Kevin warned us that this would be a LONG riding day. 267 miles doesn’t sound like much – unless road heaves surprise riders as they round corners. We were on G108. It used to be the main road north to Beijing. Big new expressways have replaced it in many areas. We paralled one and could see it over head as it bridged the valleys, because motorcycles are not allowed on expressways in China. Larry told Kevin that this was the first time we’ve ever ridden over 250 mile of frontage road!
This is a very productive agricultural area in China. Even terraced up seemingly impossible inclines, every available square inch of land is used for growing something edible or smokeable. Tobacco grows vigorously here. With 1.3 billion people to feed, one billion more than in the USA with nearly the same geographic area, no wonder corn crowds the front doors of homes.
Today’s road between villages was also poorly patched. A shiny, newer city had nearly vacant, smooth concrete, wide streets. Statues adorned the median. What a contrast in road surfaces! No wonder Kevin refers to our road conditions as “changeable.” It took Larry and me 3 ½ hours to ride the 1st one hundred miles. This included the first seventy supposedly easy miles. 28.6 MPH is not much when you’re riding as hard as we did. The only photo stop today was at the top of a hill overlooking a beautiful valley.
After noon, the temp soared to 108 degrees F. We could stand the sweaty conditions inside our protective riding suits. What we could not stand was that the weight of the overloaded trucks turned the pavement surface into an oil slick. There were times when at 15MPH, I felt as though I was riding on ice. Mick, our 2nd Globebuster guide, had an unfortunate personal experience with the melted asphalt: his bike slid out from under him and plunged fifty feet down an embankment. After seeing where he could have been headed, Mick let go of the sliding bike and stayed on top of the hill. Thank God! If Mick looked like the bike, it wouldn’t be a pretty picture.
Without knowing what had happened to Mick, Larry and I were creeping along seemingly forever. We took no pictures of the slippery stuff. We were just trying to get through it safely. I wound up having a different kind of excitement. One of those overloaded trucks was piled high with crushed rock, possibly for road construction. I met the truck as he rounded a sharp curve where I was on the outside. My own personal meteor shower followed as about twenty rocks bounced onto my bike, helmet, arms and legs. This is why we wear protective gear even when it’s 108F degrees. I was perfectly fine, just shook up.
After taking 11 hours to ride 267 miles, we rolled into Jianshui where we will spend two nites. Our hotel has no AC and only a small window to ventilate our 100 year old room. Being exhausted, we only ordered one entree and a side of fried rice for dinner. Considering the huge size of the portions, it’s good we didn’t go for two.
8-Jun Pu Er to Jianshui China 267 miles
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