The story appears on

Page C1

April 29, 2010

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature

Woman cyclist on Mongolia ride

IN a country where women are still hesitant about equality with men, one expat woman is taking the initiative to inspire others with a grueling, nine-month trip across China for charity.

Armed with just a bike, a tent and a camera, American Eleanor Moseman is setting off on Saturday on a solo cycling odyssey from Shanghai to the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and back again.

The trip will cover 15,000 to 20,000 kilometers and Moseman plans to return by mid-February, 2011.

Along the way, the freelance photographer plans to raise US$15,000 for women's education, and invites any woman interested to join her for a stretch anywhere on the journey.

Setting off from Shanghai just as the World Expo 2010 opens, Moseman will cycle along the Grand Canal of China up to Tianjin, then through Jilin Province, cutting west to Inner Mongolia.

After exploring the whole of western Mongolia, she will ride on to the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and its city of Kashgar, returning via Chengdu in Sichuan Province and Guilin in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

The project has taken a year to plan and will raise funds for Girls Education International, which supports educational opportunities for women in developing countries, and for the charity Stepping Stones, which helps children of migrant workers' families in Shanghai.

"I've always been a girl to defy gender boundaries and roles," says Moseman, who is in her late 20s. "But in China so many (Chinese) female friends have told me that their parents discourage them from pursuing PhDs or masters' degrees because they think getting married is more important.

"While being a mother and wife is valuable, I think pursuing your dreams is also important - personally it makes me feel complete, and feel like I have just as much to bring to the table as men," she says.

The trip stems from Moseman's frustrations, as a freelance photographer, in traveling by train. In her previous China travels, there were many, many places where she wanted to stop and snap, but the train didn't stop - biking was the only way.

Though bike rides through China are quite common among male travelers, they are rare for women - but that hasn't deterred Moseman. She's riding a Soma Saga touring frame and fork with components she chose. It was assembled by Chain Sprokets in Shanghai.

She is sponsored by Mountain Hardware, an international company based in California.

For the past year she made plans, contacting cycling associations and e-mailing people all over China who have cycled the routes she plans to follow.

She has also pored over Google Maps, zooming in on road conditions, and plotting a course that will avoid large cities but include rest stops in small towns every two days.

She plans to take everything she needs in a backpack, and pitch her tent wherever possible in the backyards of friendly local families.

Has anyone told her it was a crazy idea?

"My Chinese friends say it's awesome and cool and say I have inspired them," she says of her female friends and others.

"Other cyclists have been very supportive; no one has said it's impossible. But there was one part of my plan which, after some advice, I decided to leave out," reflects Moseman.

"I was planning on riding down from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau through Qinghai Province, but someone told me I'd be riding for days on end without any people or water in sight through some of the world's biggest asbestos mines - so I'm avoiding Qinghai," she says.

The highlight will be Inner Mongolia where the scenery of desert, mountain ranges, nomad steppes and woods have always captured her imagination.

Moseman, who was born in Ohio, grew up in the South before moving to New York and working as a freelance photographer. Her big-city experience belies her childhood spent camping on many vacations with her mother, a Girl Scout leader.

She arrived in Shanghai two years ago with her boyfriend who had work in the city. She sees life as a series of challenges to overcome.

This cycle ride is the latest in a hard, two-year adjustment to China. Before that Moseman was the first person in her working-class family to go to college, working 30-hour weeks to support herself through an arts degree. In New York she had no connections and no job, eventually finding her way into photography. She is proud to have traveled the long road "almost alone."

When she first came to China, the culture shock meant she was even afraid to shop for groceries. Since then, adjusting to China has also become a journey of self-discovery and self-exploration.

"This trip is a personal test. I don't know how I will deal with the lack of social contact," she says. "It will mainly be a mental and emotional challenge to see if I can keep it together."

Adventurous women out there are invited to join Moseman for a stretch of her journey - though they better keep up with her pace.

She plans to start with 40-50km a day, and work up to 80km in about a month. Though slower riders can still go along, Moseman says she will ride ahead and wait for them at the end of the day's stop.

Along the way she will take thousands of photographs, and keep a journal. With this portfolio she says she hopes to "show China to the US." The next step is yet unclear, but she can see herself teaching English in a rural part of China in the near future.

"This trip is a completion of my self-discovery process in China, but also it is the beginning of a completely new chapter," Moseman says.

To contact Moseman or donate, go to


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend