What made Totti Zhang decide to bike across the country in smoldering heat? We first met Totti years ago when he was honing his craft as a bartender at Xian Bar. After working in Miami for a year, Totti came back to Beijing and, well, the next time we heard from him he had already embarked on his solo to travel across the country.
We had a little WeChat convo with Totti about his adventures so far.
Why did you decide to bike across the country?
Five years ago I had two friends named Rad and Tom. We promised each other that we'd bike from Beijing to Tibet so we can see all of China. From that moment on, the idea was deeply planted in my brain. I am really glad that I finally made good on our promise and take the trip.
What inspired/motivated you to go on this adventure?
First of all, to keep the promise. Now Tom has immigrated to the States for several years, and Rad has been married and is busy with his new life as a dad. It seems like I'm the only one that's still single and able to go on the trip. I have no excuses to break the promise. Ten years there's something amazing I want to see the beautiful sceneries with my own eyes and taste the local foods of different places. Lastly, when I got back from Miami, I found this is the best time for me to take the opportunity to go on this trip. If I wait any longer I might never have the chance to do something like this again.
How long have you been planning your trip?
We had the idea five years ago. When I came back I considered it for about three months, and when my mind was made up it took about 20 days for me to prepare.
How many days have you been biking?
This is the 18th day so far. I’ve cashed 2,018 kilometers and now I'm at the south edge of Hunan province.
Tell us about a few interesting places you’ve discovered along the way.
I’ve seen so many interesting places but I’d like to share something serious on this matter. Changsha suffered heavy rain and dangerous flood a few days ago. Along with the way in and out of Changsha, I saw the flooded villages, trees and houses. I just can't hold back my tears when I saw the hopelessness, fear, or worry of those people who lost their home or families.
Tell us about some interesting people you’ve met along the way.
I met a guy was walking and kowtowing on the road, I was curious about him. So I bought some water for him and started talking. He’s a Buddhist lay disciple from Shenzhen. He made a vow walk and kowtow every 10 steps to Ci’en temple in Xian. The distance is around 2,000kms and it might take him half a year. I was really shocked by his faith and devotion.
I also met a girl biker around Hengshan Mountain, she was so enthusiastic to introduce everything about her hometown along the way; history, celebrities, and food etc. She helped me find the best hotel and local restaurant. I treated her to dinner as a thank you. When I got back to the hotel, she knocked on my door with some local food and fruits! She is definitely the best guide I’ve ever met!
Where do you sleep at night?
Small hotels or youth hotel.
On average, how many kilometers do you bike each day?
I’m a fast biker, it’s about 150kms a day on average.
Are you concerned about your safety on the trip?
For sure, safety is the most important point of concerned. Without safety, all is ZERO! I'm experienced and I have considered all the problems that might happen during the trip, so, fingers crossed, I can do my best to avoid the incidents happen to me.
Have you learned/discovered anything about yourself on this trip so far?
I’m doing this trip on my own so loneliness has become my best companion. I’ve discovered that loneliness is a kind of power, it could be an enemy that beats me down but if I refuse to let it happen then it could also be a really good friend to make me re-think my life from another angle and to make me move further.
When do you expect you’ll make your way back to Beijing?
My plan for this trip is about three to six months but plans sometimes change so it might be shorter or longer.
Have you considered the possibility that you might get hurt?
Getting hurt is inevitable. Even walking on the street could be dangerous, you could get hit by a car or from a falling advertising board. I’m mentally prepared for ready for all the dangers that I could predict, that will help me reduce the possibility of getting hurt.
What bike are you riding?
It’s a new local tour bike brand named Boskey.
What happens if your bike breaks?
I've learned a few skills on how to fix up bikes, especially a busted tire. I have some simple tools with me for simple problems. As for big problems, I have to go to the bike shop to search for professional help. People are always pleased to help especially for someone on a long bike tour.
To stay updated on Totti's day-to-day adventures follow him on WeChat (ID: eeeeasyrider) We cannot wait to have a catch up with Totti in person when he makes his way back to Beijing three to six months from now. In the meantime, stay safe and soak up the adventure!
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