09-27 Day 79 (Xining China, Arrival)

The craziest drivers on Earth are in Xining


Travel FromLinze
Intermediate Location 
Ending LocationXining
Starting Odometer35,252
Ending Odometer35,557
Miles Driven Today305 Miles
Total Trip Mileage11014 Miles
Countries visited Today 
Countries visited on trip US, Canada, UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Estonia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China

Today’s ride


Today, with so many miles to make, we opted for a 7:00 AM start time. We expect to ride about 500K, or 330 miles.

What’s in store for us

We expect to travel up and over a pass, riding on an unimproved road, with hard pack soil, laced with loose gravel, rocks, holes, and pathways for water to be evacuated. So, this portion of the ride will be very technical, over a distance of 40 miles or so. Throughout this ride, we can expect to climb over multiple 12,000 foot passes.

What, no mountain pass? What, no gravel road?

We traveled about 32 miles this morning, enjoying the ride and also taking time to stop for photos along the way. At about 8:10, we were suddenly stopped by police, who had blocked the road, and who wanted to see our credentials. We shared our passports, and were told to wait for a minute.

During the wait, we were chatting with the police and it was at this time that we discovered that the mountain pass that we had hoped to climb, was no longer there. This gravel road had been washed away over the course of so many summer thaws, that the Govt decided to destroy it, and build a tunnel. So, during all of the inquiries with the police, we found that the road had been blasted with dynamite, rendering it impossible to pass. The gravel and dirt were being used to build the tunnel.

So, we turned around, and headed back the way we came. We traveled about 63 miles in total for this round trip, leaving us right back where we started.

Breakfast Tea

Shortly after passing our hotel, we entered a nearby town, which seemed to be a great spot to have some coffee or tea. We found a restaurant, and I ordered 6 cups of tea, for myself and a few others. I was surprised that the tea was going to cost me 90 Juan, or about 12 dollars. Now, that’s for 6 cups of the stuff, but keep in mind, this is China, and I expected it to cost about 50 cents per cup.

The tea was herbal, including a number of flowers, and other ingredients. We all enjoyed the tea, and it was time to get back on the road.

Chines cities all have a boulevard

As I ride, over the course of the day, I’m taking in the sights, but I’m also thinking about China, and how it operates. It is hard to miss the fact that just about everything in China is different from the US, and sometimes, so much different, that it’s hard to comprehend.

And so, as I entered a city, at about 10:20 in the morning, I was struck, onca again with how China is building infrastructure at an alarming rate. In this case, as we approached the city, there is a boulevard, which sets the mood for the town, and for how you’ll view the town. As is the case with many of the cities and towns that we’ve visited, the government is building a boulevard that provides you access to the town or city. These boulevards are usually quite attractive, and well lit. Below, you’ll see a video of the boulevard in this one town along the road.

Bull fighting with a bus

Today was a day where we literally passed hundreds of cars. The roads can be narrow country roads, or busy city streets, but we’re passing cars right and left.

Late in the morning, we were on a country road, and we came around a blind corner, to find a big truck, broken down, in our lane. So, we quickly braked and slowed, and edged out to the left, in hopes that we could pass the truck without dealing with oncoming traffic. That was not the case…

At 11:08 AM, as we passed the truck, a bus was coming towards us from the opposing direction. There were 9 riders in a group, all who needed to pass the truck, so Marc, the guide did something heroic and helpful. He stopped his motorcycle, in the left lane, in front of the bus, in a sort of Mexican standoff. The bus was stopped and could not continue, but the 9 of us quickly skirted around Marc, and began to make our way up the road. After the last rider was through, Marc moved back into his lane, hit the throttle, and caught up to us.

As I rode by, it looked like a matador staring down a bull.

China is full of slow moving vehicles.

I mentioned that we have to pass hundreds of cars. Well, the number may actually be in the thousands, if you count the little scooters, and 3-wheeled vehicles that are virtually everywhere.

These things have very little power, but they offer the Chinese a cheap way to carry things from place to place. There are so many of these vehicles that it seems that the Chinese have created roads which are about 50% wider than a standard road. This extra space leaves enough room for these little trikes to ride. But of course, that’s not where they ride all the time, and these vehicles are often heavily packed with goods, and not well maintained.

As a result, you often see these trikes weaving on the road, and making turns without any warning at all. In fact, earlier in the morning, I was riding in the city, and one of these vehicles turned right in front of me. I hit the brakes, and came within a foot of his vehicle. Arghhh, I said to myself as I hit the throttle and moved on.

Riding the canyons

This section of road was particularly beautiful, with one canyon after the next, each having perfect pavement, wide lanes, sweeping turns, and beauty on both sides. Enjoy…

The Summit

At a little before noon, we reached the summit of a mountain. The mountain peak was at 12,000 feet, and in order to see everything around the area, we’d need to hike up to the top. But, hell, we’re motorcyclists, and some of us have a bit of off-road skill. So, a few of us ventured to ride up to the top, and then down again.

What goes up, must come down

After spending some time at the top, we made our way back down.

Driving in china

I’ve often been told that the reason that driving in China is so crazy, is because there are no rules for the drivers to follow. They simply do what they want, when they want. This anecdote is backed up by the fact that you almost never see anyone getting a ticket for motor vehicle infractions.

No rules, or no rules are followed

Xining is so crazy, that when you stop for a pedestrian, they still won’t move, so the bike gets stuck. Video at 6;35 PM

Attacked by an angry guy, passing a truck at 6:16 PM

Late in the day, as were riding the final 35 miles into Xining, I was passing a small truck, but because I have a bike, I was still on my side of the yellow line. I noticed that in the oncoming lane, there was a big truck, with a small van overtaking it.

In this case, the van was over the yellow line, and headed right at me. So, to be sure that he could see me, and to warn him, I flashed my lights. When I say I flashed the lights, I mean that I hit a button, and unleashed massive lighting from the Clearwater lights that are supplemental on my bike.

Apparently, the driver did not like this attempt at safety, so rather than moving out of my way, he diverted his vehicle and aimed directly for me. The video below shows the whole scene. In any case, I’m really lucky that he finally got back in his lane.

In addition, after the slow motion video of the car that veered towards me, you’ll see the next car, clearly over the line, with little regard for the fact that he’s headed right towards me.

I move the bike to the right of my lane, and continue as if nothing happened.

The final run into the city

As we made our final run into the city, there are a few things to take note of. First of all, the run was over 35 miles long, and it included some of the craziest shit I’ve ever seen. If you look at the video, you’ll get a good feel for it.

Thinking about this ride in, I noticed that in this city, like so many others, there is a complete disregard for the street traffic. People routinely sit on the side of the road, with their feet in the lanes of traffic, seemingly waiting to have them cut off.

There is even an example of a woman, with a small child, sitting on the side of the road, inches from the cars. Another example, which can be seen, is a scooter, riding the wrong way, on the side of the road, as if everything is simply just fine, and there is nothing wrong.

In this video, I also show how we maneuver through traffic and even how we rode on the RH side of the road, inches from buses, and over and around potholes, as we find them. This ride, was a stress-inducing ride, if ever there was one.

Hotel arrival

Today, I was able to capture our entry into the hotel parking lot. This is not one of the most exciting entries, but it does show how coordinated we are, and how a parking area is always set aside in advance.

About the Author

Cliff Musante

Cliff Musante is a technologist, business leader, motorcycle enthusiast, father, grandfather, and more. In June, 2013 his passion for motorcycles was revitalized, and he set out to ride across Patagonia. Since then, he's logged thousands of miles, ridden across the US, and on July 10, 2019, he began a 120 day trip through Europe, and then on to Russia, China, and parts East. This 'Blog is the story of all of his adventures.