Michael's tale - Jimmy Carter thinks I'm a sinner - CycleBlaze

May 9, 2007

Michael's tale

Michael - pronounced Mikhail in the way that Gorby pronounced it - is a slim German we found outside a supermarket. Or rather, we found his bike there, laden with enough baggage to show he was riding more than just the Danube Trail. Michael himself was inside, ordering sticky buns.

"I'm riding to Beijing," he said when I asked him, adding a shy smile which suggested that he still found the idea a novelty. He'd set off from Munich a week earlier and had another five months to go. His face didn't yet show the lines of tiredness that will come soon enough. When I asked which way he'd head, he listed country after country, all those places that you've still got to learn where they are on the map but which used to be part of the Soviet Union. Of Russia itself there was no mention, presumably because like Robert and Luc several weeks ago, he found the difficulties insuperable.

Michael: heading for Beijing with a goodly stock of sticky buns
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"I'm 20," he said. "I'm studying in Munich and now I'm having a break before I go back and start studying again."

"And what do you plan to do?"

"I want to study medicine. I've always wanted to become a doctor."

We talked of this and that and where we'd been touring, all of us, in the past. We said we'd been cycling in China but there wasn't a lot of advice we could offer because we'd been in a group and there weren't many questions he could ask because the experience was still too far ahead.

He was camping, he said, and he wanted to get away from the immediate tourist area because it would save him a little money. Next morning we saw him riding past where we had put our tent, the only people on a site where cobwebs and long grass suggested we were the first of the season. Michael was in a yellow waterproof top, out of the saddle with the wind behind him and going as fast as a man might reasonably go on a cycle tour. I have no doubt he will get to Beijing. If you want to check my prediction, you can follow his adventure on www.fahrrad-riederer.de

AFTERNOTE 1: A week after getting home, I received an e-mail from Michael. It said: "I am fine. I cycled already 4050km and arrived three days ago Astrakhan, the last town in europe. I had lots of luck. I havn`t even got one puncture or other problems. on friday I am going to cross the border to Kasakhstan an then 2500km nothing only sand, dryed grass and camels. I am pretty exited. I hope that everything will be ok."

AFTERNOTE 2: After 79 days, he wrote again. "i am in bishkek now. the 3000km stepp were in the end a little bit boring so i decided to hurry up.i love it here, the people are very friendly and the landscape in beautyful with all the mountains. i ll stay here fore the next couple of days bevore i go in the mountains to hike and then once more th kazakhstan and after to china, where i ll see my girlfriens in urumqi."

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