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Silk Route Rider Profile: Bob Whitehead

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For posterity, tell us your full name, age occupation and anything you’d like to tell us about yourself.

Bob Whitehead, 65. In my previous life I was a civil engineer. I now live in Hong Kong and am originally from Britain. I’m doing the sections from Lanzhou to Ashgabat.

Do you have any favourite ride that you do there?

I regularly do a training ride that cuts through the country park in the north east of the new territories.  I turn around when I get to the ocean on the far side.

Why did you choose the Silk Route bike tour for your next adventure?

I was looking for a new adventure that didn’t involve running or walking, I’ve done those. I read a book about the Silk Road by John Pilkington and also went to lectures by a guy called Rob Lilwall who did two trips, one cycling to the UK from Siberia and another walking from Mongolia to Hong Kong. This helped me decide on the Silk Route.

What made you a little nervous about this trip?

My lack of experience in cycle touring but I believed my experience in adventure racing would make up for that fact and it has.

Which part did you enjoy the most?

Kashgar through to Samarqand.

What kind of bike did you bring?

A Bhodi mountain bike that I bought in Shanghai.

What did your training entail beforehand?

I didn`t have time for training the three months beforehand because the running season ended middle March for me. I did a lot of adventure racing though and was part of the top veterans’ team with a combined age of over 100.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone going on their first tour with us what would it be?

Just be prepared for a physical challenge. Being my first and only bike tour, I realised very soon it`s a physically challenging expedition, not just a simple bike tour. TdA opens doors for a wide range of abilities because you can hop on the truck and just do half a day every now and again but if you want to say you`ve done the tour properly you have to be prepared for the physical challenge that awaits.

— Catharina Robbertze


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