We have completed the first section of our trip. One rider is leaving (but will return to ride the last section in Turkey), and a few more have joined us.
On our rest day in Xi’an we went on a bus tour to see the Terracotta Warriors. First, our tour bus stopped at a place where they make recreations of the warriors, and we saw a kiln full of them. We also went to the first of many gift shops that we would visit throughout the day.
Then we went to see the real warriors. It was probably the busiest touristy place I’ve ever been to, a real zoo. But it was pretty cool to see the three pits full of warriors. I hope you can get a sense of how big the place is.
Two days ago, we rode from Yanling to Dengfeng, a small town up in the hills.
That was our first time riding up any significant hills – we climbed about 800m that day. Because we had covered more than the originally planned distance on two recent days, yesterday we had a very short 60km ride into Luoyang for our rest day. And it began with a very nice 14km downhill!
We stopped just before the big downhill to watch some kids who were training in kungfu. They train at this school from the age of five til they are sixteen, seeing their parents only once per year. There was a guy their who came from Montreal to train with them!
This morning it was raining a lot. But it was still pretty warm, so the rain was not unpleasant. One of the guys I was riding with got a flat, so we took shelter in the garage of a nearby house to work on the bike. The family who lived there was very nice and even helped us with the repairs.
We had to cross two bridges that were under construction and made of dirt. In the rain, this dirt of course turned into mud. Here is another rider’s picture of one of the bridges:
We had pretty nice weather for the rest of the day, but we passed through a few towns that had garbage everywhere. The smell of garbage was sometimes interrupted by the smell of sewage.
Our lunch stop was set up in the middle of a town, and there were lots of people gathered around to watch us eat.
On most days we see these trucks full of pigs. They are pretty gross so I hadn’t taken a photo of one until now. This truck pulled into the gas station that we stopped at to wash the mud off of our bikes.
I washed my riding clothes in the sink of our hotel room:
Today was really great – the weather was perfect (sunny and not too hot), and the roads were good. There was a 13km section of construction with very rough pavement and dirt, but the mountain bikers among us (myself included) enjoyed the extra challenge.
We saw a giant statue of Confucius that was pretty impressive.
Tonight we’re staying at a pretty nice hotel again. It’s kind of strange – these hotels look at a distance like a very nice four star hotel, but inside are actually a bit dirty and run down. It kind of seems like they were all built twenty years ago and have not been maintained. We are all pretty happy with them though! I’m sure there will be much worse later on.
I am starting to get used to the heat. It’s a good thing because today we biked 160km from Mingguang to Mengcheng.
At the lunch stop, we were informed that our hotel had changed and was now just slightly further down the same road. Later on, the lunch truck drove past and told us that the hotel had changed again! Apparently only certain hotels in China can accept foreign guests.
We are sitting in the karaoke place next to our hotel, using their good wifi. It is definitely the fanciest karaoke place I’ve ever seen. Since we’ve been sitting here, they have played both Gangnam Style and What Does The Fox Say. And they have Marilyn Monroe chairs!
Early on in our ride from Nanjing to Mingguang, we crossed the Yangtze River. Unfortunately the visibility here is really bad, so our view of the river wasn’t very good. The bad visibility is caused by a combination of humidity and pollution, although we don’t know how much there is of each.
It was very hot today, and I now have a tan line on my forehead from my helmet.
Today we arrived in Nanjing for our first rest day. We had a short ride of 120km, and finished early around 1pm. I spent most of the rest of the day eating. Two Magnum ice cream bars, and two full dinners.
The first dinner was standard Chinese food, including some Nanjing salted duck.
The second dinner was at a hot pot place. It was very, very good – and very, very spicy. We each had a few beers and cokes to wash it down.
The noodles are stretched out by a guy who spins them around in the air. At the end of our meal, the waiters all dressed up and did a karaoke song.