Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Biking in the Rain

We're back at home. Technically, we got back nearly four days ago, but I managed to race in a regatta in NJ during that time, so I still feel discombobulated!

The biking part of the trip was mostly great--although it rained every time we got near the bike, which was a pain.

From Nanjing, we flew to Kunming to meet up with our guide, then on to Shangri-La (formerly Zhongdian, renamed in 2001 for marketing reasons, according to Wikipedia... I thought it was weird that somewhere was really called Shangri-La). I've been describing where we were as "Western China" for weeks now, but now that I look at a map, it's not really west at all. More central. Between Myanmar, Vietnam and Tibet. Good thing I wasn't flying the plane.

Anyway, the first order of business in Shangri-La was assembling the bike. After much work, we turned these...

Back into a bike. It took long enough that we didn't bike much the first day--just few km out of town in two different directions to see a village and a Buddhist monastery.

Biking started in earnest the second day--a planned 105 km/64 mile ride to a town called Baishuitai. Over three mountains. We biked diligently till lunch time (50 km over Mountain #1), but by then it had started to rain and we ended up riding in the truck (which followed along in case of bike crisis and to carry the suitcases) over Mountain #2. We got back on the bike in the valley and rode over Mountain #3--a total of 70 km, rather than 105.

Luckily for Kevin, the guide didn't tell us till we got to Baishuitai that no one in any of his tour groups has every ridden that entire ride...and that he's only done it himself a couple of times. If I'd known, my contrariness would have kicked in, and we'd still be biking up those mountains, if necessary!

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