Who’s Margo?

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On top of the Ak Baital pass, 4655m – Tajikistan


“She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.”

-Frances E. Willard, How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle

Hi, I’m Tara – so why the pen name?  You have probably heard of Marco Polo – one of the most famous silk route explorers of the 13th century. I created this blog to document my solo, unsupported cycling adventure  roughly following the silk routes stretching across the Asian continent. While I am certainly no Marco Polo, I can pay tribute to his endeavours through “Margo” Polo. And as it turned out, the Silk Routes were just the beginning for Margo.

In May 2015 I had a set plan. I would cycle for 1.5 years starting in Ulaanbatar, Mongolia and finish in Cape Town, South Africa. I crossed  Mongolia, Xinjiang province in China, Pakistan’s Karakoram highway, the Indian Himalaya and the Pamirs in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Then, I  hit a bit of a bump in the road and plans changed, along with my outlook for this ride. For various reasons, I decided to postpone my Africa trip and return to Asia and then move on to Australia. I now view my journey as a chosen way of life and not a quest to cycle around the world following a particular line. That current line is pretty random and non-sensical anyway.

So why have I chosen to lead this kind of life? and by bicycle?

Here is a bit of my own story.

Before I travelled anywhere on my own, I was a cyclist. My dad, a lifelong rider, got me into the sport as pre-teen. I never seriously competed, mainly seeing how far I could go and not how fast. In my late teens we joined a recreational endurance club called Randonneurs in my hometown Toronto, Ontario, where we would cycle anywhere from 60 to 300km in a day. I loved pedalling for hours on end through the Southern Ontario countryside. Riding gave me the feeling of unsurpassed freedom – a type of meditative state that is unique and unmatched even to this day.

Then, I discovered  travel. At 24 years old, I backpacked for 4 months solo around South America. A few months previous to this trip I read Neil Peart’s “The Masked Rider: Cycling in West Africa” about a cycling tour he did through Cameroon. This set the wheels in motion. The thought of combining two of my favourite things in the world seemed too perfect. I liked the way that Peart described bicycle travel as moving at “people speed.” The bicycle allowed him to reach remote areas where buses seldom stopped, travelling at a pace slow enough to really experience the local life.

My first cycling tour took place on the Friendship Highway from Lhasa to Kathmandu in 2011. Following that, I embarked on my first solo tour 3 month tour from Kunming to Bangkok. A year later I rejoined with friends from the Friendship Highway to cycle Patagonia. To fund these trips, I have worked in the forestry industry in Canada for the last 10 years.

After 1.5 years of travelling I ran out of my money and now I am working as I go to fund my trip. So far I have worked in Australia as a treeplanter, a tough and wonderful job that I did in Canada for six seasons.

How long I plan to remain on the road is currently unknown. I will continue to do what I love most. For me, the perfect day is bumping along a dirt road through the mountains without a soul in sight.

Thank you for stopping by to read my stories – there will be many more to tell.

-Tara aka “Margo Polo”

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14 thoughts on “Who’s Margo?

      • Yes we had some cold days since Bishkek it has been real winter and it started in the Pamir 🙂 But don’t really mind as winter is just a part of our life. We are though looking forward to the warm China. Enjoy 🙂

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  1. Hi Tara,

    Safe travels. You may recall we met in Kathmandu and Pokhara, Nepal in 2011….I’m David’s uncle John. I traveled the Rift Valley in Kenya in 1963 1nd 1964. The 1st trip was when the Mau Mau were operating in Kenya, the 2nd when Kenya became an independent nation. The Rift Valley roads are pretty good. Make sure you stop at Lakes Nukuru and Naivasha to see the pink flamingos. Watch your back in Sudan. Hope to keep tabs on your journey as you progress.

    I envy your spirit. Good luck.

    John

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    • I may recall..how could I forget? 🙂 I am glad you made it safely out of Kathmandu. Wow, that must have been quite the trip at the time, Kenya in the 60s. I will keep those places in mind! And yes, I will be mindful in Sudan – I have heard that the local people are great, very friendly. I won’t be going to South Sudan. Thanks for following me! are you back in Canada for a while now?

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  2. Hi Tara. When r u expected to cross China into Pakistan? You will meet a 2.5 yr old snow leopardess named Lolly languishing in 20*20 cage from last 2 yrs after descending couple of miles from the border. Make her part of your travel story. She is 1 of the 200 to 400 left in Pakistani himalaya and all the snow leopard charities and local government failed to rehabilitate her so far. You can’t miss her because she is caged next to KKH/SILK ROUTE. Mountain ghost is caged in open. So against your spirit. Have a safe journey.

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  3. Hi Tara ! It’s been a while since you gave us half of your Mongolian map on the road to Terkhiin nuur, cutted in two piece on the side of the road. You just began your impressive tour and had a terrible head wind – and we were having a nice downhill tailwind, after dirt road 🙂 We preciously keep the half-mongolian-map at home here in Nantes in France, we will be really happy to see you once !
    See you, safe travels, and we wish you a maximum tailwind 😉
    Estelle and Thomas

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    • Hey guys! Sorry it took me so long to respond. Great to hear from you! How is it to be home? Your tour looked absolutely amazing and the photos are of professional quality 🙂 I have such great memories of Mongolia. There really aren’t many places in the world like it (that I have been to). Australia is similar in the way that there is a lot of wilderness and not a lot of people. That seemed so long ago now that we bumped into each other on that road. Any cycling plans for the future or will you stay at home?

      Tara

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  4. Hi Tara,
    My name is Paul Kim and nice to meet you. I did a small portion of silk road in Pamir last year and had a blast.

    Thanks for the inspiration and if you ever pass by North easten part of Italy (100k NE of Venice) pls look me up and you are more than welcome to stay at our small home in a village called Budoia. Meet my family and let’s have some Italian food, coffee, gelato, vino and share laughters.

    Wish you all the best and happy pedaling!

    Hugs and Peace!

    Paul Kim from Corea living in Italy

    PS: If you have whatsapp here’s mine and pls stay in touch. +39 3392520248

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