East China

Linford, Keith, Ryland and Dale at the Terracotta Army, Xi'an
Linford, Keith, Rylan and Dale at the Terracotta Army, Xi’an

Leg 9 Summary: East China

From Day 95 (September 15th) to Day 107 (September 28th)

Leg 9 totals: 904.1 miles, 18,332ft and 70:58 hours riding

Accumulated totals: 7914.9 miles, 170,212ft and 618.40 hours riding

Day 94: Sunday September 15th:

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Route Day 94 – September 15th

Ride through Map of Day 94.

Market gardens
Market gardens
Market gardens
Market gardens
Market gardens
Market gardens
Another hotel
Another hotel
Mountains and terraced farming
Mountains and terraced farming
Dale not phased by the rain. [Also that jacket looks familiar: Ed]
Dale not phased by the rain. [Also that jacket looks familiar: Ed]

It was another overcast day and quite cold but no rain is forecast; good news. Either we are getting used to the Chinese breakfast or they are getting better, either way we enjoyed the breakfast athough the boiled egg police were on duty. Keith and I managed to steal an extra boiled egg on the way out but were probably caught on camera!

We are heading to Pingliang which is a city on the other side of a small autonomous region we will pass through today. We have had a few problems staying in the autonomous regions so the camping gear is on standby. Both Linney & I have ditched our emergency pot noodles; hopefully we will not need them!

We got going just before 09:00 knowing we had another big climb this morning at  about 30 miles. Some parts are at 18%, but no big deal, it just means we will be riding for a bit longer. The good news is it is all down hill after the climb. We’ve heard that before though.

As we reached the first part of one of the steep parts a guy tried to sell Linney a bag of marijuana but he just smiled and said I will need more than that to get up here no handed. We soon passed the first steep bit and then got into a rhythm, enjoying the landscape and the good roads. We had our first garage stop for a while as we were all craving a bit of chocolate so had a short break a soft drink and awhite chocolate wafer. Not the best but the only thing they had.

We decided to have lunch at the small town of Liupanshan around 14 miles away, all up hill, with the added bonus that that was the end of the climbing for today. With lunch on the agenda Linney sped off, Keith & I followed, only to be flagged down by a car full of Chinese tourists, for the normal photo-shoot (the first time without Linney). We left them waving and cheering us, which was all very weird. With the Garmin showing the last steep bit, the road ramped up, but all was ok. As we came around the corner there was a tunnel through the mountain; result! it meant we missed the final 18% climb, but had to endure 1.5 mile dark tunnel. I thought the tunnel was worse as I could not see a thing.

Linney met us just as we came out of the tunnel as we rolled down to Liupanshan. For lunch we had the pick and mix soup; just pick what vegetables you want, then they add them to the soup. Really nice and filling.

After lunch it was a nice ride into Pingliang, with the Ibis hotel pin-dropped we went straight to the hotel and got booked in, within the hour; believe me that is good. Another bonus as they had washing machines there, so we all had are laundry done as well; good stuff.

We had a great meal around the corner from the hotel in a small café/restaurant. It seated about ten. Everyone was taking pictures and the owner was playing his guitar and singing with all the guests having a chat with us via google translate or their version of it.

A good night had by all. We finished off with an ice cream from a local shop, with another photo shoot.

Day 95: Monday September 16th:

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Route Day 95 – September 16th

Ride through Map of Day 95.

Linford and Dale preparing to leave the relative luxury of an Ibis Hotel
Linford and Dale preparing to leave the relative luxury of an Ibis Hotel
Individually wrapped fruits! But which?
Individually wrapped fruits! But which?
Strange looking plant. White Yam (Dioscorea rotundata)
Strange looking plant. White Yam (Dioscorea rotundata)
The Garmin routed us over this bridge!
The Garmin routed us over this bridge!
The Garmin routed us over this bridge!
The Garmin routed us over this bridge!
Awesome building
Awesome building
Fantastical countryside
Fantastical countryside
New road development - which we used!
New road development – which we used!

Breakfast at Tiffany’s – well the Ibis hotel in Pingliang. I spotted the cereal last night so had a nice bowl of bran flakes and warm almond milk – very good. Then an omelette; a fully western breakfast for me but Keith and Linney stayed with the oriental breakfast.

As we got the bikes ready it was the same old banter; all down hill today, and 74 miles to Changqingqiao. We have heard it all before. It was nice and easy out of the city through one straight road onto the 318 minor road. As we thought it was slightly down hill, with a nice wide hard shoulder to ride on. However this soon changed as we were heading for the rural soft fruit area. The road did get worse but nothing too bad; just a few pot holes and bumps and a bit like riding in East Kent.

Not only the roads but also the fruit growing in the fields and poly-tunnels. It was mile after miles of strawberries, grapes and melons as we rode through the small villages. We had a little stop at a derelict footbridge across the river, just looking to see if we could cross it. It was a bit too dangerous even for Keith, but did bring back memories of crossing a similar bridge in Germany on a previous tour (nowhere near as bad condition though).

We rode onto the town of Jingchuan for lunch and just as we entered the town, we came across the temple museum. Very ornate buildings but unfortunately it was under refurbishment so we could not go in. An impressive complex though.

After lunch we rode out of town still in the belief that it was downhill all the way to Changqingqiao, with a few road works. We soon hit a new section of road that was not open yet but as before we just rode on, the workers taking our pictures and videoing us as we started climbing. It was just a quick 4 mile climb as they had re-routed the road; it was all good though with no traffic but it did seem to go on forever.

After the climb that should not have been there the rural landscape reappeared this time with miles and miles of apple orchards, again like Kent. I’ve never seen so many orchards. Keith & I got caught scrumping but we only took a few apples as we did not have dessert. I’m not sure what the Chinese guy said but he did not sound too pleased. We just smiled and rode on with the apples.

We soon hit the what must be the capital of the apple growing world in this part of China “Changqingqiao”. Linney had actually found a place on booking.com, so we all thought it would be a breeze getting into the hotel/hostel but it still a bit of a palaver; first with the owner and then with the police turning up with the tourist documents. It was all sorted in the end.

Day 96: Tuesday September 17th:

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Route Day 96 – September 17th

Ride through Map of Day 96.

Looks lovely!
Looks lovely!

With no breakfast at the luxurious hotel Linney had booked, or for that matter hot water, in the taps and bloody freezing, we had our oat flakes with almond milk and coffee in the room. His strategy was save a pound on this one then go up market in Xi’an. The hotel was also overlooking the main road with lovely vista (with overcast skies and the trucks thundering along).

By the time we were ready to leave the overcast skies had turned to pouring rain. With the normal good-byes to the owner, it was just a matter of getting out there. Without a faint heart we hit the road.

With the rain getting heavier I had to stop and take my glasses off as I could not see with them on and certainly could not see when I took them off, but hey ho all I have to do is pedal; Keith and Linney tell me where to go.

With the rain not easing but the banter increasing it’s just sexy rain said Keith as he guided me through the puddles.

With the fruit farms slowly disappearing and being replaced first by light industry andthen by heavy industry – including a massive coal mine and with us splattered by road dirt, we were now covered in coal dust as we cycled past the mining complex for around 15 miles. At this point Linney was in front by a country mile mainly due to the numerous nature stops the old men have to take; not a problem in front, as we all have the gear for emergency repairs. Also we knew Linney would stop when he got hungry, usually on the hour or at the most two hours.

We were making good progress even as we started the only climb of the day a 12 mile steady climb with the odd steep bit. As we came up to one of the last steep bits my chain came off causing a little tumble. I was not not hurt and nothing a few choice words could not sort out. I was more concerned with falling into the traffic than anything else

With a few rest days in Xi’an we will be able to undertake a few minor tweaks to the bikes. Basically a good clean, tighten up the cables, replace the brake blocks and possibly replace the chain at least. Suitably recovered from my fall and with my Tourettes back under control we started to look for Linney, as it is getting close to feeding time.

With no signal Keith and I pulled into a service station to see if we could get a signal. The station was closed so we moved on to the next one. Here the guys were really helpful and let us log on to their WIFI. Within minutes we were in contact with Linney. He had been waiting for us down the road – no problem as it was only 9 miles between us. So Keith and I had a blast from the past; a Pot Noodle and then a coffee from the same container while we waited for Linney.

Within ½ an hour we were all back together with a nice 10 mile roll into the posh hotel Linney had promised us. To be honest he did himself proud as the Tongkung International Hotel was excellent with the booking in process very smooth. I hope this is a sign of things to come. We have a little 40 mile ride tomorrow and then a few rest days, while we set up Rylan for the final stage into Shanghai.

Day 97: Wednesday September 18th:

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Route Day 97 : September 18th

Ride through Map of Day 97.

WhatsApp Image 2019-09-21 at 12.13.03(1)
Amazing building
Translating
Translating
A bike for Rylan?
A bike for Rylan?

Breakfast at the hotel was a mixture of Eastern and Western styles with both chopsticks and knife & forks, with coffee thrown in as well. All very good; spoiling ourselve’s a little now.

Even though we only had around 45 miles to do today we wanted to get to Xi’an as early as possible, get the hotel sorted, bikes cleaned and maintained and sort out how we are going to get up to the airport to meet Rylan. We left just before 9, joined our friend the 312 road, and rode on.

We hit the outskirts of Xi’an just after 11 and then joined the traffic for the final 15 miles to the hotel right in the centre. To be fair, for a massive city of 12 million people, it was not that bad. We had a bit of luck at the hotel as it had an English manager. He managed to get us sorted very quickly. He was a very down to earth guy and let us take our filthy bikes up to the room and then suggested we get them in the shower and said do not worry about the mess. He then advised us where to go what to visit and the best places to eat.

After we settled down we took the bikes minus the panniers for a quick ride around the city and located a bike shop. Keith and I left our bikes there,for a minor service; tightened cables, replace chain, new brake blocks etc; nothing too serious.

With that Linney rode back to the hotel and Keith and I got a taxi to the cycle shops that Rylan had been looking at online. We managed to find a couple of suitable bikes for him, and said we would return the next day and try a few of them out. As normal we managed to find a bar to rest up in before we made are way to the airport.

We were at Terminal 2 arrivals at the airport thinking  ‘nothing can go wrong’, with WIFI connections and 4G we should be able to find him, though we did not know if Rylans phone would work. He came through the domestic terminal 2, but then went to Terminal 3 to a get SIM card. After a bit of flapping about he managed to get his phone working, all the messages came through and we met up in terminal 3 only 500m away. Then it was a taxi back to city followed by a celebration meal and a few beers in the bar by the hotel.

Now there are four!

Day 98: Thursday September 19th:

Terracotta Army in Xi'an
Terracotta Army in Xi’an

Terracotta Army in Xi'anTerracotta Army in Xi'anTerracotta Army in Xi'anTerracotta Army in Xi'anTerracotta Army in Xi'an

It was a rest day in Xa’in. Rylan got his bike in the morning and we went to see the Terracotta Army in the afternoon.

Day 99: Friday September 20th:

Another rest day in Xi’an. We our serviced bikes and picked up Rylans bike. We then researched where we could watch the opening game of the Rugby World Cup. No luck. It’s not looking good rugby-wise at the moment.

Day 100: Saturday September 21st:

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Route Day 100 – September 21st
Rylan crossing the Bahe river in Xi'an
Rylan crossing the Bahe river in Xi’an
No idea what this is a monument to
No idea what this is a monument to
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Indian Red Admiral (Vanessa indica)
Rylan taking a break
Rylan taking a break

Linford, Rylan and Dale

On a track past the Power Station
On a track past the Power Station
Cycling an old track besides an old Power Station
Cycling an old track besides an old Power Station
Cycling an old track besides an old Power Station
Cycling an old track besides an old Power Station
Pitstop with terraced mountains
Pitstop with terraced mountains
From the hotel
From the hotel

Now there are Four of us! We had breakfast in the hotel before we started the final leg of our epic travels. It seems a bit surreal to be this close to our destination. We will, however, be cycling in Japan; we just have not planned anything yet. A bit like this trip! We are not even sure of the route we will be taking to Shanghai; essentially just head east.

Getting out of Xi’an,w as a little bit easier than anticipated although it still took nearly two hours to get out of the built up area. We did ride the expressway until the first toll, then we were politely told we had to leave it. It stayed pretty built up all day; out of one town into the next. Rylan settled in easily and just got on with pedalling; easy concept, We went through Lintong (home of the terracotta army), very early on and only stopped to tighten up Linney’s saddle.

We rode on to Weinan for lunch and introduced Rylan to the delights of the small roadside café. The food was really good again; a big bowl of noodle soup with tomatoes and eggs – very filling. We could not make out if Rylan was trying to extend the lunch break or if he was having trouble with the chopsticks. It’s quite difficult to eat the soup with chopsticks but with a months practise we are pretty good now; otherwise we would have starved.

Even though we were going through town after town the mountains adjacent to the road were impressive rising up very steeply. We stopped again with just under twenty miles to go for an ice cream and trying to lure Rylan into a false sense of security, with all the nice things; sun shining, nice roads, ice creams what more could you want.

Linney had different plans though and thought we would take a short cut around a power station – all good fun, roads/tracks like Ukraine. It only lasted a couple of miles, but it did bring us back to normality. When the track was finished we just had a roll into the Huazhou. We booked into the hotel quite quickly, although it was a bit expensive; again showing Rylan all the nice stuff. We’ll probably camp tomorrow!

Day 101: Sunday September 22nd:

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Route Day 101 – September 22nd

Flythrough Map of Day 101 Part a, and Part b (with several backtracks).

With a decent breakfast inside us we left the hotel around 08:30 and got back on the busy A310. We’ll probably be on this road all day as we go in and out of the hectic towns and as we follow the Yellow River.

Keith, Dale and Rylan
Keith, Dale and Rylan

We have a steady ride planned for the day and we just cruised through the miles laughing and joking as we went along. We were mainly telling Rylan about his duties for the day; first job of the day – order the lunch. He did a grand job as went for our staple diet with a few twists, by adding couple items we had not tried. It’s always good to mix it up a little.

Keith and a freshwater turtle. From the Yellow river?
Keith and a freshwater turtle from the Yellow river.

We enjoyed the company in the café, and they all came over for the obligatory photographs. It took us an age to leave but it was all good fun. We even took the Sterling currency out for them to take photos of; very weird. As we left the café Keith had a little play in the river and pulled out a soft shell turtle possibly a (Rafetus swinhoei: [unlikely – this is the Yangtze giant softshell turtle, which is almost extinct – only 3 known specimens. More likely to be Chinese softshell turtle (Pelodiscus sinensis): Ed]) or one the café had lined up for their guests.

Looks like another puncture
Looks like another puncture
Taking a dirt road for a change
Taking a dirt road for a change
Looking over the Yellow River?
Looking over the Yellow River?

After lunch we carried on with the steady pace as Linney had changed the route slightly so we could get to the hotel in good time for the rugby! So we came off the 310 and hit the back roads where the fun began. The first part was no problem but then the road got a little bit bumpy. I dropped behind as I had a puncture and then I lost sight of them. I carried on going and came to a bit of junction where I turned east as I thought that was the best option. Then I had another puncture on the rocky road and still had no sign of the others.

I took stock and decided to head for the 310 road again. It was a bit difficult but finally I managed to locate the super highway. Nothing for it but to push the fully laden bike up the incline then over the barrier and onto the super highway. First I checked that I am heading the correct way (East); result yes. So just hit the highway.

Rylan and Linford meet some fellow cyclists
Rylan and Linford meet some fellow cyclists

Unknown to me Keith had gone back to look for me and as I have no Chinese SIM card I can only message with a WIFI connection. As we are all capable of looking after ourselves Keith had a look around and then got back onto the 310 road. Unfortunately he was going in the wrong direction and ended up doing 15 miles before realising.

Probably a 'welcome' sign
Probably a ‘welcome’ sign
Another straight road
Another straight road
Linford - relaxed
Linford – relaxed
Panorama over the Yellow River valley
Panorama over the Yellow River valley
The Yellow River
The Yellow River
Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River
The Yellow River at Sanmenxia
The Yellow River
The Yellow River
Roadside grapes and grape juice
Roadside grapes and grape juice
Corn on the cob amd monkey-nuts, drying in the sun
Corn on the cob amd monkey-nuts, drying in the sun
Rylan on the underpass
Rylan on the underpass

I knew the city we were heading for, but not the hotel so just rode to the city and with the light fading and no WIFI signal my plan was to get to the park that we bookmarked this morning then find the first hotel and have a beer. As I got close to the park I found a hotel, booked in and raided the fridge and took all their beers. I touched base with Linney and Rylan to let them know where I was and arranged to meet them in the morning.

Rylan tucking into dinner
Rylan tucking into dinner

Though Keith was still not in he was in contact with the boys. It was not a great finish to the day but a good lesson learnt; keep together! All in all Linney and Rylan did 85 miles, I did 90 miles and Keith did a massive 125 miles.

Day 102: Monday September 23rd:

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Route Day 102 – September 23rd

Fly-through Map of Day 102.

Proper fancy
Proper fancy
Checking out
Checking out

Although the team split across two hotels we got ourselves sorted with the faithful social media sites. I sat in my hotel foyer and watched last nights rugby on my phone while the rest got ready and cycled the 1.5 miles to meet me.

With a few pleasantries and nods of the head we then the exchange of route details so everyone has the details of the intended hotel. Though this is pretty difficult as the route does change throughout the day. As we left the city of Sannemxia we had the choice of the toll road (we are not allowed on it but sometimes they let us or the 310 which is being worked on and so is very bumpy.

We went for the toll road option and rode all in formation as we passed the barrier. The guy shouted at us but we just waved and pedalled through. It was all ok – even though a police car passed us almost immediately it just drove straight past. On the smooth road we started to get a decent pace going which changed when we hit a steady climb. It was nothing too serious just a long drag that went on for about 9 miles.

Loading the bikes onto the truck
Loading the bikes onto the truck
Travelling in style
Travelling in style
Rylan and Linford on the flatbed truck
Rylan and Linford on the flatbed truck
On the road
On the road
Linford taken for a ride
Linford taken for a ride

Just as we reached the summit there was trouble ahead. The traffic marshals pulled us over and we acted all innocent although it was fairly obvious they would not let us continue on the road. It did seem that all they wanted to do was take pictures of us. We just sat on the Armco barrier laughing and joking. Then the police turned up; same procedure – pictures of us all and then the flat bed truck turned up. We put the bikes on the back with us sitting against them. Nothing was tied on and with loads of shouting and pointing (not aggressive – as always because we do not understand, they tend to shout lounder and gesticulate like mad). We had no idea where they were taking us but it ended up about a 10 mile trip to the next toll station. They say it was dangerous to ride on the road but in my humble opinion if was far more dangerous to ride on the flat bed truck at 60/70 mph. It was a pretty good experience though and a bit of a laugh.

Corn on the cob amd monkey-nuts, drying in the sun
Corn on the cob amd monkey-nuts, drying in the sun

We said our goodbyes to the police and flatbed truck driver and then started our ride again. It was a shame we did not gain any time after all the fussing around. Rylan was a bit disappointed as he thought they were taking us to our hotel at Luoyang.

The road was not in the best condition as they were building a new road adjacent to the old road which made for difficult technical riding at some points. We stopped for lunch at a small place called Chang cun zhen and met a Chinese guy who was cycling from Xi’an to Beijing. Wetried to have a little chat but his English was like my Chinese. We ended up just smiling and riding together for a few miles.

The ride into Luoyang was difficult to say the least. It was like riding through a building site with trucks and buses trying to sneak past you as cranes lifted sections of the new road in to place; it was chaos.

Rylan, Dale, Keith and Linford
Rylan, Dale, Keith and Linford. End of day beers

As always Linney guided us to the hotel and booked in with consummate ease and with the added bonus of cold beers from the shop inside the hotel. Rylan is getting the hang of it now.

Day 103: Tuesday September 24th:

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Route Day 103 – September 24th

Fly-through Map of Day 103.

We had a nice breakfast at the hotel before we left; a mixture of both East and West cultures. It’s nice to mix them up a bit and especially nice to have a hot coffee as we have not seen that very often these last few weeks.

Rylan and Dale take a back road
Rylan and Dale take a back road
Getting through town
Getting through town

We hit the road around 08:30 and were straight into the same road-works we had last night. The road system in Luoyang will be amazing when it is finished however it is terrible now. It took us at least 1 ½ hours to get out of the city; we were going around in circles, up un-paved road, into dead-ends  and all sorts of crap roads. To cap it all Rylan had his first fall on his new bike and then blamed me for being slow too crossing the busy intersection. No damage to the bike just a bit of scuffed bar tape (how will I sell this on e-bay now was his only concern?).

Eventually we got onto the new road and then had a couple of hours of good riding which put us back on track to complete the 90 odd mile ride we had planned for today.

We stopped for lunch just before the town of He luo zhen in a tiny café just at the top of a little climb. We all had a massive bowl of noodle soup. Rylan takes an age to eat his with the chop sticks though he is getting better and not spreading the noddles around so much.

After lunch we carried on the new road for about 5 miles but then came to a big barrier across the road; closed! Linney was onto the maps like a hawk. I think we have an option; take this little road over the mountain and we should be able to re-join the road later.

Landslide and road closure
Landslide and road closure
Dirt road detour
Dirt road detour

We all nodded in agreement and started the climb. About half way up we stopped at a junction to check the maps. Rylan mad a little quip, “i’s like we don’t have a clue where we are”. Yep he is right, but nothing can go wrong. We ended up above the closed road but separated by a steep ravine that had partially collapsed,. That’s why the road was closed!

Nice shortcut Dale
Nice shortcut Dale

We all surveyed the options and none of them looking promising. Finally we settled on getting the bikes over an Armco barrier riding down a dirt track onto the road. We all dgot own with no dramas, just two punctures for Rylan and I. We fixed them and set of past the collapsed bank and after a few miles came to another barrier; the workmen just opened it for us with a smile.

Troglodyte houses?
Troglodyte houses? Is that our road over there?
Linford and Rylan being chased by a pirate
Linford and Rylan being chased by a pirate

Though these adventures had delayed us a little, we all treated it as a bit of a joke, riding on the closed road was fun. We even went through a mile long tunnel – all good fun – before we joined onto the rest of the traffic.

A wave from the local kids
A wave from the local kids

The ride into Zhengzhou was an absolute pleasure from stopping to have a bag of grapes about 15 miles out of the city centre we rode through immaculate parks past massive sports stadiums and busy street-life culture; very impressed. The city did get really busy in the centre but it was nothing we could not handle. We booked into the hotel with no problems and I think we are now out of the tourist hotel madness, as they are all keen to take us now.

Day 104: Wednesday September 25th:

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Route Day 104 – September 25th

Fly-through Map of Day 104.

It was a nice early breakfast this morning although that did not make any difference to our starting time. Rylan had a flat back tyre as we rolled the bikes out but they were both still doing their hair, so Keith and I sorted the flat out and mended a few inner tubes while we watched the world go by. Eventually they come out looking very smart after the laundry run last night.

Arriving in town
Leaving town

We left the hotel around 08:30 through the busy streets of Zhengzhou. We had rode about 15 miles yesterday into the city and did at least the same again to get out of the city though the road was very good with plenty of room for cyclist and the electric scooters.

No sooner where we out of the city when we hit the next town. We were just rolling from town to town on busy streets. This is how it going to be now.

Arriving at a garden city
Arriving at a garden city

With flat busy roads we kept up a good pace hitting the next big city of Kaifeng just in time for lunc. We rode through the suburban area then into the heart of the city and stopped in a busy local café for lunch. As it was so busy we chose the best option; pick what the locals are eating. But it was not a great strategy Rylan ended up with a fish soup and he hates sea food! Linney had local soup; not great, Keith had chicken bones, while I had a salad and Rylan’s fish soup (I quite liked it). It was all finished off with an ice-cream from the shop over the road.

Arriving at a garden city
Arriving at a garden city

With just over 30 miles to go it was a breeze getting into Lankao. We went straight into the hotel. It was not the best but certainly good enough for the night. We booked in and then did some essential bike maintenance. I replaced the chain I had changed in Xi’an!

Day 105: Thursday September 26th:

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Route Day 105 – September 26th

Fly-through Map of Day 105.

Many Happy Returns to Mum/Nana on her 83rd Birthday. We hope she has a great day. We did send a card from Xi’an but not sure when it will arrive. [Not yet arrived, but she did love the presents you ordered: Ed]

With England playing rugby today we had planned (loosely) to have a relatively short day and leave early so we can get the streaming sorted on the PC. It’s all about the planning.

The first bit of the plan worked a treat as we were on the road around 08:15. Once we are out of the city is was a straight forward road to Shangqiu around 65 miles away. Very soon we were out of Lankao keeping up a good pace as always happens when there is rugby on. We were flying through the villages and towns with nothing very exciting to report; just eating up the miles. We did stop at a little fruit-sellers stall for an Asian pear; the guy was really good and gave us a little seat to sit as we watched the traffic pass by.

Three Amigos ride again
Three Amigos ride again

Soon we are on are way again and still keeping up a good pace. Before we knew it we had less than 20 miles to go so we stopped in a small village for some lunch. Rylan is still having problems with the chop sticks but said he was starving so he was going to eat his noodles (it looked like spaghetti bolognaise) even if it took him all day. To be fair he is riding really well, so we need to slow him up a bit.

Probably the fanciest hotel yet
Probably the fanciest hotel yet

With the city limits clearly visible we rolled into Shangqiu through a park that will be nice when its finished with boating lakes and gardens spread across a wide area. It looks like it’s a couple of months away before it fully opens. It’s a shame but the same can be said for the hotel we had pin-dropped; still under construction – nothing like a good plan! I think Linney and Rylan knew because they soon had an alternative hotel about a mile away. If Carlsberg made hotels it would be up there with the best; no arguments from Keith & I as we watched the wedding party have their photo shoot. It made a change for us not to be invited in but it was probably something to do with the cycling shorts I am wearing same pair for over a 100 days! They are a bit worn to say the least!

Getting through the buffet
Getting through the buffet – who’s the 10 year-old with Dale?

Keith is currently doing his IT stuff and trying to get the rugby on a live-stream; work in progress [I don’t think they are having any luck with live-streams or VPNs: Ed]

Well Keith failed his IT test as he could not connect to the UK VPN so we could not watch the rugby on the big screen. Plan B was to watch it on Rylans phone while we had our buffet dinner in probably the 2nd poshest hotel we had stayed in. As we sat down for the buffet dinner the poor lady came over and said we had to pay the equivalent of about £20 for the dinner. It was all paid so then the flood gates opened. I know Linney had enough for all of us though we all had are fair share, especially as the beers were also included. We spent 2 ½ hours there all told and it was 80 quid well spent.

Day 106: Friday September 27th:

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Route Day 106 – September 27th

Fly-through Map of Day 106.

With breakfast at 06:30, I for one was still full up from last night but managed to eat quite a lo. Once again it was difficult to get Linney out of the place and Rylan was in heaven using the knife and forks. We all left the breakfast area with our pockets bulging with fruit and sweets.

It was very easy to get out of Shangqiu being a new city it was all designed in grids similar to US citie although there must have been at least forty high rise buildings in various stages as we left the city behind us. It is unbelievable how much construction is taking place all over China.

With all of us all feeling good, the road clear and with long flat stretches we pushed the pace a little. It was nothing too difficult and we met two Chinese guys on mountain bike with panniers. It looked like they were doing a bit of touring but we could not understand them at all. We cycled with them for a while then pulled off the road for a soft drink at a small village (Zhongfeng). We sat on four chairs in the middle of a service station much to the amusement of the staff.

Corny I know
Sweetcorn drying. Corny I know

Then we pushed on again through miles and miles of sweetcorn drying off on the side of the road. We rode for over 30 miles with the stuff spread out on every available space. As we entered the small town of Yongcheng we decided to stop for lunch; not much choice, but chose a little place on the high street between the tyre shops and market stalls. We only lasted 2 minutes as Keith could not put up with the blokes shouting so we rode on a few miles then stopped at a small road-side café.

Crops
Crops
What's that? Dog cages?
More corn drying.

The owner and his wife were really pleased to serve us taking pictures and laughing at our attempts to order the food. The food was very basic but filling and the bread was the best we have had in China. They laughed at Rylan making a sandwich; you never know it may catch on! Even the resident mouse made an appearance running across the floor and under our table while we were eating.

A great avenue
A great avenue

The last 20 miles were through industrial areas with coal mines and power stations every couple of miles. Then it was a simple run into the city of Huaibei. The first hotel was fully booked so we rode ¼ mile down the road to the next cheapest one and it was all sorted in ½ hour.

Day 107: Saturday September 28th:

20190928_ridewithgpsmap
Route Day 107 – September 28th

Fly-through Map of Day 107.

It’s Debbie’s Birthday so I wished her happy birthday this morning and got an instant reply from Texas; it was a couple of hours early in her time-zone. It’st the thought that counts.

The youngsters getting a bit used to the early starts (not that early). Now we are getting further East it is light at 7 now, whereas in Kashgar it did not get light till after 8, although it get dark really around 7 at night.

Leaving town
Leaving town

So we got away around 08:15 with 90 odd miles planned (but not routed) today. We all decided to break the back of the ride in the early section through the industrial landscape littered with power stations, coalmines and heavy engineering works. It kept Keith and I occupied while riding, but not sure if the “young uns” enjoyed the scenery much.

Then it all changed back to agriculture land and we were riding up tree lined roads with plenty of shade. It was very nice riding and we were eating up the miles on long flat roads. Just after Suzhou we stopped for the obligatory soft drink. We were sitting outside a local shop with the lady secretly taking pictures of us. Linney and Rylan are smiling at them. We are all very used to it now.

We carried on to the lunch stop still through the agriculture landscape though the roads had go a bit wider. With nearly 60 miles done we stopped at a small family run café; like a pick and mix with the vegetables. I’m not sure what Linney and I picked, but plate after plate kept coming and a big bowl of soup. We manged to eat all of it, much to the surprise of the owners, they even let us off some of the bill. They probably feeling sorry for the starving English guys.

As we left to carry on out came the phones again for a quick picture. With less than 30 miles to go it was a bit of a straight run into Bengbu though we said we may stop for a drink about half-way as it was quite warm – around 34 degrees and quite humid. Very nice conditions to ride in really.

With 10 miles to go we pulled into a little village shop. Well we thought it was little. Once they set eyes on Linney and Rylan the whole village turned out, from Grandmother (for Keith and I) to their teenage nieces and daughters. The phones were going wild with the pictures. We had a couple of beers and a bit of a laugh with the villagers and then said our goodbye with a smile and a wave.

The Huaihe river on the apparoach to Bengbu
The Huaihe river on the apparoach to Bengbu
The Huaihe river on the apparoach to Bengbu
The Huaihe river on the apparoach to Bengbu

We carried on to Bengbu, a big bustling city, to our hotel. We did get an offer of a local stay with a Chinese cyclist on the run in but it was pretty difficult with four of us so we smiled said thank you but we had a hotel booked. Fair play he guided to the hotel – nice guy.

 

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