I was chatting with Yi in the change room at the YMCA, and she was asking me about my trip. A lady nearby got in on the conversation, and asked where I had ridden.
Then she told me how she rode her bike from London to China when she was young!
How amazing is that? And how many more people like her are out there?
Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to speak more, but I think I will start stalking her to find out more about her amazing trip and life. I’m slightly in awe.
She is older than I am, and my guess is that she did this bike ride in the 70’s. She mentioned that as her and her cycling companion(s) got closer to China, that’s when they opened up the Chinese border to tourists. I’m just going to come out and say it – I have no idea what year that was in.
That got me thinking how different her ride must have been from mine. Just in the bike alone, she could not have had as many gears as I did, nor would her gear/packs have been as lightweight, compact, and durable as mine. She must have faced language barriers, a lack of bicycle repair shops, limited food choices, and tons of unpaved roads. She was probably also one of the first women to do such a trek (although I did recently hear about a woman who cycled a huge distance in the 19th century, but I can’t remember ANY of the details. I may have dreamed this).
My new goal is to: 1) find this lady at the YMCA and get her story, and 2) research fellow female nomads who broke down barriers and made it possible for me to solo cycle across Canada. Of course, I’ve already met Evelyn Hannon (Journey Woman), but I would like to go even further and find the un-sung heroines of bike riding!
If you know of any (male or female cyclists, or female travellers in general), please do let me know. I don’t yet know what I will do with the information, but I love meeting awesome people. Who doesn’t love meeting awesome people?