A great day of riding
|Miles Driven Today
|Total Trip Mileage
|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
We left the hotel at 8:30, immediately after a great breakfast, including coffee, eggs, and other wonderful Western treats.
Expectations for the ride ahead
I had been asked to check into what the terrain would be like over the next few days. Several folks were trying to figure out whether it would be warm or cold, so that they could dress accordingly. The biggest factor relating to temperature is the elevation of the route.
As it turned out, today’s’ ride would be at a relatively low, consistent elevation, so we need not worry about getting too cold, and if the rain stays away, it should be a great ride.
That is, unless we come upon a big, badly behaving truck driver…
Trucks are diabolical
Mostly, the big trucks are not driven by diabolical drivers, and they are driven by folks who understand that they are slower, heavier vehicles, and they usually let us by, without too much fanfare. However, there are exceptions, and I’ve noticed that these trucks don’t like to wait for things to come their way. They simply start rolling, and other riders be damned.
And so, on this morning, as we rode through a small city, or town, you’ll notice a big red truck on the side of the road. It is clear to this driver that there are several motorcycles in a row, all of whom are proceeding forward, without any expectation of having to stop. Yet, this driver begins to pull out, directly in front of me, regardless of the fact that if we collide, I would suffer severe injuries.
So, here is the video of the truck pulling in front of me. Now, I guess in the mind of the truck driver, since he’s doing it slowly, that everything is OK. But, I simply don’t see it that way.
White painted trees
We’ve been told that the ridge that we were riding on was an historic and important place, where a battle, or some battles took place in the past. The most historic sites along the ridge were marked by painting the base of the tree with white paint.
Later on, you’ll see a picture of one of these trees, located right in the middle of the road, but for now, at 10:34 AM, we catch our first glimpse of these trees.
Trucks take up the whole road
Now, here’s an example of a truck that is not trying to kill me, he’s just ignoring the fact that he might kill me. You see, I’m following Charles, and I come around a turn, only to find that the oncoming truck has used up about half of my lane, forcing me to evade the collision.
As the truck passes, the amount of space between the truck, and the guard rail on my side is reduced because of the way that the trailer follows the cab, and continues to further reduce space, as the driver continues to move left, preparing for the next turn.
I’ve had this type of thing happen to me so many times now, it doesn’t really phase me, but in this case, there was not much room for error.
The BMW Dogs
After needing to let the Van take an alternate route, I guess Marc figured that we had a little bit of extra time, so we took a left turn, and proceeded up into a National Park. About 4 miles into the park, he stopped us for a photo opp.
The views were very nice, but these two little dogs were very cute. So, we spent some time with the dogs, taking pictures and videos.
What do great turns look like
Almost immediately after confronting the oncoming truck, in my lane, we come upon a series of fast, sweeping turns, which I knew would be a lot of fun. You see, I can look down at the GPS, and see all of these turns coming at me, prior to arriving at the turns themselves. So, I passed the car in front, and with a reasonable amount of space between Charles, who is in front of me, I make the pass, and have a little fun.
Trying to Cruze by a car
Just a few minutes after the amazing sweeping turns, and as we’re proceeding up the mountain, we come upon a couple of cars. We wait for the right moment, move into the left lane, and accelerate, shooting by the cars like a rocket (usually). In this case, Charles has passed the Chevy Cruze, and now it’s my turn. It seems like this driver doesn’t want to let me by.
You’ll notice that I start to pass him a couple of times, but I sense that there is not enough room, or distance to the turn in order to pass him safely. So, I think I see an opportunity, and I move left, and accelerate. I come even to him, and I should have had plenty of room to move in front of him, but he refuses to let me in, and so I sit in the left lane for a few seconds, before realizing that he’s steadfast, so I back out of it, and pull back in behind the car.
This next time, I make sure I’ve got space, and I pull left, crack the throttle, and pass 2 cars like they are going backwards. This time, the driver simply has to let me by.
When I see things like this in the US, I take it as arrogant drivers, who are thinking; “Why does he need to drive so fast. I’m not going to let him by”, or something like that. But, in China, where there are virtually no traffic rules, it’s hard to understand his or her motivation at all.
Here’s the video of what happened.
General Tsao – The greatest chicken maker in all of China
Before lunch, we came into a little village, where there was a statue of a famous general. I must have misunderstood what Charles told us, because I thought he said General Tsao, the person for whom a spicy Chinese chicken dish is named after.
So, all of what I did and said in the daily reports, assumed this was General Tsao. I was indeed surprised to discover that it’s a different general altogether.
Talking with little Chinese girls
As is often the case, when the bikes are parked, we create a commotion. And so, after lunch, I headed back to the bike to get ready for departure, and came upon this cute, little Chinese girl. Actually, she was adorable. I spoke to her for a few minutes, and took some photos,, and then her sister showed up. Her sister is 13 years old, and also very adorable. And so, I thought I’d interview her, as she speaks English pretty well.
I also took a few photos with these two. Enjoy
Report from the road
Riding Big Bikes in China
Many motorcycles and scooters in China
China, like so much of Asia is virtually overwhelmed with motorcycles and scooters. There are so many of these things, you can’t count them. And, in many cases, these vehicles are not licensed, and the drivers don’t need to have a driving license in order to operate them. They are treated like bicycles.
So, as we ride through China, with our big European motorcycles, which are very, very capable of just about anything at all, I begin to see an explanation of why we sometimes have trouble with cars, and other motorcycles.
Our bikes are very fast
Our bikes can accelerate from 0-60 in about 4 seconds, perhaps even a bit less. For those of you who are car nuts, you’ll know that this is very fast. For those of you who are not car nuts, this is very fast. Generally, this type of acceleration is associated with about 1 out of every 500 vehicles.
When you think that our bikes are not only fast, but they are faster than at least 1 motorcycle out of 15,000 or so, you’ll see why the Chinese don’t quite know what to do with us.
Approach speed is unexpected
Because we can go so fast, and accelerate even faster, virtually none of the Chinese are expecting our bikes to be able fly past them in 2-3 seconds, when they often take 10 seconds or more, simply to pass the car in front of them, while we see the opportunity for a pass, and we get the job done quickly, and safely.
Laws don’t apply
In China, we’re not allowed to ride on the big highways and expressways, and that’s because they assume that, like Chinese motorcycles, we’re not fast, and there is always the risk that our motorcycles will burst into flames from a fuel leak. This thinking is also at the root of why we cannot start our motorcycles in a gas station, and often must push them.
So, with these big bikes, the government simply doesn’t know how to regulate us, to they either ignore us, letting us do whatever we want, or take extreme measures to keep us off of the highway, or out of gas stations.
Big Adventure bikes are the right tool, but
To my friends who ride this type of bike, rest assured that riding a big, Adventure bike is absolutely the right way to cross China. We gobble up the highways, riding comfortably, and carrying lots of gear. We come upon mud, sand or gravel, and we simply stand up, and ride through it. We’re often able to overtake cars in these situations, while the cars look on in amazement.
That said, riding a big bike in China can have it’s challenges, especially when riding in big, busy cities. These bikes don’t fit well between the lanes of cars, and our friends on the scooters can easily fit into places where we cannot. But we handle obstacles like we’re riding in a Porsche, even through we need a little bit more room than the scooters.
What will tomorrow bring?
Tomorrow, with any luck, we’ll visit the Panda Fertility Base, and we’ll get a chance to see the Giant Panda, in its habitat, without there being too many people around. But, tomorrow is technically the last day of the week-long celebration, and also a workday. We’re hoping that most people have gone back to work, and will not be visiting with the pandas.
Understanding China’s Internet restrictions
Since leaving South Carolina, I’ve used the real-time tracking map to show everyone where I am, on a given day. It’s quick, easy and accurate. You’ll even notice that the tracking lines are superimposed on top of a world map.
Here in China, they block many services, including Google, so it looks like Garmin gets their map data from Google, and since it’s blocked, you can see my progress, but you can’t see the map.