China Diary I  Beijing Death Valley

Bikepacking in the Beijing province

September 2017

Beijing - a capital of China, which we often imagine as a mega metropolis covered in a smoggy cloud, has a very interesting geographical position. It is flanked by mountains from West, North and partially from the East. And while the urban area is a crazy, chaotic and hectic environment, the mountains offer a beautiful nature, remoteness and silence. And they are just around 35km away from the city centre. Or as much as 35 km actually..


  • Riders: Rafal Ramatowski & Fëdor Zhirov

  • Distance: about 250km

  • Duration: 2 days of touring


  • Wheels: TRESHOMBRES 5.0

  • Shifting Group: Shimano Ultegra

  • Bike Bags: APIDURA Saddle Pack Dry 14l & TOPEAK Midloader frame bag

The combination of a saddle bag and a frame bag is perfect for little bikepacking tours!

You can pack all the necessary things into the Saddle bag and the rest of all the items you need a direct access to, in your frame bag, which is perfectly balanced in the middle of your bike.

APIDURA Saddle Pack Dry is one of those good reliable products, which we have used on many tours so far! And it has never let us down. It's really waterproof and only slightly affects your riding, when you’re pushing hard in standing position. The bag might swing from right to left, but it probably happens with most of saddle bags out there.


The TOPEAK frame bag is a very simple bag with two zippers on both sides, allowing a quick and easy access. It’s not quite as waterproof as the Apidura Dry Technology, but still good enough in case of rain. We also quite like the simplicity of Topeak design. Just black with yellow logo, makes it suitable with almost any bike. TOPEAK products are very affordable too!

Day 1

We planned this tour with Fëdor not more than a week before. We both are quite familiar with routes in the mountains here already, so planning a new one was a quite smooth and quick thing!

We met on Saturday in the morning, checked the bikes, lubed the chains and kicked off around 10 am from the centre of Beijing after a quick coffee.


The first and the last stage of any cycling route from Beijing is basically the least exciting part, since you’ve got to get through 35-45 km of the generic urban environment, crazy traffic, that seems to have no rules and people who seem to not pay attention to an exotic phenomenon as a road cyclist.

We made it pretty fast though cycling along the Wenyu River and reached the city, or district of Huairou, where we could finally see the first mountains. Only just now because the smog that day was really strong unfortunately, reducing the visibility really extremely.

Smog and cycling sound like a sort of contradiction, but in the end, either you accept it and still do your thing or the pollution will affect any kind of your outdoor activity. Sad but true.


From Huairou we cycled up North slowly starting to climb up the mountains.

The plan was to reach around 125 km on the first day.

As the twilight was started to come we began to ask the locals about any small guest house.

Surprisingly we found a really cool place in the middle of nowhere reaching 130 km and around 1600m of elevation


We ate a local speciality - a fried trout, drunk two beers and went to get some rest with hope that the next day the pollution would be gone

Day 2

We woke up the next day, the sunshine was already getting into the room, and when we jumped out on the balcony, the blue sky was shouting ‘good morning fellas!

Super excited we packed our bellies with some chinese specialities, and rolled on around 9 am, stoked on the amazing day ahead!

This amazing sunrise was our morning fella during the hike<3 You can see the Tangariro far away in the background.

The amazing fact about riding the mountains in China is, that the roads are superb for road cycling. Top quality, very often newly sealed, with good markings, mind blowing descends along crazy serpentines and on  top of this, almost no cars! Chinese obviously prefer to get from point A to B using motorways instead of taking all those mountain roads.

Just have a look:

At some point we reached a part of the Great Wall. The next around 15 km we could see the Wall stretched along on the peaks of the mountains.

We finally reached the place called Death Valley. The last ascent on our way. We were always curious why is this Valley called the Death Valley, but i guess this huge cemetery  is a reason..

Having 90km behind us we had to break through the last urban part, 35km this time straight back to the center. As a deserved reward we enjoyed a cold IPA at Jing A brewery :)

We ended up reaching around 120km with 1400m of elevation and a lot of descends and beautiful weather all day long. A way to go!