Joy, Hardship And Ultimate Frisbee: Ivan Xu’s Unique Ride Across Europe

Back in June, we brought your attention to the adventures of Ivan Xu, a Chinese youth who planned to bike alone around Europe for 100 days for Ultimate Frisbee and charity.

He ended up cycling across 14 countries and visiting 11 high-level Ultimate Frisbee clubs* from June 18 to September 25, beginning in Brest, Belarus and ending in Berlin.

His adventures have been profiled by media around the world, including CCTV-4Estrepublicain.frPärnu Postimees, Belarusian CTV, Russia-Belarus TPO TV and OHT TV, so what follows is hardly an exclusive. But here’s an update anyway.

Welcome back! How are you feeling?

In short, I feel honored and humbled. I feel lucky that I had the opportunity to do this kind of trip. I am also very grateful to have received so much support from friends and strangers.

What was the most challenging part of the trip?

The film. It was not easy to make this film because I lost most of the footage due to damage to my external hard drive. It got stepped on by one of my drunken hosts, and it was the worst possible damage a hard drive could sustain, and it was impossible to recover the data inside despite my trying for three weeks with all the resources I had. Anyway, I will do the best with what I have left on my computer.

In terms of my last goal, I was featured on more than 10 Belarusian media outlets, and in every interview I spoke about the Mentor project for orphans in Belarus (Knitting Friendships). I was told that the Knitting Friendship staff were inspired and worked hard together as a team. This November, Knitting Friendship gained enough votes and won the People’s Sympathy Prize from “Social Weekend” Social fund in Belarus.

My influence on the Youth Ultimate Project is difficult to measure. I have ideas to gather discs to help kids who need them, though I’m still brainstorming.

When you set out on your adventure, you had a few key objectives from this trip. Did you achieve them?

In some ways I didn’t achieve all my goals, but in many ways I achieved more. After the first half of my trip, I began to realize this trip was not simply about biking as much as I could, but also about getting to know the countries I passed through, interacting with locals and learning local cultures. So I started to spend more time to talk to the interesting people I met along the way, to really engage with them and learn from them.

I also stretched myself way beyond my comfort zone and gained confidence to be a better and more interesting person. I discovered the world is so diverse and beautiful, there are so many wonderful people around, and realized I don’t need so much to be happy and content. This new understanding has been priceless.

One of your goals was to inspire a generation of Chinese youth to enjoy the outdoors and love sports. Do you think you succeeded?

Yes, absolutely.

When I posted my film trailer onto the Internet, within a week there were about 12,000 views and 600 shares, this without the help of any exposure to mass media. Most people who have shared the video commented that it was very inspiring and they wish to do something similar, not to waste their youth.

From December onwards, I will start to give presentations in various organizations to share my experience and promote Ultimate Frisbee, including at the most influential speaking event, Life Stage (人生大不同), in Shanghai.

In the previous post for Beijing Cream you mentioned a conflict that many young Chinese face: whether “to live a life we want, or to live a life that makes our parents happy.” What words of advice do you have now, after this trip?

If you decide to go your own way instead of what your parents wish for you, make sure to work very hard for what you love, prepare a lot if you go for an adventure, stay safe, love your family and always keep them in your heart.

Even though you may experience conflict today because you choose your own lifestyle, if you are really good at what you do, excel at it, you will do well in life and be happy in life, and your parents will eventually be happy for you despite you deciding to take your own path, which they may not really understand.

Next up will be “I Bike China.” What do you have in store for us?

Two things I want to do for “I Bike China”:

First, I will give free Ultimate Frisbee clinics and speeches in organizations/schools/universities I cycle by, share what I have learned about exploring the world and spread my love of Ultimate. I have received a tremendous amount of support from various Ultimate Frisbee communities for my Europe trip, so I would love to help this great sport grow in China in any way I can. I would make sure to talk about how great Ultimate Frisbee is in every interview I will do in my China tour.

Second, I plan to make a documentary film of China Ultimate development and interview Ultimate Frisbee leaders and players in places I cycle by, and share the passion of Ultimate in China with the rest of the world.

If I pass by your city, if you or someone could accommodate me, my bike and Frisbee, it would be a great help. If people really like me a lot, they can also buy me a cup of tea.

Follow Ivan Xu’s adventures on his website. Alicia is the founder of Prep! Beijing. Follow her @alicialui1.

* Brest Phoenix (Belarus), Minsk Сяброуства (Belarus), Salaspils WT(Latvia), Tallinn SOTG (Estonia), Stockholm Syndromes (Sweden), Lund AKKA (Sweden), Hamburg Fischbees (Germany), Eindhoven Vertigo (Netherlands), Voujeaucourt Free-vol (France), Zurich Headless (Switzerland), Dresden Drehst’n Deckel (Germany).

2014 August- About to start the day to cycle in Nancy France 2014 July in the final of Latvia Nationas in Ogre Lativa  2014 June- first day of I Bike Europe media attention Brest Belarus 2014 September- In Bartholomäberg Austria  2014 August- cooking under a bridge near Luebeck Germany

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