The multi-colored patriotic line is my route.
From Yancheng to Ha’lan to Nantong, Jiangsu, to SHANGHAI, China.
Today's Total Distance: Day 1: 104 km, Day 2: 95 km, Day 3: 107 km
Trip Total Distance: 2,025 km or 1,258 miles
This will be the easiest blog entry I will have written since beginning this trip; an overall reflection of my trip and experiences. Quick note: I guess because I’m always requesting the cheapest possible hotel room, and therefore I end up with a room without any windows. It’s a box that gets stuffy and I’m starting to get a little claustrophobic.
First thing’s first: Yes, I had a good, positive experience on this cycling trip and I would do it again.
The beginning of the trip was physically difficult. Riding one day for 100 kilometers (about 60 miles) is not as hard as it sounds, but doing it the next day, and then the following day without giving your body sufficient time to recover is when the aches and pains arise and take their toll. Surprisingly what worried me the most before this trip, but ended up affecting me very little, were my knees. During my training rides I had very sharp pains under my knee caps that would linger for over a week and make it hard to walk. After countless seat adjustments, I finally found a somewhat suitable position that alleviated most of the pain. However, one day my seat, which is usually tilted slightly forwarded, slipped back a few notches which led to a new pain in the back of my knee. This new pain was totally different and very painful and scary, and had me genuinely worried that it would stop my trip. It’s easy to say now, why didn’t you just adjust the tilt back to the original position, but while out there, it’s completely trial and error, and learning.
Anyways, the point is that it’s difficult to find the proper position for every piece of equipment on the bike to fit your body. I know I’m still far from my bike being a perfect fit for me, and I will spend more time finding my comfort position even after this trip is done. I’ll probably take my bike to a few shops and see what they suggest. It’s funny, I never had pains riding until a friend kept telling me that my seat is extremely low and it’s harmful to my knees, apart from looking ridiculous. Finally I raised seat, and that’s when the pain started.
As of now, I would say this trip was fifty percent physical and fifty percent mental, however if this trip were to continue for a few more months, I know that ratio would inevitably change. While at the beginning the physical aspect of this trip was more demanding, as weeks went by it physically became easier and mentally tougher. By the end of this trip the physical and mental hardships had switched places.
This is the changing elevation of my trip. Nothing too demanding.
I would do this trip again, with some changes of course:
As far as packing goes, I believe I did well in the clothing department. I did not pack too many clothes. I would however buy a new jacket / windbreaker. My jacket did not breathe, no ventilation. Even on cold days, I would be sweating and completely wet inside the jacket. The jeans were fine, no problem at all.
I wouldn’t bring my laptop next time. Although very convenient, especially for planning the next day’s route, it was by far the heaviest thing in my bags. On top of that, it definitely kept me up too late at night.
I also shouldn’t have bought an extra U-lock. I never used it once and it was the second heaviest thing. I even read another’s blog on how he regretted bringing the extra lock, and I went ahead and did the same thing. It’s true, most of the time you’re not too far from the bike, and when you stay in hotels, the bicycle is pretty safe. One lock is plenty.
I wouldn’t do this route again, nor would I recommend it to anyone. Throughout the trip I think I met about 3 Chinese men who said they had done a bicycle tour and all of them had ridden to the same place, Tibet. Tibet seems to be the only place where Chinese cyclists go, and maybe for good reason; the other routes and destinations are just plain boring in comparison.
And with the previous said, I would definitely try to go with a friend next time. A friend would make those boring days and days with virtually no scenery to look at, considerably much more enjoyable.
In conclusion, you can only plan so much. There were many days when the weather was great or the winds were in my favor and I thought that I’m going to ride 150 km today, and then disaster struck. The road would turn to mud and rocks, or a flat would set you back, or a wrong or missed turn would leave an hour off the planned route; and your day with great weather and aspirations of personal bests have hit the brakes.
I’m very surprised that I never got a ride on this trip, not to say that there weren’t times that I would have gladly accepted. Something else worth noting is that my rear-end never hurt from sitting all day like many people touring experience. I bought a gel seat cover and it worked wonders. Also, sign me up, I’ll gladly endorse the anti-puncture tire liner I bought. Over 2,000 km and only 2 flats, one of which wasn’t even on the road while riding and likely due to wildly pumping the tire one morning.
I did pass by a few cyclists who looked like they were doing long day-rides, but I didn’t run into anyone who was loaded up like I was.
And finally, the question I know I will be asked and that I don’t have an answer for, “How do you feel now that it’s over?”
…Well, I’m glad that it’s over and I’m back home. As of now I haven’t felt like I’ve accomplished anything big. It’s a good story and it has a ‘Wow’ factor. I can only hope that this leads to more challenging things.
Toughest aspect of trip
: Hands down, the wind
: Day 7. The wind was strong, my knee was at its worst, and I didn’t have any food.
: Bayuquan, Liaoning. Most have never heard of it, probably because it’s a new development area of Yingkou, but was clean, laid-back, not too big and not too small.
Longest ride (km):
Shortest ride (km)
: 41 km
Longest ride (time)
: 9.5 hours
Shortest ride (time)
: 3 hours
Cost of trip:
Hard to say: I kept a good list of equipment cost. The first week and half of riding I kept a accurate list of expenses, and then got lazy about it. I probably spent around 12,000 to 13,000 RMB, or around 2,000 US dollars. Not that bad considering having nothing to begin with, and spending a month in hotels and food, and I didn’t exactly budget.
Now that I’m back, I’m not completely sure what I’ll do now. I quit my job, so I have a lot of free time. I’m sure I’ll do some part time work to make a little money, in fact I’m working tomorrow and Wednesday. I’ll probably plan non-cycling trip in the next coming months.