Treacherous roads, beautiful weather
|Travel From||–||Jiangcheng, China|
|Ending Location||–||Mengla, China|
|Miles Driven Today||–||115 Miles|
|Total Trip Mileage||–||13097 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|
I’ve now logged more than 13,000 miles since leaving South Carolina. I’ve still got another 1500 – 2000 to go, but those will be in Laos and Thailand. In fact, today is the last night in China, and tomorrow we head to the border with Laos.
This morning, I was feeling my oats, and felt like showing off a little bit for some of the locals. So, just before we left the hotel, I jumped on the bike, and did a few tight circles, while standing on the bike, and then I converted that into a figure 8, in all cases, I had the handlebars at full lock right, or left.
This little parlor trick is not hard for an accomplished rider, but most riders don’t spend the time to work on drills in close quarters, so very few folks that I’ve ridden with can pull it off. So, I figured I’d show the locals a little trick, so that they could film it as we were leaving. Unfortunately, I forgot to clean the lens on the bike camera, so none of the video from today is usable. Bahhhhh
Also this morning, one of the staff wanted to take a picture on the bike, so I took a quick video.
Departure was set at 9:00 AM today, as we have a short day of riding, scheduled for 140 miles. Prior to departure, I would need to unload the bike, and get back in the groove of riding.
its funny. Sitting on the bike for the first time in a few days brought out a bit of anxiety, as i thought about whether I’d be comfortable over teh course of the day, and whether I’d remember to take all of the prescriptions that the hospital provided.
8:30 Getting the bike out of the van
My bike is tall. I mean really tall. Of all the bikes on the tour, my bike is the tallest. The extreme height is due to a few things. First of all, I’ve installed a taller windscreen. Secondly, my bike is not lowered at all, and thirdly, my bike has the Touratech suspension installed, and set at the highest ride height.
So, getting this lumbering beast in and out of the van can be a challenge. So, with a little help from my friends, we started the process. I’ve captured it on video, below.
The morning ride
Most, if not all of the morning ride was wonderful. Amazing scenery, great roads with lots of turns, and warm weather. Oh, and the Allman Brothers playing in my ear.
A little parking lot fun
Prior to lunch, we found a big dirt parking lot on the side of the road, and decided to have a little fun.
We stopped for lunch at about 1:00, and enjoyed a really great Chinese lunch. I’m still on a restricted diet, so I was forced to eat Rice, but I spiced it up with Soy Sauce, and also added some spicy greens, which had been prepared for the group, but which I ate most of.
60 miles to go after lunch
After lunch, there were only about 60 miles to ride, but the road immediately became difficult, and dangerous. These roads in Southern, rural China are frequented by trucks, which are almost always overweight. They are big trucks, but they do not have a pivot between the cab and the trailer.
So, as the trucks drive along their routes each day, they either destroy the road, or polish the surface. Both of these situations are dangerous for the bikes, but it is the polished surfaces that are the most unpredictable. When these surfaces also have sand and gravel, oil from the trucks, and water laid on top, each corner presents an unknowable and dangerous situation.
We’ve already had one rider go down as they attempted to pass a car, and in this section of the ride, I approached a turn at a relatively slow speed, but when I got to the turn, I found it covered in water, making it very slick indeed.
I straightened the curve, slowed the bike, and leaned it in gently. At the midpoint of the turn the front tire stepped to the left, moving somewhere from 4-6 inches. And if you think that this short a distance is not much, then you’re not a motorcyclist. This is a bi movement in the front end, and it’s unnerving when it happens.
I controlled the bike without crossing the center-line, but it was a “come to Jesus” moment for me. In any case, we all rode with TLC for this stretch of road. The remaining roads were sometimes slick, and other times had better traction, but it was impossible to know what each turn would bring, so we rode with care.
The Banana Plantation
Somewhere along the way, we stopped along the road, looking down the sides of the valley into a huge banana plantation. I’ve provided some pictures.
BANANA PLANTATION PICTURES
Report from the road
China – A simple truck
With less than a mile to go, we stopped for gas, and a quick bike wash. The bikes were filthy, and needed to have the crud washed off of them, as we’d like to avoid too many questions as we enter Laos tomorrow.
What will tomorrow bring?
tomorrow’s border crossing is rather complex. Not only will we need to import the bikes and immigrate, but we’ll also need to apply for a visa, and purchase insurance. So, we expect this entire process to take extra time, and it will perhaps present us with some technicalities to overcome.