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Farmer Bikes From Beijing To London To See Olympics

Farmer Bikes From Beijing To London To See Olympics

 

In what can only be called an Olympic feat, a Chinese farmer, Chen Guanming, bicycled on a rickshaw about 60,000 kilometers (about 37,282 miles) from Beijing to London. Chen tells the BBC that he traveled through “16 countries, overcoming floods, war zones, mountain passes and temperatures of -30C (about -22F). The odyssey took Chen two years.

Seeing London mayor Boris Johnson accept the Olympic flag in Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium at the 2008 closing ceremonies inspired Chen to undertake his journey. Chen arrived in London on July 6; a British businessman John Beeston found him looking “completely lost and downhearted” on Lower Regent Street. Fortunately, Beeston knew some Mandarin and Chen “burst to life” when spoken to, showing his rickshaw emblazoned with mementoes from his journey.

What a journey it must have been. Chen showed reporters a passport full of visas from the many countries he had traveled to, says Agence France-Presse (via Raw Story):

He told the broadcaster he had to wring sweat out of his clothes in Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand, where he was also caught up in deadly floods.

When he was refused a visa to Myanmar, he simply backtracked and cycled to the mountains of Tibet instead.

On reaching Turkey via Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, he found himself snowed in for four days.

Describing London as “especially beautiful,” Chen said that he “wanted to come here because [he] wanted the whole world to support the Olympics and be part of it.”

Beeston described the appearance of a Chinese farmer pedaling a rickshaw “like telling people that a Martian has landed in the garden” and compared Chen’s travels to that of Marco Polo.

Even in the times of the ancient Olympics, people traveled from all over. Olympia, the site of the ancient Olympics, is readily accessibly by sea. People came not only from all over the different city-states of Greece (which was not a unified country in the ancient world) and from colonies where Greeks had settled, as far away as modern-day Spain, the Black Sea, or Egypt.

Beijing is about 5,000 miles from London but, of course, finding roads to bike on means the “most direct” route was not, for the most part, an option for Chen. No word yet on his plans for biking back to China.

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Photo: Screenshot from BBC video

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357 comments

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3:59AM PDT on Oct 9, 2012

Wow.....amazing story. He deserves also a medal.

10:28AM PDT on Aug 9, 2012

Incredible, thanks.

9:26AM PDT on Aug 9, 2012

An incredible feat!

6:51PM PDT on Aug 8, 2012

It's lucky he left two years ago as he only just made it in time!

It was absolutely manic in Stratford tonight, not people.... police and security, we had to stop at a green light whilst police escorted two (non-flashy) cars around a roundabout, it appears that Olympic Lane people are too important to stop like the rest of us, then my mum nearly ran a security guard over when he stepped into oncoming traffic! Maybe he should get another job if he can't even look after himself, lol.

It is nice that Chen is so enthusiastic, but I have made it no secret that I will be glad when it is all over. Roll on 9th September.... yes, you read that right, not Sunday, things don't go back to normal here for another month, and they wonder why we never wanted the Olympics!

Safe journey home Chen!

11:27AM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

We met him in Nice on the 7th of June and we admired his determination. Good luck from now on!

12:07AM PDT on Aug 6, 2012

Amazing story! When I saw the headline, I thought, "Oh, nice, some farmer from Wales or somewhere has cycled to London." The thought that he might have come from China didn't cross my mind! I hope he has a comfortable stay and a safe trip back home!

3:50PM PDT on Aug 4, 2012

Thanks for the article.

12:36PM PDT on Aug 4, 2012

amazing!

8:25AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

So very inspirational, such Olympic Spirit he illustrates with his actions. Such a role model that few of us could measure up to!

11:50PM PDT on Jul 29, 2012

Incredible story showing determination and enthusiasm, thank you for sharing

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches and writes about ancient Greek and Latin and is Online Advocacy and Marketing... more
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