A minute with…Donghan Yang ’14

Donghan Yang ’14There are easier ways to build endurance and to learn important life lessons than going on a monthlong bike ride through China, but those ways likely aren’t as adventuresome as the time Donghan Yang had last summer. A native of Nanjing, Jiangsu, China, he and a friend rode their mountain bikes from Chengdu, Sichuan, China, to Lhasa, Tibet, China. That’s 1,300 miles—28 days of biking, four Donghan Yang ’14days of resting, and four days walking through a tropical rain forest in Tibet. But who’s counting? Road test: “A friend of mine did this a year ago and wrote about his trip on the Internet. I was inspired by his article and photos. So another friend and I agreed to do a trip like this. I wanted to challenge myself, see how persistent I could be in achieving a goal and see how well I react under difficult circumstances. Also, riding a bike over this kind of long distance is a way of life that not many modern-day people can experience.” Pedal power: “I have never done anything like this before. We went through 24 towns. We rode 70 to 80 kilometers a day. We climbed over 13 mountains—10 of them were over 4,000 meters high, two of them were over 5,000 meters high.” Wheel-y hard: “It was difficult. We were riding on high plateaus and there was a scarcity of oxygen. We also experienced extreme weather along the trip; heat, cold, rain, snow and hail were common. We encountered wild dogs chasing us. If the inner tire of one of our bikes broke, we had to fix it by ourselves. The road conditions were extremely varied. Sometimes we could not even ride because of the mud and rocks that were used to pave the roads. Sometimes we were immersed in the dust when cars and trucks drove by us. There were so many difficulties, but I learned to calm down and not let myself become anxious, because I knew only a strong body and a tough mind would help me get through it.” Moving forward: “I learned to never give up when faced with difficulties. This has helped me with my coursework at Wheaton because I’ve begun to get rid of my problem of procrastinating. I’ve learned to persist in my schoolwork, even when I am tired.”