Cycling teens battle to be youngest to conquer gruelling Silk Road

Determined teenagers are tackling extremes in the hope of becoming the youngest to cycle a 10,000-kilometre stretch of the Silk Road.

Thursday, 2nd June 2016, 11:03 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd June 2016, 12:17 pm
Charles Stevens and Will Hsu

Will Hsu, from Leamington, and his friend Charles 
Stevens are now three weeks into their mission to complete the Beijing to Tehran part of the famous route.

They still face more than 12 weeks of cycling, complete with 4,000 metres to climb and descents to well below sea level - in both freezing and boiling temperatures in what will be a test of extremes.

Their route, approximately 6,213 miles, is considered to be the longest, hardest and both hottest and coldest in the world. Fewer people have made it to the end than have climbed Mount Everest.

Charles Stevens and Will Hsu

And the pair, both aged 18 and taking a year’s break before starting university, hope to be the youngest to conquer it after years of planning to make the dream a reality.

They have already made it through China and are now embarking on a three-week cycle through Mongolia and the Gobi Desert.

Will said they hope to make it to the finish in just 120 days - while at the same time pulling in £25,000 in donations for the A Child Unheard charity.

Will, a former pupil of Arnold Lodge School who will study economics at university next year, said travelling through nine countries and in temperatures from minus 10 degrees means, they still have a big challenge ahead.

Charles Stevens and Will Hsu on the Silk Road

“The Silk Road is considered to be the longest, hardest, hottest and coldest route in the world as well as historically significant,” he said.

“While to some this may seem like a not so good idea, I am looking forward to experiencing new and unfamiliar countries and cultures.

“Charles gets bad altitude sickness - it’s hard to prepare for that kind of thing. But we’re just keeping ourselves in the best shape possible.”

The duo will travel through China, Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran.

Charles Stevens and Will Hsu

The trip is scheduled to take another three months to complete if they stay on schedule for a September finish.

Charles, who lives in London, said the adventure is another way to explore travelling as much as possible.

“I feel cycling from Beijing to Tehran will prove to be the most rewarding and, ultimately, the hardest challenge yet,” he said.

“It should provide authentic insight into a route of great historical significance.

Charles Stevens and Will Hsu on the Silk Road

“At a time of such change in the cultural traditions of these regions, I hope to have the privilege of seeing them before they disappear entirely.”

The pair will camp out throughout the next stint along the famous route and their efforts have so far already raised an impressive £19,000 for the charity.

A Child Unheard is working to improve the lives of children in Africa through education, sports and arts.

As the friends and their families are funding the trip, all donations will go straight to the charity and to help families in need on the continent.

Follow the teenagers via a live tracker online at here and via Facebook, or logging into their blog at

Donate online via Just Giving.