Biking Tibet in the Days of ‘Red China’

Tim Goering and Dave Colbert took a bike trip through China and Tibet in 1986, just when it was opening to Westerners. Qomolanga (Mt. Everest) from Tibet, in a photo taken on a return trip 20 years after their expedition. Courtesy/LAM


The April meeting of the Los Alamos Mountaineers features a slide show by Tim Goering and Dave Colbert about a mountain biking trip to China and Tibet in 1986.  

They biked across China and Tibet to Nepal, riding across Inner Mongolia, northern and central China, and from Lanzhou across Qinghai province and Tibet.

They finished their trip riding from Shigatze over a 19,000 foot pass across the Himalayas down to Kathmandu, covering 3,000 kilometers in all.  

They crossed China at a time when it was just starting to open up to foreigners.

The trip was not approved or sanctioned by the Chinese government (although they tried honestly to get official permission), and the US Embassy strongly discouraged the trip.  

But regardless, they were young and foolish and determined, and early one morning they disappeared on a train headed north for (Inner) Mongolia to start the trip.  

Most of the places they rode were completely closed off to foreigners.

Goering writes, “much has changed in China and Tibet since our first visit back in 1986, and we were fortunate to have visited so many years ago, when it was just beginning to open up to the rest of the world.”

Colbert is currently self-employed as a landlord and handyman in Albuquerque, and Goering works as a hydrologist.  

They both still get out for water rafting and canoe trips, cross-country skiing and occasional mountain bike adventures together.   

The public is welcome to attend the Wednesday, April 17 meeting in the Great Room of Fuller Lodge. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. with trip and event announcements, etc., followed immediately by the program.

Mural at Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, seat of the Panchen lamas – 12,600 feet above sea level. Courtesy/LAM

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