This unusual story of a round the world journey by bicycle was recently brought to my attention. Way Wong a 26 year old Chinese student set out in late February from his home in Yinchuan in central China.
Almost all round the world journeys go from east to west, or west to east, but Wong is headed north and he has already crossed the border into Mongolia. From there he will continue to ride north through Russia.
Wong’s father, a wealthy industrialist is sponsoring the trip along with the Chinese government. The young cyclist will be constantly tracked by GPS and when he reaches Russia’s northern coast line, a boat will be waiting to ferry him across to the Polar Icecap.
On this part of the trip he will be accompanied by a dog sled team that will carry supplies. His bike for the journey over the soft snow will be a special one that has the front wheel replaced by twin skis, and the rear wheel replaced with a rubber track similar to a snowmobile. For the hard packed snow and ice sections Wong will use bike with studded ice tires.
The timing of this trip is crucial; Wong plans to cross the North Pole in summer when temperatures are at the highest. Depending on the temperatures and the condition of the ice, if necessary he will be picked up by boat again for the short trip into Northern Canada.
From there it will be a straight shot down the west coast of the Americas, from Alaska to the southern tip of Chile. In order to catch the seasons and cross both Poles in summer it will be necessary for Way Wong to keep up a blistering pace.
He will have to average 68 miles per day; obviously he will not do this on the Polar crossing, so he will make up the milage later. It will be on this fast downhill section along America’s West Coast that Wong hopes to make up time.
He plans to reach Central America by next autumn so that as he crosses into the Southern Hemisphere it will be Spring and Summer again by the time he crosses by boat from the southern tip of Chile to begin his journey across the South Pole. Here he will be joined by the same dog sled team he used for the northern trip.
After crossing the South Pole it will be a long uphill slog back to China, but Wong is confident; he will have the advantage of all those miles in his legs, and there will be many more boat trips with relatively short land sections in-between.
There will be the longest boat trip from Antarctica to Albany on the south-west tip of Australia; Wong will then ride up the west coast to Darwin in Northern Australia. From there by boat again to Indonesia, Thailand then back into Mainland China.
Wong is looking for volunteer cyclists to help as a pace line, especially down the US West Coast and also along Australia’s west coastline. There is a tentative plan for the Australian leg of the trip, to use trained kangaroos to carry water and energy bars in their pouches.
However, the animal’s trainers have run into a glitch, in that the kangaroos have learned how to unwrap the energy bars, and are eating them. The BBC is filming a documentary of this epic ride; the title will be “Wrong Way Wong.” You can read more here.