecture in this city is unreal…

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The Buddhist temple…

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The “Bottle opener”, the Jin Mao tower and the Shanghai tower. The 7th, 16th and 2nd tallest buildings on earth respectively.

 

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The view over to the Bund from Pudong at sunset…

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And our little group shattered after several days of sightseeing and drinking…

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It’s been a hell of a ride! I’m back off to England tonight and am “having fun” boxing up my trusty bike as well as all my gear, thank god for Aeroflot giving two 23kg items of luggage on flights out of China.

I’m still off on my fundraising goal so if you’ve been waiting to see if I actually made it then now’s the time! Click here. I’m looking into doing a couple short talks about the trip for those interested and also have plans for a couple of short adventures in the future so keep following along if you would like updates on those!

Thanks for following along to the end of the trip!

 

If you’ve enjoyed reading this then checkout my site 121degrees for more info and subscribe to this blog for more entries along the way!

I also want to divert the interest this trip generates towards helping out a charity that made a big differance to some friends of mine. Samuels Children Charity are a Lewes based charity providing support to families throughout the UK who are currently affected by childhood cancer. I hope to raise the sum of £5,000 from people who hear about this trip to help them continue their work, and to also keep me motivated throughout the challenges this trip will provide! If you’d like to see how the fundraising is going (or even better would like too donate!) then click here.

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