Event Detail


Biking the World

Emily Chappell
Thursday, 11 Oct 2012
British Consulate General, 1 Supreme Court Road, Pacific Place, Admiralty, by kind permission of Her Majesty's ConsulGeneral
Ms. Chappell tells of the first year of her threeyear odyssey cycling around the world.

Drinks 6.30 pm; Lecture 7.30 pm

(Please note that in view of the likely popularity of this event, we are requesting prebooking; please reply to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. stating the names of attendees who wish to book)

We are delighted to welcome to the Royal Geographical Society RoundtheWorld cyclist Emily Chappell. In this lecture, Ms Chappell tells of the first year of her threeyear odyssey cycling around the world. An accomplished speaker and Asian literature expert, in addition to her cycling prowess, she tells in this lecture the exciting story of the perhaps the most fascinating part of her expedition, from the UK to Korea, via just about everywhere in Europe and Asia.

In September 2011, Emily Chappell set off to cycle round the world. A year later she pulled up at a ferry port on China's east coast, having survived her first landmass and ridden through winter in the Turkish mountains, summer in the Taklamakan Desert and notorious nogo areas such as Baluchistan and Qinghai.

Emily Chappell's cycling career started when the economic crisis forced her to leave her career in academia to the streets of London, working as a cycle courier. Unexpectedly, this job led to success as a writer, via her popular "That Messenger Chick " blog, and to the career progression from riding around in circles in London to around the biggest circle of all.

After a glorious two months riding through the applepicking and logpiling hinterlands of central and southern Europe, Ms Chappell took on the fearsome Turkish winter, camping at 25 degrees; and crawling over icecovered mountain passes as she made her way towards the Iranian border, against the advice of family, friends and Foreign Office alike. Britain and Iran had recently severed their diplomatic ties, after a skirmish at the Embassy in Tehran. However, as a woman travelling alone, Ms Chappell was welcomed with unparallelled kindness and hospitality as she raced across the country, trying to make it to the border before her Pakistan visa expired.

Baluchistan, the lawless region that straddles the borders of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and long part of the overland route from Europe to South Asia, has fallen out of favour with travellers, especially after a series of highprofile abductions. However, Ms Chappell's reluctance to waste a very expensive Pakistan visa and deep emotional and cultural attachment to the region led her to brave Baluchistan's bandits, smugglers, kidnappers and the Taliban and, with the help of a police escort, she made it through to the relative safety of Pakistan's Punjabi heartland.

There followed the famous Karakorum Highway, then more of a goat track, as it was being resurfaced by the Chinese, adding an extra challenge to this otherwise welltrodden path. Ms Chappell was the first cyclist to reach the Khunjerab Pass in 2012, and arrived in Kashgar, China's westernmost city, just in time to cross the Taklamakan and Gobi Deserts in the heat of July. After suffering through Xinjiang in the summer, she skirted the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, riding above 3,000m to escape the heat and hiding her tent from the police after they informed her it was illegal for foreigners to travel alone in Qinghai.

Asia's final challenge was a hurried crossing of Eastern China; this time Ms Chappell managed to cover over 1,000 miles in ten days to make it to South Korea. She's now making plans to spend the winter riding through Alaska and Yukon, and then to continue her journey south through the US and Central and South America, north through Africa, and eventually to the UK through Europe.

Emily Chappell read English Literature at Trinity College, Cambridge and South Asian Literatures at SOAS, University of London. She had a brief career as a financial editor and copywriter before spending three years as a cycle courier and then setting off on her current expedition. Well aware that people have been cycling round the world for over a century, and wanting to make her adventure relevant to the needs and interests of today's world, she has consistently tried to be original, to tell new stories, and to explore corners of the world and facets of longdistance cycling that usually remain hidden, to great effect.

Members and their guests are most welcome to attend this lecture, which is HK$100 for Members and HK$150 for guests and others.

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