Posts Tagged ‘Shulehe’


There are spots of green in this desert. Trees, Corn and sunflower crops. And protection from the wind. Then the desert continues and the wind hits like a wall. With a small side component to the gale-force headwind, my non-aerodynamic luggage slams on the brakes. OK. OK. 7km/h it is.

Wind in the grass

Wind in the grass

I have read about cyclists who have taken busses to cross this vast desert. I have read how dejecting it is to get nowhere slowly with the terrible winds, and how they step onto the bus. I have always wanted to cycle all the way to Australia, without busses or other forms of transport (except when water makes cycling impossible). I can understand this dejection.

The weather forecast is for the same as far forward as it goes. Gentler winds (about 17km/h headwind) are in the morning. Stronger headwinds (30km/h+) are in the afternoons. There are still hundreds of kilometres to go. Cycling into the wind is not like normal cycling where you pedal, and have regular pauses from pedalling as you just roll along. With this wind, the moment I stop pedalling, the wheels stop turning and I have to step off the bike. It is a mind game. I still intend to cycle tomorrow. Let’s see if and when the bus beckons.

Exhausted after another windy day

Exhausted after another windy day


There are not enough hours of light and I am not strong enough to clock-up 100km with a wind like this. Sometimes I just stop. In the middle of the desert. In the sun. And just drop my head over my arms on the handlebars. This wind is relentless and, at this speed, the desert is infinite.

Strong wind

Strong wind

Sometimes I take the freeway. Sometimes I take the parallel road. I change between the two (often acrobatically due to the fence that follows the freeway) when there is a shop of some kind. It means a well-earned break from the wind. Sometimes I duck into a water drainage passage under the freeway. The wind is also less there.

With a wind like this, I don’t really notice the surroundings – a lot of glare and a lot of sand. I focus on some podcasts I have downloaded, and stay inside my mental cocoon.

Dry desert

Dry desert

My goal of Yumen was just too far. Off my planned route was the town of Shulehe – and from where I was, it was perpendicular to the wind. That’s where I wanted to go! The road had lots of trees blocking the side wind, and it was magic easily passing 10 km/h, and even hitting 20! Straight to the expensive tourist hotel. Tonight, I deserve it!

Sunflower drying

Sunflower drying