Briton, two Chinese depart Beijing for London -- on horseback

20th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

Megan Lewis, a 60-year-old British pony breeder and head of the expedition, said the three-year trek from Beijing to London was a lifelong dream.

Beijing -- A middle-aged British woman and two Chinese companions on Saturday set off on an epic horse ride that will see them cross China, Central Asia and Europe -- and arrive in London for the 2012 Olympics.

Megan Lewis, a 60-year-old British pony breeder and head of the expedition, said the three-year trek from Beijing to London was a lifelong dream.

But the former geography teacher, who is raising money for charity, admitted the more than 5,000-mile (8,200-kilometre) journey was as much a test of the horses as the riders.

"You know you're going to get lameness and all sorts of things with the horses, that's just part of what goes with it," she said.

"But we've got a couple of nice little horses and we've got support from everyone."

The first section of the trip will take the three-man team to Inner Mongolia, along the north of China, to end up at the Jiayu Pass in Gansu province in August -- the end of the Great Wall.

From there, they will ride across China's westernmost region of Xinjiang, Central Asia and Europe, to eventually end up in London in time for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in 2012.

One of her fellow riders, Li Jing, 47, has just finished a solo horseback trek from central Russia to Beijing.

"It is not a certainty that we will be able to reach London," he told AFP in an earlier interview.

"Anything can happen on such a long ride, we have to see if we are lucky, if the heavens will shine down on us."

Peng Wenchao, the third member of the team, used to be a cab driver in Beijing until he gave up his job two years ago to ride and drive 1,300 kilometres around China, before returning to the capital for the 2008 Olympics.

AFP/Expatica

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