The II Olympic Expedition
BaltiCCycle on the Silk Road
under patronage of Polish Olympic Committee
2008.02.20 – 2008.08.08
Olympia 02.20 – Athens 02.25 – Istanbul 03.05-06 – Tbilisi 04.04-05 – Baku 04.14-15 – Ashgabat 04.24 –Samarkand 05.09-11 – Osh 05.21 – Kashgar 05.27-29 – Turpan 06.15 – Xi’an 07.21-22 – Beijing 08.08
“Travelling the Silk Road is the most resonant journey on Earth. It’s a thread that links East and West, a network of veins that pumped new lifeblood into mighty empires, a fable route trodden by innumerable adventurers through the ages. Yet underlying this romantic trail is one of the most extraordinary tracts of land on this planet, a vast region separating China from the Mediterranean that rates as one of the least hospitable on Earth…The Silk Road was never a single highway. It was a network of overland routes that wove through the otherwise impenetrable physical barriers of Central Asia. This system of trails carried more than simply items of trade: it was Internet of its time, a superhighway along which goods, ideas, languages and people thronged.”
Nick Middleton “Extremes along the Silk Road”
The idea of the ride “From Olympia to Beijing” is to celebrate the Olympic Year 2008 traveling by bicycle the ancient Silk Road from Greece to China. It is a direct continuation of the route “From North Cape to Olympia” rode by Baltic cyclists in 2004. We will start the ride on February 20 at the ancient stadium of Olympia – the original place of Olympic Games – and in 171 days arrive to Beijing on the day of opening Olympic Games 2008. Going from West to East we will visit and see 8 diverse countries, and make by bike 12000 km on our route.
Starting in Olympia we will cycle one week through the Peloponnese, called the cradle of western civilization, to Athens. From Athens we will cross by boat the Aegean Sea and continue cycling through Turkey to Istanbul. After Istanbul the route will take us twenty five days along the dramatic green Turkish Black Sea coast; then two weeks we will enjoy the surroundings of Caucasus Mountains, cycling through Georgia and Azerbaijan. We will take a ferry across the Caspian Sea from Baku to Turkmenbashi, and enter the Central Asian countries in the middle of April.
In Turkmenistan we will travel through the blooming sands of Karakum desert along the Karakum canal and foothills of Kopetdag; at the beginning of May we will cross the Uzbekistan border and arrive to the famous Silk Road historical oasis towns – Bukhara and Samarkand. After sands and steppes we will reach the fertile Ferghana valley and before the end of May we will stand already near the Kyrgyzstan-China border at the junction of the highest Tian Shan and Pamir mountains. From Osh we will take one of earliest and busiest Silk Road branches crossing the Pamir Alay range through the Erkesh Tam pass (3536 m) and stop for a few days in Kashagar – the biggest vibrant medieval oasis city in Chinese Central Asia.
The first month in China we will travel in Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region following from Kashgar to Dunhuang the northern Silk Road along the southern foothills of Tian Shan mountains and northern rim of Taklamakan Desert. We will pass the rich oasis towns of Kucha, Korla, Yangi, Turpan, Hami. In July we will arrive to Shaanxi province which was for more than two millennia the centre of Chinese civilization, and Xi’an, the former capital of the Chinese Empire. From Xi’an we will take a straight route through Shanxi province to Beijing.
The whole route from Olympia to Beijing is rich by cultural heritage.