Silk Road bicycle slideshow coming to Nelson Sunday

Physician Brenda Sonholme cycled from Beijing to Istanbul

Dr. Brenda Trenholme cycled 13,000 kilometers from Beijing to Istanbul last year. She’ll share her photos and impressions at a talk in Nelson on Sunday. Submitted photo

A retired Rossland physician passionate about exploring lands and cultures on her bicycle will present a slideshow in Nelson on Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Evangelical Church at 702 Stanley Street.

Admission will be by donation to KEEF (the Kenya Education Endowment Fund), a registered B.C. charity which supports education for bright but impoverished children in Kenya.

Brenda Trenholme cycled from May to October 2018 along the Silk Road from Beijing to Istanbul.

“It was an amazingly rich and diverse experience,” she says.

Trenholme traveled with TDA Global Cycle Tours, a Canadian-based bicycle tour company which provided meals, transportation of our camping gear, medical and mechanical support and route guidance. Her group started in China with 14 international cyclists ranging in age from 30 to late 60s.

“Eleven of us completed the 13,000 km, including four women. Various additional riders joined us along the way for sections of the route. We were traveling for 150 days, cycling an average of 135 km per day, 40 per cent of which was off road. The highest pass we crossed was at 15,300 feet and we climbed as many as 9,000 feet in a day.”

The ride took Trenholme through China, Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Turkey.

“Traveling by bicycle can be torturous and bone-jarring, but offers the cyclist a very personal experience of the geography and an intimate interface with the people and their cultures, as well as ample time to contemplate these,” Trenholme says.

“My strongest impressions of this trip are the size and momentum of the Chinese economy, the beauty and hardships of Nomadic life in remote Mongolia, just how hard the relentless wind blows across the vast steppes of Asia, and the majesty and solitude of the Pamir mountains in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and the dignity of the people who survive there.”

Trenholme says she was also impressed how advanced the ancient centres of learning were in Asia and the beauty and magnitude of their contributions to art, science and architecture.

“I gained a greater appreciation of the profound influence of the successive Asian empires on the rest of our world.

“In general, as travelers, we felt very safe, perhaps safer than in North America and people were extremely kind, welcoming and generous. The images painted by the media of places like Iran and Turkey as scary and full of religious fanatics are inaccurate and frankly incorrect.

“There is real political and religious repression in many of these countries, but the impact on travelers is wildly overstated. Many of the mosques were empty or rundown. For many, religion seems to have assumed more social/cultural importance than spiritual.”

Trenholme says she is privileged to have had the financial, mental and physical capacity to meet the challenges of cycling the Silk Road. Through these slideshows, she wants to share her fortune by raising funds to help students in Kenya get the education they need to help themselves out of poverty.

“I have volunteered in Kenya and have seen the profound and lasting benefits of giving people the tools they need through education to help themselves out of poverty.”

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