Rachel Povey, one out of ten of the brave St Andrews students cycling the Silk Road for charity, shares with us the exciting details of their epic adventure.



On July 2nd, an epic expedition that will cause tears of joy, sadness, and madness will begin. For two months, 10 members of the St Andrews Adventure Group (STAAG) will be cycling 3,200 miles along Marco Polo’s ancient Silk Road. We will begin in Xi’an, a city in China famed for its terracotta army and continue through both Kazakhstan (some of you may recall Borat) and Kyrgyzstan (known simply as the Switzerland of Central Asia) before reaching Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan –  a city with an unusual yet eclectic mix of ancient, Soviet-era, and modern architecture blending into a unique cultural haven – which awaits us at the end of this grand journey.

We will be riding at elevations of more than 3000 meters, into ancient towns, across mountain ranges, and through deserts, facing whatever may be thrown at us along the way. We’re giving ourselves the ultimate travelling experience. What better way to get to know a country than to cycle right through it? For most of the journey we will be wild camping, eating unknown local delicacies and meeting a plethora of welcoming and possibly overly curious locals. Honestly, we cannot wait!


Cycle the Silk team photos16


You are all probably wondering why on earth we have decided to take on a trip of such preposterous proportions. Well, aside from our shared love of adventure, we are all passionate about helping protect the glorious planet we live on. We’re riding to raise money for two charities linked with the countries that we will be visiting. The first is a Dutch charity called The Elnura Foundation. We’re working with them to support two local Kyrgyz charities: The Center for the Protection of Children, which works to help support working children and street children who are often marginalised and left without any education, housing, food or healthcare; and Babushka Adoption, a charity that helps improve living conditions for and to protect the rights of the elderly in Kyrgyzstan. The second charity we’re working with is Fauna & Flora International, which helps conserve the endangered snow leopard in the countries we’ll be visiting. The money we raise for Fauna & Flora will help support the few remaining protected wild areas in Kyrgyzstan where these beautiful and mysterious creatures live safely without the threat of poaching.

We’re ardent that 100% of the money we raise goes to these charities, and that’s why we’ve chosen to plan the entire trip separately from any large travel organisation. From choosing the bikes to cycle on to planning every painstaking part of the route – thank you Google Maps – we’re doing it all ourselves. So, you could say, for us the adventure has already begun. Over the coming months, we’ll be fundraising for our charities through quiz nights, a ceilidh, a 24-hour cycle, charity auctions, and a rather adventurous exhibition during the On the Rocks Festival. For the next few months leading up to our trip, you won’t be able to escape us or our infectious adventurous and passionate energy. Our advice? Embrace it.

If you want to learn more about us and each of the 10 wild people that make up our team, you can catch us on various types of social media, from Facebook to Twitter, Instagram to Vimeo. Throughout our journey, we’ll be writing regular blogs, taking lots of photos and making films to ensure that you never miss a moment. To learn more about the trip, feel free to visit our website at: www.cyclethesilk.org.uk

If you wish to show your support through a donation, you can do so via our Just Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/teams/CycletheSilk2015

Cycle the Silk Training Trip from STAAG – Challenge 2015 on Vimeo.


Rachel Povey