Photo of the Day: You're going to take these two where?
Rest day two. Purchasing bikes for the unprepared one and the even more unprepared one, who - and this is genuinely alarming - is already wearing a bandanna.
Off towards the desert tomorrow so no blog.
KM: 1245 (not including Pingluo to Yinchuan)
Average Speed: 11.7 KPH
Pot Noodles: 20
Punctures: 6 (3 for the Pigeon)
The Sites of Yinchuan
Photo of the day: Caption Competition
I took up yesterday's dinner invite after much suffering for the first 120km. Timing, hospitality and kindness meant I got a lift the remainder of the way to Yinchuan. If you want I'll make it up tomorrow, but you should just take these photos as compensation.
The day started by battling the metabolism enabling virtues of chilli before I headed out into a rainy and flooded Wuhai. At my first breakfast stop my left trainer began to foam as I walked, which was a promising indication that there was more than just H20 in Wuhai's rain.
Google Maps need to change the software they use for identifying roads. On a related note I went on a surprise visit to a coal mine.
The morning misery continued with two punctures, one of which occurred right next to a coal powered factory. Grim.
Eventually I was out of the industrial horrors and into the small farms and beautiful mosques of Ningxia province. My early difficulties meant I arrived late for lunch with the Mas. After I washed as much filth off my limbs and face as I could we headed for the hotpot that culminated in the photo above.
The Mas and friends were desperate to show me some sites of Pingluo county, but I insisted I needed to be in Yinchuan by 7, because my less than capable friends would be arriving from Britain. We went to a beautiful steeply arranged Taoist temple before hospitality and kindness meant that they were putting my bike in a truck to drive me the remaining 60km.
I felt a little sad about breaching the integrity of the trip, but the fact I could have cycled but had more fun eating and seeing people more than compensated.
April 18: Wuhai to Yinchuan - 158km
Start Time: 06.40
Finish Time: 18.30
Hours Cycling: 8
Hours Enjoying Chinese Hospitality: 3
Minutes Being Driven to Yinchuan: Not very many
Photo Every hour - Today's highlight: The Acid Rain is making my trainer foam
Photo of the Day - It Looks like he's mugging me off, but he really isn't!
In some ways it was disappointing to see Wuhai clouded in smog as I approached after 155km of cycling, but when you've been waiting two months to have this blog title in many ways it's a relief to coat your lungs in metallic debris.
A great day. A proper this is why your doing this day. Following the most arduous check out yet - 18 minutes - I joined Linhe's pensioners for their morning turn about the square before hitting the 6.20am rush hour to school. Yes that's right, six and twenty. Linhe has a definite charm to it, I'd love to come back.
Out on the road it was a day of monuments and men (and a woman). I passed the 1000km mark, the G110 passed its own 1000km mark and I crossed one of China's great rivers; the Yellow one. Only the sixth longest river in the world, after all the ones you know about and the Yenesei, which you don't know about, or at least shouldn't know about.
More new friends today. Tomorrow if time allows, I'm off for lunch with two delivery drivers who passed me five times as they shuttled up and down the same stretch of road. Here they are.
Also had three or four other photo sessions on the way, the best of which was with the guy in the photo of the day. He was doing the reverse of me all the way up to Hohhot, on a grown up's bike.
Today was all about one long lingering moment though, as I cruised with a tail wind at 50kph (Mom - 20kph), with Idlewild playing, I gazed over to a glimmering Yellow River and the very first dunes of the Gobi Desert on the opposite bank. Better still, the Song 2 pun securing haze was also visible.
Wuhai also seems charming and has provided the best variation of Kung Pow/Gong Bao Chicken I've had yet, with a real "I'm not crying because it's hot, I'm crying because I'm happy" chilli flavour to it.
In other news, I've gone native and will happily eat a preserved egg from the plastic wrapper. You don't know what your missing.
Finally, another bath!!!!!!!!!
APRIL 17: LINHE to Wuhai- 151KM
Start Time: 06.20
Finish Time: 18.00
Hours Cycling: 11.666
Hours Pushing: 0
Number of Dead Dogs: 1 (told you it was a good day)
PHOTO EVERY HOUR - TODAY'S HIGHLIGHT: The Giant Padlocks STATUE
THE I DIDN'T REALLY WANT TO DO MISTRANSLATIONS AND ROAD SIGNS BUT SOME OF THEM ARE JUST TOO GOOD NOT TO SHARE SECTION
PHOTO OF THE DAY - My new best friend
What a difference a day and a 45kph reduction in wind makes. A joyous day, on the way to the edge of the Gobi desert where the photos do most of the talking. The man above and his colleague provided great entertainment as their frequent breakdowns and my frequent rest breaks created a situation where we overtook each other persistently for 50km.
Quite a few celebrity photos today, the best of which was with this young couple who flagged me down to present me with two cans of Red Bull.
Enjoy the photos. I don't want to waste valuable time in Linhe, which seems a lovely little city, or limit my time in the bath! Yes that's right I've got a bath!
APRIL 16: WUYUAN to Linhe- 83KM
Start Time: 09.00,
Finish Time: 17.00
Hours Cycling: 7
Hours Pushing: 0!
Number of Dead Dogs: 3
Number of Dead Sheep Rotting on the Side of the Road: 3 (not enough to put me off lamb for tea)
PHOTO EVERY HOUR - TODAY'S HIGHLIGHT: The Prancing Sheep Statue
The I didn't really want to do mistranslations and road signs but some of them are just too good not to share section
Today was a nightmare and I was forced into playing my spare day joker early. I was meant to cover 141km today but only covered 61km. I was waved off at 8am by the helpful staff at my hotel but within 5km I was riding straight into a fierce, polluted, and sandy headwind.
It was total misery. The G110 heads north rather than west, which was no use to me. I can't use the G6, which does head west because it's a motorway. I had intended to arrive in Yinchuan on Friday, the day before my friends, Jonny and Tom join me, but after 61km of riding into a wind of up to 50kph I decided to play my joker and forego that early arrival. I turned up at the only hotel in Wuyuan and after confusion, photos with drunk, dirty, smelly men I was in a room with a view of Wuyuan's public square.
Another visit from the police too, it's quite a service they provide. A friendly person turns up, copies your documents, asks what your doing, nods their head in approval and leaves.
With a bit of time on my hands I then went to see the sites. Documentation below.
APRIL 15: Urad Qianqi to Wuyuan - 61km
Start Time: 08.00
Finish Time: 15.30
Hours Cycling: 4
Hours Pushing: 3.5
Number of Dead Dogs: 5
Number of Photos with Stinky Men: 6
PHOTO EVERY HOUR - TODAY'S HIGHLIGHT: The Carpet with Wednesday on it in homage to the tv show teachers
PHOTO OF THE DAY - A beer for a rural boy
Extra special bonus photos of wuyuan's Tourism Sites
After much confusion as to why I asked for a knife at breakfast, I was presented with a spoon with which to spread the butter on my self-assembled toasted egg sandwich. Still, some wonderful beige carbs and protein got me through the Baotou rush hour and back out onto the G110.
Very little happened today, other than a shift from five layers to one layer as the temperature rose to around 20 whatsitmajiggies.
My right knee gave up on me and I had a slow puncture, but you don't want to hear about that. You want to hear about my triumphant return to form in the last 15km. It was triumphant. My celebrity status has moved up a notch; I now get interviewed by cars driving alongside me as passengers film me and ask questions. In the opposite to a classic Tour de France medical tow, one guy even leaned out of his window to offer me a cigarette.
By the time I'd finished dismantling my bike and locking it, all of the hotel's staff had gathered to meet me for the obligatory photos. After the previous horrified faces I now enter the hotel and immediately apologise for my appearance. This didn't put off the girls from the restaurant who wanted a photo, so I upped my warning to "I'm sorry, I'm a very dirty man". It didn't work
I checked in after the hotel had sent on their guest's details for the night to the local police, so I had a visit from a very nice police woman and her young son. After we'd established I was alone, on a bicycle, had a reservation for tomorrow night and was only taking photos of mountains I was left alone to try and locate my slow puncture. It's times like this I wish baths were more prevalent in China so I could multi-task.
APRIL 14: DONGHE to Urad Qianqi- 130KM
Start Time: 08.00
Finish Time: 19.30
Hours Cycling: 10
Hours Pushing: 1.5
Number of Dead Dogs: 3
Number of Dead Sheep: 12
Number of Dead Wolves: 1
Number of flies swallowed: 1 (happy now dad?)
PHOTO EVERY HOUR - TODAY'S HIGHLIGHT: Your desert is on its way
Photo of the day - Characteristics
After retrieving the Giant from its place of safekeeping and hauling it up four floors I began my flattest day yet. After realising an economics podcast on healthcare statistics was less productive for generating rhythm than terrible late 90s pop punk, I cracked on with what can only be described as an almost proficient performance. All to the sound of young men who must now utterly be ashamed of their musical legacy.
Aided by two of what my knees call a Paracetamol Power Hour, I covered the 145km in under 12 hours; inclusive of the time lost through being a point of curiosity for everyone I met.
Today was great fun, until the final approach to Donghe and leaving Hohhot, I had quiet roads and only a gentle headwind to contend with. To my north I followed the Great Blue Mountains (not blue, but great mountains) and to my south the Hasuhai Wetland, which would occasionally glimmer enough to warrant a mention here. It was also a strong debut for my new fold up stool (£1.50), which is keeping my bum warm at break time.
Today though, was all about being a curiosity to others. I was the first foreigner a number of people had spoken to and I got to make my first unplanned joke in Mandarin, whilst having my photo taken with three women I exclaimed "Look! I have three wives!" and received a rapturous response from their actual husbands. More Jim Bowen than Ross Noble, but you have to work the audience.
Rather than a donkey, I treated my body like a steam train today by chucking in a strawberry flavoured (loosely defined) muffin once an hour instead of coal.
Talking of coal, it was - swear coming up - fucking everywhere. Inner Mongolia is mining country and by the time I arrived at the hotel I looked like I'd done a real day's work, or made an unfortunate decision regarding an outfit for a provincial fancy dress party. My receptionist stared at me as if it was the later.
APRIL 13: HOHHOT to donghe- 145KM
Start Time: 06.50
Finish Time: 18.30
Hours Cycling: 10
Hours Pushing: 0.25 (on the flat, my knee felt funny for a bit)
Hours Being in Photos: 1
Number of Bottles of Lorry Driver Piss (viewed): 8
PHOTO EVERY HOUR - TODAY'S HIGHLIGHT: I can also do a joke about your mother-in-law
PHOTO OF THE DAY - Kilometre Burial
This is where I update on my progress. Expect lots of fabricated statistics and dated music references.