It is amazing...and I'm not just saying that.
The nearest analogy I can think of - Beijing, It's like living in New York with the Pyrenees mountains right on the edge of town - honestly.
In Beijing, a city built on cycling, they haven't forgotten that. Cycle lanes as wide as the road - and even separated by a small fence for extra safety, an independent coffee culture as good as Melbourne and craft beer bars as good as Shoreditch, all merged in with traditional Chinese culture and world renowned sites - a lap of Tianammon Square, past the Ming Tombs, Summer Palace and Forbidden City...
...then, out of town, the Yan Mountains, like glass, repaved every 3 years and ready for the upcoming winter Olympics. These are proper 1500m+ climbs with stunning views. I rode along the ridge of one 40km long gorge that was one of the best roads I've ever ridden.
Through authentic Chinese towns and villages, where the only way I could sleep and eat was with the help of a translation app and all my new Beijing cycling friends on WeChat.
Amazing food, too much of it, plus an onset of European style bakeries to remind me of home.
Great cycling clubs and shops. I joined one Serk Cycling shop ride and Rod, one of Beijings' main ex-pat cyclists, took me on an amazing tour of climbs.
And then...there's The Wall. It feels and looks like the Pyrenees and then you catch sight of The Great Wall of China - that's mad! I stayed one night in a homestay in its shadow and the following morning had the Great Wall of China completely to myself - for a whole hour, before the selfie sticks turned up in their thousands.
Less than £500 return from London, incl bike, which I've just loaded back on - complete with 4 large bottles of North Korean beer and a copy of the Pyongyang Times - its time to come home.
I’m sharing stories and learnings of my recent trip to cycle in China and run the North Korea Marathon!
Next Thursday, May 24th. From 7-9.30pm at look Mum No Hands, London.
You can secure FREE tickets at Eventbrite http://bit.ly/2KtBMuB
Come and hear the stories and see the videos from these two trips and find out how you too can quite easily find yourself doing them. I’m also planning to do a guide to micro-lite bike-packing on a road bike. Once again there's Craft beer, Squaremile Coffee and freshly prepared Korean Chicken Burgers and one or two cool competitions.
FREE tickets at Eventbrite http://bit.ly/2KtBMuB
Chris Ward was brought up with the dodgy sight of his father appearing in their lounge every Sunday lunchtime in the brightest red & yellow wool of FCCC (Farnborough & Camberley Cycling Club). It was the spindle thin bright white legs though that put him off cycling until he was 40.
Since then, in a bid to play catch up he has cycled up and down Ventoux 6 times in a day, cycled the whole Le Tour route with Tour de Force, managed C2C2C in a day, ridden around the M25, competed in the Trans Alp, Trans Rockies and Cape Epic Mountain Bike Races and finally in 2015 & 2016, qualified in St Tropez and Albi and competed for GB in the UCI amateur World Championships.
In Helen, he has the most understanding wife and so is able to continue looking for the answer to 'what next?' When he's not cycling he's hanging out in coffee shops writing books about it and trying to engage the world in charitable campaigns...