Cy­cling Xi'an CITY WALL

New Zealand Fitness - - FROM THE EDITOR -

Cy­cling along the full length of the an­cient Xi’an city wall has to be one of my more ex­cit­ing phys­i­cal feats this year. Xi'an, you are prob­a­bly ask­ing, where is this? It is the cap­i­tal of Shaanxi prov­ince, and one of the old­est cities in China. With more than 3,100 years of his­tory, the city was known as Chang'an be­fore the Ming Dy­nasty and has had quite a num­ber of name changes over the years. Xi’an is one of the four an­cient cap­i­tals of China, hav­ing been the cap­i­tal under sev­eral pre­vi­ous dy­nas­ties. The in­land city is at the east­ern end of the Silk Road and home to the fa­mous Ter­ra­cotta Army of Em­peror Qin Shi Huang.

To pro­nounce Xi’an it is best to say “Chi an”. My visit was to re­search for a fea­ture I am writ­ing for our sis­ter pub­li­ca­tion Travel Di­gest.

On my last day in Xi’an I took up the op­por­tu­nity to cy­cle along the top of the Xi’an City Wall. This is quite an an­cient wall, started by the Ming Dy­nasty in 1370 and cy­cling along the top is a fun 14km of cy­cling ec­stasy. For­ti­fi­ca­tions along the wall, I am told, rep­re­sent some of the old­est and best pre­served of Chi­nese city walls.

Once you climb the steps to the top of the wall, it is then a case of hir­ing a bike – ei­ther a ba­sic bike or a tan­dem bike. I chose a ba­sic bike. There are no gears, nor do you need them. The wall is paved with flat cob­ble­stones, with a few ramps where there are steps. Fel­low jour­nal­ists in my group chose to just go for a short joy ride, but not me. We didn’t have much time to spend on the wall as we had a plane to catch, but I went “hell for leather” and broke away from the group on a mis­sion to cy­cle the whole wall. It didn’t help that I had a hand­bag over my shoul­der, but I soon worked out the bag straps slung over the han­dle­bar was the way to go.

I must say this was a very scenic way to see the an­cient city. A lit­tle scary in that I didn’t know how long it was go­ing to take me. You could hand the bike back at a num­ber of cy­cle sta­tions on the wall, but it got to the stage where the bike sta­tions looked all the same and I be­gan to think that per­haps I was cy­cling around the wall for the sec­ond time!

There were a few stops along the way to look through the cas­tle-like slots in the wall to see what was on the other side and also to take pho­tos, but I did man­age to cy­cle back in 55 min­utes, with just enough time to make it back to the ho­tel and head out to the air­port.

– Roy Mor­gan Re­search, June 2012.

Lor­raine Thom­son Pub­lisher / Edi­tor

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.