Posts Tagged ‘Village before turnoff to Turpan’


I missed a day to the rain. The village that I got to know as wet and grey I discovered was perched in a beautiful snowy mountain lined meeting of valleys. I cycled up one of these valleys and down the other side, watching the landscape transform from grassy high mountain plains to a barren flat desert.

Summit prayer flags

Summit prayer flags

When I left my little room at 3am to have a leak, I stepped outside and saw a starry sky, and a crescent moon. I smiled. The rain has gone, and the day cycling will be awesome. And it was. Three more kilometres on the crap road surface before the turn-off, and the smooth roads I have come to love in China.

My bedroom for the night

My bedroom for the night

The rainy village in the sun

The rainy village in the sun

The road was a bit rough

The road was a bit rough

Then a steady climb through the grassy yurt valley before the steep climb. I have grown used to these big climbs. I reach the end of the valley, look ahead at the ring of mountains and wonder where the road is going to go. Then I spot the road way up in some impossible place. How is the road going to get there? Well, it does. Somehow.

Yurts

Yurts

High mountain valley

High mountain valley

Top of the pass

Top of the pass

And then the descent to beat all descents. In total the road drops from 3200m to below sea level – over 200km. It drops from the rolling grassy green landscape to the hot, desolate, rocky flats. I stopped after 131km at the edge of the wide flat expanse. The crossing of that to Turpan can wait until tomorrow.

The way down

The way down

It's getting dryer

It’s getting dryer

The dry rocky mountains

The dry rocky mountains


A drop of 1500m over 50km on a smooth road, and a climb of 800m over 40km on the road from hell. The police nearly didn’t let me take the road from hell – it took me two attempts to pass the police checkpoint. I’m all ready for the last climb to over 3000m before the long roll into the below sea-level furnace called Turpan.

A bumpy road

A bumpy road

A day of contrasts. Frost on the tent at 3300m, and the midday heat having lunch at 1800m. A smooth paved road descending 1500m from the heavens, and a bumpy, rocky, sandy road, plied by big trucks ascending back into the heavens. Failure to pass the police checkpoint. I said I wanted to go to Urumqi (which is the same road to Turpan). Then success – I said I wanted to go to Turpan. (I think they know that a cyclist can handle 40km of crap roads to the turnoff to Turpan. The whole 180km on crap roads over a 4000m high pass is a bit much.. ☺)

Summit monument

Summit monument

The long descent

The long descent