Josh Reid has always loved cycling, spending as much time as possible traveling on two wheels from a very early age. Last year, in need of a new bike, he ordered one from a factory in China, and decided to travel there himself to pick it up. What followed was an epic four-month journey back to England where he cycled through city and countryside, taking in the sights and sounds of unique nations along the way.

Josh’s journey started in Shanghai, where after successfully picking up his new custom bike he set off on a 9300-mile journey through 15 countries. He traveled light – the bike was a Giant Revolt with a carbon frame and tubeless tires, meaning no punctures en route. He had a blow-up sleeping mat that kept him comfortable at night and pannier bags to keep his clothing and equipment in. Battling a blazing heatwave, he cycled across the vast expanse of China, often resting in a sleeping bag without a tent by the side of the road. People were curious about his journey and along the way, he got invited to many people’s houses for lunch, with truck drivers and cyclists stopping him along the road to chat.

His setup was light, and he slept by the road without even using a tent © Josh Reid

Josh was inspired by a trip his father, journalist Carlton Reid did in his youth in the 1980’s, when he cycled from Israel and spent a year touring the deserts of the Middle East on a mountain bike. “With a bike-mad dad, I basically grew up on one – my first proper bicycle tour on my own bike was a trip to Luxembourg with my dad when I was seven. On my journey home from Shanghai I took my route back along some of the roads I cycled on 14 years earlier. I have a photo of me taken in the same spot after all that time.”

As well as navigating the route, Josh had to pay close attention to visa requirements along the way. He used a satnav to map his route and used maps on his phone to keep him on course. He traveled through Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, riding for 250 miles along the border with Afghanistan and from there on into Europe, where paths opened up with more options. 

Standing in front of the Registan, the heart of the ancient city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan. © Josh Reid

“The biggest lesson I learned along the way was to trust strangers and accept their kindness. People are much friendlier than you ever imagine, even when there are language barriers. I was helped by so many kind people throughout my journey; offering me food and shelter. I stayed in several mosques and many homes. I feel it can be quite overwhelming to begin a journey that is so long. But every time you press on the pedals you’re closer to your destination than you were before,” Josh told Lonely Planet. 

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