Today’s Distance / 今日の走行距離：84.55km
Time on bike / 走行時間：5h 19m
Average speed / 平均速度：15.8km/h
Total distance to date / 現在までの積算距離：1090.8km
It is official. The Chinese need to introduce another national law that requires all babies born to be given chill pills. Maybe then China will be a much more chilled out place. Skip to the bottom of this post if you want to find out why I am really hacked off right now.
The day started well with a 900m vertical metre climb up the face of a mountain. It was cold with snow on the ground and in places on the road. Just before the zig zags began there was a small gathering of yurts where I was invited in for milky tea and stale bread for breakfast. This was a welcome change from noodles.
I had frozen gear cables and brake cables, so I only had one gear and front brakes that locked up at will. Lucky for me, for the first three hours of the day I only needed one gear (the easiest), and going up hill I rarely needed the brakes.
I was secretly stoked at how well my body was coping with the altitude at the top. That was what I was most worried about when considering going this way over to Narat. I had heard many bad things about altitude sickness, and I wasn’t too keen to experience it. However even after being photographed numerous times at the top by rich fourwheel driving Chinese people, I was still feeling fine.
Now, those of you that thought that perhaps my brakes and gears would thaw out once I got going, please think again. No thawing action for me until about half way down the other side. This gave for a much more slow decent than I had hoped for, but the road was bad enough that any great speed would not have been possible anyway.
I took one hour out for lunch at 3500m, and after being given a watermelon by a passing truck (man, that was a good watermelon), I was on my way with brakes and gears all in order. The valley opened up into massive steppe with horsemen driving unsaddled horses down the hills. The road continued to be unsealed, however it was in good enough condition to squeeze up to 45km/h out of the bike (yes, I was wearing my helmet!).
The downhill lasted all day, however the road conditions did not. For the last two hours or so of riding I was riding on pot holes with bits of road interspersed between them. The bike handles the bumps well however, and loose gravel, while scary, is fine as long as you keep a light grip on the steering. Letting the bike go where it wants (to a degree) is the key to keeping it (and you) upright.
So that brings me to what is putting a fire in my bottom tonight. I am currently sitting in my tent that I put up in the dark amongst houses in a small town. I had originally put the tent up in a nice field next to a river after getting the permission of the owner and two uniformed army soldiers. However, at about 9:30pm (20 minutes before dark), four army bigwig-looking fellas stroll up and start asking lots of probing questions about where I had come from, where I plan on going, where is your passport, where is your official itinerary…
It appears that I had pitched my tent too close to a very small army base. “For our safety” we would like for you to move your tent one kilometre away up stream. I didn’t have much option but to pack all my gear up and leave. So there I was fuming as I biked along trying to find another spot to camp in the dark.
I’m a New Zealander, for goodness sake! What on earth could the threat be from me? I guess all foreigners are suspicious until proven otherwise. Or just suspicious full stop. So there we go. If you see an army base in China, just keep biking. If you can see it from your tent, you are a spy.