It took Canadian brothers Ryan and Colin Pyle five minutes to come up with the idea of circumnavigating China by motorcycle, a journey never attempted before. It did not take much longer for Colin to quit his job as a foreign exchange trader and sell his house. Now, a TV series of their Guinness world record-breaking 65-day adventure is to air around the world from tonight.
When the Pyles set off from Shanghai on August 16, 2010, many surprises awaited - from getting heat stroke on day one to a week-long traffic jam in Inner Mongolia.
The gruelling route took them into desert sands and freezing mountain passes, through torrential rain and mudslides and into heavily militarised border areas. Border guards often held them for hours and forbade them from crossing into eastern Tibet.
Ryan thought he had seen a lot of China during his 10 years as a documentary photographer, but he could not believe the beauty of its most remote areas.
"Many people don't know about the 20-storey sand dunes in Dunhuang that are as amazing as any you can see in Africa, or the beautiful Turpan oasis in the middle of a dry lake," said the 34-year-old, who has now dedicated his career to making travel television.
The brothers decided to name their new production company after the G219 highway running from Xinjiang to Tibet, with stretches at 5,000 metres above sea level.
When they rolled back into Shanghai on the final day, they had covered some 17,674 kilometres - breaking a record for motorcycling the most kilometres around a single country.