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Ever ride in Tibet?
I know there are a couple folks on here that live in China, and many others who get around in their travels. Tell me, have you ever ridden in Tibet? Where did you ride? How were the people there? Did you have any accidents that required medical attention? Where did you stay? Did you use a trailer or saddlebags? What time of year were you there / how was the weather? What did you do for food? Are there certain areas to stay away from? Where did you fly into -- New Delhi / Bangledesh / Kathmandu /other? What are the security risks?
I'm guessing the terrain is harsh, but not as bad as I've seen in Afghanistan, since there are some grasslands in Tibet. I know the mountains are legendery and expect a great deal of climbing on rocky roads. I expect living conditions to be similar again to the nomadic people I've seen in Afghanistan, with some small mud hut or rock-hewn villages.
Just trying to get an idea of the area, so I appreciate your informative feedback. Feel free to PM or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your response.
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Charles: I've not yet ridden in Tibet, but I have some acquaintances that have. Its a big place, but it can essentially be divided into the "plateau" and the "valley". The valley stretches from Lhasa to the Sichuan-Yunnan border (west to east). The plateau is north of that area and goes up into Gansu, Qinghai and Xinjiang provinces.
Originally Posted by k2biker
One friend of mine rode the plateau from Ningxi to Lhasa, which parallels the new passenger rail line. The plateau is high getting over 5000 meters at points. He said it was extremely boring. The stretch from Lhasa through Linzhe to Markham and the Sichuan-Yunnan border is lower, relatively speaking and generally has milder weather. In general, you'll probably want to pedal in summer or early fall.
I guess you plan to pedal from place to place, that is being mainly a road-biker on fat tires? The authorities do apply travel restrictions to foreigners but lately its been much laxer. My friend got caught by the security people camping along the road but they just took him to a guest house and made him stay there overnight. Used to be you'd get your bike confiscated and put on a bus to Lhasa. There are checkpoints on the roads so some people plan ahead and pedal through these known spots around 3 am when the guards are all sleeping. Regardless, you should get an entry permit. If you don't reside in China, you should consider entering from Khatmandu and going to Lhasa - its easier to get the entry permit. But, a lot of people just don't bother anymore.
The detailed answers to your questions about safety, people, food, etc. depends on your route. Tibetan people are generally very friendly, but remote places you might encounter people who would request money from you :-( Most places you can find some guest house or stay at a monastery. A lot of people opt to just camp along the route.
As to terrain, well I divided it into the two parts I describe above. Suprisingly there are a lot of very dry places in Tibet due to the rain shadows caused by the very high mountains.
Actually, I think NW Yunnan is far superior MTB riding. From there you can make entry to Tibet as well.
BTW, no one in Tibet knows what the words "Tibet" and "Tibetan" mean. Tibet is actually Xi Zang (West Zang) and Tibetans are Zang people. Their ethnic distribution spills over in the east into Yunnan and Sichuan provinces (as well as Qinghai and Gansu).
Well, hope this is somewhat helpful. If you give me more details of where and what you want to ride, I can try to offer additional information.
I've been to Tibet about 7 times; lived in Lhasa for a year. Riding a bike there is...okay. There are much more beautiful places in other parts of China to ride.
Unfortunately, where I live in Chongqing, is NOT a good place to ride. I'm working on it though.
So, if you want to know more about specific places, please post here and I would be happy to help.
BTW, everything that OldHorse said is spot-on. He knows a lot for never having been!