Photo Of The day: It was Better when something arose thAT HE HADN'T pREPARED FOR
To plagiarise the late Sue Townsend.
09.00 - Leave.
09.30 - Stop for noodles.
10.00 - Toilet stop.
10.30 - First breakage; a snapped pannier.
11.00 - Make it to 1KM.
It was not an auspicious start. Worse still, when my back was turned, the even more unprepared one had put on a second bandanna.
Being more vulture than culture, we headed to Yinchuan's botanical gardens to visit the fantastic dinosaur park attached to it.
It was a good day for the newcomers to be introduced to long distance cycling with a fierce tailwind pushing us south. A brief rain shower was dealt with badly, the really unprepared one had brought a poncho that he managed to attach just as it stopped raining.
We stopped at a small town on the way to avoid further wind and rain. After some amazing food, we were invited to another table to share some baijiu, the 50% dancing juice of China, with a group of 40somethings; it took a Churchillian speech by me to stop things getting out of hand.
Our last stop of the day was the 108 Pagoda; a still impressive site with utter nonsense being built around it in expectation for booming tourist numbers.
Later that night we set up camp in a field of thorns. Here, both the unprepared and even more unprepared one were joined by the totally unprepared version of me. Instead of buying a sleeping bag, I purchased a Durex Featherlight, which really wasn't up to much. After a decadent meal of beef pot noodle with Have I Got News For You interrupting the nearby industrial noises, they got a good sleep, whilst I tried to warm myself by cuddling Jonny as I imagined he was Victoria Coren (never Mitchell, never).
April 20: Yinchuan to Qingqtongxia - 80km
Start Time: 10.00
Finish Time: 18.00
Hours Cycling: 6.5
Hours Enjoying Chinese Hospitality: 1
Photo Every Hour - Today's Highlight: The First Breakage Still in View of The Hotel
Video of the Day: Clever Girl
Photo Of The Day: Some heads are bigger than others.
I awoke cold and not with Victoria Coren.
After a thorny puncture we got on our way. The unprepared one tried to buy panty liners instead of wet wipes at our breakfast stop.I lost patience with my many thorny punctures and replaced both inner tubes.
Then, out of nowhere, we found form and worked like a team pursuit unit. We flew through the tree lined avenues in what feels like the only province in China where people don't litter. It was brilliant
We stopped for fruit in a village I'm 22% certain translates as Second Squatting Ditch, a brave decision on our part.
An hour later we stopped for baozi made by a husband and wife team, before being overwhelmed by photo requests; most notably by a group of petrol station employees about half the size of us.
Then there was watchtowers, glimpses of the first dunes of the Gobi and beautiful blossom. This got us to 95km, at which point we started to fall apart: Tom probably felt it hardest and decided to stretch on the forecourt of a petrol station much to the amusement of everybody.
Zhongwei was a magnificent final stop; a friendly, wave-heavy, joy of a town where the school children have actually done their English homework. It's these moments of fun that drag you over the last 20km.
But they don't drag your typing beyond 23.30.
April 21: QingTongXia to ShapoTou - 124km
Start Time: 08.30
Finish Time: 19.00
Hours Cycling: 10.5
Photo Every Hour - Today's Highlight: The School Children of ZhOngwei
Video of the Day: What if a bus runs over his head?
This is where I update on my progress. Expect lots of fabricated statistics and dated music references.