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Endurance riding is being taken to an entirely new level by national endurance rider Megan Lewis, who is currently preparing for the third stage of The Long Horse Ride, a Sino-British international friendship ride.

The ride, a five-part journey on horseback from Beijing to London, began after the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and will be completed in time for the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics.

The next stage, due to start in April, will follow the northern Silk route across the Gobi desert and onwards through Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to Samarkand.

“It is very difficult to know how long the route will take exactly,” Megan told H&H. “I think it will take a good three months to reach the end of China, and so I expect this stage will take about five months in total.”

Two other riders and a backup vehicle carrying supplies will accompany Megan during the ride.

“Some areas of China are very sparse and there are such limited supplies that we need a backup vehicle to carry food for the horses,” explained Megan.

“When we reach areas like Kyrgyzstan where there is more grazing, I hope to be able to just use a pack horse.”

Megan, who rides local breeds of horse suited to the terrain — Chinese Shandan geldings for the next stage — aims to cover around 20-25 miles over 6-7 hours per day.

“Although I would like to try and prepare physically, I never seem to have time,” said Megan. “I spend an awful lot of time mapping my routes and looking at Google Earth.”

Although only nine days into the trip (in October 2008) Megan suffered a nasty fall, breaking her collarbone, six ribs and puncturing a lung, she has already covered 1,800 of an approximate 8,000 miles.

“In the process I’ve become the first person on record to ride the entire distance from one end of the Ming Great Wall to the other on horseback,” said Megan. “It’s not a bad achievement considering I got my free bus pass a year ago!”