Daily Archives: October 5, 2013

Day 14 Wuping to Meizhou 124 km

We had a lovely big breakfast, and then set out in 11 degree morning air.  A few km out of town, we ran into mist as we climbed into the hills.  Our big climb was in the morning, with nice cool temperatures, sufficiently so that I put my vest on for the big downhill.  Some lovely old villages in the hills, as well as some larger towns.

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Coming down the hill, I happened to be behind a flatbed truck carrying a backhoe, and I was surprised to see a couple of posters on its rear saying “Canada Rockies”, plus some chinese.  I thought I took a picture, but the camera was probably not fully ready when I pushed the shuttter, because there was no such picture on the memory card..
We rode across a large agricultural plain in the middle of the day,  also a good selection of older houses, including a style built around a small courtyard which we have begun to notice in this region.

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and then through some forrested hills before dropping down into Meizhou.  As we got closer to town, I noticed what appeared to be traditional buildings that were big enough to be institutions like our monasteries.

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I have caught a cold, so I was a little short of energy, but tomorrow is a rest day, so I hope to recover in time for the next riding day.

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Motorcycles & scooters

There is a big range of two-wheelers on the road here.  They certainly outnumber cars.

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In the urban areas, lots of the scooters are electric; some bigger, some smaller, driven by men and women.

Two wheelers are often loaded with lots of people in the city, or with cargo in the country.

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In the country, internal combustion engines dominate; both scooters and motorbikes.  The predominant motorbike by a long shot is 125cc single cyclinder 4 stroke.  Nobody drives them fast, and nobody has a noise-maker exhaust system.  Everybody drives them exactly where and how they please, they do not respect red lights, they go in reverse flow on streets and bike lanes, they cut corners, they shoot out from behind obstacles, and everyone uses their horn to warn other that they are coming through, so intersections are chaotic, to say the least.  Not nearly as busy as India.  That will take a few years….

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Lots of interesting adaptations to bikes and rider gear; very few helmets, and those that exist look like cheap plastic things.  Some men wear construction helmets, generally with the straps blowing in the wind.Very popular is some sort of umbrella/cloth roof to keep the sun off.  People don’t want to get browner here. Whiter is preferred.  Some bikes have hand-covers on their handle bars, not sealed and padded to keep hands warm, but reflective and well ventilated to keep the hands out of the sun. In the early mornings, when the air is cooler, many people — especially women — ride their machines with their jackets on backward.There is one look, which we have dubbed the “Darth Vader” look, which consists of a darkened face shield and  a jacket on backwards.  Will send a picture when I shoot that one!

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I was amazed to find that grass trimmers and chain saws are not noisy here.  Apparently chinese insist on having a good muffler on those things too.  I wish that would catch on at home.

Day 13 Ruijin to Wuping

Today’s ride was 143 km with a substantial hill at the end. 

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It started off nice and cool in the countryside, some rough roads and some construction, a mix of pleasant stretches on quiet country roads and busier secondary roads.

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Construction workers are clearly back at work after the national holiday. We went through one long patch of construction where they appear to have sprayed the gravel with water to keep the dust down.  That got us dirty quickly, as trucks passed us with a fine spray of muddy water coming off their tires.  Fortunately, we were able to keep away from the truck traffic in most places by riding on the freshly built road, along with the motorcycles.
After lunch, the route took us through some forested hills and up to about 500 meters on a relatively quiet and very smooth road.  Fortunately, my body seems to be adapting to this routine, so I was comfortable with the climb and the length of the ride. 
We rode through back hills villages, a mix of the older and newer rural buildings, and little patches of agriculture wherever possible.

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The kids are still out of school, so lots of smiling, waving and some calling out “hello”.

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Day 12 Guangchang to Ruijin (139 km)

Cool morning air for a few hours, until 9:30 or so, then the temperature worked its way up to 34 celsius.

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We rode through lotus growing farms, and, although we are well passed the usual blooming season, we found a few flowers blooming by the side of the road where we could snap pictures of them.  It must be beautiful when whole fields are blooming.

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We were on a reasonably big secondary road, so most of the houses had been modernized, but there were a few examples of interesting older architecture, including white-washed farm buildings with white trim on tile roofs.

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It proved to be a long day, and a number of us were standing on our pedals for most of the last 30km to avoid getting saddle sores!  We are not travel-hardened yet!

Day 11 Lichuan to Guanchang

Misty in the morning;  I had to take off my glasses, and I felt drops of condensation coming from my helmet.  Got out into rural areas quickly on a small two lane road with very little traffic.  Although the Chinese don’t seem to get going terribly early, some people were out gardening before 7.   I imagined these were people who were tending their veges before heading out to their day job.

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Within an hour we were climbing a steep and very rough road into the hills, and the sun burned off the mist on the descent. We saw a lot of citrus fruit growing. 

Picnic lunch was set up on the parking apron of a family house by the side of the road, and  people from the adjacent village came out to watch us eat.    Lots of kids around because of the continuing national holiday.
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Going through a small town, I shot some video, to show what it looks like from the saddle of a bike; there is so much motion and activity which can’t be captured in a snapshot. I am having trouble uploading and attaching this video, so my apologies if it does not show up.

The last 25 km were on a big road that was wide, not very busy, and very smooth, so we picked up the speed and got to the hotel before noon.  As we came in the door, a bridal couple had just arrived and were meeting people coming in the door, so we tried to make it in without spoiling their party.  This couple was younger,more fun and more adventuresome than the previous day’s, and, after talking to Sally, our translator, handed out party favours to many of our group.

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Their friends set off strings of firecrackers that went on for several minutes at a time, making a lot of noise and smoke.  A very festive spirit in the rest of town too; lots of shopping going on in the midst of music and more firecrackers.