For the first two weeks and first 1300ish kilometres of my journey I've almost exclusively been using the G110 National Road, which runs from Beijing to Yinchuan.
It goes from over mountains, passed the Great Wall and it's watchtowers, over desert, over grassland. It has one of the world's mega cities book ending it. It's Mongolian, it's Han, it's Hui, it's everything. It's a great road.
You could even drive it in one day.
Google Maps needs to improve its reportage of contours. Someone else needs to sort the wind out. Hard day made worth it by seeing the Great Wall, watchtowers, mountains and the look on the receptionists face when I arrived covered in dirt and debris.
Also had a great lunch stop at a petrol station - see photo of the day; I was offered, but turned down, one of the young female employees and dumplings, but I did accept some delicious tofu (if you don't live in China let's take your next question about tofu outside of this blog).
Finally, my day was made on the final climb before descending into Xinghe when a bloke on a little truck pulled up alongside me and offered to race, explaining as he made this invitation that he was the 'Watermelon King' - I could have misheard, but I made him say it three times as we shouted over the sounds of passing lorries. He didn't have any watermelons or a crown/sceptre, but he did win the race.
April 9: ZhangJiankou to xinghe - 111km
Start Time: 09.00
Finish Time: 19.15
Hours Cycling: 8
Hours Pushing: 1
Hours Eating Oreos: 0.35
Hours Eating Pot Noodles: 0.9
Near Death Experiences: Me: 0
Number of Dead Dogs: 0 (but one sheep)
Number of Photos with Young Female Petrol Station Attendants: 3
PHOTO EVERY HOUR - TODAY'S HIGHLIGHT: The Great Wall and awesome scenery
PHOTO OF THE DAY - Petrol Station working lunch
Today started with a dreamy ride for 20km through the China they don't use in postcards; small holdings and farmland populated by smiley people who were waving and shouting hello at my preposterous appearance.
Then I reached the crash site.
One of the main things that worried me about the Pigeon was it's lack of breaking capability. Seeing what two lorries had done to one car at a junction, made me glad to have two disk brakes. I arrived later than the other 300 hundred people in the audience. Something I'm very grateful for because at best the driver of the car would have been in a terrible mess, at worst they're dead.
I spent the remainder of the day riding cautiously close to the side of the cycle lane that gave me the most distance from passing traffic, constantly eyeing up the best route of escape.
It was a hard slog over the hills today. I had a proper bonk 20km out and despite the encouragement of two friendly cyclists I had to stop for an emergency pot noodle in the shadow of one of Hebei's largest steel factories. The kind of travel romance we all dream of.
After yesterday's sunburnt face (I'm saving up my end of day photos for a montage) I made sure to wear sun cream today and keep my jacket on. Unbeknownst to me the jacket had rode up a little, leaving me with the world's least impressive truckers tan.
My destination, Zhangjiakou, is almost certainly about to join the exulted company of Lillehammer and Albertville as a wherethehellisthat? place to host the Winter Olympics in 2022, yet I only saw one set of Olympic rings.
April 8: Yanqing to ZhangJiaKou - 145km (depending on who you believe)
Photo Every Hour - Today's Highlight: the aforementioned trucker's tan
Start Time: 09.30
Finish Time: 20.30
Hours Cycling: 9
Hours Pushing: 0.5
Hours Eating Oreos: 0.5
Hours Eating Pot Noodles: 0.5
Hours Fixing a Puncture: 0.5
Near Death Experiences: Me: 0; Someone Else 1
Number of Dead Dogs: 5
Photo of the Day - Common People Themed Restaurant
This is where I update on my progress. Expect lots of fabricated statistics and dated music references.