Day 125-128 (Minhe – Gannan)

A tale of rain and hills

Right now we are in an intensive cycling period and we try to cycle as much as possible and avoid any long stops. There are two reasons for this and one is that we want to get south and away from the autumn as fast as we can and the other one is that we need to think of our visa extension which need to be done somewhere around Chengdu by the end of this month or early October.

We try to not have any rest days now, but put in some days with easy cycling or days with only half the normal distances. The day when we left Minhe was such a day. We checked out from the hotel at 1 PM and started cycling at 2 PM. It was downhill and tailwind on good roads and to cycle 66 km under those circumstances was just like having a restday. The ride was not very exiting and after the last few days of cycling in a fantastic landscape there is really nothing comparable to say about this day’s ride. It was 66 pleasant kilometers on a busy road without any exiting sights along the way.

A view of Minhe as we left the city. Almost in every town we pass we can see tall buildings under construction

A view of Minhe as we left the city. Almost in every town we pass we can see tall buildings under construction

Our Polish friend started before us and we didn’t expect to catch up with him the same day. Later that day we learned that he had made an navigational error and were 40 km behind us instead of the same distance ahead of us. Taking the wrong turn is never fun and it happens to all touring cyclists. Our most recent experience was when we lost some 50 km due to a wrong turn at an intersection in Uzbekistan.

In the late afternoon we finally reached the banks of the Yellow River. We crossed it twice in two days but the second crossing was on a much more spectacular place than the first one and we count this as our midpoint on our way through China.

For those of you who check our daily map section we have now split the maps in China part 1 and China part 2 because there would be too many maps under one single country. The split was planned to be done when we reached the midpoint, i.e. the Yellow River.

We have now camped three nights in a row. Our first camp site was right outside a sleepy village on the shore of the Yellow River and just at beginning of the first of the two major climbs we were to deal with the coming day.

Finding spots to pitch the tent is still easy and this one was one of the most convenient so far. It was on a little hill behind an abandoned house and although close to the road it wasn’t visable. 100 meter away there was a little stream of clear water that we could use for washing ourselves in.

Coffee break at tea house to escape the rain for a few minutes

Coffee break at tea house to escape the rain for a few minutes

The next morning we woke up to the sound of rain falling on the roof of our tent. It is never fun, especially when you camp on a dirt hill which would be very muddy when it rains. We stayed in bed half an hour extra and when we finally got out the rain had stopped. After having cycled for about 1 km it started again and we did the 10 km climb of 600 meter in heavy rain. Not very fun when we have sent our rain proof jackets to Bangkok…..

At the top of the climb there was a short tunnel and on the far side of the tunnel we found a little shop where we stopped to ask for hot water in which we poured instant coffee. We were soaking wet and didn’t really look forward to the 17 km downhill speed. Wet clothes, cold weather and high speed is a freezing combination. But it was a joy to roll 17 km without having to turn the pedals even once.

"....ifrån Gula Floden kommer jag och vill till Göteborg..."

“….ifrån Gula Floden kommer jag och vill till Göteborg…”

We were now back at the Yellow River and went in to the city of Yongjing to find some warm place where we could eat and dry our clothes. To our great satisfaction the rain stopped while we were having lunch and 7 km beyond the city center we came back to the Yellow River which here had very high banks and the bridge spanning across the river was very high.

The midpoint of our journey through China - the yellow bridge over the Yellow River

The midpoint of our journey through China – the yellow bridge over the Yellow River

Immediately after crossing the yellow bridge over the Yellow River we started climb number two this day. This climb was a 20 km long and took us up almost 900 meters along the sides of the mountains with an endless number of terraces. It was still cloudy and sometimes a bit foggy and the photos we took didn’t come out very good.

The road is like a meandering river

The road is like a meandering river

The road follows the terraces

The road follows the terraces

A sharp turn....

A sharp turn….

Once we had got up on the mountain we thought it would be a smooth ride, but no….. There were lots of very small climbs and after all previous climbing that day they felt like killer climbs. We actually prefer one very long climb where we can keep our pace for a long time instead of many small ones where it is necessary to change speed, gears, cadence and everything else that breaks the rythm.

Wej and a curious local boy who came to watch us break our camp

Wej and a curious local boy who came to watch us break our camp

Our aim was to cycle 130 km and reach the town of Linxia, but after having cycled almost 100 km and climbed 1900 meters it finally got dark and we had to find somewhere to camp. This time it turned out to be a flat area just before the last village the start of the descent down to the city. We were close, but riding on those roads in darkness is a bad idea so we had to stop.

The following morning we woke up to the sound of……. raindrops falling on our tent…..
Fortunately it stopped and we could pack our gear and rush the remaning 25 km into town where we bought some ponchos and had a long lunch break. When leaving town we came to a roundabout that was very muddy due to ongoing roadworks. There were lots of traffic and in the midst of all this Wej got a flat tyre on her rear wheel.

Wej in her brand new 3 € poncho

Wej in her brand new 3 € poncho

We had already done 30 km and it was another 100 km and 1200 meters climb to the next city (Gannan) which we knew was too far for us so our intention was to camp. In the middle of nowhere we suddenly found a tourist information office along our way. We stopped and went in and since it was raining again (now we had ponchos so it wasn’t a problem) we asked for nearby hotels. The staff told us there was one 30 km further on and we rushed there only to find it was a simple and dirty guesthouse that was closed. There was nothing to do but to pitch our tent beside the streem a few hundred meters away.

Rainy morning. We came here to enjoy the views and the autumn colours of the mountains but got only rain. Our last campsite was at the green field beside the trees in the centre.

Rainy morning. We came here to enjoy the views and the autumn colours of the mountains but got only rain. Our last campsite was at the green field beside the trees in the centre.

This time it rained when we went to bed and it still rained when we woke up. The surrounding hilltops were completely covered by clouds that poured out its content over us. It was 35 km and 500 meter climb to the town of Gannan where we intended to stay at a hotel, take a half day off and do some laundry and dry our gear. It was raining and uphill but we had a tailwind and our ponchos worked like sails…. About halfway Wej got yet another flat tyre, but this time at a very convenient place right beside a tunnel under the highway that is under construction. We could change to a new innertube without having to get wet.

Wej likes to take photos of me when I fix punctures. Now it is my turn to take photos of her flat tyres....

Wej likes to take photos of me when I fix punctures. Now it is my turn to take photos of her flat tyres….

Arriving in Gannan we tried the first hotel we passed by, but it had no license to host foreigners. They informed us about two hotels which have the license, but when we cycled past the first one we saw that it was undergoing a complete renovation and the second hotel turned out to be fully booked. The rain had stopped but after three rainy nights in our tent we were not in the mood for this sort of games and the staff at the fully booked hotel called the police to ask what to do. The police told about a third hotel with license to host foreigners and sent out an officer who was on lunch break to show us the way there.

This afternoon I also got a text message from Fisher, the chinese cyclist we cycled with a few days ago. He sent a message to tell us that there had been an earthquake in Menyuan where we stayed together less than a week ago. It was 5.1 on the Richter scale which is not too strong. Nobody seems to be hurt, but we are glad we weren’t there when it happened.

10 thoughts on “Day 125-128 (Minhe – Gannan)

  1. Kalle

    Hösten har kommit till Sverige också, men just i dag var det fint och soligt. Bra höstväder helt enkelt.
    Det skall ju vara enorma skillnader mellan hur människor lever på landsbygden och i städerna i Kina sägs det. Ser ni av det på något sätt? När man ser era bilder verkar det vara ett land med välmående befolkning och modern infrastruktur. Inte överallt förstås, men övervägande som det verkar?
    Får ni kontakt med personer som ni fått i andra länder? De verkar hjälpsamma, men kanske inte till den grad att ni blir hembjudna?

    1. admin Post author

      Infrastrukturen i form av vägar lämnar inget i övrigt att önska. Så här långt har vi bara åkt på bra vägar där även småvägar har varit belagda med fin asfalt. Inte en grusväg har vi åkt på än så länge om man räknar bort de 20 km vägbygge vi passerade häromdagen. Mobiltäckningen har varit mycket god och vi har kunnat både ringa och surfa såväl bland bergen som ute i öknen – dock lever min iphone sitt eget liv och vill ibland inte samarbeta, men det är en annan femma.

      Kina har ju stora skillnader mellan städer och landsbygd. De städer vi passerar ser inte helt olika ut från städer i Europa med folk som bor i lägenheter och som skyndar till jobb på morgnarna och jäktar mellan affärer under lunchen. På landet ser man en annan bild med hus i sämre skick osv, men även där är nivån bättre än jag hade väntat mig. Det som är märkligt är att det byggs hejvilt inte bara i de större städerna utan även i landsortshålor. Var kommer alla pengar ifrån???

      Folk har varit vänliga mot oss sedan vi lämnade porten hemma i Vasastan, men det välkomnande främlingar mötte oss med i främst Turkiet och Uzbekistan är nog exceptionellt. Här i Kina är folk lite mer reserverade, dvs. dom hejar inte eller springer fram för att möta oss, men antyder vi att vi behöver någon form av assistans så håller dom inte tillbaka utan gör vad dom kan för att vara behjälpliga. Vi har blivit hembjudna ett antal gånger här i Kina också, senast i förrgår, men när tältet redan är på plats och maten står och puttrar så skall det mycket till för att packa ihop alltihop igen.

      Hela resan kantas ju av språkförbistring, men ingenstans har den varit så stor som här i Kina och det ihop med att vi har bråttom att hinna igenom detta stora land på utsatt tid talar lite mot alltför många hembjudningar.

        1. admin Post author

          I heard about the rain showers and flood warnings in Thailand. Let’s hope it won’t be as bad as it was two (?) years ago. And let’s hope that the mountains east of us will take most of the rain out of that typhoon.
          We have had a little planning meeting this morning about the coming route and we have decided to stick to the one we first planned which is straight south on road 213 towards Chengdu. The alternative would have been to go east and get down from the mountains. We will get wet no matter what road we choose, but if we take the lower road it will only be less cold. Going along the road we have chosen (213) will be shorter and less climbing becuase we will stay more or less at the same altitude for the coming 350 km. The alternative road would take us up across mountains while we now stay between them… 🙂

  2. dan claesson

    Ni jobbar på bra med att tälta och laga punkor. Förstår att inte varje dag är en dans på rosor. Men ni skall ändå veta att det ni upplever är häftigt och vilka minnen för livet. Jag tycker att hela resan har gått fort och relativt smidigt. Skall bli kul att höra hur många mil till ni behöver köra innan ni kommer till området där det alltid är varmt ( Södra Kina)
    Här är det lugn helg igen. Jobbar inte lika mycket helg som tidigare.
    Senaste nytt är att Al shabab slog till på ett shopping center i Nairobi, 30 döda.. Så jävla tröttsamt med dessa fanatiker runt världen.
    I Sverige händer inget speciellt och det kanske vi skall vara glada för!? Om 1 år är det val i Sverige och siffrorna visar att det blir en röd grön regering, dock med SD som stor spelare.
    Take care!

    Dan och A

    1. admin Post author

      Minnen för livet blir det säkerligen och konstigt nog ingår motgångarna och svårigheterna som en spännande krydda i resan. Problemlösning har blivit en av våra paradgrenar 🙂
      Håller med om att det gått fort, särskilt nu på slutet. Vi ska ikväll planera för ankomsten till Bangkok. Vi har bara drygt 200 mil kvar i Kina och 70 i Laos innan vi det är dags att byta till vänstertrafik…..

  3. Pontus A

    Hej på er!

    Följer er resa med spänning! Trevlig läsning och massor av fina bilder.
    Ser fram emot många fler rapporter. Ni får ha det superbra!

    Pontus “orkidenörden” på Fjällsport

    1. admin Post author

      Hej Pontus!
      Kul att du följer bloggen.
      Tyvärr har vi inte hittat några exklusiva orkidéer att fotografera åt dig. Vi letade noga i kulvertarna under motorvägen efter den i Taklamakanöknen endemiska orkiden Kulvertis Sandhögensus men dessvärre gick vi bet… 😉
      Alla prylar vi handlat hos er funkar bra förutom vårt omnifuel där avstängningsventilen kärvat fast – som tur i öppet läge. Har haft kontakt med Primus och dom har sagt att vi får köra som det är och lämna in det på service i Bangkok, vilket låter som en bra plan.

      Ha det gott och hälsa kollegorna!


  4. Kalle

    Gästfriheten ni mötts av i Turkiet har lockat mig att fundera över om vi inte skall förlägga en del tid på turiska kusten mot Svarta havet när vi seglar iväg. Vår övergripande plan är att sticka om fyra år när vi har en lucka mellan gymnasiebarn och högstadiebarn. Ett år för att segla ner till Medelhavet och Svarta havet, och övervintra där någonstans och sedan segla hem på kanalerna genom Europa är vår tanke. Kanske ganska avlägset för er där ni sliter med punkor i Kina, men er resa är ju en inspiration för att förverkliga sina önskningar! Och vi vill inte heller ha några punkor, fast i skrovet då, så en del gemensamt finns det!

    1. admin Post author

      Punka i skrovet är nog värre än punka i däcket både för seglare och cyklister……

      När vi besökte Svarta Havet fick vi lära oss att det heter “svarta havet” av skälet att det är väldigt nyckfullt och svårbemästrat med snabbt föränderligt väder. Den turkiska svartahavskusten har ju inga direkta öar utan består mest av en brant kustlinje, men med massa spännande kuststäder och ställen i inlandet att besöka. Jag förmodar att skärgårdarna i Egeiska havet är mer spännande rent seglingsmässigt och att Medelhavet har bättre väder, men dessa områden är säkerligen mer turistiga också. Fast om man håller sig borta från turistströmmen får man mer spännande möten med lokala människor så av det skälet är nog svarta havet en bra satsning. Vår värd i Istanbul och Zonguldak är en inbiten kappseglare så om ni vill kan jag koppla ihop er med honom för att få fler råd.

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