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In 20 days, she covered a distance of 2160 kilometers, riding alone through the Sichuan-Tibet route!

XIT 2023/11/21 Readings:134

What kind of experience is it to spend 20 days cycling alone for 2160 kilometers?


"Upon reaching Lhasa, all the hardships and fatigue along the way will turn into colorful prayer flags. I let go of everything, cleanse my soul, and rediscover myself." This summer vacation, Zhou Yangyang, a student from the Accounting Class 2103 at Xiangtan Institute of Technology, set off from Chengdu and solo cycled along the 318 National Highway to reach Lhasa.

Yearning and Without Hesitation

Last winter vacation, Zhou Yangyang came across stories of cycling in Tibet on a short video platform. Fueled by a longing for freedom, she developed the idea of cycling to Lhasa.


No indulgence in daydreams, no pursuit of empty fame.


From January to July, she prepared for the cycling trip. "During this time, I learned some common Tibetan phrases, such as 'thank you' pronounced as 'tujiji'; 'hello' pronounced as 'qierang yagudu' or 'zhaxidele'; 'goodbye' pronounced as 'kalipei'." She smiled as she shared how she utilized holidays and spare time for physical training, familiarized herself with basic cycling skills, and learned to find cycling guides and purchase equipment. For example, she chose quick-drying and sweat-wicking clothes for the journey, and essential items included lightweight raincoats, thin down jackets, helmets, round sun hats, water bottles, high-calorie food, and emergency medication.


After several months of intermittent preparation, on July 11, she transported her supplies to Chengdu and officially embarked on the journey from the city center. The cycling began from Chengdu to Ya'an, marking the initial stage of her journey.


As a novice, Zhou Yangyang had never ridden a geared bike before, but fortunately, an experienced cyclist voluntarily taught her how to ride. He also reminded her not to ride at night and not to linger on mountain tops for too long. "Try to avoid cycling at night; the road conditions are unclear, and the road surface is slippery after rain. There are also many trucks rushing on the roads at night, making accidents more likely and dangerous."


Keeping in mind the advice, Zhou Yangyang proceeded with caution. When she reached Luding Bridge, she suffered a leg injury due to intense cycling. Fortunately, a helpful fellow cyclist was riding behind her. Seeing the situation, he instructed other cyclists to bring painkillers to her. In the Luding area, she also experienced the "astonishing, dangerous, strange, and extraordinary" feeling of crossing the Luding Bridge. A bottle of painkillers healed Zhou Yangyang's leg injury, and the phrase "The big ferry bridge spans the cold iron cable" inspired her to press on courageously.

(Altitude chart for cycling and trekking on the 57318 Sichuan-Tibet South Line)


Mutual Support, Heading West Together

The 318 National Highway passes through areas with an average altitude of over 4000 meters. The high mountains, long roads, and large temperature differences between day and night made Zhou Yangyang deeply exhausted after days of long-distance cycling. However, seeing fellow travelers on motorcycles and self-driving cars speeding past her motivated Zhou Yangyang: "Since I'm here, I must persevere!"

Since the choice has been made to go far, one should only forge ahead in wind and rain.

Reflecting on this journey, Zhou Yangyang expressed her gratitude for the sincere assistance from friends she met along the way. It was like a warm sun illuminating the path ahead and filling her heart with warmth.

On the road to the highest pass, Dongda Mountain, Zhou Yangyang and her companions encountered a truck. The driver took out a portable gas stove to cook, and the flames illuminated the surroundings while the aroma of food filled the air. Everyone sat together, chatting and enjoying delicious Tibetan yak meat and rare watermelon found on the journey. The truck driver praised them for their bravery and resilience, and another experienced traveler advised Zhou Yangyang and her companions to be rational when encountering animals. In non-dangerous situations, "you can observe from a distance without disturbing them." In dangerous situations, use small stones to scare away small animals and quickly run away from large ones for safety. After dinner, the driver even gave them a ride for part of the journey. When parting ways, the driver said, "On this road, when facing difficulties, we help each other!" This statement inspired Zhou Yangyang to help others.


After returning to school, when she saw an aunt at the subway station who didn't know how to buy a ticket, she took the initiative to help. If a classmate needed assistance, she volunteered without hesitation. In the quiet night, kind people like lantern bearers guided her forward.

On the road from Bomê to Tongmai, both Zhou Yangyang and her cycling companions had punctured tires, forcing them to temporarily stop. The process of fixing the tires was complex, but with the help of a kind person, Zhou Yangyang removed the inner tube, found the leak by inflating it, located the sharp object causing the leak on the outer tire, and then used tire repair glue and a file to fix the leak. After repairing the inner tube, they installed the outer tire, and finally, the repair was successful.


They took photos to commemorate this unforgettable moment and shared the joy of successfully fixing the bikes. Zhou Yangyang and her friends summarized the experience, emphasizing the need to carry a portable pump, chain oil, and emergency medicine. Moreover, mastering the skills of bicycle repair is essential to cope with unexpected situations.


Zhou Yangyang said, "Pay attention to preserving the pump and chain oil. As for medications like glucose, they are easily absorbed, enhance the body's oxygen absorption function, and alleviate altitude sickness. There are also many pharmacies along the way, so select and carry them as needed."


Long-distance cycling involves adapting to complex terrains and unpredictable weather conditions, as well as facing various physical and psychological challenges. With numerous difficulties, Zhou Yangyang was on the verge of collapse several times. However, whenever she considered giving up, she remembered the initial determination to embark on this journey. The warm care from fellow cyclists and the enthusiastic praise and encouragement from kind people along the way enabled her to overcome herself time and time again.


Yes, giving up is easy, but persistence is cooler.

Those who persevere often succeed, and those who journey often arrive


The answer lies on the road, and freedom is in the wind. From solo cycling to group cycling, the Sichuan-Tibet route is beautiful, but you have to see it for yourself. Green mountains, clear waters, rivers, grasslands, snow-capped mountains... the changing scenery and natural landscapes made Zhou Yangyang deeply awe-inspired by the diverse forms of life and the grandeur of nature.


During the journey, Zhou Yangyang constantly made friends, encouraged each other, helped each other, and agreed to meet at the destination. After twenty days of hard work, Zhou Yangyang cycled to her destination, the Potala Palace, on August 1.

Tibet places great emphasis on cultural preservation, with a rich ethnic flavor and distinctive architecture. The buildings of the Potala Palace are characterized by white and red colors, where the white walls are made by mixing white lime with sugar and yak milk. Not only are they pristine and beautiful, symbolizing purity, but they also possess anti-corrosion properties, providing protection against the cold wind.


The fragrance of incense and the glow of meditation lamps have endured through the ages, conveying the true, good, and beautiful in the human world. "Here, there are pilgrims who come to worship, ascetic monks who pursue faith, adventurous motorcyclists challenging themselves, and cycling companions. Although our identities are diverse, everyone has their own sacred place in their hearts. In pursuit of this sacred place, we endure hardships and venture into mountains and seas."


In Lhasa, Zhou Yangyang experienced the life of the Tibetan people, witnessing believers holding prayer wheels and constantly spinning them. Since most Tibetans cannot fluently recite scriptures, they use prayer wheels as a substitute. During grand religious festivals, Tibetan Buddhists visit temples to spin prayer wheels. Zhou Yangyang, initially curious, later learned from her cycling companions that clockwise rotation symbolizes Tibetan believers repenting for past deeds, seeking relief from disasters, and accumulating merits. She also dressed in Tibetan attire, held prayer beads, recited scriptures, and prayed for the well-being of the people.


She also visited the Seda Monastery, where monks live, experiencing the sincere faith of the Tibetan people. The story of Seda is rich and profound, akin to ancient scriptures that provoke contemplation.


Zhou Yangyang stated, "This journey has tempered my willpower, making me more decisive in future decisions and enabling me to persevere in the face of difficulties. Brave individuals get to enjoy the world first. I hope that we all encounter the most beautiful scenery and become better versions of ourselves."


The journey of youth is as vast as the stars and seas, with endless possibilities beneath our feet. This unique journey allowed her to feel the fragility of life, appreciate its resilience, understand the wisdom of "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step," and learn to face challenges without fear, bravely moving forward.


"Seize the opportunity while young, go out and explore. Find your passion," she urges, during the most brilliant and beautiful years, traverse mountains and rivers, witness the myriad facets of life. See the mountains, see the waters, see yourself, pursue a life of passionate freedom, and go see a broader world!

China Youth Cycling Union awarded Zhou Yangyang a cycling certificate and medal