Pedaling from the Black Forest to the Yellow Sea
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Posts from — November 2008

Day 247 (China): Luoyang - restaurant at km marker 652 at G310 (more ups and downs)

daily distance: 151km
total distance: 14,791km
riding time: 8h 

I was able to circumvent Luoyang on G310 and thus did not have to contend with city traffic after crawling out of the little shed for the night. I was woken up by heavy motorcycle traffic on the path next to the shed and some factory brigades running around military style less than a couple of hundred yards away.


And there were more power stations along the way. Nothing unexpected any longer. The going was rough at first and I took my first break in Yanshi after about 50km. Afterwards I took the wrong road, but got quietude for a while.

Then lousy surface and despite signs pointing in the right direction I must have missed a turnoff at some point. Once I realized where I was, I decided to ditch where I wanted to end up for the day (Zhengzhou) and took a look at the Yellow River instead. Here it is …

The whole thing was a big detour, but I thought worth the effort. I wouldn’t have seen it any more otherwise. The road to Zhengzhou looked flat on my map, but it so wasn’t. This was some major climbing as evidenced here … (me thinks at least)

When I wanted to do some last minute shopping at some place it turned out to be a restaurant. Darn. I asked whether there was a hotel … no, there wasn’t. But I was invited in and eventually they said that I should stay at their place. It was great. The restaurant had extremely yummy food for a starving biker and the people were super nice. A departure from the days prior. The man of the house was insistent on sleeping in the same room which I could avert by pointing to my bike. And so I slept in a place to myself.

On another note, I heard the last show of Real Time with Bill Maher today. This one was with me almost all the time … and yes, I did like it.

This was a tiring day, but sunny and the scenery was good. I am now anxious to reach the Yellow Sea, I must admit. I will see whether I will be taking a rest day along the road as I planned and really should do. But who knows ….

November 25, 2008   No Comments

Day 246 (China): shed at km marker 931 on G310 - Luoyang (power plants everywhere)

daily distance: 174km
total distance: 14,640km
riding time: 9h 

So, I left my shed early in the morning and got under way.

Covering mileage. That is the name of the game it seems right now. Got some breakfast on the road, the usual daudse, and then saw km markers that were indicating G209. What? Wrong road? Couldn’t have been - or so I thought. And it wasn’t. Turns out that I was on the right road, but the G209 and G310 use the same road for a while and therefore the G209 markers take over.

This was confirmed by a truck driver whose buddy loaded me up with a giant grapefruit and tons of mandarins. Which really made my day. This was completely unexpected - need to change my China image a bit it seems. And then I pedaled on and on and on …

I went from km marker 888 to km marker 777 and then some today.

Had long ups and downs which were demanding given the distance that I was traveling. Demanding at any rate. I thought I was out of hill country, but there were plenty of them today. Steep and long.

And I didn’t know how far to go today. I did have a strong tailwind and so I made it just before a larger city when the craziness of driving in the dusk basically forced me off the roads. It felt too dangerous. I did find another shed amazingly heading into the city and was grateful for it. Though it was tight.

What was scary today was the number of power plants though. At one point it felt like they were all around me … and I am not joking. Four were within sight at one point. Guess all that outsourcing that we are doing to China as our manufacturing base has to be leading to something.

On the other hand, there were wind turbines too - alas right in the middle of some heavy coal country. Here is both in the same picture - coal on the left and wind turbines on the right.

November 24, 2008   No Comments

Day 245 (China): km marker 1046 on G310 - shed at km marker 931 on G310 (pollution abounds here)

daily distance: 114km
total distance: 14,466km
riding time: 6h 

There isn’t much to report. It was a dull and grey day for the most part. I am starting to feel the pollution in the air here which is getting worse and worse the further I seem to go East. My lungs were burning, but maybe this was just my imagination. Who knows.

Later on I got into more rural areas which made things better … and the sky turned a nice blue as well. And the area is hilly. A few days ago I thought that I would be out of the hills and that back then I would be doing the last climbing. I was so wrong again. China is always misleading you. Here is what the story of the day was. One after the other. Constant ups and downs. Stiff drops and steep climbs on the other side. But they were good and the riding was nice.

I am now less than tata … 1000km (make that 620 miles) away from the coast. Too bad this is much more than the sign on the freeway, which indicated less than 880km today. But at any rate, I am drawing closer and closer now. Keep the fingers crossed that things are going well.

I found a shed for the night to hunker down … I was really, really tired.

November 23, 2008   1 Comment

Day 244 (China): Xian - km marker 1046 on G310 (Terracotta Army marches on)

daily distance: 112km
total distance: 14,352km
riding time: 6h 

I did some more shopping and then set out into the madness that is Chinese large city traffic. Not that the craziness is much less in smaller places. And eventually found my way to the Terracotta Army over bumpy and muddy and unsigned roads. Orientation points were a river, a couple of highways, train tracks and the sun. Good enough. But before you get there, you head back to Egypt … don’t ask me why.

As I was standing outside the mausoleum (which I didn’t really want to visit), I noticed that someone took my picture. Wondering why I looked quizzically at that person and it turned out to be Ping / Sara. The former being her Chinese name, the latter her English name. We spent the next few hours together and had a great time visiting the Terracotta Army. I was uncertain as to whether I had wanted to go really, but figured I should not pass this opportunity up. And the place is pretty amazing.


Here is a small pit … pretty huge if you ask me.

And here is the amazingly large Pit 1, with a great number of soldiers standing guard for the afterlife of the ruler. Pretty amazing … the number only being rivaled by the number of visitors, though this was a slow day. Here now is the large pit …

And here are some more detailed pictures …




I am grateful for having met Ping. She put a number of things that happened / didn’t happen over the last days in perspective, confirmed some of my hunches and thought that some of my observations and experiences may have been aberations. I would hope that they were. And she has a great personality on top of all that. Thanks for taking the picture to start with.   

Needless to say there was an issue with the bike. Where to put it? When we located the luggage storage a self-righteous policeman tried to tell us that it was for luggage only and not for bikes. Well, I left it there and locked it figuring that since he didn’t give me an alternative there was no other place.

The rest of the day was riding in the rather bleak (sky is dull and grey) area here. I found G310, which I will remain on for the rest of the trip.

I was looking for a place when darkness decended and it was getting a bit iffy to ride any further. The fog contributed to this of course. Things turned out well, a small village had a little hotel and some good food to come along with it. All was well.

November 22, 2008   No Comments

Day 243 (China): rest day in Xian II (sightseeing, internet, bumming around)

The plan was to do a bit of sightseeing today and not much else. This is what I did. First off, a mosque which doesn’t strike you as such unless you take a look at the skullcaps on people’s heads. Otherwise, it is Chinese-style and my comment that mosques have been replaced by temples was a bit premature. Islamic faith is still pretty strong here it seems judging by the number of mosques I have encountered up to now.


Then, it was on to the Large Goose Pagoda. Pretty impressive building I must say. The tourist groups were out in droves though. Here is the square - another big one:

And here is the actual pagoda - also big.


There was small stuff though too …



Other than that a restful day full of food and the like. I will be heading out again tomorrow to cover the remaining distance to the Yellow Sea. Unsure how I feel about this overall, but this is just the way it is. On the one hand I am seeing the goal in sight (1200km, roughly 750miles to, not much in the grand scheme of things - which sounds strange for most I gather), but it also means that the trip will then be over (at least the biking part). Will have a few days to ponder this though. And just as I need it, the weather report indicated rain and snow for the area I am heading into … starting tomorrow.

November 21, 2008   No Comments