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He was dressed in a rain-soaked shirt and eating a bowl of noodles. The then 21-year-old Liang Jie had set out at midnight on his bicycle and had been riding for 14 hours nonstop in the stormy weather to reach Mount Qomolangma. The last kilometer of the journey took Liang a whole three hours. When he finally reached the camp on the mountain, he was numb from lack of oxygen and fatigue.
"It was a severe test of guts and will," Liang said. "I believe that there`s no difficulty that can stop me in the future."
That experience in 2007 was just one part of Liang`s adventure on wheels. In fact, the Chengdu Sport University senior has been an enthusiastic bike traveler since his teens.
On May 17, the now 23-year-old Liang took another bold step when he decided, in Chengdu, to explore the world by bike, alone. Over the next 800 days, he plans to set foot in more than 60 countries on five continents. He padaled off only 10 days after marrying a local English teacher, and hopes the journey will turn him into a real man.
But first there are the physical discomforts to deal with. Liang has to ride for more than 10 hours a day, under a scorching sun, on roads through Sichuan and Yunnan. His left arm developed blisters from the sunburn. His wrists grew sore from handling a bike with more than 30 kilograms of luggage.
One of the worst moments was when he had to share a room with nine strangers one night in Kunming. The air was full of the smell of dirty socks.
But Liang knows that the true hardships lie ahead after he enters the foreign world. He prepared for this by cycling around Qinghai Lake during the coldest days of winter, and around Southeast Asian countries during the hottest days of last year. He nearly fell down steep ravines several times in Vietnam and Laos.
Still, even with only a few English words in his vocabulary, Liang doesn`t feel a sense of loneliness. Body language always works perfectly well for him.
"I used that and an electronic dictionary to get my visas approved in different countries," he said. "I also showed them the pictures I took to persuade them to help me realize my dream."
One other way he deals with weariness is to peek at his wedding photo that hangs around his neck. "I`ll keep it to the end," he whispers to the photo.