Archive for the ‘China’ Category


I could hear the crickets and the cicadas. The sun was out, it was warm, and there were eucalyptus trees. I got all teary. It felt more familiar – in some ways it felt like Australia. But it was foreign too. Chinese writing, markets and food stalls. And more tropical plants. I am entering the tropics!

Familiar trees

Familiar trees

It has been cold and wet. It has been hilly. The going has been very slow. The daily displacements have been small – 100km on windy roads doesn’t bring you far as the crow flies. Today the sun came out. The road was still hilly, but, with the familiar vegetation and the warmth, it felt like I was cycling on a different planet.

Valley

Valley

Yesterday was another rest day – in Dali. When it’s raining, the urge to cycle is low. I was in Dali with Ann and Liam (the English name I gave him), and we had a nice walk to a temple on the mountain behind Dali.

Me, Ann and Liam

Me, Ann and Liam

Day 233. 108km. Diannan – Dali

Posted: December 31, 2015 in China, Cycling
Tags: , , ,

Grey. A bit of rain. I wanted to get to Dali to catch up with Ann and Liam, who I spent the day with in Lijiang. It was cycling straight ahead in the cold, to arrive at the tourist destination of Dali. Oh. I passed 20000km in reality (not just celebrated it).

2000km

2000km

Fields

Fields


A fixed bike and a rest day in Lijiang, including an early 20,000km celebration, meant I was all ready to continue on towards Dali. It was grey with a few drops of rain, making for a rather uninteresting ride.

The scenery is changing

The scenery is changing

Thank-you Ann – one of the friends I met in the Tiger Leaping Gorge. She spent all afternoon looking around Lijiang for a bike shop that would try to help me. She was doing this while I was destroying the screw holding my frame together in Shigudiqing.

After about half an hour of despair in the bike shop, where the screw refused to budge, finally, after a bit of RX7 lubricant and elbow grease, the guy in the shop finally got it to move, and we were able to fit the new carbon drive.

I decided to stay in Lijiang and spend the day with Ann rather than return in the car to Shigudiqing to continue today in the rain.

American lunch

American lunch

20000km

20000km


It’s good it didn’t happen in the long tunnel forbidden for bicycles. It happened just before the road turned into a dual-carriageway. In the rain. Uphill. My ‘carbon-drive’ – what I use instead of a chain – made of Kevlar and unbreakable – broke. Without being able to pedal, I rode down the hill I had just climbed to the first little village, and stopped to contemplate.

Broken Carbon Drive

Broken Carbon Drive

I have a reserve carbon-drive, but to put it on, you have to pull apart the frame at the one point the frame is connected by a screw. A screw that it is rusted and not movable. A screw that destroyed two Allen keys, and was mangled itself in the process. I have now arranged a taxi to the nearest bigger town – Lijiang, to see if the bike shop there can unscrew my screw. Fingers crossed.

My time in the Tiger Leaping Gorge meant that I met three new friends, whom I walked through the gorge with. We walked through the green, in the bright, warm sun, gazing at the line of teeth-like pointy grey rocky mountains, reaching in to the heavens on the other side of the river. It was gorgeous.

Tourist stuff.. :-)

Tourist stuff.. 🙂

Come Inn

Come Inn

Tiger Leaping Gorge

Tiger Leaping Gorge

Teeth mountains

Teeth mountains

Tiger Leaping Gorge

Tiger Leaping Gorge


Today I left the Tibetan Plateau, I dropped below 3000m, and will stay there for the rest of the trip. The drop was fun. First 60km of small ups and downs staying at 3400m, and then down and down and down – to 2100m in 40km. It was fast.

On the way to the Tiger Leaping Gorge

On the way to the Tiger Leaping Gorge

Today the goal was the Tiger Leaping Gorge. A guy at the lodge knew all about it. I should leave my bike and stuff at the base, and climb up to the first guesthouse on the mountain today. It is too hot and unpleasant at the base of the walk. So.. 100km cycling, and then 2 hours of hiking. I am now looking out over a wall of pointy mountains as the sun goes down. The Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Teeth mountains

Teeth mountains


Today was always going to be a short day – over a little 400m bump before getting lots of odds and ends done in Shangri La. The road was good, and I was soon in Shangri La – the town of haircuts, brake pad changes and working on the video.

Red valley

Red valley


The climb continued today with large quantities of pushing the bike. It just didn’t get any less steep until the very end. It remained beautiful, following the river to a bowl of rocky mountains. The road then climbed up the side to have a spectacular view over the valley.

Switchbacks

Switchbacks

The pass was around 4500m – a mammoth climb from the valley at 2350m, all on rocky, sandy, bumpy road. Still, the bad road didn’t matter. It was a challenge, in the sun, and in this beautiful, beautiful place. The bumpy road was more annoying on the way down, meaning that it was about 7km/h down (more than the 2km/h going up)..

The road up

The road up

Near the top

Near the top

Steep road up

Steep road up

Looking down from the pass

Looking down from the pass

Perched on the side of the hill

Perched on the side of the hill

Rocky peaks

Rocky peaks

Valley from above

Valley from above


The switchbacks started, and I thought, ‘this is not as hard as all that.’ Then there was no more room in the valley for switchbacks and the rocky, dusty road followed the river – straight up. I cycled. Fell off as I rock took away my 2km/h. I walked, cycled, walked. Then walked, rested, walked. This valley is beautiful, but, man, it is steep!

Rising from the valley

Rising from the valley

I had been told of the cheese factory – about 40km away. A good place for lunch, I thought. The first 20km were roadworks – this time without rain or mud, which made them more bearable. It is not the bad roads that I mind with roadworks. It is the constant noise of trucks, drilling, cement mixing. Pulling over constantly to allow trucks to pass, leaving a cloud of dust in their wake.

Roadworks

Roadworks

Rocky, sandy, steep roads without roadworks are fun. The valley was amazing. First stunning views from the switchbacks, and then glimpses of high peaks vertically up, peeking between the dense rainforest foliage. I loved the road – first grunting to see how far I can make it cycling before falling off. Then, how far I could push the bike before needing a rest. The road got steeper and steeper and the pushing the bike rests were finally spaced every 20m or so.

Green, green, everywhere

Green, green, everywhere

Looking up - a long way up

Looking up – a long way up

The road up

The road up

Today I climbed from 2350m to 3700m. Who knows how high the pass is. I am told it is 20km away, but not quite as steep. ☺

Day 226. 72km. Erchu – Geka

Posted: December 24, 2015 in China, Cycling
Tags: , , ,

Today the sun shone, the road was immaculate, and I climbed into the heavens. A 1100m climb and a 1650m drop. These mountains are big!

High mountains

High mountains

The climb followed the valley to the north, which meant I had no wind – or tailwind. The road climbed, rising higher and higher over the river a long way below. Higher peaks poked over the horizon, and even rugged snow-capped peaks in the distance.

Farm

Farm

Temple in the sun

Temple in the sun

Temple in the distance

Temple in the distance

The drop was enormous, and quite steep as I followed a fast flowing river. The headwind kept my speed in check. I am in the last village before the now infamous ‘bad road’. Everyone shakes their head in disbelief that I intend to cycle it. I have been told it is 40km to the summit. I am now at 2500m, and I suspect the summit is at about 4500m. It is going to be a hard day tomorrow – a hard day in beautiful sunny weather.

Some twists and turns

Some twists and turns


‘That road is impossible!’
‘The road to Shangri La is back where you have come from.’
I get warnings of people indicating a near vertical climb on rocks and through mud. This is sounding worrying. Following the insider tip from my hotel manager.

View from my abode

View from my abode

The main road from Daocheng to Shangri La is a mudbath. I spent 12 hours in a bus on it from Daocheng to Shangri La and 12 hours back. 300km in 12 hours. The valley is very beautiful with some massive, massive climbs.

Shangri La was my well-earned rest and recreation. I ate western food to my heart’s content, and hung out in cafes, sipping tea as the sun shone in through the window. I was forced to stay there for 4 days waiting for my visa extension. I’m glad I was forced. ☺

Me and my cat

Me and my cat

The alternate road to Shangri La so far is great. The perfect, brand new road meant that I hardly noticed climbing over the 4500m high pass (despite the standard headwind). I am staying in a Tibetan family’s house. The main room is amazing. All vanished wood, from floor to walls to ceiling, there are three massive pillars along the centre line of the room. The wood stove takes an important place on one side, with an ornate Tibetan painted carving on the wall behind.

I watched on in curiosity as various activities were carried out, including separating cream from milk. What a different life they lead.

Separating the milk

Separating the milk

Another 4500m

Another 4500m