The Freedom of the Bicycle: Cycling Home from China

While I was travelling the Silk Road to Afghanistan I met Mark on the road to Kashgar, China. Mark is a person I am honoured to call my friend, and an incredible person for what he is doing. By cycling the world he is able to accomplish two tasks. Mark is able to see and travel the world while helping children go to school. This is such an admirable mission that all travellers should applaud. This is Marks story, he is still currently on the road and not back in Canada yet. But his journey is coming to an end soon. There are those of us who travel because we love it, and there are those who give back at the same time and Mark has done just this. Read Below and learn more about my friend Marks incredible Journey cycling from China all the way back to Canada!         

The Freedom of the Bicycle: Cycling Home from China
Me and Mark enjoying salty yak butter tea in Karakul Lake

The Freedom of the Bicycle: Cycling Home from China

From the moment I took my first strides over twenty months ago, I felt the freedom that bicycle travel affords. I was inexperienced, out of shape and had never rode more than fifty kilometres in a single day. Here I was standing in front of my girlfriend and the people I had known for the last two years to say goodbye. I was under the dream of cycling from Hainan, China (where I worked as a teacher at a Canadian International School) back to my home in Canada. I planned on this adventure taking two years. Other a few pinpoints on a map, I had no solid plans, no bookings and no one waiting for me at the end of the day. It would be a struggle, a personal challenge and something I had always wanted to do. It would be the adventure of a lifetime. My name is Mark Quattrocchi and I am following my dream to cycle the world

The Freedom of the Bicycle: Cycling Home from China

The journey itself is almost complete at this point. I have spanned the course of four contents with one remaining. 30 countries and almost 27 000 km cycled. My journey has taken me through some of the most wild terrain, vibrant cultures and beautiful scenery our world has to offer. Beginning in China I crossed the wild giant of a country and eventually met up the Uncharted Backpacker, Stephen Gollan, on the old Silk Road that took me through Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. From Afghanistan I did a loop through the chaos and spectacle that is India for a few months until I hit a dead-end. Flying to Turkey I moved west ward through Europe and eventually converged on the sunny Isle of Malta. Again visa restrictions kept me at bay from entering Libya and I flew to begin the behemoth that was my journey from Cairo, Egypt to Cape Town, South Africa. The dark continent of Africa, Cairo to Cape, is widely misunderstood by our world. It stands as one of my greatest achievements and most enlightening experiences on this journey. From Cape Town I made my way to Buenos Aires, Argentina and onwards up to where I cycle now in Colombia. From the desolate region of the Paraguayan Chaco, the astounding scenery of the Andes and the unruly Amazon I have carved out my own piece of what South America means to me. I now set by sights on Canada and make my way home on the final leg of my two-year cycling journey around the world.


My journey has been more than just about cycling. I have used the ride as a tool to help raise funds to build schools for children. When i set out on my ride I knew I wanted to do more than just cycle circles around the world. I wanted to ride with a purpose. To date I have raised enough to help build three schools, one each in China, India and Kenya. The schoolhouse in Ecuador is just getting under way. I have high hopes for achieving my ultimate goal of $50,000 and five schools in five countries around the world with Canadian based charity free the Children. The charity is built upon the principles of sustainable development and the idea that we all can make a difference. Youth helping youth. If you are interested in being a part of the change please CLICK HERE TO DONATE.

The Freedom of the Bicycle: Cycling Home from China

Why the Bicycle?

Sometimes people ask me why I chose the bicycle. I never considered myself a cyclist in any form. As I mentioned above I was fairly out of shape and I knew little about bicycles. However, I knew I wanted to do something great. Something I could look back upon when I am old and feel proud at the life I had lived. I knew that the bicycle would be the ticket to personal challenge and growth I was looking for.

The Freedom of the Bicycle: Cycling Home from China
Conquering the Torugart Pass into Kyrgyzstan with Mark

The bicycle puts you down on ground level. You feel every bump, the surge of mountain passes, pushing of the wind and taste of black diesel gas of passing buses. Amid all of the struggles, bad days, broken bike parts and flat tires there is one of the most rewarding feelings to ever exist. The feeling of having made it there on your own. Because of the bicycle I have been welcomed into hundreds of homes around the world. I have shared meals, laughs and discovered the intricacies of a myriad of different cultures. As I cycle along I have been keeping a log in my journal of the individual acts of kindness since I began my journey. There are now over two hundred moments where people have gone out of their way and shared the universal gift of kindness. Because of my bicycle, I have discovered what I means to be human.

 The Freedom of the Bicycle: Cycling Home from China

My Message

I believe we are the makers of our own future. With hard work and dedication I know we can achieve anything we set our minds to. If adventure travel is something you truly enjoy, then cycle touring may be for you. It is not about being in the best shape of your life, cycling the world or conquering countries. It should be a journey of personal and worldly discovery.  The Freedom of the Bicycle: Cycling Home from China

Many people I meet tackle one country or section of the world at a time. South-east Asia, Europe and South America are hugely popular these days. There are facilities in place in these parts of the world to accommodate the crazy person on a bike. Choose what interests you, start reading and make it happen.

The Freedom of the Bicycle: Cycling Home from China

The hardest part about beginning a journey by bicycle is just that, starting. Setting the date for any type of change in life is always difficult. However, if it is something you truly are passionate about, you will make it happen. No one can force you. The only thing that stands in your way is the willpower and resolve to move forward.

The Freedom of the Bicycle: Cycling Home from China

For me the best way to see the world is to travel by bicycle. For others this may be a complete nightmare. It is up to you to find what works for you. Don’t be afraid to fail.  You will always regret the things you were too afraid to try. Take a chance if it really means something to you. Whether it be travelling the world, changing careers or asking someone out. Don’t be scared. Find your bicycle ride.

For more information on my ride around the world, travel photos, charity updates and general inspiration, following my website at discovering your dreams is only the first step. Get out there and explore. You might just get lucky.

.The Freedom of the Bicycle: Cycling Home from China

Stephen Gollan

Uncharted Backpacker is a glimpse at the past eleven years of globetrotting I have done. Now at over ninety countries I share my travel knowledge for you so you too can travel the world and see what wonders it has to offer.

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