Ryan Pyle had lived in China for ten years, working as a freelance photographer and journalist. Younger brother Colin had started a business in Canada, finally selling it, but staying on to run it.
The motorcycle journey came about because of both brothers finding life changing. The downturn in world economy made Ryan selling photos and stories on China realize that was going away. Ryan soon found running a company wasn’t the same as owning it. A desire to spend time together was another part of it, years having gone by between visits.
What they decided would be no easy task. 18,000 kilometers in sixty days in a wide loop around China. Boxer Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody has a plan until they get hit!” The Ryan brothers had a plan and boy did they get hit: Mother Nature, the military, mechanical failure, local police, local businesses, bureaucracy, hidebound rules. road construction, and traffic jams(one thirty kilometer long one).
This book chronicles the planning. the journey, and all the problems they encountered, as well as the highs.
The ride was laid out for sixty days(money was tight as several sponsors had backed out and they were footing the bill themselves) with stops built in for Ryan to show Colin some amazing sights. The ride would eventually take them to the North Korean border, across to Pakistan, down to the Mount Everest base camp, along The Silk Road, and all manner of festivals and the people along the way. A support vehicle with spare parts and a camera man to film the expedition went along.
Mother Nature furnished torrential rains several days at a time on more than one occasion, hail storms, intense cold.
The hidebound rules involved mainly their motorcycles. They rode BMW 800 cc machines. Chinese bikes were rarely over 150 ccs, usually a 100. Therefor, motorcycles were banned from expressways, confined to B roads where they would impede motor vehicles. That the BMWs could keep up or surpass most automobiles didn’t matter. They were motorcycles. The BMWs could not be gassed up at the pump. Chinese motorcycles, small and compact, had a tiny tank directly over the engine. Pumps at Chinese stations had no shut-off valve. An overflow could spill onto the engine causing a fire. By law, all bikes had to pull to the side and the customer was given a small teapot to pump the gas. The BMWs didn’t have that problem, not to mention bigger tanks. It took four trips with the teapot for each bike to fill the big tanks. But they were motorcycles and rules were rules.
Military checkpoints were a frequent occurence with way too many teenager soldiers with inflated egos waving around AK-47s. One checkpoint might let them through, only to have the next one make them backtrack.
Many towns were forbidden to foreigners. Some allowed you to pass through, but most wouldn’t let you stay overnight.
The book was nicely written, never dragging, with each chapter broken into two parts, with Ryan talking about a particular part of the ride, then Colin giving his impressions of the same incident(culled from a video diary each made every night when they stopped).
An entertaining read. The book can be ordered HERE.
The Pyle Brothers and their ride through a developing China played out over six episodes. I liked the contrast of the big city plyed against the rural parts of the huge country. They go from North Korea to Pakistan to a base camp at Mount Everest.
A wonderful look at the mysteries of the old country with the two brothers, a clash between the old and the emerging new. The DVD can be http://www.amazon.com/Middle-Kingdom-Ride-Ryan-Pyle/dp/B00C2JD630