Bluedome - Alpine Bikes Himalayan Hand Cycle Expedition

The Alpine Bikes Himalayan Hand Cycle Expedition

1400 Kilometres from Kyrgyzstan to Pakistan. Fund-raising for Scotlands Alternative Skiers

All at BlueDome wish the team of Karen Darke, Leslie Tidmarsh, Peter Allison and Gheorge Muresan success with their challenging expedition.

A 1,400 Kilometre expedititon across the Himalayan Mountains from Kazakstan to Northern Pakistan. On rough tracks and through high passes, the team of four will climb to altitudes of 5,000 metres using a recumbent tandem and mountain bikes. This challenge will take place during september 1997 and aims to raise £10,000 for Scotlands Alternative Skiers.

An introduction from Karen Darke, team member.

One sunny Scottish spring morning, a climbing accident changed my life forever. I was paralysed. No more walking, running, cycling or being in the mountains.....or so I thought. Six months later I discovered Scotlands Alternative Skiers.

Words cannot do justice to the impact this had on my life, allowing me access once again to the exhileration and freedom of the mountains, the sensation of movement, and the ability to ga as fast as anyone else. Since then I have become very involved with the organisation and learned that many disabled people have not just re-discovered these feeling but are experiencing them for the first time in their lives.

The experience brings improved fitness, balance, physical co-ordination and confidence - all of which are carried over to surmount the problems and difficulties of everyday life. Disability and its severity are irrelevant and the benefits to the individual are as countless as the number of people wanting the opportunity.

Scotlands Alternative Skiers was formed in 1989 by a group of individuals with the same ideals, view and foresight. The aim is to provide the facilities, equipment and expertise to bring the opportunity for winter sports activities within reach of the scottish disabled community.The average annual membership is around 200 people and the range of disabilities includes amputees, cerebral palsied, paraplegics, the blind, epilepsy sufferers and those with learning difficulties. The growing success of the association is however putting increased demands on our resources and this presents the danger of preventing disabled people in Scotland the opportunity to sample what most take for granted.

Unfortunately the specialised equipment is very expensive, with just one of the pieces of adaptive ski equipment costing in the region of £2000. The sponsored "Himalayan Hand Cycle Expedition" plans to alleviate the shortfall in resources.

The Expedition Route Profile

The expedition begins in Bishkek, Northern Kyrgyzstan, following a route south through the central Tien Shan mountains via Kegety at 3,800 metres altitude. From here the route continues south to the Torugart Pass at 3,750 metres which marks the entry into China. On leaving the Tian Shan mountains the route takes us along the edge of the hostile Taklamakan Desert following the old silk road to Kashgar, capital of the western Xianjiang region of China. This first stage, covering an impressive 700 Kilometres of both tarmac, unmade roads and dirt tracks is considered to be the most exciting overland toute into China and will be covered in 14 days.

We will rest one day in Kashgar before beginning the second stage, pedalling south along the Karakoram Highway for 400 Kilometres. This route will take the expedition into the spectacular and challenging Himalayan region, prone to earthquakes, glaciation, rock halls and floods all of which make travel in this region very unpredictable.

The Khunjerab Pass, which crosses the Karokoram range at an altitude of 4,733 metres marks the border between China and Pakistan. We aim to complete this stage in 7 days.

The third stage follows the path of the Hunza River which winds down the final 300 kilometre stretch through northern Pakistan. We arrive at Gilgit at 1,500 metres after 5 days cycling.

This will conclude the 1,400 Kilometre route in a planned total of 26 days cycling.

In addition to the obvious demands on health and fitness there will be a number of other challanges involved in the expedition. Amongst these will be the bureaucracy of immigration and border crossings, we encounter 17 checkpoints between Kyrgyzstan and China, as well as adapting to the local culture, traditions and language. The expedition will also be 100% self supporting, tents are used throughout the journey and all equipment will be carried on our bikes.

The Team

Karen Darke (26)
Hand cyclist, expedition organiser and national fundraiser for Scotlands Alternative Skiers. Karen is a keen cyclist and has cycled in Central China, Iceland, Scotland, France and Spain. Before a climbing accident in 1993 resulting in paraplegia she was a keen Scottish and Alpine mountaineer. Karen has just completed a doctorate on the geology of Bolivian gold deposits at Aberdeen University which involved high altitude fieldwork. The hand-cycle recumbent tandem which she will cycle was custom built in Australia and is the only one of its kind in the world.

Leslie Tidmarsh (27)
Expedition support cyclist and logistics organiser. Lesley participated in the first 'mini tour' with the hand cycle to the Outer Hebrides in summer 1996. a postgraduate teaching assistant in sociology at Aberdeen University she has undertaken extensive independant travel in Eastern Europe and asia and organised teaching programmes and student exchanges in Romania. Lesley also has extensive fund raising experience.

Pete Allison (26)
Expedition recumbent cyclist. Pete has participated in and led expeditions to Kenya and Greenland and in 1997 is the mountain leader for the BSES Greenland expedition. He has been involved as a volunteer with Scotlands Alternative Skiers for four years. Pete is studying outdoor education at Strathclyde University and also runs professional development programmes at Indiana University, USA. Pete has returned to Strathclyde University to study for a doctorate in moral education and the outdoors.

Gheorge Muresan (28)
Expedition support cyclist. Ghearge is a keen mountaineer, skier, cyclist and squash player with travel experience in Eastern Europe and Asia. A Romanian citizen, he has experience of East Europe and russian bureaucracy and is also speaks Russian. A postgraduate computer scientist and research student at Robert Gordon University he is in charge of setting up and maintaining the web page supporting the expedition and its sponsors.