Japan World Cup Rugby Final

Mt Fuji - clear at last
Mt Fuji – clear at last

Note

Keith and Linford don’t ride this week but rather travelled around with Charlee and Camilla. Some photos are posted below.

Meanwhile Dale continues to ride around Honshu Island as he returns to Osaka.

Charity Update

Many thanks to those that have donated.

20191101_CharityDonations

Map and bike and bear
Map and bike and Slide Away bear

Week 20 Summary: Dale’s Tour

Dale has been looping around Honshu Island and this week returns to Osaka from Yokohama via Mt Fuji. He then takes a train to Yokohama to rendezvous with everyone else for the Rugby World Cup Final: England vs South Africa.

This map shows this weeks ride.

This week: 334 miles, 19655 ft climbing and 30:06 hours riding

This map shows Dale’s Japan Tour.

Japan totals: 792 miles, 48019 ft climbing and 68:07 hours riding

Dale Day 8: Sunday October 27th:

Dale didn’t ride today but stayed in Yokohama to watch the Rugby World Cup semi-final between Wales and South Africa: the Boks won 19-16.

Yesterday Dale watched England vs New Zealand in the other semi-final. England stuffed the All Blacks 19-7.

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At the Rugby World Cup semi-final: England 19 New Zealand 7
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Dale and friends at the Rugby World Cup semi-final: England 19 New Zealand 7

Dale also saw the Wales vs South Africa semi-final, but its wasn’t such a great game.

At the Rugby World Cup semifinal: Wales vs South Africa
At the Rugby World Cup semifinal: Wales vs South Africa
At the Rugby World Cup semifinal: Wales vs South Africa
At the Rugby World Cup semifinal: Wales vs South Africa
At the Rugby World Cup semifinal: Wales vs South Africa
At the Rugby World Cup semifinal: Wales vs South Africa
At the Rugby World Cup semifinal: Wales vs South Africa
At the Rugby World Cup semifinal: Wales vs South Africa

Dale Day 9: Monday October 28th:

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Route Japan Day 9 (Dale) – October 28th

I’m back on the road again after two days watching the Rugby semi-finals. I went to both games: Saturday’s was excellent, a great game from an England perspective but unfortunately the Sunday game was a bit of a damp squid and never really got going with South Africa running out the eventual winners,

I met the guys running Ron Rutland’s press releases (him and a guy called James cycled from Wales to Japan, they have loads of sponsors and even brought the whistle out for the first game) one of their main sponsors is DHL, so it looks like we will be able to get DHL to ship our bikes back for us. I’m awaiting confirmation but he seemed very positive.

My plan is to now cycle back to Osaka taking the eastern route this time. Starting with todays ride with a potential view of Mount Fuji if the weather is favourable. In the morning we had clear blue skies so it’s looking good, though it can change in the mountains very quickly.

I was climbing all morning up to around 2000m on really good roads with very little traffic. It was quite pleasant with nice views of Lake Yamanakao, the Doshi river and the mountains Yakiyama Omuro, Komotsurushi and Mikuni. It was a stunning section of road across the top of the mountains athough the cloud came down on the western side making it impossible to see Mt Fuji; fate and all that but still a really nice ride with a lovely descent before the final climb of the day.

A good day in the saddle and I needed it after two heavy days watching the rugby!

Castle hotel with bike
Castle hotel with bike
Castle hotel
Castle hotel
River in the forest
River in the forest
Footbridge
Footbridge
Dam run-off
Dam run-off
Dale - hoping for a free pint or two
Dale – hoping for a free pint or two

Dale Day 10: Tuesday October 29th:

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Route Japan Day 10 (Dale) – October 29th

Here we go again woke up to the sound of rain pelting against the windows; happy days! At least it is not cold and I only planned to do 70 odd miles. Still it’s really not nice going out in the pouring rain. It’s a bit different when you get caught up in the rain as you have very little choice but to carry on. However I have to move on to get back to Oaska and sort out getting my bike home [Steve’s frame though: Ed], then build myself up for the final; surely nothing can go wrong.

So I hit the road with a steady downpour. I just keep smiling as it’ll all be worth it when England bring home the Webb Ellis trophy (so I kept saying to myself).

All I can say is the rain never stopped all day, in fact it got worse, so I did not stop for lunch and just powered through. I arrived at the hotel around 13:30 but the girl on the front desk said my room would not be ready until 15:00 but I soon sorted that out and gave her my best sad face whilst dripping water all over the place. I think they were well please when they got me a room straight away.

No pictures today as everything was to wet and you could not see anything anyway. The good news is that it is meant to be a little brighter tomorrow. I hope so.

Dale Day 11: Wednesday October 30th:

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Route Japan Day 11 (Dale) – October 30th

I woke to a lovely sunny morning so different from yesterday. Once I got out the road my Garmin started to play up. I think it was operator error last night when I downloaded the ma. It was sending me all over the place for the first 10 or so miles as think I had set it on Mountain bike trails by mistake.

So I kept the Garmin running but reverted to MapsMe. This does eat up the battery on my phone but I had a couple of battery packs with me so it should be OK.

This route took me along the shores of Lake Hamana, a very tourist place with hotels doted along the shore and all sorts of trails to follow. I was glad I was not following my Garmin now as I would have been in forest for sure. I had a lovely 20 or so miles along the lake, quite flat and really sunny.

Then it was a nice steady climb up into the forest where I stopped for a little bite to eat at the top of third climb where I prepared some stuff for a radio interview later in the evening.

Dale Day 12: Thursday October 31st:

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Route Japan Day 12 (Dale) – October 31st

It’s my penultimate riding day in Japan and another sunny day. I hope it’s the same for Keith & Linford who are visiting Mt Fuji today.

I knew my ride today was going to be through busy towns and cities so I had a few different plans for the day just to see how it plans out. The first part of the ride along national road 23 was not too bad but it ran adjacent to E1A which was really busy and anyway cyclists are not allowed on them. I stayed on the 23 for around 35 miles on pretty good cycle paths across loads of bridges and heavy engineering works.

I’d had enough of stopping and starting now so plan B came into operation. So just after the city of Yokkaichi I turned off onto the minor roads using downloaded google map. It was so much better getting away from all the traffic and before I knew it I was out in the countryside where I belong past forest campsites and warning notices about the monkeys which I didn’t this time.

I then took a single line paved track up to the top which was really good riding. I only met one other car coming down and he looked like a forestry guy. I had a bite to eat at the top and a drink in a picnic site. Then it was back on the bike for the down-hill ride into Otacho. Well as in the UK it’s never all downhill in Japan with their rolling roads, but nevertheless it was a really nice ride today the first part in typical Japanese cities and town and the second part in their fabulous unspoiled country-side. Quite a contrast between the two.

Shipyard
Shipyard
Mountain view
Mountain view
Cycle-path map
Cycle-path map
Valley in Autumn
Valley in Autumn
Mountains and small-holdings
Mountains and small-holdings
Cycle-path through the woods
Cycle-path through the woods

Dale Day 13: Friday November 1st: Last Day on the Road

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Route Japan Day 13 (Dale) – November 1st

It’s my last days cycling in Japan; it has been a wonderful experience they are really nice people and their manners are amazing. The food’s not really to my taste but vegetable ramin is pretty good, when it’s available,

I woke up to a really foggy morning but the girl on reception assured me it would all clear shortly so sat and had an extra coffee and cake with her and sure enough the fog cleared. Just as I was about to leave Keith contacted me about ticket prices for the final. I said do it mate from our joint account so I  left with a spring in my pedals thinking, “we have only gone and done it! cycled here and get to watch the final, nothing can go wrong”.

But my navigation was  wayward for bit as at 2 miles I got a bit confused but managed to get back on track in the end,. Then it all went a bit pear shaped at 15 miles in; there was a massive mudslide so I could not pass the road but the guy sent me down this little track. Mate is was rough, good old planning, bhut even that was un-passable at the end so I backed up and went on the road. It was really nice scenery and the guys working on the mudslide offered to give me a lift, I just smiled and told them I had World Cup final tickets so no problem. I’m not sure they understood a word.

After that it was a surprisingly pleasant ride into the outskirts of Osaka and then I hit highway number 1, which you are not allowed to cycle on, but as I stopped and tried to look intelligent looking at electronic maps, a really nice guy said there is a cycle path adjacent to the highway, he drove his car up to show me, nice guy, so a relatively easy ride into the city.

I booked into the hotel had a quick shower then went out to sort the bike packaging. Then I had tickets to Yokohama for tomorrow to sort out.

It was a great tour of Honshu Island, with really pleasant people and all a credit to the nation.

Dale and fellow cyclist
Dale and fellow cyclist
Woodland waterfall
Woodland waterfall
Forest trail
Forest trail
Dale on his last day on the road
Dale on his last day on the road
Cannondale T700, 9000 miles all done and getting ready to be shipped home
Cannondale T700, 9000 miles all done and getting ready to be shipped home

Keith & Charlee

These two did some travelling around. Sadly the hike up Mt Fuji was called off – bad visibility. But they did have a great days rafting on the Yoshino river.

Charlee goes cycling around Mt Fuji
Charlee goes cycling around Mt Fuji
Charlee with Fireweed or Burning Bush (Kochia scoparia) a pink grass
Charlee with Fireweed or Burning Bush (Kochia scoparia) a pink grass
The Fuji Express
The Fuji Express
Charlee goes Sumo
Charlee goes Sumo
Charlee and the castle moat
Charlee and the castle moat
Keith and Charlee with pumpkins
Keith and Charlee with pumpkins

Dale Day 14: Saturday November 2nd: World Cup Final

[Dale, Keith, Linford, Charlee and Camilla are all going to the Rugby World Cup final: England vs South Africa. Hopefully we’ll get some photos: Ed]

All the Details of the Japan rides

Spreadsheet of Japan Days details

Overland To India

See how Ben and Jess are getting on as they take a more southern route across Asia to India. You can catch up with them here. An excerpt is below.

After riding 6000 miles they are now in Almaty, Kazakhstan and will have a two week break here before flying to India.

20191101_JessBen

The Great Wall

At the Great Wall of China. Dale, Keith and Linford.
At the Great Wall of China. Dale, Keith and Linford.

Charity Update

Many thanks to those that have donated.

20191010_CharityDonations

A big thanks to those donating after the team have finished the ride. It’s much appreciated – including of course all those that have contributed along the way.

Week 17 Summary: A weeks R&R and The Great Wall

This week the team have hung around Shanghai and re-visited the sights that our Grandad saw in 1932 when he was there with the British Army. These are some of the postcards he collected at the time [we think he probably didn’t have a camera: Ed]. Our Grandad (Linford’s Great-Grandad of course) was born in 1910 and ran away to join the army at the age of 15 (he lied about his age!) and was therefore 21 or 22 when he was in Shanghai.

You can find information here about what the British (and Japanese) were doing in China in the early part of the 20th Century and how it all came to an end with the revolution in 1949.

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The Nanking Road
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Thibet Road
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Shanghai Bund
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Shanghai Garden Bridge
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Shanghai
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Shanghai
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Shanghai
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Shanghai, Bund
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Shanghai, Bund
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Shanghai, racetrack
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Shanghai North Station: this building now houses the Shanghai Railway Museum

So the boys relaxed for a bit …

Shanghai views
Shanghai view
Shanghai view
Shanghai view
Shanghai views
Shanghai view

Naturally they had to visit the zoo to see a panda.

Panda at Shanghai zoo
Panda at Shanghai zoo

They also took the time to visit the Great Wall of China. I think they took a high-speed train to Beijing and then were driven out to hike a section of the wall. They met a photographer along the way – hence the posed photos!

At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China. Keith.
At the Great Wall of China. Keith.
At the Great Wall of China. Keith, Dale and Linford
At the Great Wall of China. Keith, Dale and Linford
At the Great Wall of China. Dale, Keith, Linford and the photographer!
At the Great Wall of China. Dale, Keith, Linford and the photographer!
At the Great Wall of China. Keith, Dale and Linford
At the Great Wall of China. Keith, Dale and Linford
At the Great Wall of China. Linford
At the Great Wall of China. Linford
At the Great Wall of China. Photographer, Dale, Keith and LInford
At the Great Wall of China. Photographer, Dale, Keith and LInford
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China. Keith
At the Great Wall of China. Keith
At the Great Wall of China. Dale and Keith
At the Great Wall of China. Dale and Keith

At the Great Wall of China

At the Great Wall of China. Keith
At the Great Wall of China. Keith
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China. Keith and Dale
At the Great Wall of China. Keith and Dale

Rylan had already flown to Japan earlier in the week but the others, Dale, Keith and Linford, took the ferry on Tuesday 8th October from Shanghai to Osaka (Japan). A journey that takes about 48hrs. They arrived on Thursday the 10th to begin the Japan section of the trip.

Leaving Shanghai on the ferry.
Leaving Shanghai on the ferry
Dale and Keith. Farewell to China
Dale and Keith. Farewell to China

These are a couple of shots from when they were crossing the East China Sea.

crossing the East China Sea
Crossing the East China Sea
crossing the East China Sea
Crossing the East China Sea

Overland To India

See how Ben and Jess are getting on as they take a more southern route across Asia to India. You can catch up with them here. An excerpt is below.

This week they battled through Kazakhstan and then into Kyrgyzstan and the city of Bishkek.

20191010_JessBen

Shanghai

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Dale, Linford and Keith after completing the Calais to Shanghai ride [Club fine for undone shirts at the finish line: Ed]
CalaisShanghaiActualRoute
The route of the 8241 miles from Calais to Shanghai (original planned route in pink)

How Far Have They Got? All the way!

Map of first 9 weeks.

Map of last 7 weeks in China.

Charity Update

Many thanks to those that have donated.

20191003a_CharityDonations

An extra massive thanks to those donating in the last days to bring up our target, but not forgetting all those that have contributed since the beginning. The boys really appreciate it.

Week 16 Summary: Shanghai at last

This map shows the weeks ride.

This week: 327 miles, 4,095ft climbing and 25:38 hours riding

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Accumulated totals: 8241 miles, 174,307ft climbing (that’s 6 times up Everest!) and 644:19 hours riding

Day 108: Sunday September 29th: Endless City

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Route Day 108 – September 29th

Fly-through Map of Day 108.

Time for a shower
Time for a shower

We had a nice breakfast in the hotel with cook your own eggs, cereal and toast; all very wester although all of us still had some noodles and rice. We left the hotel pretty sharply, with a nice ride out of the city across a big lake andthen into the never-ending suburbs.

Finally we hit some open roads after about 15 miles; it’s unbelievable how big these cities are and it was good to hit a few hills early on with rolling roads over small inclines and then down hill again. It really breaks the riding up especially when the country side is so green and lush.

We carried on through these rolling roads and it was so nice we forgot to have our little soft drink halfway through the morning section. We just carried on through the really pretty countryside riding up down the little valleys.

Linford approaching an arched entrance
Linford approaching an arched entrance
Linford approaching an arched entrance
Linford approaching an arched entrance

Eventually we came to the town of Mingguang and with the young lads starving by this point we pulled over just as we entered the town. Nothing wes doing at the first side street so we rode up and carried on and found a place on the corner. It was a bit like a Chinese fast food place but we went in opened the first fridge and had our drinks but I’m not sure we paid for these!

We’ll probably have a bill when we leave Shanghai. We queued up and ordered our food. Rylan said it must be good because the locals kept pushing in front of him,. To be fair the food was good and we did not get too much like we normally do.

After an early lunch we still had around 40 miles to go so we hit the road again carrying on where we left off,through the rolling countryside. It was very pleasant riding with the temperature just over 30c; really pleasant and we were just enjoying the ambience by waving and smiling to all the people on the way through.

Off-road again
Off-road again

We stopped at a little village about 14 miles from Chuzhou for a drink just before we rolled into the town. All in all it was a pleasant days riding even through the building site about a mile away from the hotel. All of us got caked in mud and sand again.

It was Rylan’s choice for a restaurant to night; not sure if he researched it or just took pot luck but we ended up in a pizza place. I think he just wanted the knife and forks. It was a good meal though with the usual photo shot included.

Day 109: Monday September 30th: Arrests and Falls

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Route Day 109 – September 30th

Fly-through Map of Day 109.

Another Hotel departure
Another Hotel departure

Same hotel different city! All these different hotels in different cities/towns are playing mind-games with us; not sure what floor or room number we are in. They all look the same.

We are getting very close to Shanghai now and it looks like it will be mainly urban sprawl from now on.

Lantern decorations for the 70th anniversary
Lantern decorations for the 70th anniversary

We left Chuzhou around 08:45, with an hours riding in the busy town before we hit any sign of country-side. We went past many small towns and villages and we were all finding it a little bit difficult to get into the swing today. Maybe it’s because we are so close.

Arched gateway
Arched gateway

We were just ambling through the ride with nobody taking the lead. We stopped at a busy little market place called Yongningzhen for some fruit and cold drinks knowing we had the big city of Nanjing ahead of us. Once we hit the city on a busy freeway it was a little chaotic like most bustling cities. With the plan to try and keep to the outskirts of the city going quite well until we came across the tunnel under the Yangtze river. The sign said ‘No Bicycles Allowed’. So we all got in formation again and just went for it.

The tunnel is about 3 miles long and as we hit the entrance I heard the guy shout at us as we pedalled past. Nothing could go wrong! The first mile seemed ok  and the tunnel was well lit and the traffic kept a safe distance from us. Then it all got a bit more congested though we were still keeping a decent line it was just so noisy!

It was the police sirens trying to hunt us down and finally they rounded us up. They were all a bit confused as I don’t think they have had anyone silly enough to cycle through the tunnel before. It was like trying to cycle through the Dartford tunnel. Fair play we caused chaos. First they tried to get us to load the bikes onto a small pick-up then they realised how big and heavy they were so they left the bikes in the tunnel and gave us a lift out of the tunnel and then sent a bigger van in to pick the bikes up.

Police ride through the tunnel
Police ride through the tunnel

We’ve been here before so we sat on the wall laughing and joking once the bikes arrived although they had to go back for Keiths. Then the inspector arrived full of importance and ended up giving us a telling-off and fining us 50 yen each for violation of traffic laws (£6 each). It was all paid on the spot with a receipt. At least that was efficient and then they let us on our way.

First signpost for Shanghai
First signpost for Shanghai

We carried on through the city and came to another tunnel. We all looked at each other and said maybe not this time sp we rerouted and came to a big park. The guards would not let us through the park even if we walked the cycles. One guard started to shout at us louder and louder but we just smiled. Luckily a lady came over and explained to the guard that we could not understand him and she gave us directions around the park; very nice lady.

Linney & Rylan had a little look in the park while Keith and I looked after the bikes but they were only in there for half an hour.

Keith in traffic
Keith in traffic
Linford and the Yangtze river
Linford and the Yangtze river
Rylan and the Yangtze river
Rylan and the Yangtze river

All in all though it put another couple of hours onto the ride until finally we managed to get out of Nanjing and get some sort of rhythm going in the ride as we pushed on through the rolling hills trying to make up some time. The youngsters were fretting because we had not stopped for lunch so we had a bit of a compromise with a soft drink and some chocolate and a promise to eat as soon as we hit Zhenjiang.

Good lads they really hit the pace in the afternoon and dragged us along with them. Keith had probably one of the best falls ever as he got stuck in a rut on the road and achieved a full somersault with a twist, pike and the best landing in living memory. Definitely a front-runner for fall of the tour. Linney made the quip ‘that’s how to fall Dale’.

As we closed in on Zhenjiang we made another change of plan; book a hotel first then eat as it was getting dark. The “young uns” guided us in to the hotel with ease through the dwindling light. We all booked in and got the bikes stowed away then it was a quick shower, catch up on the rugby and eat.

I had a little go at matching Keith’s fall as I slipped in the marble hall. I went flying straight on my back with all the elegance of a sack of potatoes. Artistic impression: Nil points, but screaming like a girl: 10 points. Nothing, but feelings, were hurt though.

Day 110: Tuesday October 1st: The Penultimate Day

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Route Day 110 – October 1st

Fly-through Map of Day 110.

The team on China's 70th Anniversay Day
The team on China’s 70th Anniversay Day
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Linford, Rylan, Dale and Keith and the 70th Anniversary Banner for the People’s Republic of China 1949-2019

Today was a National Holiday in China celebrating the 70 years of the Peoples Republic of China formed in 1949. It was very big news out here and all the towns and cities were decorated with flags and Chinese lanterns. All the staff in the hotel had “We love China “ tee shirts on and were waving flags. Keith and I had a picture taken with them before the young ones left the breakfast table, under the celebration banner, then we had a full team picture just before we left.

The roads where reasonably quite as we left Zhenjiang making the route out of the city very easy though we did not hit any open roads. The towns and villages just merged into one. We made really good time in the morning on the empty roads but may be also because the lads did not want to miss lunch again. Before we knew it we had done over 50 odd miles so the call went out for a lunch stop as we entered Changzhou.

Unluckily at this point Keith had a puncture with the lads in front. I soon caught them up and told then to ease up and when Keith re-joined us we took a little detour into the town and found small café. We had a very nice meal with ice cream after although Keith did have another flat just as we left.

Barge on the Yangtze river
Barge on the Yangtze river

Soon we are on our way again with the rain holding off and with the head-wind not too bad it was just a matter of riding in the last 30 miles. We had a little break about 12 miles out as then some local lads went by on road bikes. It was like red rags to a bull; off the young went chasing them down with Keith & I in tow. We soon caught them and passed them but they did try and stick with us for a while but then tailed off. Then we joined two other local lads who stayed with us all the way into Wuxi. We left them with a wave and smile just as we found our hotel.

Day 111: Wednesday October 2nd: The Final Day

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Route Day 111 – October 2nd

Fly-through Map of Day 111.

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Keith, Rylan, Linford and Dale ready for the last day

Well it’s the last days cycling in China after over 100 days on the road. It seems a bit surreal to be coming to end of this part of the tour, but we have still got loads of cycling in Japan to look forward too.

Went through the normal mornings preparations; breakfast, get the bikes ready, then pedal – all pretty simple stuff. We all had our Bike Rugby Japan cycling tops on, Linney & I also had the shorts but Keith had mislaid his and Rylan never had shorts ordered. We did look smart outside the hotel for a photo shoot and think the lads were pleased I had finally binned my shorts that I have worn for the whole trip. [Club fine for not wearing the fully prescribed kit on a match day: Ed]. A Chinese guy took the picture on Linney’s camera and he kept getting stuck in the automatic doors trying to get the angle right. Linney was not too impressed and thought he was going to drop the camera or run off with it.

The ride on the last day
The ride on the last day
Suited and booted for the last day's ride
Suited and booted for the last day’s ride

We left Wuxi in light drizzle but it was very warm and we were straight out onto the secondary road into Shanghai,. Just over 80 miles planned for toda, all of it in built up industrial or suburban communities with next to no open spaces at all.

None of us were really enthused about the ride into Shanghai. I for one was very apprehensive as I’m not keen on riding in the big cities although the cycle paths in all the Chinese cities have been very good. You just have to be aware of the electric scooters zooming all over the place beeping their horns to pass.

Massive statue in Shanghai
Massive statue in Shanghai

With open fast cycling paths running adjacent to the road we made really good progress skirting around the edge of Suzho City. We saw a massive statue of a Buddha in the distance so we had to have a look. It turned out to be a theme park so nothing to special. We had a drink stop next to a shop selling crabs. The guy invited us in but it wasn’t  for me. Keith had a look at 100s of crabs in tanks waiting to be sold for dinner.

All looking smart for the last day on the road
All looking smart for the last day on the road
Massive underpass
Massive underpass

The road into the city of Shanghai followed the river, for the final 20 miles with the cycle path following up and over all sorts of concrete flyovers. It just seemed madness that we were so close.

Only 8 miles to go - beer stop
Only 8 miles to go – beer stop

After lunch we stopped at a little place for a beer and to take stock of where we were going to stay. With around 7 miles to the centre we picked a hotel close to the train station and set off to find it.

To be honest the ride into the centre of the city was not too bad; great cycle paths, then weaving in and out of the rush hour traffic was all good fun. We found the hotel and booked in with ease.

It did seem strange taking all the panniers off the bikes as we stored them in the hotel’s garage.

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Linford, Rylan and Dale in Shanghai
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Dale, Linford, Keith and Rylan – all done!

Thoughts from Dale

1: Now you’ve completed the ride what are your first thoughts?

We have only gone and done it and then wow Shanghai is massive but has no bars! Dale

2: Of those 100 days, which was the most exhilarating and which the most despairing?

The most exhilarating was seeing the Himalay mountains on the right hand side. The snow covered peaks were breathtaking.

The most despairing was not getting through the Ukraine/Russia border and riding 100 miles in a circle and to cap it off I got a bee sting in the eye. Dale

3: With different cultures and languages their was plenty of scope for embarrassment. Got a funny story?

Very embarrassing and funny for those watching (and it was being filmed) was standing up in front of all the trainee school teachers in a remote place in Kazakhstan and trying to explain where we had been and where we were going. I made a complete mess; getting all the countries mixed up; Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and all the other Stans. Dale.

4: Did you ever think you may not make it? Why or why not?

Not once did I think we would not make it. It was not an option. Sometimes I thought it just may have taken a bit longer than planned. Dale.

5: Before you started you said you’d probably throw your bike in the China Sea if you made it. Had enough of cycling yet?

We are carrying on as we intend to cycle in Japan too. But I’m definitely going to do another trip another time. Dale.

Bonus Question (from Dave)

You’ve surveyed beer from the North Sea to the East China Sea. Most memorable? And the worst?

Definitely the worst is when no beer is available! After that it was the warm beer in West China where they did not seem to have fridges.

The best beer was a freezer full of ice cold beer in a little shack miles away from any town in the Chinese desert. Dale.

Thoughts from Keith

1: First thoughts on finishing the ride

Never crossed my mind we wouldn’t finish. Great to be on time and all good. Keith.

2: Did you ever feel like throwing your bike in a ditch? Why?

Never felt like throwing the bike in a ditch, but Dale, yes! Keith.

Thoughts from Linford

1: First thoughts on finishing the ride?

Relief & excitement for Japan (which will include more riding)! Linford.

2: Funniest thing that happened

The funniest thing has to be Dale’s bee sting and the few days after where he looked like Quasimodo and then dad injecting his arse.  Linford.

3: Best day and worst day

The best day would be the home stay with the family in Kazakhstan. After meeting a drunk down the shop and him taking us back to meet his family who welcomed us, fed us and then let us sleep at their place. Also another highlight would be the last day in Kyrgyzstan after we climbed all day up a load of switch backs and then rode along side the snow capped Himalaya.

The worst day would probably be when we tried to go through the conflict zone in Donetsk but got turned away which meant going back to the same town we started in having done 101 miles. Also knowing that meant we had a massive 700 mile detour. Very disheartening and this was near the beginning so it wasn’t a good start.

Also one of the worst days was riding in the 48°c heat of the Kazakhstan desert against a big head wind. We were struggling to do 8 mph and drinking over 10 litres of water a day without going for a pee. Linford.

4: Weirdest food experience?

We had a lot of mystery meat soups in the Stans but they actually tasted pretty good. So it was probably ordering some random dishes on our first day in China. It turned out to be three huge plates; one intestine type dish, a dish with a load of little boney fish and then a really spicy and boney chicken dish. We all struggled to eat much of any of them which is very rare because I usually eat anything and everything put in front of me! Linford.

5: Were you ever worried about your safety?

I was worried a few times. For example riding through the ghost towns in Ukraine with bullet holes and blown up buildings around after we were told by the UN people not to step off the road as there are a lot of land mines everywhere.

And then our first night in China sleeping rough in a park trying to sleep with one eye open as there was a lot of people walking around and I thought we might get robbed.

Also being woke up by a load of old bill whilst trying to camp behind a petrol station wasn’t nice as we didn’t know who they were and what they wanted. Linford.

Everyday and ALL the Details

Full spreadsheet of everyday’s ride.

Map of Progress Part 1.

Map of Progress Part 2.

Overland To India

See how Ben and Jess are getting on as they take a more southern route across Asia to India. You can catch up with them here. An excerpt is below.

Last week they left Samarkand for Tashkent and finally left Uzbekistan and re-entered Kazakhstan. We’ve had no update since then.

Naturally we wish them luck as they continue. I believe they stay in Almaty for a while before flying to India and continuing there.

20191003_JessBen

Henan Province

Rylan, Dale, Linford and Keith. But where?
Rylan, Dale, Linford and Keith. But where?

How Far Have They Got?

Map of first 10 weeks.

Map of progress in China.

Charity Update

Many thanks to those that have donated.

20190928_CharityDonations

Week 15 Summary: Along the Yellow River

This map shows the weeks ride.

This week: 575 miles, 9,736ft climbing and 44:29 hours riding

20190928_BRJ_Odometer

Accumulated totals: 7914 miles, 170,212ft climbing and 618:40 hours riding

Day 101: Sunday September 22nd:

20190922_ridewithgpsmap
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 extict – 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:

20190923_ridewithgpsmap
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:

20190924_ridewithgpsmap
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:

20190925_ridewithgpsmap
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:

20190926_ridewithgpsmap
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:

20190927_ridewithgpsmap
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.

Everyday and ALL the Details

Map of Progress Part 1.

Map of Progress Part 2.

Overland To India

See how Ben and Jess are getting on as they take a more southern route across Asia to India. You can catch up with them here. An excerpt is below.

This week they left Samarkand for Tashkent and finally left Uzbekistan and re-entered Kazakhstan. I think they are headed towards Almaty.

20190921_JessBen

 

Xi’an City

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

How Far Have They Got?

Map of first 10 weeks.

Map of progress in China.

Charity Update

Many thanks to those that have donated.

20190921_CharityDonations

Week 14 Summary: 100 Days Riding & Rylan Arrives

This map shows the weeks ride.

This week: 328 miles, 8,596ft climbing and 26:29 hours riding

20190921_BRJ_Odometer

Accumulated totals: 7339 miles, 160,476ft climbing and 574:11 hours riding

Day 94: Sunday September 15th:

20190915_ridewithgpsmap
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:

20190916_ridewithgpsmap
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
P9213116
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!

Everyday and ALL the Details

Map of Progress Part 1.

Map of Progress Part 2.

Overland To India

See how Ben and Jess are getting on as they take a more southern route across Asia to India. You can catch up with them here. An excerpt is below.

They have now ridden 5000 miles.

20190921_JessBen

 

Across Gansu and Ningxia Provinces

Keith, riding a yak in a lake
Keith, riding a yak in a lake

How Far Have They Got?

Map of first 10 weeks.

Map of progress in China.

Charity Update

Many thanks to those that have donated.

20190914_CharityDonations

Week 13 Summary: Rain and Yakkety-Yak

This map shows the weeks ride.

This week: 510 miles, 15,039ft climbing and 39:01 hours riding

20190914_BRJ_OdometerAccumulated totals: 7010 miles, 151,880ft climbing and 547:42 hours riding

Day 88: Sunday September 8th: Up hill and down Dale

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Route Day 88 – September 8th

Fly-through Map of Day 88.

Temples
Temples
Chinese Temple
Chinese Temple

After last nights feast I’m sure the waitresses could not believe how much we ordered. For the first course we managed to eat the lot but then came the puddings. We did make a mistake here. We ordered from the picture menu. First came Linney’s 8 slices of pizza stuff (to be honest it was the best of a bad bunch), then came mine; 8 deep fried pastry things, really sickly, closely followed by Keith’s 8 tarts. We were not sure what was in them but they tasted ok, just could not eat them all. To save face we got a take-away bag and put 90% of the stuff in it. The next morning we accidently left the bag in the room!

It was nice getting up in the morning with no rush as we just had a short 50 mile hop to the next town with a view to getting there fairly early and sorting out the routes to Xi’an as Rylan arrives a week on Wednesday. Breakfast was the traditional Chinese OK but I do like my cereal/porridge in the morning and it’s not the same with noodles, pumpkin and celery; all very nice but not for me at breakfast. Linney loves it though.

Nomad sheep herder
Nomad sheep herder

We set off just before 10 with the first section a pretty big climb. We had around two hours of steady climbing, but nothing too steep; it just kept going. We were in no rush and were just taking our time up the mountain. We came across a traditional Muslim village perched on the side of the mountain, all very colorful. The scenery was now like the Brecon Beacons with sheep and cattle on the fields beneath the mountains, with badger like animals crossing the road in front of us possible Hyrax? [Wiki says Hyrax are restricted to Africa and the Middle-East – China does have a Ferret-Badger (Melogale moschata): Ed] Keith & Linney all so saw a wild-cat have a go at a bird. I just heard the noise. Most of the time I am in a different world.

Dale and Linford approach the mountains
Dale and Linford approach the mountains
Dale and Linford
Dale and Linford

Once again the scenery changed. This time industrial with coal and other processing plants all down the valley, modeled on the Rhondda! We stopped for a bite to eat in this area and had a nice noodle, tomato and egg special; our favorite at the moment. We then rode on taking it easy for the next 18 mile into Chaka. I must admit it was down-hill most of the way.

Linney at Chinese Museum
Linney at Chinese Museum

Here we go again; the saga of getting a hotel. However the first place, which looked very nice, told us exactly where to go to find a tourist hotel; up the road on the left, we where booked in straight away. Nice result.

Keith and Linney put their stuff in the room and went down to the salt lake, I brought a couple of beers from the shop next door (well it is a Sunday) and caught up with the blog and researched the route to Xi’an.

Day 89: Monday September 9th: Yaks and Rain

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Route Day 89 – September 9th

Fly-through Map of Day 89.

We had a coffee in the room before breakfast as we know what to expect; spicy vegetables and dumplings. Linney loves it but Keith & I tend to settle for the boiled eggs. We had another coffee in the room and discussed our options for the day; it came down to Hotels at 65 miles, 84 miles or 95 miles and the outcome was the same as always, just ride and see how we go.

New roads through the hills
New roads through the hills

We set off around 08:30 knowing we had a big 23 mile climb early on then rolling roads for the rest of the day. The first part was just a steady climb and we started off on the non-toll road, but after 5 mins we crossed over to the toll road carrying the bikes over armco barriers and fences. It was well worth the effort as it was far less busier. It was good to see the green pastures and grass covered mountains very similar to Scotland, but a lot higher.

Dale on a nomads horse
Dale on a nomads horse
Dale and Linford riding again!
Dale and Linford riding again!
Dale and nomad herder
Dale and nomad herder

As the road started to ramp up we stopped in a small village for soft drinks and sweets. It’s the little things that keep us going. Back on the bikes again we were pushing up the mountain with traditional yurts on the pastures with long horned sheep and yaks. Up we went. It took around 2 hours climbing to reach the summit at an altitude of 3817 meters (12,522 ft), not the highest we have been, but up there. At the top there was the usual signs and a few Nomad (Tibetans) on horse-back. They were all over Linney and we ended up having a few pictures with them and had a go on their horses. I think they had not seen a women for a while,as they tried to touch us. All very weird and Keith would have none of it! He even crossed the road to get away but one of the guys followed him!

Linford and Dale at the top of a pass at 3817m
Linford and Dale at the top of a pass at 3817m

We put our jackets on for the descent (I even put gloves on) and off we went. Within 5 minutes it started to rain, the first we have had since Ukraine,. It made the descent very difficult and really cold so about half way down we stopped to try and warm up a bit. We had a chat with a Chinese motorcyclist and then starteddown  again,. We were soaking when we reached the bottom, but thankfully all of us stayed upright.

We all thought a lunch stop was in order and stopped at Heinahe for lunch at 45 miles and warmed up. Just as we were leaving we spotted a tiny bike shop and managed to get two spare inner tubes from him.

With the valley filled with green pastures it was really good to see the nomads tending their yaks, cattle and sheep, with the yurts up on the hillside. They think nothing of letting a herd of yaks cross the road and some of the tourist and bus drivers get a bit cross and beep their horns. The nomads take it all in their stride with it seems not a care in the world, it was a real pleasure witnessing their way of life even for a brief period.

As we rode through we came to the first potential stop, but it was never going to be, so we push on to the next one, around 16 miles away, with yurts on the side of the road selling honey and yaks milk. It was very tempting try, but after trying camels milk earlier in the tour we decided not to. We then came to Jiangxigou our next potential stop and sat outside a pleasant shop with a bag of peanuts and soft drinks (I had a beer) and chatted with the locals, well one who could speak good English. He told us all about the nomads and their way of life. After we gave him one of our biscuits he returned the favour with a free ice cream.

Dale, Yak riding
Dale, Yak riding
Keith, Yak riding
Keith, Yak riding
Keith, Yak riding
Keith, Yak riding
Linford, Yak riding
Linford, Yak riding
Dale riding a Yak in a lake
Dale riding a Yak in a lake
Keith, riding a yak in a lake
Keith, riding a yak in a lake
Linford, Yak riding
Linford, Yak riding
Linford, Yak riding
Linford, Yak riding

So as we all knew it was onto the 95 mile place (a resort on the edge of the lake) and we were there in less than an hour. We went straight down to the waters edge,. All three of us had a ride into the lake on a Yak!. Then up to book into a hotel. At the first one we could not get past the security guard. I thought here we go again the place is full of hotels and they will not let us in! But all good as the second one we tried we had no problem. As it was late we just dropped the bags into the room and went straight out to eat.

Day 90: Tuesday September 10th: More Rain

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Route Day 90 – September 10th

Fly-through Map of Day 90.

We went out for a meal when we finally got a hotel last night even before we had had a shower; we just needed to eat. It was a little restaurant around the corner from the hotel, and felt a lot better when we had some food inside us. Then it was back to the hotel to shower and clean up.

We woke up in the morning to rain. We are certainly not used to it. We had breakfast in the hotel from the menu so went for the old favorite scrambled eggs and tomato with rice. Keith then ventured out to get some coffee. It was raining really hard now; not good.

We were like caged animals wanting to get on the bikes but not keen on the weather so we decided to give it an hour to see if dies down a little. During this time Keith had a Whats App conversation with Kristian; turns out he has raced around around the lake and the adjoining mountains so we are not the first “House” in this part of China. Well the rain seemed to be easing up so we made the effort to go but only after I had checked out the taxi fare to the next town!

We finally left the hotel around 10:30 with the rain still coming down but easing up. The first part of the day was a steady climb followed by a 8 miles of steeper climb and finally finishing with a massive descent.

With puddles all over the road and the visibility not great it was quite difficult to get going. But then a cycle path appeared on the other side of the road. This was a lot better. We only had to deal with the Nomad’s animals grazing on the verge; horses, sheep and yaks,  and we just had to be a little bit careful passing them.

Lake-side city
Lake-side city
Dale with rain-face
Dale with rain-face
Temple on the hill
Temple on the hill
On the road with prayer-flags
On the road with prayer-flags
Dale and Linford on the road
Dale and Linford on the road
Linford on the road
Linford on the road

We stayed on the cycle path until it finished, and pulled into a closed service station to adjust Linneys gears. All of the bikes need a good clean and a bit of maintenance and we will need to sort out a short day soon.

With the road starting to ramp up we stopped for lunch at the small townof Daotanghe, but before we eat we managed to get a hose pipe working at a service station and gave the bikes a bit of clean. The rain had stopped now,

With lunch over we started the 8 mile climb but Keith had done a bit of research and said we would be better on the toll road; not only do they have a really wide shoulder to ride on they also tend to be less busy. We reached the summit fairly easily and it helped that the road was being upgraded and we had one side of the carriage way all to ourselves. The workers quite happily waved us through.

I put on an extra layer and gloves for the descent and I was really glad I did as it was cold. The road was an amazing feat of engineering cutting around the mountains with stunning scenery. After around an hour of descending the road was not complete with both directions using one side of the carriageway so with our normal swagger we elected to use the other carriage way. What a result we had; at least 40 minutes descending on our own, riding three abreast, occasionally passing a few workmen who waved at us.

Then came the tunnels the main one was at least two miles long with lights and electronic signage and we just rode through. I did manage to get a puncture after the last tunnel. All repaired in the fast lane!

When we finally had to get off the road it was a bit of an epic as the slip road had not been built yet but we took the road through the building site with no problems with the workers just waving us through.

The saga of finding a hotel in Huangyuan then begins. It is very frustrating knowing there are loads of hotels, but only certain ones take foreigners. Some have signs outside, though we have tried some with these signs and still been refused. After about 5 attempts we finally managed to book into a hotel. We quickly got in there before they could change their minds.

Mongolian hotpot
Mongolian hotpot
Linford and Mongolian Hotpot
Linford and Mongolian Hotpot

After we finally managed to book into a small hotel (very clean and nice), we went straight out for a meal but ended up cooking our own. We had this Mongolian hot-pot which was basically a charcoal burner heating water then you put in what you like. In fact it was very nice and once the first layer of meat had gone I think we had seconds and thirds. Once again the waiter just looked and said something like ‘are you sure?’. We demolished the lot.

We then had a walk up by a floodlit temple in the old area of Huangyuan,. It was very good with a reference to the old wool industry from the 1800s with two UK companies and one each from Belgium and USA.

Day 91: Wednesday September 11th: Huge Cities

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Route Day 91 – September 11th

Fly-through Map of Day 91.

With no breakfast available at the hotel we had breakfast in the cafe across the road; aa big bowl of noodle soup, which will set us up for the day.

Temple
Temple
The Huangshui river at Huangyuan
The Huangshui river at Huangyuan
Dale and LInford leaving the city
Dale and LInford leaving the city

Getting out of Huangyuan and onto the correct road was very difficult and they must have known we were in town as the fireworks were going off as we tried to get out of the City. Linney actually got hit by a women opening up a taxi door in front of him and how he managed to stay on his bike was a result of his riding talent. I would of been over the handle bars, crying and swearing at everyone. Linney just smiled!

We started off on the closed road from yesterday but unfortunately they did not get my instructions until very late; this section was still being worked on so we ended on the minor road for a while. It was still very good but not much space for cyclists. We then managed to get back on the toll road and rolled into Xining just in time for lunch. The city took my breath away as I have never seen so many high rise buildings. The infrastructure around the city was astounding. China never fails to surprise me; one minute we are struggling to get a hotel room the next we go through a city of over 2 million people with all the trappings of any major city in the world.

On the road
On the road

After lunch we still had at least another 10 miles until we were out of the city. Once again we were on the toll road and with a slight down-hill we were flying and heading for the town of Haidong around 30 miles away. All of us were thinking it will be a small provincial town but in fact it was massive again with tower blocks nearly as far as you could see. It all seemed very new. We now have a hotel strategy; find a cafe with WIFI, do the research, and then send Linney in with Keith & I lurking outside. The first place was a no go as it was an old peoples home. As we left I see then nodding and pointing at me, saying ‘he can come in!’ Fair play as they did point us in the right direction for a hotel.

The strategy worked athough it did take a while; I’m sure Linney has another helping of food when he is in there as he comes out with a big smile and says all OK and I’ve been up to the room. But the main thing is we are in.

From the 10th floor in a hotel in Ledu
From the 10th floor in a hotel in Ledu

All of us had a nice shower, did our washing and hung it from our 10th floor window. Then it was out to find some food.

We had a really nice meal in a restaurant next to to the vegetable market, a family run place. Us usual everyone took photographs all over the place and the children practiced their English with us. All good fun. Then we walked home with an ice cream; living the dream.

City at night
City at night
City at night
City at night
City at night
City at night
City at night
City at night
City at night
City at night

Day 92: Thursday September 12th: More rain & soakings

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Route Day 92 – September 12th

Fly-through Map of Day 92.

Rainy morning in Ledu
Rainy morning in Ledu

We woke up to a dull grey morning. Never mind said Keith it will brighten up after breakfast but Linney & I were not convinced and rightly so the rain was coming down like stair-rods after breakfast. It was another coffee in the room then, before we said come on “lets go”. We all got ready but first Keith had a puncture and then so did Linney before we even left the hotel. We fixed them in the foyer then off we set off! Well nearly! When we got around the corner to join the express way the girl at the barrier said ‘No bikes’, so we turned around. Then Linney said his tyre had gone down again. So we went back to the hotel foyer again for another repair.

Let’s go again in the pouring rain we said as 1/2 mile up the road we went through the biggest puddle in living memory. Linney tried to get through it without pedalling but no such luck; we were soaking now, but we’ll carry on. A bit further up the road we check the GPS, well Linney does, if we go left we can join the express-way maybe. Well we could if we were prepared to slide down the embankment in the pouring rain! We turned back and stayed on the minor road.

The minor road was ok but it does not have a very wide hard shoulder to ride on or for that matter to mend punctures on. The weather was getting worse as we rode on, though we were still in a pretty good frame of mind as we followed a river down-stream, thinking there is more water on the road than in the river. As we ate up the miles Keith had another flat in his rear tyre which was not surprising really with the amount of debris on the road. Then he had another and another. Everytime we took the tyre off and checked it thoroughly but we could not find anything protruding through the tyre. We were now getting very short on inner tubes.

Finally we put the last one in and it lasted a fair while then the shout went up, ‘puncture again’. Luckily we were in a very small village with one café so in we went soaking wet with our hands full of inner tubes waiting to be repaired. First things first we ordered a large bowl of noodle soup. I think it was the only thing on the menu and it was very hot and filling,. Then we started on the repairs. A few of the locals were very intrigued about where we going.

Linney showed them on the map Lanzhou, about 23 miles away, then, using google translate said ‘if we can fix the bikes’. One of the older guys said my son could give you a lift. At first we said ‘no thanks’, then Keith checked his tyre and it was again flat and I said I had a flat front tyre as well,. So we took up the offer of the lift to Lanzhou. We had done over 70 miles in the pouring rain.

I’m not sure the son was so pleased to give us a lift in what looked like a very new people carrier. He would not let Keith anywhere near the car and it was a work of art getting three bikes (one on the roof) and all the baggage in the car. Then just as we were ready to go he said take off your dirty cycle jackets before you get in, but thankfully he got us to Lanzhou, a very busy bustling city.

He dropped us off just by the railway station and we rebuilt the bikes, and replaced and fixed the flats in me and Keith’s tyres. Linney searched for a hotel and found an Ibis just down the road. We headed for that but found another one on the way and managed to book in first time. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come. We took the bags up and then went out to locate the cycle shops. We had one a mile in one direction or two more a mile and a half in the other. We chose the latter.

We marched towards the area but could not find the cycle shops but finally after using google translate we found the shop just closing up. The really nice guy stayed open for us and we ended up buying two replacement tyres and six inner tubes and he chucked in a puncture repair kit and two bottles of lubricating oil. Then we had a photo-shoot with him, before finding a place to eat.

All in all it was a pretty crap day, but all’s well that ends well. Linney finally marched the two old soldiers home through the winding backstreets of Lanzhou.

Day 93: Friday September 13th: Green fields & Terraces

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Route Day 93 – September 13th

Fly-through Map of Day 93.

Leaving the city
Leaving the city

We woke up early to give the bikes a good wash and a bit of an oil up. Keith replaced his rear tyre and I replaced the spare I had carried for over 5000 miles. With the bikes all relatively clean and oiled up we went for breakfast. It was a really good spread, best we have had since Kascher [probably Kashgar about a month ago: Ed].

With the weather still overcast but not raining we hit the road just after 09:00. With Linney guiding us out of Lanzhou our first plan was to ride the express-way. Avoiding a few closed roads along the way we managed to find the slip road up to the express-way the plan being to ride through and ignore all the toll operators. All in formation we went for it, there was a bit of shouting but nothing serious so we just rode on, joining the express way and the climb out of the city. Easy nothing could go wrong.

We stayed on the express-way for about ten miles before the patrol car stopped us. It was not the police and we had a little arm waving discussion with the guy. He did not know what to do with us so we made his mind up and back-tracked less than 1/4 mile then joined the minor road. In the end we were both happy, he got us off the expressway and we got out of the city far quicker.

Terraced landscape
Terraced landscape
Terraced landscape
Terraced landscape
Terraced landscape
Terraced landscape
Terraced landscape
Linford and terraced landscape
Terraced landscape
Terraced landscape

Even though we were out of the city it was still built up with small towns virtually joining onto each other. It was like this for at least 30 miles out of the city. The towns were then gradually replaced with green fields filled with market garden produce and with stalls and vehicles selling the vegetables. It looked like lemon-grass or salsify. As we started climbing you could see the fields in terraces up the mountain just as I imagined China to be. It did look spectacular.

With Linney getting hungry he asked if we would like to stop for lunch but both Keith & I said we are ok for now about in an hour. One massive climb and two hours later we finally stop for lunch in a small cafe. With around 10 miles to go after lunch it was just a gentle roll into Dingxi. With our hotel strategy in place we breezed into the first hotel we tried. All in all a good day in the saddle.

Day 94: Saturday September 14th: People’s Liberation Army Museum

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Route Day 94 – September 14th

Fly-through Map of Day 94.

Had an earlier breakfast this morning 07:00 instead of 7:30 much to Linney’S disgust. It was not a bad breakfast; at least we had some hot stir-fried vegetables and the egg police were not around.

Terraced landscape
Terraced landscape
Terraced landscape
Terraced landscape
Traditional corn stacks
Traditional corn stacks

We started to ride just after 08:00. It was quite cold and overcast with spots of rain but luckily the rain did not materialise. As soon as we left the hotel we started to climb and we had this for almost all day. We were climbing up the terraced mountains with great views. It was not too steep so we could all admire the views and enjoy the ride.

We stopped for lunch in the small village of Dijasuo. The girls in the only cafe gave us a menu but when we tried to order just said the only thing available was the meat and noodle soup and soft bread. So that’s what we had.

With still more climbing to be done it was just a matter of getting in the right frame of mind, or, if you’re like me, just daydream most of the time and pedal. It seems to get me up the hills ok. We concentrate on overtaking the laboring trucks on the ascent and then keeping out of the way on the descents.

Dedication at the Museum
Dedication at the People’s Liberation Army Museum
At the Red Army Museum
At the People’s Liberation Army Museum
Red Army Memorial
At the People’s Liberation Army Museum
Linford at the museum
Linford at the People’s Liberation Army Museum

As we started one of the descents we came across a museum or monument built in the traditional Chinese style in the small town of Gaobu. We pulled over and had a look around; as far as I could make out it was all about remembering the good deeds of the “Red Army”. It was nicely laid out and kept immaculate but when we came out everyone wanted to have their picture taken with us; the adults making their children stand with us. All very bizarre and it must have taken us at least half an hour to leave the place.

When we finally left we hit an area of apple and pear orchards and were cycling through small villages with their fruit for sale outside their house. We stopped at one and asked for three asian pears (not sure what they are called, but they are very nice) the girl thought we meant three kg, when we said no only three, she just gave them to us!

It was a nice ride into the city of Jingning but Linney’s magic did not work at the first hotel though we got the next best thing as the manager jumped on his bike and showed us where the tourist hotel was. A good guy and a nice touch.

It was another good day in the saddle. We are getting very close to Xi’an now; we are meeting Rylan there on the 18th September.

Everyday and ALL the Details

Map of Progress Part 1.

Map of Progress Part 2.

Overland To India

See how Ben and Jess are getting on as they take a more southern route across Asia to India. You can catch up with them here. An excerpt is below.

They have now reached Samarkand in Uzbekistan.

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Qinghai Province

Fellow cyclists

How Far Have They Got?

Map of first 10 weeks.

Map of progress in China.

Charity Update

Many thanks to those that have donated.

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Week 12 Summary: Around 1/3 of the World in 80 Days

This map shows the weeks ride.

This week: 550 miles, 11,268ft climbing and 41:26 hours riding

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Completed 80% of ride: 6500 of 8200 miles

Accumulated totals: 6500 miles, 136,841ft climbing and 508:41 hours riding

Day 80: Sunday September 1st: Gridlock in Mangai

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Route of Day 80 – September 1st

A short ride was planned for today with a quick 40 miles to the City of Mangnai. We had breakfast in the cafe adjacent to the hotel (the same family run the place) good job as we had not paid for one of the dishes we had last night. It was all taken in good spirits.

We packed the bikes up ready to go; it was good not having to pack all the extra water and we had finally finished the cream soda. Our bikes felt pretty light and we were on the road for about 08:30. No-one was rushing this morning. With the road predominately downhill the ride was a bit of a breeze really, athough there was quite a few trucks on the road with very little room to manoeuvre out of the way.

We followed a new railway line most of the way and passed a few oil wells; this area is definitely being developed.

As we approached Mangai we went through a police check but it was nothing like the previous state. But they still made us wait there for 10 mins. Soon we are on our way again. We decided to stop at the first café with WIFI but for some reason all our phones cannot get the a signal. Either we have been had by the Chinese girl who set our phones up for September or we need to activate a message we have all been sent; probably the latter.

We had lunch in the little café and had a nice meal again and company with the owners.
Mangai is just a concreate mass of building; all new set up in a grid without much character. We managed to find a hotel that takes tourists after the third attempt. It wasn’t much of a hotel either but it is far better than camping.

The plan was to have a shower, do some washing then go and have a look for some spare inner tubes and possible a tyre. Then sort are next routes out. We may have a little plan,that entails a few more miles but has more going on between the villages, towns etc.

Day 81: Monday September 2nd: The Bear is Kidnapped

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Route of Day 81 – September 2nd
WhatsApp Image 2019-09-02 at 08.49.59
Where is it?

Bear or no bear!

With no breakfast in the hotel we had breakfast in the room, packed up and carried the bags down to the hotel foyer where the bikes were stored. Disaster then struck; Keith’s bear was gone. It had been on his bike since early May when we first got the touring bikes.

Keith was inconsolable and Linney tried to comfort him but got the cold shoulder. We gave the hotel manager both barrels. I thought he looked a little confused with the phone translation. Anyway the bears are gone. Long live the bear!

I have no doubt the British Consultant has been informed. I just hope that the incident does not get blown out of all proportion and causes a diplomatic incident and stop all the Sino-British trade deals.

Day 82: Tuesday September 3rd: Endless Pot Noodles

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Route of Day 82 – September 3rd

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As we set up camp last night the wind got really strong. And it was in the the wrong direction. We all looked at each other over our steaming coffees and cakes (we could not take another pot noodle) with apprehension. Nothing can can wrong; surely it will all die down in the morning

We woke up to a beautiful sunrise coming over the desert, though it was quite cold, but the good news, virtually no wind! We had breakfast cereal and coffee – we ate all the cakes last night.

We set off around 08:30 and with the roads having less and less traffic on it was good riding. We could go three abreast down good roads with a slight tail wind. However we knew we had a long road ahead with virtually no signs of anywhere to get supplies.

At a really good pace we came across a tourist information office; toilets, map of the area, but sadly no supplies. A kind tourist gave us three cans of red bull! Off we went again. When we came to a workers compound they waved us in though the foreman seemed a bit grumpy. We managed to get some hot water from them for our pot noodles and coffee. One of the workers took a shine to Linney and kept having his photo taken with him. He left Keith & I alone to slurp on our pot noodles.

The roads were still really good with next to no traffic and with us making good progress after about 70 miles Linney spots a garage (from about 5 miles away). We put a little spurt on and sure enough it’s a garage and it was open. That was the good news; the only thing on the shelf was one soft drink, eight bottles of water and half a dozen pot noddles! So we had three pot noodles again, all the water and the soft drink and sat outside in the shade and enjoyed our pot noodles and coffee again.

As we had done nearly 70 miles already we rode off pretty relaxed. We did hit a bit of unpaved road but that only lasted less than 1/2mile. Before we knew it we came across another tourist sign! The first to mention Shanghai: 2000 miles away (3100km on the sign). This gave us a bit of a boost. Linney checked his maps and said there was a small hamlet about 18 miles away. As the time was only just gone 4 o’clock we said go for it. It would make a total of about 110 miles for the day,

So on we pressed, finally came to the lake. It did have flocks of birds on it but it looked really salty, with the road running between two lakes, which join up in the winter, the road was pretty rough in places, but not too bad.

As we approached the hamlet which was dominated by a lithium battery factory. We pulled over and the first place we saw was a hotel/hostel with a restaurant next door. Happy days with 111 miles in the bag (all done on two pot noodles and a bowl of cereal), it was great o have a meal and a few cold beers. They needed to move some meat out of the freezer for the beers!

Day 83: Wednesday September 4th: No Change

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Route of Day 83 – September 4th
Dale & Desert
Tent, dunes and not much else
Looks good enough for me
This would be desert

We had a nice meal in the café next door to the hotel/hostel but when it came to paying for the meal and the hostel rooms we realised that we did have much cash! School boy error again. We paid for the meal and room and then counted out what we had left; around 200 yen, (£20). We dug out some Sterling, Euros and Dollars and then went to see the guy again. He preferred the Euros so we changed 70 Euros and that will have to last until we reach the next bank (ATM) about 200miles away with two nights camping.

We had to wait for the café next door to open for breakfast but it was worth the wait; noodles tomatoes and scrambled egg all in the same bowl. Hence we did not get going until just after 9.

We had only gone 20 miles down the road when Keith had a blow out in his front tyre. The tyre came straight off the rim (he did put some air in the tyre before we left, possibly to much). He changed the inner tube and set off again. Linney then said his bike was not balance correctly as we were all carrying at least 8 Litres of water as well as extra food.

He stopped and re-balanced his bags; it was just one of those days we could not seem to get going.

However we soon got going riding three abreast on quiet roads. With the lake on one side and the dunes on the other it was very pleasant. Then we came across some sort of resort. It was down a private road and we were in two minds whether to go down there or not. We decided on the latter.

There was a little hamlet showing on the map at about 45 miles so we rode on to there. Maybe we could get a meal or hot water for the pot noodles. It was better than thatas the place had a shop and a restaurant. It seemed like a posh workers complex for the new factory. So had another big fill; so much better than the pot noodles and had time for a good rest.

We had plenty of time, so just rolled on through the desert. The car drivers are getting a lot more courteous; waving , beeping their horns, and generally being very nice, even stopping for photo shoots and giving us bottles of water, cans of red bull (ice cold) and ice cold coffee. All received with thanks. We pushed on with a plan to make around 70 odd miles to day and with the same planned for the next day and then a relatively easy day to the town.

With nothing around we just kept going, Keith out in front, with Linney taking pictures of the dead straight road, just rising up and up until Keith pulled over with a flat rear tyre. That made our minds up; fix the flat and then find a suitable camping spot off the road.

Our first place was not good so we moved and then found a nice sandy spot in a hollow. I am undecided on whether to sleep under the stars and will wait till the sun goes down and see how cold it is.

Day 84: Thursday September 5th: Goats and Hares

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Route of Day 84 – September 5th
Desert Mountains
Desert Goats
Desert Hare

I decided to sleep under the stars again and found a really nice spot in the sand. I had a good nights sleep though it was very cold in the morning. Keith had a bit of a bad start to the day as I noticed his back tyre was flat. Then while taking off his rear pannier he snapped the clip. With good inner tubes in short supply I mended two while Keith sorted out the pannier clip and with the gas running out on the camping stove we changed fuel to mentholated spirits. Not a good start to the day.

Still, we were on the road for 08:30. The road started with a gentle climb, then got steeper as the day went on. What we did not account for was the head wind. It was very strong making the climbing difficult to say the least. With nothing on the road, except for a possible place at a junction with another road just before a big salt lake at around 45 miles. We planned to stop for lunch there.

We just rode on passing a few Chinese tourist waving at us and taking weird pictures; laying on the road jumping around all a bit strange. Just before the planned lunch stop my back pannier snapped causing both bags to fall behind the bike, acting as a brake. Luckily I had just levelled out after a short decent and managed to keep the bike upright.

The stays holding the pannier bracket to the bike frame behind the seat post had failed. I fixed two jubilee clips around the bracket and onto the pannier frame and it was all sorted. Keith rode back down the hill and said why stop at the bottom but then realised it was a mechanical.

It was only a few miles to the intended lunch stop but unfortunately there was nothing at the junction except a workers compound. We tried our luck again and with a wave they invited us in past two barking dogs and into their canteen room. We were offerred not only pot noodles but left over rice and a cucumber chilli thing. It was the best pot noodle ever – even better than the baked bean version and with a cup of coffee to go with it was an excellent lunch, matched only by their hospitality. We filled our water bottles up and set off again.

With the head-wind easing off slightly we made pretty decent time. As we came across another intersection Linney got excited as he could see a garage up ahead; about 8 miles away – all up!

We finally managed to reach the service station though we did not hold out much luck. But this one was ok and we had coffee, cold drinks and rested up. The next challenge was ‘will they let us onto the toll road?’ No problem, we sailed through until 6 miles further on another decision; we have been so used to just following the same road for miles after miles. Do we bear off this road onto a minor road or stay on the toll road.

As we had already done 70 odd miles we decided to stay on the toll road and look for a suitable place to camp. It was pleasant riding up through the grass mountains and we even spotted some wildlife; wild goats, hares and birds of prey.

Eventually we settled for a camping spot though it took a bit of manoeuvering to get the bikes around the fencing and away from the road.

Day 85: Friday September 6th: No Foreigners

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Route of Day 85 – September 6th
Bleak campsite
A break on the desert road
Desert Mountains

As we went to bed last night it threatened to rain so we checked all the bags and made sure everything was water-tight. We had a few drops before we got into the tent but luckily nothing in the night.

We woke to a dull cold morning but no rain. We breakfasted with a quick bowl of porridge and coffee and then were on the bikes for 8 knowing the first 8 miles was uphill. Then it was a nice descent into a small town for lunch, then another 30 odd miles of steady climbing, ending the day in a hotel. Nothing could go wrong.

The first climb was fine and with fresh legs we soon hit the summit. Then we had the nice feeling of a 30 mile descent. It was really good. Linney did get a puncture about 7 miles away from the lunch stop but it was all sorted no problem. We rolled into a tourist stop. First some Taiwan ladies stopped us as we ordered lunch. We had a quick photo shoot with them. After lunch it all got a bit chaotic as a bus load of tourist from Shanghai turned up. It was one picture after another, though we did manage to get a contact number for an English speaking guy in Shanghai. Finally we managed to prise ourselves away from the tourist and get going again.

With around 34 miles to Delingha and plenty of time we just rode easy, taking in the different scenery. Eventually we turned off the road up to Delingha through a tree lined avenue flanked by industrial plants and new housing development. It all looked really new and a bit strange but very nice.

We cycled into the centre of the city and tried the first hotel; no luck not for “foreigners”. Then we tried a few more – all were the same. We had something to eat, then tried one more place. We seemed to be getting somewhere; the receptionist took our passports and then said she would need to phone the police to check. When the Policeman came he just said no tourists allowed in this area. We will need to move on,. He just wanted us out of the City. All a bit strange, I think they where processing uranium there or something similar.

Well that just meant another nights camping. Happy days. We followed the river out of the city looking for a suitable camping spot. Keith found a great spot in the woods by the river until the irrigation system started and soaked him, we did not camp there.

We ended up camping on a building plot out of the city. It looked like they were building another reprocessing plant but luckily enough it was deserted when we turned up. We were very tired and a little frustrated but nothing that a packet of monkey nuts and a jar of coffee can fix.

Day 86: Saturday September 7th: What a Shower

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Route of Day 86 – September 7th
Bike, Desert and distant mountains
Crossing the desert
Technology in the desert
Salt pans and desert

We were not expecting to camp last night and it was no joy to wake up on the building plot we finally found last night. Though to be honest we all had a good nights sleep. Be it in a tent not a hotel room. We only had a make-shift breakfast; tinned porridge (more like bean soup) coffee, snickers bar and some cakes.

We were on the road just before 08:00 with another day of climbing into the head-wind. We soon got into the rhythm and just rode the steady climb knowing we did not have a place to eat until around the 50 mile mark though we had snacks with us and plenty of water.

The vegetation is changing and we are seeing more established trees now. The grass is getting greener and their are signs of wildlife, making the scenery so much better.
Linney did see a camel today but the poor thing had been injured on the road. How Keith & I missed it nobody knows as that was just before a break. Keith pulled over to set up his solar charger and Linney and I pulled in behind him. The next thing a Chinese tourist car pulled over for the normal photo shoot but with the added bonus of giving us water, bread and apples, which were all gratefully received. Linney broke out our jar of jam (think we have had it since Russia) though it was really nice on the bread.

They left with a wave and a smile. Then two Chinese cyclists turned up; one on a road bike with wide tyres, the other on a Cannodale Leftie. We had the photo-shoot with them with a few high fives and that, and after that we all set off together, they pulled a little ahead, but did not get away. I think they were surprised we kept up with them. That’s what 85 days of cycling does. Eventually they pulled over after about 4 miles up hill to pick some wild berries. We waved and carried on.

A few miles further on we got stopped by the highway maintenance team. I think they were saying we should have hi-vis on, but we just smiled and kept saying no Chinese. With google translate I said we would buy some at the next town and that seemed to appease them, so they let us on our way.

By this time the road was quite stunning as it cut through the mountains with the railway following the same path. We stopped for a few pictures when the road crossed the rail line.

Still going uphill we pushed on to the little town of Keke, with the promise of a restaurant or cafe. As we rode through the small town/village there did not seem to be anywhere to eat. Linney was riding up and down the street in hope. Keith went into a building that looked a bit like a hotel. As he came out, I was speaking to a guy from there and he said we could eat inside. I think it was another Asylum or something similar (another theme going on here), but least we eat; ba ig bowl of egg rice each and bowl of soup. Athough the place was a bit creepy, we said our thanks and got out before they could keep us longer. We then had an ice cream and soft drink down the road.

As we were only 14 miles from Ulan, with the great possibility of a hotel we all got a bit excited and pushed on with a stomach full of food. As we got closer to the town we rode through an avenue of trees with the mountains in the background and the smell of honeysuckle; it was very reminiscent of riding in France.

With Linney map reading to the first hotel we came to a hotel. It looked a bit posh but with six days camping in the last week … lets live it up! If they let us in! Linney went in first followed by Keith. I was tasked with looking after the bikes, or I looked so scruffy they needed to keep me away. Good news – Keith came out and asked for my passport (always a good sign). We are in; result!

It felt so so good having a shave and a shower and we felt brand new again. It has been a tough week with long climbs, head-winds and camping most of the time. But we all pulled through.

Dale tucking in
The Road
We came this way
We go this way
The road goes ever on
This is the way
Let’s camp
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Which way?
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Desert at sunset
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Arriving … somewhere

[Pictures from the week: Ed]

Everyday and ALL the Details

Map of Progress Part 1.

Map of Progress Part 2.

Overland To India

See how Ben and Jess are getting on as they take a more southern route across Asia to India. You can catch up with them here. An excerpt is below.

They are now in Uzbekistan.

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