It’s been seven days now since we were sitting in the comforts of our Xi’an hostel (elevation 500 meters) surfing the net on our wireless computers trying to overcome the boredom of the 8 day visa delay and wanting nothing more than to ride.
That feeling has fast been replaced by the struggle to recall what happened over the past week, where I slept, what the weather was like, even what day it was. So I thought I’d do a quick review of the past week before I totallly forget.
We didn’t get on the road until well after 2pm from Xi’an due to David’s cracked rim (jokes welcome) but still managed to cover a decent distance. Having spent time studying terrain maps of the area we were heading toward meant that after this day the flat road would soon disappear – and that it did.
Our first day in the hills, while hard, was the most fun we had had all trip, especially when the adventurous side took over and we all hauled our bikes onto an unfinished expressway that (looking at the chinese map) would parellel the road we should have been on.
Cruising along now going through unfinished tunnels, around big holes in the road and past Chinese workers who would either stare or cheer and even passing through a checkpoint where the guard simply lifted the gate and let us on through – what could possibly go wrong?
Broken spoke anyone? Yep, David’s rear wheel that was respoked (very poorly) in Xi’an.
So Katie took a nap
This wouldn’t stop us enjoying our day. Not even rain was going to dampen our spirits. That was until the unfinished expressway took a turn in a direction that didn’t make much sense. Surely it was going to come back right?
Wrong! 20km of going uphill in the rain came to an abrupt end when Tom and I heard 2 dull thuds come from the unfinished tunnel at the top of the hill. They were still blasting the damn thing, so back we went slightly disheartened and cold to stay at nearest village back on the right road. (elevation 1200 meters)
Even though the last 20km ended up being fruitless we had still managed to avoid trucks and honking the whole day, so the day still went in the win column.
We were greeted the next day by a beautiful morning and stunning scenery and a full day of up up up. New record 1700 meters.
And again the next day – up, up, up. Would it ever end.
Pulling in to a small town after a long day of up (at 1900 meters now) and looking forward to the fact that we had been on the road 5 days and tomorrow would be a rest day we found ourselves being singled out again as the local police were called to the hotel and we were made to fill out registration forms – no biggie.
But wait. It’s 10:30 at night and now we look mexican. Break out the towns ministry of health and 2 masked nurses we must have the swine flu.
The advanced test of a thermometer under the armpit for 15 minutes soon proved that we were H1N1 free, even though we had been in China for 40 days now, long before the swine flu existed.
As you can guess a unanomous decision was made to get the hell out of dodge. Rest day would have to wait for another day of up up up through some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen and that says a lot coming from a Kiwi.
New elevation record of 2278 meters !!!!!!
As I sit here now smokey Wang Ba (internet cafe) of the small town of DingXi at an elevation of around 1800 meters I’ve had time to reflect on the past weeks riding and while it has been at times incredibly difficult it has definitely been the most rewarding part of the trip so far and I can’t wait to get on my bike and ride again tomorrow.
What will the next week bring? Stay tuned.