Mini Itinerary

Blog

  • The Beer Lao Road Surface Lifecycle
    2 December 2011

    Today has the worst surface since that prior to Jiangcheng. I've left the new Chinese road behind, it becomes apparent as I roll out of Oudomxai. After about 5km, the road turns left towards Luang Prabang, and the first of two big climbs starts.

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  • Tarmacadam Imperialism
    1 December 2011

    Overcast start to the day. I'm still feeling a little full, so I defer food. This turns out to be a good strategy, as my breakfast, taken after 27km in Na Mor, hits my system just as I get stuck into the day's main climb. I reckon I'm just going to rattle into places and speak a few words of Thai, as it seems to be understood. For breakfast, I lead with a kin khao (eat rice), and get a kin pho (eat noodles) suggestion in reply - job's a good un. Got a salad of mint, green beans, watercress and other unidentified greens on the side too.

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  • And Out.
    30 November 2011

    The weather's cold, the sky overcast, the locals are wearing coats. I have to put my fleece on until I've warmed up. I stop a few times on the way out of town to make certain of the route. It starts spitting rain. Not rain. It's like the jungle and sky are sweating, water drops forming around me rather than falling from above.

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  • Riding the Dragon's Back
    29 November 2011

    Quite a ride today. I've had a heads up to expect three biggish climbs. When I cross a little blip of a climb early on, I'm uncertain whether it counts. I'm right to assume it doesn't.

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  • Detach Third Stage Booster. Check.
    28 November 2011

    Marc and I head to Banna Café for some breakfast. While it's being prepared, we pop to the bike shop around the corner on Manting Lu to check out a handlebar bag. Having some weight on the bars the last few riding days has made the ride feel a bit more treacley and less twitchy. The bag seems to do the job. Breakfast does the job too.

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  • Return to the Lowlands
    25 November 2011

    We aim to get on the road early today, the plan being to get to Mekong Café in Jinghong in time for a late lunch. We roll out at 9:40am after throwing down some baozi, zhengjiao and doujiang.

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  • Bean Me Up
    24 November 2011

    This is the closest we've had yet to an easy day's riding. The departure from Pu'er is straightforward. We stop for baozi and doujiang, our now established breakfast standard, then get onto the road out of town. It's a little broken and shabby at first but soon settles down to be a very useable country road.

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  • Just My Cup of Tea
    23 November 2011

    Today is much the same as yesterday - same road, same rolling hills. Tea trees on the higher ground, bananas lower down. We're let off a little by the terrain, with small ups and downs alongside a river before heading into a 10km climb that rapidly became challenging. We keep thinking we're done going uphill, but there's always more.

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  • It's All About the Surface, Baby
    22 November 2011

    We'd heard in Kunming that the stretch of road after Daheishan was unsurfaced and uphill. Asking in Daheishan confirmed this. We decided to hop a bus to Jiangcheng, the regional centre, after which the road was said to improve. We located the bus station Monday evening, and were told to show up early to ensure there was space on the bus for our bikes. At about 8am, we rocked up, to be in good time for the 9:10am bus. A flurry of phone calls later, and we're told the 8am bus is waiting for us up on the main road. Back up the hill, the driver helps us put bikes and bags inside the bus - a bonus, as this is much better for the bikes than the roof rack. We head off for the 60km or so to Jiangcheng, and immediately the road turns to moonscape. Mud, rocks, dust, landslides. We cross a sinuous reservoir. There's some sections of sealed road, but around half the trip is on smash.

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  • From Green Spring to Big Black Mountain
    21 November 2011

    We've got just under 100km on the slate for today, and after the climbing efforts of the last couple of days, we're silently hoping for some kind of reprieve. Luchun's a classic linear settlement, strung out along a mountain ridge along which the road runs. We trundle out to the west, stopping to wolf down a couple of longs of baozi and a bowl each of doujiang.

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  • High Mountain Country
    20 November 2011

    Straight out from Xinjie we run into a traffic jam. It's a total classic: cars head to head on both sides of the road, tractors trying to sneak the queue, people wandering everywhere, vehicles left empty. An overloaded truck has snagged an overhead cable and loused up the only road through town. The upside of this is that we're unlikely to have much traffic overtaking us until late in the day.

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  • We (That's Vee to You and Me)
    19 November 2011

    The big question mark about today's ride was hovering over the 2.3km long Geleng Tunnel just outside Gejiu - would we be allowed to cycle through it? Being turned away would mean a 70+km diversion. It was paramount we make it through if we were to make it to Xinjie, at the top of the climb out of the Red River valley, rather than just to Nansha, at the bottom.

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  • Unpremeditated Climbs
    17 November 2011

    Marc and I take it slow in the morning. I've been trying to catch up on sleep, so no complaints from me about a lie-in. We get our stuff together and head for a bowl of ersi. Leaving the hotel, I discover the useful knowledge that if I use the long pannier shoulder straps, I can carry both of my panniers and my bike in one heaving, cumbersome go.

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  • Now Recording a New Track
    16 November 2011

    Today's a lot less eventful. We all walk out to breakfast at a place Chris has tracked down. Bowls of ersi supplemented with some chaocai, and we're ready for the day. Sander, Tom and Chris are headed for the bus station to return to Kunming, Marc and I will head to Kaiyuan, 86km almost due south.

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  • The Departure
    15 November 2011

    After low quality sleep and a 6:15am alarm, I walk along Wenlin Jie and Wenhua Xiang to head to the office for the last time. The air is crisp and the sun's thinking about rising.

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  • Xiangyun to Dali Old Town
    26 October 2011

    It was wet as we departed Xiangyun, and muddy roads on a short descent after leaving town left us rather dirty. After rounding a right-hand bend at the bottom of the descent, we went straight into the first climb of the day, a little earlier than expected. The surface was good, traffic light, and the rain on the trees gave us fragrant and cool air.

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  • Nanhua to Xiangyun
    26 October 2011

    After two long but relatively straightforward days, day three starts to throw in some proper work. It starts benign, but that's overlaid with a sense of foreboding: the road is headed steadily up a valley. We're going to have to climb our way out.

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  • Lufeng to Nanhua
    26 October 2011

    Lufeng's a small place that's easy to escape from - a roundabout in the northwest will bring you out of town and back to the G320. The road is split here — westbound traffic takes the north side of the river, while eastbound takes the south. The steep-sided, green valley is pleasant cycling, and traffic isn't too troublesome. Surface is a little worn and choppy, but it's still possible to maintain a decent cruising speed.

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  • Kunming to Lufeng
    26 October 2011

    It's been many years since Dali Old Town became a fixture on the Yunnan backpacker trail. The Cangshan mountain range to the west and Erhai Lake to the east make the walled town a great hillside redoubt into which to retreat from days or weeks on the road.

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  • The road to Pianma
    13 April 2011

    When is this climb going to end? I'm ascending a pass by bicycle over the Gaoligongshan range in western Yunnan. It feels like I've been doing it forever.

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