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Environment & Activism

Environment & Activism
By Nate Ryan 

China by Bicycle

Childhood friends have the uncanny ability to talk each other into all sorts of sticky and hairy situations. After 15 years, Joe Ryan and Nathan Taylor know this phenomenon well: As they've grown older, the challenges they've posed to each other have become increasingly ambitious. The latest, which started as an idea on New Year's Eve 2005, will take the Englishmen on a trek through China—on bicycles.

Joe and Nathan will kick off their pedal-fest in Heilongjiang Province (the northernmost point) next month. The 29-year-olds will travel south through 11 provinces and 23 cities, with Hainan Province (the southernmost tip) being their last stop.

Along the way, the two will rely on nothing but solar power and the equipment their bicycles can carry.

"This project will…give us the opportunity to establish whether or not successfully living a more environmentally friendly self-sufficient life is more than just a pipe dream," Taylor says.

The extensive ride, which the friends estimate will take between eight and 12 months, should also offer valuable insights into each other.

"(Nathan) has the ability to see everything in black and white, as I do," says Ryan.

"(It) should be fine, until we are looking at the same thing and are seeing different shades," he adds.

But the bike tour isn't just about two men deliberately trying to test the limits of friendship and endurance. China by Bicycle also aims to help Half the Sky Foundation, which cares for orphaned children.

"There are 573,000 orphans in China, 80 percent of whom live below the poverty line," according to the two friends' Website.

The friends say their goal is to fund-raise US$8,750, enough to pay all the running costs for a minimum of two years for Half the Sky's orphanage center in Sanya City. So far, they've raised US$6,046.

Joe and Nathan have proven they can talk each other into quite a bit. They started learning whether they can talk each other through even the most arduous of ventures on Aug. 3, when their ride began.

The project is also being sponsored by Montania (outdoor equipment shop in Toyohashi City), Arai, Isuka, Evernew, Patagonia, North Face, Montrail and Shooters.

Web Connection

You can follow the adventure through regular updates or make a donation on www.chinabybicycle.co.uk. More information about Half the Sky Foundation is available at www.halfthesky.org .