So far so good! Since Nanjing we have been bicycling approx. 775 kilometers to Luoyang. In total approx. 1200 kilometer, which is just about 10% of the Silk Route we’re following. Getting into a rhythm took a few days, and I managed to get into my pace at approx. 25 km/hour. The roads are mainly long, flat and a bit dusty. And since I apparently wrote too much about milkshakes and the good food, I’ll share the BND experience with you…
However, let me first start with the cycling itself. Sitting on a bicycle for approx. 8 – 9 hours a day can be boring. After a few days there are all sorts of pains between the legs, for which there is no real medicine. Sometimes I’m OK for the first few hours and then it hits my butt, for no reason the irritation may shift from left to right or it may start in the front then move to the rear. And there are different sorts of pain: irritation, red skin or blisters. The latter I didn’t have, but I’m sure that will occur somewhere the next couple of weeks. Then there’s the pain between the shoulders, right below the neck. Not much to do about, other than try to sit in another position, but then again, bicycle options are limited. It’s different than a business class seat! For the wrist, I can change my grip in max. 4 positions. If the journey would take 4 minutes, that’s a change every minute. Doing that the whole day is nuts…
Things in China are Big. I’m really happy that there are so many bicycle lanes in China. Even in rural areas where there are not so many people, bicycle lanes are quite normal. Bicycle lanes are perfect for car parking, selling all kinds of stuff (sometimes complete markets) or very very slow walking without watching what else is out there. When there are no bicycle lanes available, wide shoulders are usually used for the same. Traffic lights are also quite relaxed. With many traffic lights counting down to ‘zero’ before changing to green, most people start driving at ’10 seconds before green’ making crossing the street is easy. The bigger the city the more of all this is there. In smaller cities, the only main road has it all.
Things in China can be noisy. I am OK with pedestrians and bicycle’s (who ignore everything) and electric scooters (which you don’t hear coming). Cars (using the front wheels to indicate where they are going) and trucks (overloaded and not able to stop) however horn as much as they can. Preferable they horn many kilometers before they will pass you. Sometimes to indicate that they are heading your way, more often to indicate that you need to clear the way although there is more than time enough to do so. The real scary thing out there are the busses. They drive fast, don’t stop, quite often drive on the wrong side of the road, pass cars when it’s actually not possible and do short cuts where ever possible. And it sounds as if their horns are switched on by default.
But that’s just the Big and Noisy. There’s also Dirty. The worst thing is the pollution. Most of the time it’s OK, it’s just like a little fog on an early autumn morning. Never a clear ‘yellow’ sun and usually a gray sky. On some days it can be worse. Lucky for me, we’ve had only one real worse day: when we cycled from Yanling to Dengfeng. Due to a light shower that morning, the dirt would stick to everything. Trucks with coal would pass frequently changing everything along the road into something black. It is actually good sun protection, although it can’t be healthy. Face, ears, arms and legs even my nose was dirty and black.
On such a day good company is important. Quite often I ride together with John and Candice. We have the same interests, the same pace and good fun. That really helps and making a stop somewhere in a small village, buying bananas or drinking an ice tea really makes the day!
@John and Candice: I hope we’ll have many more of these days! Without the BND of course 😉
Will tell you more of the Shaolin temple and Kung Fu next time.