2wheels, the return: Edward Genochio's bike expedition across Asia to England

2wheels: The Return

Edward Genochio's bicycle expedition from China to England

September 2005 - November 2006

Sponsored by Decathlon China

 
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Mongolian Horseman Stole My Bicycle!

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The 2wheels expedition book:

- 'But Isn't There a Bus?' - details here.


2wheels is sponsored by:

- Decathlon China
- Drennan Co Shanghai
- Eclipse Internet
- P&O Ferries


2wheels supports:

- CereCare Centre
- Sustrans
- Force Cancer Care
- The Lotus Project
- The Wheelchair Foundation


Other writing by Edward Genochio:

- Some snippets
- In Voyage Magazine
- In The Adventure Cycling Handbook


Read the 2wheels latest:

- The 2wheels expedition blog


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- Post your comments here
- Email me here here


Beyond 2wheels:

- Some links to other websites


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2wheels in the future:

- Some map-gazing ideas


Pretty pictures:

- The original 2wheels photo archive


The original 2wheels expedition site:

- 2004-5 from England to China


As seen / heard in:

- 2wheels media credits


2wheels websiteography:

- 2wheels sitemap
- Historical and technical notes on the 2wheels website


Krasnoyarskiy Kray, Siberia, Russia

Siberia

Tuva, Siberia, Russia

Horses, Mongolia

Baikal, Siberia, Russia

Hop off

Priyanik, half-eaten (by me), Kyakhta, Russian-Mongolian border. Shortly after this photograph was taken, the other half was eaten. Also by me.

Buryatia, Russia

Roadsign in Tuva, Russia

Tuva, Russia

The sky, I think

Tuva

Crime Fightin' in Siberia

This article first appeared in The Adventure Cycling Handbook, available in bookshops or at www.trailblazer-guides.com, and is reproduced here in edited form by kind permission of the book's editor.


Two days east of Novosibirsk, I was sitting back and enjoying the ride, having just escaped from western Siberia's 2,000 kilometre mosquito zone. A couple of guys on a motorbike came alongside. This happened a couple of times a day and usually led to a friendly round of twenty questions. Once you've played a few times you get pretty good at predicting what they're going to ask: Where are you from? Where are you going? How long have you been riding? Are you in the Kniga Ginnissa? (Everybody in Russia knows the Guinness Book of Records.)

This time it was different. The usual smiling faces were absent, replaced by a pair of ugly snarls. "Dai dengi," spat out the guy on the back: Give us your money.

I declined, politely, and kept riding. They kept demanding. I rode a little faster, but their motorbike kept pace - unsurprising, in retrospect, given that I was struggling uphill at not much over walking pace. I pedalled harder. They rammed my bike from behind. I wobbled, but kept going. I suppose I held out the faint hope that they might run out of petrol before I ran out of legs.

They came at me again, this time the pillion passenger throwing punches at me, landing a blow square in the mouth. Absurdly, and without thinking, I tried fighting back, while keeping my pedals turning.

It was a long, slow uphill stretch. It felt like a high-speed Hollywood chase scene - turned into farce because it was played out at five miles an hour.

We kept going like this for some time, my stubbornness driven mainly by the fact that I had done a cash-check in my tent the night before and had stupidly tucked five hundred dollars into my trouser pocket rather than stashing them at the bottom of a pannier. They had picked a good day to empty my pockets.

As they moved in for another swing at me, I jabbed my arm out to fend them off. My hand found their wing mirror; I grabbed and pushed, but rather than their bike toppling over, the mirror snapped off in my hand. I threw it at the driver, but my left-arm throw was weak, and missed anyway.

By now we had gone twelve rounds and were still pretty much even on points, but along with the wing mirror, they lost their patience as well. They rammed into me from the side, sending me and my bike flying. In the process, though, they fell off their motorbike, and as they crashed their seat broke from its mount. This seemed to upset them - so much so that they forgot all about mugging me and instead began accusing me of damaging their motorbike.

I had to steer a careful course in the argument that followed - maintaining that I was not strictly to blame for the "accident", while at the same time trying not to remind them that they were supposed to be robbing me. Thankfully, their memories were not good; after hurling a sewer-full of Russian abuse and invective at me, they mounted their now not-so-shiny motorbike, and revved, mirrorless and seatless, away, leaving me alone at the roadside with a buckled back wheel, a twisted and broken low-rider, and my computer magnet lost somewhere in the gravel at the side of the road.

Top Three Tips for surviving Motorbike Muggings:

1. If you're touring solo, drive-by muggings like this, especially on roads with little traffic, are rare, but not unheard of. Consider carrying a 'dummy' wallet with a small amount of money inside - you might get away with handing this over and saving the rest of your kit and cash. You could keep an old expired bank card in the wallet too.

2. The "keep-cycling-till-they-run-out-of-petrol" tactic might just be worth a try. I met a Norwegian cyclist a few months later who had had a similar experience - and his instinct had been the same: keep riding. His would-be attackers ran out of juice about 200 metres further down the road, allowing him to make his getaway.

3. If your low-rider goes through your spokes and in the process your computer-magnet gets knocked off and lost, any old magnet will do to replace it. Buy whatever you can find (even a fridge magnet) and wrap it onto your spokes with duck tape. Just make sure you have it positioned correctly and it will work fine. Don't get a really strong magnet though, or you'll find yourself sticking to passing cars.


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Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005 Edward Genochio
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