***See latest posts on our blog page and our latest location on our tracking page***

Why not fly to Shanghai?

We’re Alex and Nicolas. Back in January 2013, we decided to cycle the length of the Silk Road, from Istanbul to Shanghai, through Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China . Why? We thought that cycling sounded like a challenge, a breath of fresh air between leaving university and starting work. Driving seemed too fast, walking too slow, so we decided to cycle. We are both keen cyclists, and thought it was the ideal way to experience everything that the Silk Road might have to offer. We still think that, but have come to think that there is something more to the journey. We want to cycle to raise money for two causes close to our hearts, the Lantern Community and the Craft Training School. It is now June 2013, and in a week we are setting off to Istanbul to begin our 10,000 kilometre journey. We’ve made this website to persuade you to support our causes, and to keep those of you interested in our journey up to date.

The Causes

We want to support the work of two local causes, one located in the United Kingdom, and the other in Uzbekistan. The Lantern Community is a home in Hampshire for adults with learning difficulties, providing a space in which they can live in an equal relationship with others. The Craft Training School  is a workshop in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, which teaches traditional craft techniques to young women providing them with a livelihood. Nicolas has a personal connection to the Lantern Community, where a member of his family lives.  Alex has a personal connection to the Craft Training School through his supervisors at Cambridge, who have fired him with enthusiasm for well thought through development projects, and suggested the Training School as a worthwhile cause. We want to raise money for both the Lantern Community and the Craft Training School to fund craft projects. In the Lantern Community, the money will be used to buy craft equipment which will add depth to the quality of life of members of the community, while at the Craft Training School, it will fund a project teaching traditional craft techniques which will aid twenty young women in developing a sustainable livelihood. We see a thread linking the Lantern Community and the Craft Training School. In Uzbekistan, as in the United Kingdom, craft has an important role to play in empowering the disadvantaged.


You can see more information about each cause on the Lantern Community page and on the Craft Training School page.  Click here for information on how to donate.


64 thoughts on “Home

  1. Katie Hunter

    Good luck for your travels, this sounds amazing! I hope you both grow very long beards.
    Katie xx

  2. Nathalie Kernick

    Well done Katie! You were there first !!
    I am not far behind…. to wish them both Good luck and a fabulous trip !!
    Mum / Nathalie

  3. carocaro

    you have been saved in my bookmarks toolbar. don’t forget to blog!! we’ll be following everyday xx

  4. Awesome. Can’t wait to hear about it!

  5. William Kenyon

    Best of Luck guys

  6. Ellie and Ian

    Good luck, travel safe, have a fantastic trip. Love the blog – look forward to following progress.

  7. Laurence

    This looks amazing. I hope that you have a wonderful experience! The two projects that you are supporting sound very interesting too. all the best!

  8. James

    nice one Lads, 10,000k’s? you’re Iron Men just for trying. Best of Luck, i’m sure the trip will give you both many many stories to tell (me anyway :P) Good on Ya’s!

  9. Good luck from everyone at the Old Silhillians.

  10. Good luck Alex and Nicolas……. Have fun and have a Chai for us in Baku!
    Ian,Anna, Harry, Lucy Oliver

  11. Emma Borbely

    All the Lantern Community parents and employees now have a link to your blog, so hopefully some pennies will start rolling in !
    Have a great trip ! and THANKYOU !

  12. Alex

    Wow what an amazing journey you both will have! Huge thank you for supporting us in the Lantern Community!!Best wishes to you both for a safe and successful trip.

    PS I’m sure you will both look gorgeous with long beards! lol

  13. Ian Hilbert

    What a fantastic and mad idea – good luck, please keep up with the blog.

  14. Julia

    Blog fantastique! Your projects are really interesting. I’m planning to take the link to Geography tomorrow to share with the few remaining diehards at school!! Lots of love to you.

  15. Alison Bond

    Good luck from all at Solihull School. We look forward to reading the blog

  16. Cass

    Well done for the MPhil, in fact, félicitations! Will be following your journey regularly — I’m sure it will be an amazing adventure. Love to you from all of us!

  17. Katie

    Your cycling, my tightrope walking…each to their own adventure! Have fun, Alex! Lots of love.

  18. Julia Palany

    I love the blog!! Fantastic adventure!! Have a great time!! We will be waiting to here news from your adventure!
    Lots of love

  19. cant wait for the weeks to pass and your adventures to unfold! hope the lycra holds out! fantastic causes. much love Fliff xxx

  20. Owen Bate

    Best wishes Alex – met your mum last night and she was telling us all about it! Sounds an amazing trip. Makes the staff coast to coast challendge in October look a bit feeble!!

  21. Isabelle

    Huge good luck Nick – what an adventure! Want to hear all the stories and see all your photos upon your return. Lots of love, Izzy
    p.s. Please don’t fall off the bike again…

  22. Breaking news!
    Three brave guys dared to reach Shanghai via Silk Road, starting from Topkapi Istanbul at 10:00 am today.
    good luck to all of you

  23. Rachel Hadley-Leonard

    Good luck Alex and team. Your ride is inspiring!
    Take care too!

  24. Michèle

    Ca va vous n’avez pas encore trop maigri!!! Pierre toujours aussi sérieux a sorti les cartes pour vous suivre.Bises françaises.

  25. Nathalie Kernick

    super !!
    bravo les bloggers !!

  26. Lana Ng

    Mark, I now managed to get to your website. You are brave and adventurous. I really admire you. The heavens above protect you both.

    • Thank you for your very kind message!

      • cricri17

        surveillance à partir de La Rochelle … on vous suit aussi !
        que de belles rencontres
        on pense bien à vous et on vous encourage très fort
        le sport c’est la santé, c’est Olivier qui dit ça
        gros bisous

      • cricri17

        P.S. il a acheté un vélo electrique pour s’entrainer …Progrès !!!

  27. Michèle

    De plus en plus sympa. Je crois que je vais inviter la jeune femme turc que je connais pour lui montrer votre blog. Pensez que le Ramadan commence aujourd’hui.

  28. Nathalie Kernick

    They have arrived in Kastamonu and are going to have a rest day !
    They will start off again on Friday

  29. Michèle

    Aujourd’hui belles cigognes sur la photo du blog. Dans les pâtures vous pouvez aussi voir des ibis blancs. A plus.

  30. cricri17

    15 km en vélo hier
    qui dit moins ????
    on vous embrasse très fort

  31. Nathalie Kernick

    the “blog” won’t let me send a long post …
    so …. I will just say that I am very happy to see these wonderful welcoming pictures and that I will never complain about my bathrooms any more !!

    • cricri17


  32. Nathalie Kernick

    ho…. working on this part of the blog ….
    I will sneak in my first comment then !!

    no plans for tomorrow ….. heatstroke Nicolas??
    may be………… read your book???
    NOT happy Mummy to hear about your “gear box” problem
    but what can we do now….
    Enjoy the day tomorrow and have a good rest
    You are all doing so well
    Lovely happy pictures again…more lovely welcoming people on your way
    This is truly wonderful.


    Hi Nicolas

    De tout coeur, félicitations pour ce très beau voyage et ce superbe challenge.

    En core quelques kilomètres .. de pur bonheur

    Je t’embrasse tres affectueusement;


  34. good luck to you , you are really brave ,
    ı wish you happy journey and success

  35. Hi Nicolas. just spent a couple of hours reading the whole blog so far to Patsy, looking at photos and the route. getting out an Atlas..all sorts! She so enjoyed hearing it all and wanted me to send you much love and thoughts. Do you recall that she and John drove from Dover to Calcutta after their wedding? she appreciates a good adventure! Love from me too. fliff xxx

    • Nicolas Kernick

      Hi Fliff! So pleased that you are enjoying it and that Patsy can share in the fun! I did not know about her travels with John but am pleased to hear about the fellow adventurous spirit! Lots of love and hope you don’t get too bored of reading it! Sme nice new pictures recently 🙂 Lots of love, Nicolas xxx

      Sent from my iPad

  36. Caroline Griggs

    Hi Nicolas,
    Really enjoy reading blog and looking at photos. Amazing the hospitality we’re receiving. Must be doing something right! Suggestions white paint on trees: visible to cars at night perhaps? In Spain fruit trees are painted white at base to stops ants crawling up but all trees done, not just road side. Also birds nesting high on your July 13 blog photo look like storchs.
    Love Caroline, Ian, Anna and Mark


    Cher Nicolas & Co…
    Bien sur que nous suivons vos exploits depuis déjà quelques semaines et que nous sommes admiratifs de ce que tu/vous faites. Bonne continuation.
    Nous t’embrassons tout particulièrement Nicolas
    La famille Viguié

  38. Soria

    Bravo à vous, c’est un fabuleux voyage que vous faites, je suis sur qu’il sera fait de belles rencontres et que vous reviendrez avec des souvenirs extraordinaires…
    Nous pensons bien à vous et vous suivrons jusqu’au bout !
    Bon voyage
    La Soria family

  39. Fr Andrew Hutchinson

    Owlish! Hope you’re having a fab time. You take care. Looking forward to catching up and hearing all about it, Alex.
    All the best
    Fr Andrew

  40. BOULOC

    Superbes photos! Tu as l’ai en forme! Quelle aventure extraordinaire! Sûrement des images plein la tête et de fabuleuses rencontres! Bonne route pour la suite.. Bises de nous 4 La famille BOULOC

  41. Dan Beeden

    Hi Nick,
    Dan from Bellamy Road here, just to wish you continued happy cycling and steady tailwinds. Been away for a couple of weeks but catching up on your recent blog entries over lunch. I feel your frustrations of last few days; all the more to deal with when you are solo! Ride well and good luck over the coming weeks and miles. All best, Dan

  42. jotz

    Good Luck and all the best!

  43. tony and elsa gill

    Hi Nicolas and friend
    We are in awe of this venture. May your travels be safe and successful.
    All the best from us two. Tony and Elsa South Africa

    • Hello! So glad you have seen the blog and thank you so much for your message. I am very envious of the sunshine you must be having at home right now! Hope you are well, Nicolas

  44. Nathalie Kernick

    hey !!!!
    lovely to hear from Elsa and Tony !!!
    I am very glad that they have heard of your trip !!
    I am sure they are loving it

  45. Joe Brady


    Hope you have had an amazing time on your journey, the blog is great to read! Great expedition and a great cause! Interested to hear your thoughts on China…Where would you highly recommend? What where your defining thoughts of China? etc…I’ve been living in Shanghai for the past two years and absolutely loved every second of it! Back in the UK now for the time being but China is calling 🙂

    Congratulations to you and everyone else involved.


    • alexanderehurst

      Joe! Where to begin? I’m loving China, the people, the food, the dirt, it’s great. After Central Asia, it was a relief just to discover smooth asphalt (or asphalt at all, for that matter), but I’m really starting to like the country for other things too. I really loved Xinjiang (Kashgar is great fun), and the Tibetan area south of Lanzhou (Labrang Monastery and Lamgmusi were highlights and well worth looking up). We’ve mostly been in the countryside, so it will be fascinating to see how Shanghai differs! How did you find it when you were there? Will you be going back?

      p.s. I’ll be back in the UK after New Year, working in London…pint sound good?!

  46. Анастасия

    Друзья мои!ну вы крутые!молодцы!завидую тем, кто может свободно путешествовать…

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