World / Reporter's Journal

Chinese man, 66, rides bicycle from Massachusetts to California

By William Hennelly (China Daily USA) Updated: 2015-08-13 12:04

Chinese man, 66, rides bicycle from Massachusetts to California

Fei Xuan (third from right) and team pause at ign marking the terminus of Route 66 on the boardwalk in Santa Monica, California, after finishing their cycling journey on Aug 8. Courtesy of World Journal

For Fei Xuan, his latest feat of physical endurance was probably a breeze.

Fei, who at 66 is now considered the oldest Chinese man to ride a bicycle across the United States, also has crossed the Sahara Desert on foot and is the oldest Chinese person to reach the North Pole.

Fei and four cycling companions cycled across the US, completing their transcontinental journey on Aug 8.

They began their trip at Plymouth Harbor in Massachusetts on June 3. In 66 days, they rode 5,815 kilometers (3,613 miles) and passed through 13 states along the famed Route 66, finishing their journey in Santa Monica, California.

Route 66, also known as the Will Rogers Highway, the Main Street of America and the Mother Road, was one of the original highways in the US highway system. Established in 1926 in Chicago, Illinois, it traverses Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, covering 2,448 miles.

The highway has been celebrated in pop culture by the hit song (Get Your Kicks on) Route 66, composed by Bobby Troupe in 1946 and recorded by Nat King Cole that same year, and the Route 66 TV show of the 1960s.

In recognition of his accomplishment, Fei received a certificate from US Congressman Ed Royce of California, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

A 1969 graduate of the Kunming Geological Drilling School, Fei worked as a mineral economic researcher and served as director of the Geological Society of China. He was also a member of the Yunnan province CPPCC, and vice-chairman of the Southeast Asia Economic and Trade Cooperation and Development Association in Yunnan.

He began his expeditionary career after retiring at age 60. In April 2014, Fei walked to the North Pole from Norway in 16 days.

Fei wrote about his US journey for Huaao Outdoor, an outdoor sports website.

"The American terrain descends from west to east," Fei wrote on June 2 before the trip. "In front of us, three mountain ranges run from north to south: from the Appalachians to the Rocky Mountain ranges, then to the coastal mountains.

"The altitude rises from sea level up to 4,000m; the highest route we are going to ride through is about 2,600m. Passing the Mississippi River into New Mexico, Arizona and California desert, the temperature will exceed 104 F.

"This is not a journey or tour, it is a test of will!"

Fei continued: "However, along the route, there are culture, history, stories, as well as Route 66, Forrest Gump, Lincoln, Michael Jackson, Monroe, Grant, Jefferson, Thomas, Clark Gable, Roosevelt and other celebrities, that's whose footprints we are going to follow.

"Today is a big day!" Fei wrote on June 3. "In the morning, in the park in front of Plymouth Harbor the Mayflower that arrived in the US continent 400 years ago lay in the harbor quietly."

"Thanks to our Chinese friends for choosing here as the beginning place of your great adventure," a local official told the riders. "The Mayflower tells people how to conquer loneliness, to be not afraid of difficulties, to strive for dreams. You are doing the same thing today, which will also bring the friendship to us. We are glad to see it."

Chinese man, 66, rides bicycle from Massachusetts to California

"This is the origin of American history; we will start from here, step by step, going to the depths of history," Fei wrote.

During the tour, the riders "couch-surfed" at the homes of American families who had an interest in their journey. In exchange, the riders cooked Chinese food and performed tea arts for their hosts.

"By living with American families, we gained insight into the US society," Fei wrote.

Fei believes that Chinese people need "more meaningful travel, more deep travel" and he hopes his adventure could pique interest in exploring.

China Daily attempted to contact Fei but hadn't heard back yet. Perhaps he's resting up for that Amazon challenge.

Hong Xiao in New York contributed to this column.

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