Posts Tagged ‘Zhangye’


This morning four cyclists left the hostel in Zhangye on the road to Langzhou. This evening four cyclists arrived in a little village on the side of the freeway. In between we cycled in the drizzle through cultivated land, stopping to eat, drink, and clamber over the fences to get to and from the freeway.

The cycling group of 4

The cycling group of 4

Today was the second time we were refused entry to the freeway. This time, however, the alternative meant backtracking 15km. Instead, we cycled along a dirt track that ran parallel to the freeway until we found a hole in the fence. Today we just did the kilometres and called it a day. The Chinese cycling colleague helped us all find a house that takes guests that I would have never found. Now I know what to look for, I think I can find a place to stay everywhere in small towns far away from the police.

Oh. By the way, in my rest day (another one!) in Zhangye, we discovered that the road to Xining we wanted to take has been closed to foreigners for 30 years. This means another few hundred kilometres of the same flat plains towards Langzhou before climbing to the Tibetan Plateau. Sigh.


How to cycle 244km in one day? Well, don’t plan it. Start at 2am, and cycle with the thought, I need to make the most of right now – there is no wind right now. I pushed, cycling the maximum speed possible at every moment. Living in the now, if you will. The feared wind never came, and the kilometres rolled past. All 244 of them.

244km in one day

244km in one day

It is dark. Everyone is sleeping. Everyone except the night drivers. It is the night shift. Just me and the long-distance truck drivers whoosing past in a blur of spacy multicolour light. And the desert – almost invisible in the shadows to the side.

The sky slowly gains some colour. I notice I can see the desert. The bleak, empty desert I now know all so well. And on the horizon I see some orange and pink. Then I leave the freeway at my planned exit. The only one awake, leaving the realm of the night shift.

Leaving the freeway at dawn

Leaving the freeway at dawn

And the speed continues. I need to make the kilometres before the wind comes. Only it doesn’t. There was even a slight breath of tailwind. I push the speed on. I was already clocking up an impressive distance. Then, suddenly, reaching Zhangye – something that I had never even considered – seemed possible. I flipped into challenge mode. I was going to cycle there in one day. And that is what I did.

Sheep in the river bed

Sheep in the river bed

On a side-note – I had a day off yesterday in Jiayuguan, where I went to look at the Great Wall of China.

The Great Wall

The Great Wall