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Toll Booth Willy

By the time this post shows up on the website we should be well across the Northwestern China thanks in part to what I will call “Storming Toll Gates.”

For the the past 5 days and most likely for the week ahead at the time I wrote this (written 27th of May) we have chosen to bend a few rules here in China and jump on the 312 Expressway which does not permit cyclists and where the cars can go at a speed of 120 kph. Now before you all get on your high horses and say “That’s dangerous and illegal” let me paint you a picture of roads here in Northwestern China.

**Side note – For the 2 days following the time I wrote this we were denied entry by toll booth attendants jumping out of their booths and getting in our way. That didn’t stop us today though as we found a whole in the fence and jumped on the expressway.

Tom coming out of the end of the expressway after a day of smooth roads


Given the facts what would you choose.

Smooth roads with shoulders wide enough to park a truck on and still not disturb the 2 lanes beside it. Traffic that may travel fast but is few and far between and generally change to the overtaking lane while passing us. Or would you choose a road (G312) that is bumpy, in some places unpaved, little to no shoulder and where the local buses and trucks barrel down the roads and choose to use their horns to get you to move rather than slowing down.

We chose to “Storm Toll Gates.” In tight formation ready for battle the Braking Boundaries teams rockets toward the toll gate. Toll booth Willy looks on too stunned with events unfolding know what to do. 3 strange bikes and one even stranger looking contraption speed through paying no attention to the barrier, through to the other side and up the on ramp before he can shout out a few words that (I guess) mean “have a safe trip.”

I’m not sure if that is exactly what the 6 toll booth workers were yelling the other day, but it works.

Katie lines up to go through the toll gate


Now I know that in any other country if a police/traffic car saw you on the expressway they would immediately pull you over for questioning and probably a big fine.

Not here in China they don’t!

I must admit that the first time a police car went by I thought “here we go, this will be fun.” But nothing. Even the 2nd and 3rd car had my heart racing, but after seeing a cop car every 20 minutes for a whole day I soon got used to the idea that they didn’t seem to mind that we were on the expressway.

Sure it has it’s disadvantages. For one there are no small shops for coca-cola breaks and that afternoon ice-cream in the desert heat is missed dearly, but while this stretch of the expressway continues to exist (it is supposed to end in the next few days) I’m sure we will continue to storm a toll gate or two ensuring big clear smooth roads that are honk free.

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