The trip was led by Paolo -- a German, notwithstanding the Italian-sounding name. Interesting guy -- he had lived as an expatriate in China for 25 years, working in Chongqing for a major European multinational. For some years, he had been leading motorcycle trips for friends and family into different parts of China. He ended up with a small fleet of Chang Jiangs garaged in Yinchuan, the staging point for trips to the Alashan.
Paolo was on the verge of retirement and was in the process of forming a motorcycle tour company he called Extreme Motorcycle Tours China. I think I was his first real customer.
He was laying plans to ride the Taklamakan in 2006 and I was set to join him. Sadly, Paolo died just months after this trip while en-route to the Alashan a final time.