Pioneering motorcycle expedition company GlobeBusters have successfully completed their epic overland ride from the world-famous Ace Cafe in London to the opening of China’s first ever Ace Cafe, in the countries capital city of Beijing.
Leading a group of fifteen motorcyclists, from the UK, Russia, Switzerland, South Africa and Australia, the ride took 12 weeks to complete, 13,000-miles in total. Their route followed the northern Silk Road, from Turkey, through Iran and Central Asia and into western China.
“I have visited China on my motorcycle every year for the past seven and each year there is change” notes expedition leader Kevin Sanders. “The main changes comes in the development of the internal infrastructure. New roads are being built everywhere, with high speed train lines and airports. Cities are expanding and completely new ones popping up. You see this especially across Tibet. When we first crossed Tibet in 2009 most of the roads were dirt and gravel. In 2015 95% of the roads are now paved/tarmac”.
Crossing Tibet is still extremely challenging for both rider and machine, due to the very high altitudes. The devastating earthquake that hit Nepal earlier this year also affected the Chinese side of the Himalayas and as a result, the road to Mount Everest base camp was closed, forcing the group to divert to the north of the country. Fortunately, in spite of long periods at very high altitudes, reaching 4,500 to 5,400 m, no riders showed any signs of altitude sickness and all the bikes also completed the crossing, coping with the added issue of low grade fuel.
This was the first overland expedition that Globebusters have made on their Continental shod Triumphs – a 1200 Explorer for the leader and Tiger 800XCx for the support rider, plus one customer on an Explorer and another on a Tiger 1050. All performed without fault. The lead riders left London on Continental TKC 70 tyres, and eventually made the switch to the more aggressive TKC 80 as the roads became more and more challenging.
On arrival in Beijing the GlobeBusters’ expedition was welcomed at the grand opening of the brand new Ace Cafe by 300 cheering locals, many on bikes, and Mark Wilsmore, founder of the Ace Cafe, who had flown out to China to witness history being made.
“At midday on Sunday 12th July we all rode into the new Ace” says Sanders. “There were rock bands playing, ticker tape, champagne and speeches. We were joined by members of the British Embassy and Chamber of Commerce in China, as well as a Beatles tribute band to add more British flavour. The only thing missing was a good fry up and pork pies!”
The Chinese capital is home to one of a growing number of officially-licensed Ace premises, which are now planned in regions as varied as Japan and North America, as well as across Europe.
Looking back on the grueling trip Kevin said “I must thank everyone who was part of this year’s trip, including the Ace Cafe, both London and Beijing. And the Chinese government for allowing us the opportunity to ride across such a diverse, challenging, crazy and fascinating country. GlobeBusters remains the most successful adventure touring company for crossing China and riders can join our next expedition in April 2017”.