Directed by
Jason Reid
Produced by

Anything is Possible in China…

September 20th, 2008 by sean
getting ready for bed...ExOfficio Protected...thank goodness for BUZZ OFF!!

getting ready for bed...ExOfficio Protected...thank goodness for BUZZ OFF!!

It has been a wild ride the last couple of days…I guess I’ll start with two days ago we started out skipping breakfast and getting on the road close to 8am, with the plan of stopping for breakfast later into the ride.  The ride out of Simatai was up a mountain..beautiful scenery, with the Great Wall to our left or in front of us the entire morning.  About 8 miles into the morning we decided to stop for breakfast in a small town. Doven was looking around the street trying to figure out the good place for us to eat?  He chose a dicey looking place that did not look inviting.  I was apprehensive to eat at this restaurant, I voiced my opinion..but we decided to eat there anyway.  To no surprise the food was less then acceptable?  We were introduced to Jason’s new found gag reflex and Kevin once again muscled through whatever was put in front of him.  Ian and I only ate the humbow buns which we jokingly said were filled with dog meat?  With that joke Jason gagged again and didn’t eat anything else.  Needless to say it was another awesome experience here in China.

Jason is still being brave at this point...

Jason is still being brave at this point...

Back on the road…  more hills, beautiful scenery, great riding! The roads got a little hairy, really bumpy, which is not good for our seemingly fragile bikes?

Kevin is taking in the view on top of the mountain we just climbed.  There was a really cool Buddhist temple at the top.

Kevin is taking in the view on top of the mountain we just climbed. There was a really cool Buddhist temple at the top.

About 35 miles into the ride my wheel blew out.  I broke two spokes which resulted in me not being able to ride any further.  Ian tried his hardest to get the trusty kevlar rope spoke tool thingy to work, but it was not successful.

Doven in action

Doven Lu in action

We still had 40 miles to ride to our destination and we are out in the middle of nowhere.  This is where Doven went to work trying to find me a ride to our destination.  At this point the entire village was out to see what was happening on the road.  Curiosity risen. Doven was able to find someone who would be able to drive me to Chengde.  The bargaining ensued.  45 minutes of conversation resulted in a price of 260 yuan ( ~$38).  We loaded up the bike and all of the extra luggage into the van.  Everyone seemed a little nervous to let me go off by myself in some stranger’s van in the middle of nowhere in China.  Unable to communicate…I went anyway.  No other option.  Seemed safe enough to me?  Gave our American hugs, and said goodbye.  Doven gave the instructions to the driver and we were off to Chengde.  I wasn’t nervous at all, the guys seemed nice enough.  And as it turned out they were really cool.  They took me through a shortcut with more amazing views. Breathtaking!  We arrived in Chengde in about 45mins, found the hotel, and went to check-in with no success.  To our surprise foreigners were not allowed to stay in that hotel.  Due to the Olympics, foreigners are only allowed to stay in certified hotels…the LoLo hotel was not certified?  Back on the phone with Doven he was able to arrange another hotel and off I went with the driver to the next hotel.  Checked in with no problem.  Made it!  Now lets get the bike fixed.

Rest day in Chengde…. I woke up early again about 5am with a welcomed call from my lovely Danielle.  It was great to talk with her.  I Love you D!  After our conversation I went back to bed…then woke back up around 7am for breakfast.  Went to breakfast alone..the other guys were still asleep.  Once again..Breakfast was an experience in its self.  Being the only foreigner at breakfast everyone is interested in what I am eating, what I am reading…just more curiosity.  I love it!

Our mission of the day was to get the wheels fixed, explore, relax, and get some footage.  We found the bike shop with no problem got the wheels fixed for $10.

After only 5 days of riding we have had 4 flat tires, 3 broken spokes, and lots of wobbly wheels.  Needless to say..we are getting really good at fixing our bikes?

After only 5 days of riding we have had 4 flat tires, 3 broken spokes, and lots of wobbly wheels. Needless to say..we are getting really good at fixing our bikes?

We found a great place to get a cappuccino.  We also found a great place to get a massage.  We were introduced to ‘cupping’, Chinese traditional treatment for rejuvenation of the body.  Heated glass ‘cups’ suctioned to our backs.

Kevin enjoying a beer after his massage and cupping.  Probably not the best combination?  but it looks like it hurt...

Kevin enjoying a beer after his massage and cupping. Probably not the best combination? but it looks like it hurt...

China is great!  Back on the road bright and early!

The Long and Hilly Road: The first 200 miles.

September 18th, 2008 by reidster

Well….Where do I begin? I haven’t made a post since just before we left Beijing, so there’s a lot of catching up to do. Unfortunately I’m very tired after completing a strenuous 70 miles today (and over 200 total for the trip so far), so I’ll have to keep this relatively brief…But the good news is, we have finally reached our first break day in Chengde, so there are definitely more posts to come as everyone has their own individual stories to tell. I’m going to try to give a brief recap of our first 4 days on the road, put up some pics for everyone to check out, and then get a long, much-needed rest. So here we go…

We left Beijing on Monday, which was a National holiday here in China. The weather was beautiful (90+ and sunny) and spirits were high, despite the very little sleep we got the night before. Our fearless guide, Doven Lu, showed up at our hotel at 9am and we got on the road by 10…

The Man Zou Team

The Man Zou Team

At 11:00am, I had my first accident…no joke. We came up to a light on the outskirts of the city and I couldn’t get out of my peddle and down I went. I had just put a mirror on my bike (to be able to see cars approaching from behind), which was destroyed in the accident…Not exactly the best way to start the adventure.

My first, and hopefully last accident.

My first, and hopefully last accident.

Within a few hours we were out of town and the landscape quickly transformed from urban to rural. Everything was going great until we hit “the mountain.” It was seriously intense. After a few miles of climbing, I completely ran out of gas and had to stop as the heat, weight on the bicycles, lack of sleep, and the seemingly endless mountain ahead collectively broke me down….I couldn’t believe it: the first day and I was unable to go any further….But after a long rest with Sean and Doven on the side of the road, we walked our bicycles for another 1/2 hour before deciding to stop at a “Holiday Inn” on the side of the mountain.

This was no ordinary Holiday Inn, however…Apparently in China, this is what they call a house with extra rooms and the ability to cook a warm meal. Anyhow, we were treated with care and we all slept well (other than being awoken to the sounds of walnuts being swept up at 5am, just outside of our rooms).

During breakfast, we made the decision to get rid of the front two bags on our biycles and 1/2 of our gear. The weight we were carrying was just too much…I guess the mountain taught us that lesson right off the bat. So we organized all of our gear and Doven told us he would arrange to send everything ahead to Shanghai…The only thing was, we had to finish climbing with everything because we had to ride to the next town that had a post office…So needless to say, Day 2 began with a bang…The great thing about climbing mountains, however, is the incredible downhills that await on the other side…Somehow it all seems worth it when you’re going 30mph down the hill, looking out over the beautiful mountains of Northeastern China.

One small section of "The Mountains" we have been riding through.

One small section of "The Mountains" we have been riding through.

When we got to the bottom, we immediately went to the first town and happily sent away all our unnecessary items. The rest of day 2 is kind of a blur…Lots more mountains and grueling terrain, but beautiful the entire way. Check out the pic of us at one of the tallest peaks we climbed:

Riding up mountains on bicycles makes you sweat.

Riding up mountains on bicycles makes you sweat.

We decided to stop after 46 miles of hard riding, just before dark and a massive thunder/lighting storm that hit that night. The next day we awoke early to try to make up some ground and get to our next destination, Simatai. Here’s a pic of Sean, Kevin, and Doven….about to hit the road for another long day:

Another day...Will there be more mountains?

Another day...Will there be more mountains?

Day 3 was much more reasonable riding terrain, but just as scenic. We cycled hard to get to our destination of Simatai, with a beautiful view of the Great Wall. We took some time there to relax and enjoy the scenery (and shoot our daily interviews) over a couple of beers.

We turn the cameras on Cinematographer Ian Connors for his first interview from the other side...Up on the hill, you will see the Great Wall.

We turn the cameras on Cinematographer Ian Connors for his first interview ever...Up on the hill, you can see the Great Wall.

Day 4 we pushed it really hard, going over 70 miles (and only a few mountains!). Unfortunately, one of Sean’s spokes broke and we had to negotiate a ride with the locals in a small village as his bike wasn’t rideable (more to come about this experience tomorrow). The good news, however, was that we were able to put all of our bags into the car with Sean and we were able to cycle much faster (which ultimately enabled us to get to our destination tonight). And now, alas…our first rest day.

Anyhow, that’s all I got for now…Time to go to bed…More to come soon.

Thanks again to all our sponsors and Man Zou!

Reidster getting checked out by one of the locals on a break.

Reidster getting checked out by one of the locals on a break.

Lessons learned: “the free right turn”

September 17th, 2008 by ian

So there I was in the middle of the craziest intersection I’ve ever seen and I’m looking down the barrel of a huge bus full of people. The free right turn. In China, cars have always have a free right turn. They don’t even have to slow down…and as far as pedestrians go, you need to be ready and alert at all times because cars will just materialize out of nowhere. Lesson learned from our “fixer”…stay behind the Chinese people while crossing the street.

The ride up to now has been amazing. The mountains are amazingly steep and beautiful. Some of the toughest cycling I’ve done. The shooting has been great as I feel as though I can point the camera anywhere and create really great images. The people have been kind and welcoming. They notice us as a passing oddity and then seem to go right back to their work. This is great for getting the more candid shots I need. So far, I usually work a small section of town at lunch and get some nice b-roll of the small villages at work. Today, I saw this guy just squatting (as they do) and smoking on the side of the road. He watched me for a little while, but really just let me be. I think in the long run…people are people, wherever you go. Another lesson learned.

On a bike note, I may not have been as prepared as I should have been. The second day in the mountains was really hard and bit of a blow to the ego. I’m happy to say that today was way better and my legs are starting to get the idea that I will be doing this for awhile. On a not so good note…I’m the dude that has had two flats already. Huge chunks of glass in the rear tire. Not so good, and then a split tube. I have never had 2 flat in 2 weeks…let alone 2 days. But I have found that in the long run I may just have to give myself to this ride and this country, because they are going to win every time.

Lesson learned….

The top of the world or at least the top of the mountain we rode up

The top of the world...or at least the top of the mountain we rode up

My first flat....

My first flat....

Farewell Beijing

September 16th, 2008 by kevin

Farewell  Beijing.. Hello mountains!

After spending two amazing nights in Beijing we have finally started the bicycle leg of our adventure.  Its been an absolute blast getting out on the road riding but… “did anyone know about these damn mountains!?” Our first two days have consisted of mountain passes that could only be compared to some mountain stages in the Tour de France. These are definitely the most burly mountains that I have ever ridden and the extra hundred pounds strapped to our bikes didn’t make it any easier. Fortunately the most difficult climbs of our trip, so far, have produced the greatest scenery. The mountains and valleys out side Beijing are absolutely incredible and I’m excited for more, more, more!

Scrambling to piece it all together so we can get out of Beijing

Scrambling to piece it all together so we can get out of Beijing

Our first taste of the Great Wall!

Our first taste of the Great Wall!

Here we go!

September 14th, 2008 by reidster

Whether we’re ready or not, we’re leaving Beijing on bicycles 5 hours from now to begin our journey. After a night of celebration for Mid-Autumn Festival, I’m about to catch a couple of hours of sleep before we leave for our first 100km tomorrow morning at 9am. Sean and Kevin arrived safely on Saturday and have been quickly acclimating themselves to China and all there is to learn about this incredible country.

Unfortunately, I have to keep this brief for now, but all I can say is Beijing has been nothing short of amazing and all of the people who have helped us along the way have already enriched our experience and have made the transition to China much easier than expected. We now have internet, a cellphone, and lots of information about what might encounter on the open roads between here and Shanghai….

But really, nothing can truly prepare us for what lies ahead…Finally it is time to begin our epic journey and to see what life in China is like outside of Beijing and the glow of the Olympics.

So with that said, I have just two things to say—Bon Voyage and Man Zou!

Late night at the Bamboo Gardens, Reidster and Kevin discuss how excited they are about leaving the next day at 9am. Check out the awesome Norco Bicycles behind us and the slick new Casual Industrees t-shirts, representing the WaBrahs in China.

Late night at the Bamboo Gardens, Reidster and Kevin discuss how excited they are about leaving the next day at 9am. Check out the awesome Norco Bicycles behind us and our slick new Casual Industrees t-shirts.

The Fixer..

September 14th, 2008 by sean

Christine Boyle: Born and raised in Lake City, Seattle. Home girl to the bone.  She has been an invaluable friend here in Peking.  Christine has helped the ManZou team line up interviews, cell phones, Skype, good food, bike shops, tourist sites, drinking establishments, new friends, cultural rules…just about everything.  She has made the transition from Seattle to China very easy. Thank goodness we have Christine!!!

She is a STAR!!

Christine is a STAR!!

Christine is here working on her fulbright fellowship, researching water resource policy in China. Also she is a Doctoral Student at the University of North Carolina. Our presence here in Beijing has distracted her from her hard work.

Tonight we are celebrating Mid Autumn Festival.  Having a great meal with new friends.

Red Jason..getting ready for a 1200 mile bike ride!

Red Jason..getting ready for a 1200 mile bike ride!

Jet Lag

September 11th, 2008 by reidster

15 hours time difference from Seattle. That’s a long time! After a busy day “Man Zouing” around Beijing all day yesterday, Ian and I hit the wall and crashed way too early last night. Now I am writing this blog post, wide awake at 4am from my hotel in Beijing. Ian is still trying to get a little more rest, but I can’t get back to sleep.

The beginning of our bicycle adventure is rapidly approaching and Ian and I are starting to realize the magnitude of our undertaking. While Beijing has the largest bike lanes I’ve ever seen, people drive totally different here and we are quickly learning the ways of the road. The main thing to remember is that you CAN’T rely on them to yield to you, especially on right turns. Cars here have the right of way, which is definitely something we will have to get used to.

Our bicycles did manage to make it through the plane flight sustaining only minor damages and we got them reassembled and they’re ready to go. We may take a ride tomorrow to test them out if we don’t get to hung up shooting more footage of this massive city.

Yesterday was a gorgeous day here…87 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. We walked all over town including Beihai Lake, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, getting some great footage. The city is remarkabley clean and eerily quiet. After talking with our friend here Christine, she said that in the months leading up to the Olympics and during the games, the city has been very low key. Lots of bars and restaurants have been closed and many, many people have left the city. It seems to be returning to normal a little more each day. Right now the Paralympics are going on and we may even get a chance to go see Murderball (Wheelchair rugby) on Saturday.

Anyhow, I guess that’s it for now…I better go and try to get a little more shuteye before it gets light out. Looking forward to the arrival of Sean and Kevin on Saturday and getting out there on the bicycles. Thanks again to all our great sponsors. So far all our gear is working out phenomenally and we’re totally happy with everything. Here are a few pictures from our day yesterday…Check out our cool Ex Officio and Kavu gear.

Reidster (the Lion) stares down his crazy Chinese counterpart at Ben Hai Lake

Reidster (the Lion) stares down his crazy Chinese counterpart at Ben Hai Lake

Ian in the Forbidden City.

Ian in the Forbidden City.

Thanks Kavu for the awesome shades...Check out the reflection of the Hall of Supreme Harmony in the Forbidden City.

Thanks Kavu for the awesome shades...Check out the reflection of the Hall of Supreme Harmony in the Forbidden City.

Just a few more days until we cycle out of Beijing on the floor-lined streets!

Just a few more days until we cycle out of Beijing on the floor-lined streets!

Reidster and Mao--Together at last!

Reidster and Mao--Together at last!

Where were you 7 yrs ago?

September 11th, 2008 by sean

Seven years ago I was in Rayong, Thailand teaching English.  I was talking to my Mom on the phone getting caught up with the happenings in Seattle as well as in Thailand….then my Mom casually tells me that a plane has just hit a building in New York.  Surprised to hear this news…I asked her to tell me more details?  My wonderful Mother wasn’t really paying attention to the news.  I shouted across the dining room that I was using the phone in and asked my British friend to turn on the news…sure enough…a plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York City.  My mother had given the impression that it was small commuter that had flown off course and hit just some building?  My mother is not a woman of details…well during this conversation she wasn’t.  As I half listened to my mother on the phone and half listen to the news on the TV a second plane flew into the other tower of the World Trade Center.  The room went silent, and everyone in the room started to gather around the TV.  At this point I told my mom “I Love you…I gotta go”.  We gathered around the TV, people from all over the world, all of us could not believe what had just happened.  and it wasn’t over.  A few minutes later the first tower fell, then the second tower.  I remember the TV saying “America has been attacked” and “Major attack on the US”.  All the American travelers were advised not to travel to Southern Thailand,  the US embassy issued a warning that it was unsafe for Americans to travel, we were advised to stay where we were until “They” could figure out what to do?  The next couple of hours were very strange around the school..very quiet.  A few days later…I was teaching English in a 5th grade classroom at a public school in Rayong, Thailand.  It was a typical day, me in front of 45 thai students, me not really knowing how to speak Thai, and them not really know how to speak English.  Normal day…then from the back of the classroom the kids started chanting, yelling, cheering, laughing, “Bin Laden, Bin Laden, Bin Laden!”   I didn’t know what to do?  What was I supposed to do?  I don’t know how these Thai kids feel about the United States?  Are these Kids doing anything wrong?  I was nervous, nervous about all the other 5th graders in the world that were cheering and chanting, excited to see America attacked?  All I could do was give them a positive impression of an individual American?      Our world has not been the same since.  Seven years ago today…the World went to war.  Seven years the United States has been fighting the “War on Terror”…and why are we in Iraq?  Happy Patriot Day!

I gotta get back on my bike….keep on pedaling!

Welcome to Beijing!

September 10th, 2008 by reidster

Our adventure has officially begun. Ian and I arrived in Beijing a few hours ago and are extremely jet-lagged after our long day of travel. We left Seattle at 9am on Tuesday and arrived in Beijing around 3:30pm on Wednesday. Our great hotel, the Bamboo Gardens, is in one of the most interesting areas of Beijing.

We met up with our main contact here in Beijing, Christine Boyle, who took us out to a cool restaurant with seating on the roof of the building. She invited some friends and we all had a good time eating the delicious food and getting to know each other.

Now, unfortunately, it’s time for me to get some long-awaited sleep. Tomorrow Ian and I will be hitting the town and doing a lot of shooting all over. Sean and Kevin will be leaving on Friday and arriving Saturday….Then we begin our bicycle adventure on next Monday!

Be sure to stay posted to the blog as we will be updating it as often as possible. Thanks again for everyone who donated to the project!

Ian & Reidster...Ready for action!

Ian & Reidster in Beijing-Ready for action!

Shiny new bikes

August 29th, 2008 by ian

There is something about a new bike, the look, the smell….something. First, you give it a once over looking at all the new gadgets and shiny new parts, second the urge takes over and you jump on… you want to see what this baby can do! Every new bike has a wow factor, like wow, this rides nice or wow, it handles great. Then it happens… you want to see how fast you can go on it… the wind whipping in your hair ( or the lack of it ), speed tears running down your cheeks, you are tucked low to the handle bars. Your mind is totally present, your senses are heightened and you are trying to feel every little thing about the bike. How does it react when I do this or what about if I give this much brake here? Everything looks and feels different. You are totally in the moment.

We all recently received new bikes for our trip. Pete at Norco bikes in Canada hooked us up with new VFR2 touring style bikes and a full array of all the Axiom bags and all the other goodies we could eat. Pete seemed to know exactly what we needed. The bikes are really beautiful and it was quite hard to keep our cool when they wheeled them out fully loaded with bright red Axiom bags and jet black frames. It also didn’t help that with in seconds Jason and Sean where hooting and hollering as they road around the parking lot. But that is just what happens with shiny new bikes…. Thanks Pete.

The VFR2 really handles nice

The VFR2 really handles nice

For more pics, click below:

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Man Zou is a common phrase in Mandarin. It is more of a philosophy than anything. Man Zou literally translates to "Walk Slow."

"Slow and steady wins the race," they say. This is at the heart of the meaning of Man Zou. Walk slowly and you won't fall. Act carefully and you won't go wrong. A slow walker is faster than someone who walks fast but always has to stop and rest. Persistence is important in learning or doing anything.

To explain a little more in depth, read this quote from The Challenge of Trekking in China by Kyle Acierno:

"I recently underwent the most thorny, intricate, and demanding trek of my life. China is no walk in the park. The county is extremely diverse, and with diversity comes complexity. There is no smooth road laid for backpackers and attempting to do anything or get anywhere can be incredibly arduous...I really needed a break and I didn't know where I would be next. I sat down to a plate of rice noodles and peanuts. A hardy meal for a hardy man. A giant of a woman served me, but with her giant body came a giant heart. With a quick phrase that I have become accustomed to, she filled me with self-assurance that I needed for the rest of my trip. ?Man Zou!? she shouted with a big smile on her face. This literally translates to ?Walk Slow?. To me this means more then just ?be careful.? To me this means take the time to see the wonders of life. The power it gave me changed the rest of my trip. From then on everything went smoothly...I learned a lot from this Trek. I learned the beauty that exists just off the beaten track. I learned that anything amazing takes time. I learned just how much you could learn from people without even using language...By taking the time to notice all the small things in life you can really appreciate who, where, and what you are. Patience, persistence, and practice makes perfect."