Another day in the van
|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
Riding in the van for the past several days has been somewhat difficult to deal with. I love to ride, and we’ve seen some pretty great riding, over some technical and beautiful terrain over these days.
That said, it was important that I do this, in order to be sure that I’m strong enough to ride, without risking my own safety, or the safety of fellow riders, and others. So, with that said, I’m feeling pretty darn good, and expect to ride tomorrow.
In any case, I have not been adding these miles traveled to the mileage tracker, because they are not miles that I’ve ridden, but only traveled.
Before we talk about today’s ride, let me provide an update on my overall health, after the bout of food poisoning. As objectively as I can look at the whole situation, I’m doing very well, but I still need to become as regular a guy as possible, for me to feel like this entire thing is behind me.
In addition, I’ve got several days worth of medication that I need to go through, to be sure that I’ve killed the bug that caused this whole mess. Other than all of that, I feel great this morning.
We left the hotel at 8:00 AM, primarily due to the length of today’s ride, the complexity of the roads, the likelihood that there will have been landslides, and a section of road near the end that is 20 miles in length, and which is supposed to be gravel. So, we had better get an early start.
Today’s roads were some of of the best riding roads we’ve seen. Don’t get me wrong, they were challenging, with mudslides coming out of nowhere, plenty of dirt and mud patches, and lots and lots of windy roads, through rain forests. So, I’m sad that I missed them, but it was nice to see the looks on the faces of my fellow riders as they got off the bikes and updated me, at each of our rest stops.
Well friends, we’re smack dab in the middle of banana country. Just about everywhere you look, you see banana trees. We passed a few banana stands, but it seems that we’ve missed banana season, and I’ll have to wait until next time.
That said, the scenery was amazing. This is a very hilly region of China, and as such, it’s the kind of place where terracing of the land, and planting on the terraces is necessary, or there won’t be any land to farm on at all.
Here are a few pictures of some of the valleys, and the terraces.
At about 100 miles completed, and at about noon, we stopped for lunch. The city was one of those cities that I imagined every Chinese city to be like. There were wider roads, with new buildings, and many shops and markets, all selling any manner of good that you might want to purchase. The restaurant we stopped at was on a small square, which also included a Western Style bakery.
Because I’m on a restricted diet, I visited the bakery, and purchase bread, and a few other things, which my system could easily digest. I returned to the restaurant, and I had a bit of rice, some greens, and that’s about it.
Nevertheless, the lunch was delicious, and that might just be because I was so very hungry. But, who am I to judge at this point.
The afternoon ride
During the whole afternoon ride, we came upon one valley, more picturesque than the one before. These valleys were dramatic, with some of the hillsides being on a 75% grade, or more. In fact, in once case, I looked down into the valley from the van, and it appeared to be a shear drop into the valley.
The Gravel/Hardpack road
At about 5:30 PM, we still had about 40 miles to travel to reach the hotel. We had finally reached the section of road that was described as gravel to us, in our morning briefing. It turns out that the 39 miles of hardpack had become only 15 miles of hardpack, so the trip would be slightly less arduous than expected.
But, another funny thing happened along the way.
As riders of “Big Bikes”, we consider ourselves to be the elite of motorcyclists, especially in a place like China. So, when someone riding a 90 cc cycle is able to catch up to, and pass us, it’s a big deal. And so was the case today.
As we were starting the trip on the hardpack, we passed a guy wearing his coat backwards, and riding one of these small, 90 cc bikes. We began our journey on the hardpack, but within about 4 miles, the guy on the small bike, caught up to the van, and passed us. At that time, the van was positioned immediately behind Stephan, and we could see how things were going to turn out.
The guy on the small bike lined up Stephan, and began exploring places to pass him. We watched as mister small bike moved left, then right, then left again, looking on the inside, and then the outside, always looking for a place to pass. As I was watching this, i was howling with laughter that this guy was able to ride with such skill, so easily. So, I did what any good blogger would do, I started recording a video.
And, because I can’t help myself, I started narrating the whole thing, as if I was a MotoGP correspondent. The rest is visible in the video below.
A passport checkpoint
After the hardpack, we came upon a police checkpoint, that took almost 30 minutes. By the time we were done with the police, it was dark, and we were now forced to ride the final 12 miles, in the dark, down a windy road, with trucks coming at us.
WE finally arrived at the hotel, tired from a long day of riding, and ready for dinner and rest. I made a few phone calls, and tried to get some sleep.
Report from the road
What will tomorrow bring
Tomorrow will be my first day back on the bike, after several days in the van. I’m really looking forward to it, and the ride is expected to be about 140 miles or so. it will be nice to leave the hotel late and arrive early.