A Travellerspoint blog

Scratching My Head

The multi-colored patriotic line is my route.

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I decided to break my route into colored patriotic segments so that it will be easy to tell how far and what I did each day.

From Xingcheng to Suizhong, Liaoning, China.
I left at 8:50 am and arrived at 12:30 pm

Today's Total Distance: 47 km
Trip Total Distance: 571 km

Last night I made sure even the tiniest thing was taken care of, so as to not hold me up the next morning. I was actually going to leave before 8 to start my century ride, but just before I left I decided to pump my tires up with a little air. Nothing going in. In fact, it was all coming out. After 20 minutes of thinking it was just me not knowing how to use my pump, I rolled out on the street with a flat looking for a repair guy.
Well, turns out stem was ripped right off the tube. I don’t think I could have done it. I wasn’t pumping violently. He clips off the stem, inserts a metal one, and secures it with a washer and nut. I didn’t know it could be done without glue or some kind of sealant. To my surprise it held up pretty good, but the pressure is incredibly low and I think I’m just going to go with it for now. Ha.

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Dark clouds sneaking up on me.

So after the 50 minute delay I was off, and determined to make up lost time. Though, the weather was a bit of a head scratcher for me. The weather is usually in the 60’s and today was no different, and It wasn’t supposed to rain, at least according to the forecast. But there I was caught in two separate downpours, seeking some sort of shelter under trees, and racing to this city before the next one came. And boy, did I just make it. I thought, at least I got in almost 50 km, and decided to call it a day. An hour later the clouds broke up and the sun was shining through. I was a little frustrated because it felt like I was just getting started.
I’m ready. My endurance is up. I have a routine going. Today was too easy, and thus, a century will have to come another day.

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They do have churches in China.

Posted by Springroll2011 05:55 Comments (3)

Any Photo Request?

The red line is my route.

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From Linghai to Xingcheng, Liaoning, China.
I left at 8:50 am and arrived at 3:30 pm

Today's Total Distance: 92 km
Trip Total Distance: 524 km

A really nice riding day and you can guess the reason why. I could probably keep going if not for my incredibly late start time(s), and that my knee was giving me some killer pain; but my quads, hams, calves, all feel great.

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Typical gas station, with a bathroom and empty shelves

Most interesting thing that I saw today was a monk walking the highway, and he would literally take one step, drop to the ground and kiss it, then pop up and do the same thing over. He’s now probably about 1 kilometer from where I saw him hours ago. I should have taken a pic, but … eh, you know. Seemed rude.

I can’t remember if I wrote it in a previous post, but here it goes anyways. Every night I plan at least 150 km ahead, thinking one of these days I’m going to bust off a long ride. I’ve never hit a century, and well, I think tomorrow is the day. It’s either going to be a short 50 km ride, or a long 120 km ride, and I’ll do the long one as long as my knee holds up. If I don’t make it, forget I even mentioned it.

This was an impossible picture to take. The wind kept blowing over the camera and did take a good fall, hitting the ground.

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Dare I say the scenery might be getting better! There were a lot more trees today and it made the ride that much more enjoyable.

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Any photo request?

Posted by Springroll2011 03:45 Comments (3)

One Week Down, 3 or 4 to Go

The red line is my route.

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From Dawa to Linghai, Liaoning, China.
I left at 9:00 am and arrived at 6:00 pm

Today's Total Distance: 83 tough km
Trip Total Distance: 432 km

One week exactly! Although this post is a day late. Last night after searching for a hotel for an hour, I finally just walked into the swankiest hotel in town and got a room. I took a shower, watched most of a movie, and was asleep by 9pm. I was physically drained, and I thought I was running a fever. But after 13 hours of sleep I feel much better today.
Yesterday was tough. I knew it would be, but I had to ride because I wanted to get one more day in before it rained. I’m taking today off. Again I can only talk about the troubling winds. Though I got my first tail winds this day, they didn’t last nearly long enough because when the road would curve it would be back to head winds. Just for contrast: with the tail winds I would be cruising at about 20 km/hr in the highest gear, and with the head winds I would be struggling at 9 km/hr in the lowest gear. I believe any riding in head winds makes you work twice as hard.

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You should have seen me yesterday. I took so many breaks and on each break I just sat sprawled out on any slab of stone with my head hanging down looking incredibly depressed. Most of the day I was riding through oil fields and I desperately wanted a ride. I can’t tell you how many countless trucks I saw pass by with empty beds that I wanted to flag down. I really can’t believe I made it here today. And it was funny that today, every time I stopped, everyone and their cousin came out to see and talk to me. Believe me, even though I tell them in two different ways that I don't understand, that doesn't stop them from speaking louder and repeating it as if it that will help me with what they're saying..

To sum up of the first week: A lot of rain and discouraging winds. The first half had a lot of hills while the second half was completely flat. Personally, I don’t believe there has been much to see. It’s been all farms, and nothing has even sprouted yet, so it looks like barren land. Also, I'm aching pretty bad.
On the bright side, I’m done heading north. All this time I’ve been riding away from Shanghai which is to the south. From the next day on, I should be heading mostly south towards Shanghai.

Next week should have me visiting The Great Wall, and I’m hoping next week will be easier, but maybe this is normal and it doesn’t get much easier…

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I was tempted! Who wouldn't be?

Posted by Springroll2011 00:11 Comments (3)

As The Weather Goes, So Do I

The red line towards the bottom was my route.

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From Yingkou to Dawa, Liaoning, China.
I left at 9:00 am and arrived at 1:00 pm

Today's Total Distance: 49 km
Trip Total Distance: 349 km

Today was beautiful. Enough said. Weather dictates my rides. Good weather means a good ride, and with that said, I still only rode 50 km today. My legs are exhausted and I figured a short day and extra sleep should help them. I’m still terrible about going to bed early. I usually get to bed around midnight and wake up at 7, so I’m not getting enough sleep.

In order to make it to Shanghai in a month, I calculated that I would have to ride 500 km a week. Well, tomorrow is a week and I’m going to fall short of that. I’ll probably finish the week with 430 km. You know what, I shouldn’t be too disappointed with that number considering it’s my first bicycle touring trip ever, and I did very little training for this trip.

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Today was the first day riding on some rugged paved road with massive potholes. But the overall condition of China’s ‘G’ national highways has been great. Now I’ve hit long stretches of straight roads that are completely flat. It’s nice and all, but hills and curves to make it more interesting.

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This is called ‘Crossing the Bridge Noodles.’

Every city in China has it’s own specialty food. Beijing has Beijing Duck. Shanghai has a special kind of dumpling. And each specialty food has a story behind it. Well, this food is not special to this city in any way, though I still heard the story behind it. A long time ago, a woman used to bring her husband food, but whenever it arrived it was cold. So she put it in this pot to keep it warm and in order to get to her husband she had to cross a bridge. ! Not the most intriguing story, but a story nonetheless.

I met him at a KFC-like restaurant and he helped me find a hotel. Later we had 'Crossing the Bridge Noodles' together.

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Posted by Springroll2011 04:59 Comments (3)

Miserable day

The red line towards the bottom was my route.

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From Buyaquan to Yingkou, Liaoning, China.
I left at 9:30 am and arrived at 5:30 pm

Today's Total Distance: 74 km
Trip Total Distance: 300 km

Today sucked. It was miserable. I took a day off yesterday because it was raining good, plus I needed a rest day. The rest day really helped and I felt much better this morning.
I delayed leaving in the morning because of more rain, but finally around 9:30 I left in the rain and it didn’t get better. The rain is ok. It’s just with the rain comes wind. I felt tired after just 2 kilometers! After about an hour I noticed my bright yellow rear bag rain cover had blown off, and clipped on it was a red tail light. Screw it, in that wind there’s no way I would have found it. Later, I made a wrong turn and probably added 10 – 15 km to this day’s trip. At this point I’m just looking for a hotel to get off the road. But I find my way and continue on. Finally when I can see the city, I took a break and stepped in some shit. Next, I saw a big puddle of water in a muddy construction site to clean my shoes, only I sink in the mud and now my shoes are covered.

I sure picked a great time for this trip. Three out of five days is raining. The weather should be good for the next two days so I'm going to burn bicycle rubber. I really wasn't in a picture taking mood today.

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Posted by Springroll2011 07:41 Tagged china tour bicycle shanghai liaoning dalian Comments (1)

Nothing to Slow Me Down

The red line towards the bottom was my route.

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From Fuzhouchengzhen to Buyaquan, Liaoning, China.
I left at 8:25 am and arrived at 2:45 pm

Today's Total Distance: 87 km
Trip Total Distance: 226 km

After riding for my third day, a few things are certain:

1. My banana intake has gone way up.
2. I need to take more photos, especially with me in them.
3. Parts of my fingers will remain tingly and numb throughout this trip.
4. After taking off each morning, within 5 minutes I’ll always have to stop and make some sort of adjustment.
Usually the bags on my rear rack are too far forward and the back of my heel will hit them while pedaling.
I just have to move the bags back a bit.

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Today was the best day yet! The weather was great so I was just in a T-shirt for most of the ride. And absolutely no wind till 80 km, which resulted in a wind of cursing from my mouth. Most of the ride was gentle rolling hills and me trying race down each one.
I’m in a city called Bayuquan and I have to say it’s probably one of the nicest cities I’ve been to in China. Maybe the nicest (for one day.) The city is so nice, even a man sitting in a restaurant offered me some ‘cock head.’ I explained chicken is a better word to use, and quickly stopped him after he tried to order me a sample. There are just some things that aren’t meant to be eaten.

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While riding you have a lot time to zone and think. Sometimes I think about what I’ll write on this blog, and other times I’m innovative. Almost at any grade change in the road and I’m shifting gears, trying to find the right gear for these few moments. I probably shift gears every 5 minutes. How damn amazing would it be if there was an automatic bicycle gear shifter. You heard it here first (Ha. It probably already exists.)

That’s all for today. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, so I might leave later in an attempt to avoid the storm. Tomorrow’s a short ride anyways.

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Posted by Springroll2011 05:59 Tagged china bicycle shanghai liaoning touring dalian g202 Comments (1)

I'm No Mechanic

The red line towards the bottom was my route.

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From Pulandian to Fuzhouchengzhen, Liaoning, China.
I left at 8:40 am and arrived at 2:30 pm

Today's Total Distance: 56 km
Trip Total Distance: 139 km

My second day was just like my first day; I woke up and thought, ‘I don’t want to do this today. But alas, I got up and somehow managed to leave later then yesterday.
I’ve been taking the same highway the whole way so far, but when I reached it this morning, it was different. No cars! And it looked like an old country road that needed a makeover. This was much better than yesterday. This is what I signed up for. Peaceful.

A large cabbage on the side of the rode.

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The night before I was having a conundrum deciding where and how far to bike today. One city was a too short of a ride at 50 km. The other city was a bit over 100 km, so possibly too far for my second day. I decided to take a chance to go to a real small city between the two, but there would be slim pickings for Hotels. In China, foreigners have to stay at special designated “rip you off” hotels. It’s not uncommon to be turned away.

But as fate would have it, my own bone-headed move would decide today’s distance; a mere 56 km. I’m disappointed with that. After about 35 km of riding, I decided to stop and try and see if I could do anything about my gears making so much noise. I had watched a video on this before on tightening the rear derailleur cable, and I immediately knew I did something wrong, but I was just happy the wheels were still turning.

The result was that I left myself with 2 gears! The chain wouldn’t shift to the others. I forgot to mention; yesterday it poured rain, and though the weather was nice today, the wind punished me to the point of quitting. With the head wind and only 2 gears, I was moving at a snail’s pace. I was riding between 6 – 10 km/hr in these conditions. I hate to say it, but I did get off a couple times and pushed, and the speedometer read 5 km/hr. So not much different. Honestly, I did not push long at all. I would always hop back on within a couple minutes. I would take rain any day over wind!

Eating some fried rice for lunch

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So with my problems, I had to stop in the closer city. I quickly got a hotel, showered, and went out looking for a repair shop. The repair man knew what was wrong right away, and 10 minutes later I was returning to my hotel and felt ten times better!

Even though it was a short ride in terms of kilometers, I’m still on track to reach my goal of Yingkou, China, in two more days

A common sight along the road

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Some sightseeing in the city

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Posted by Springroll2011 06:17 Comments (1)

First Day Lightning

The red line towards the bottom was my route.

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From Dalian to Pulandian, Liaoning, China.
I left at 8:30 am and arrived at 3:30 pm

Today's Total Distance: 83 km
Trip Total Distance: 83 km

I woke up at seven this morning, looked out the window and wasn’t quite sure what I was looking at. In China, you always have to do a double take to make sure if you’re looking at clouds or just really bad pollution. I would have preferred the pollution; Dark clouds! Waiting till tomorrow crossed my mind, but I quickly squashed that idea.

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I was off by 8:30 and within an hour I was feeling good for two reasons: My knee was feeling great, and the weather was turning out to be not that bad.

The first third of my route today, I had done before, so it was cake. The second third was still easy, but I did start to feel my left knee aching a bit at around 40 km.

The last third was the hardest. After 60 km, my legs were drained. It always felt like I was going up a hill, even when the road was flat. The fully loaded bike gets revenge, and as I looked around at my surroundings, I knew it was going to rain. The clouds were low, very dark, and there were flashes of lightning in the distance. With my legs drained, I wanted to stop and rest so badly, but the weather was more pressing issue.
So, on my very first bicycle trip, on my very first day, it poured. My jeans got a bit wet (That’s right, I’m cycling in jeans), but I managed to find a bridge for shelter. It was a good excuse to stop and eat. After about half an hour I was back on the road and I felt reenergized! Five minutes later my legs were drained again. So obviously the endurance isn’t quite there yet.

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I’m glad to get this first day under the belt. The last hour I was fantasizing about sleeping in bed. I don’t plan to do much else today or go out, just rest my bones and get ready for tomorrow.

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Posted by Springroll2011 05:41 Tagged china bicycle shanghai liaoning touring dalian g202 Comments (4)

Forethoughts

In preparation for this, I’ve read a single book, read a good amount of blogs and listened to a few podcast. Most of what I’ve read has been other’s personal accounts of their trips.
When I do start researching and reading about the equipment side of this trip, I’m completely lost and I’m praying I don’t have a major malfunction on this trip.

Case and point:
After I bought the bike, I attempted to fill the tires before heading home because, in typical Chinese fashion, they had about ten pounds of pressure. Fast forward thirty minutes and I’m still not done. So I just gave up because I felt pathetic for not being able to pump up my tires and I was annoyed by an old man staring at me to pass the time.

But I’m learning. Later that day I figured it out and now I’m confident I could change a flat in under ten minutes.

One thing that worries me is my knees. Sometimes after just 5 km I already feel pain in my right knee. It comes and goes throughout the ride and I can usually ride through the pain, but the following day I’ll have a stiff knee accompanied with intense pain. I’ve read countless personal blogs also referring to intense knee pain, and they do give me hope because in almost every case the pain subsides after the first week or two. So to help me through the growing pains of the first couple weeks, I’ll be employing the help of ibuprophen, ice bags, and Tiger Balm.

Traffic is easily what scares me the most. Many foreigners will tell you that Chinese drivers are paradoxically good and bad. If you ask me, they’re just plain terrible, and I’m pretty much sure that the word ‘merge’ doesn’t even exist in Chinese. But what Chinese drivers do have going for them is that they have adapted from all their unpredictable driving maneuvers into skilled breaking artist. And that’s what makes them paradoxically good, the fact that they can still drive with what seems to be utter chaos around them.

And finally, there has been a whole array of emotions running through my body leading up to this trip. Some days I want to quit my job today and leave tomorrow, while on other days the horror stories I’ve read creep into my mind. If I tell myself this is just another day ride around the city, it seems quite simple and undaunting. Except that this will be several day rides stretched out over a month. I’ve read that the general rule of thumb is that touring cyclist cover an average of 60 kilometers a day. This seems quite short to me, but when you realize this includes one or two rest days a week, and that the goal is not to go from point A to point B by means of the quickest route, then 60 km is reasonable.
But let’s just see if I can bump that average up a bit!

Posted by Springroll2011 06:13 Comments (0)

Route and Equipment

Research and Equipment

==The Proposed Route==

From mapping this trip, it's going to take over 2,100 km or about 1,300 miles. From the starting point of Dalian to all the way around the peninsula to Tianjin (just south of Beijing), I'll probably stay pretty close to the coastline. This is to enjoy the scenery of the ocean and to avoid most of the mountains which are inland. After Tianjin, my path to Shanghai is up in the air, just as long as I head south.
As of now, I haven't decided on any landmarks, parks, mountains ... that I want to visit. I've learned from backpacking that you can't plan much more than a week ahead of where you want to go. Plans are constantly changing.

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==The Bike and Equipment==

There's a whole bicycle touring culture, and like every other hobby, equipment for the hardcore cyclist can get quite pricey. Since this is my first tour and know almost nothing about name-brand equipment and parts, I decided to stay on the cheap end. Even so, total cost for equipment is around 1,000 dollars.

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My bike overlooking the Yellow Sea in Dalian, China

Rockrider Bicycle
1 Gel Saddle Cushion
A Multi Tool
2 Bike Locks
Bicycle computer: Speed/Distance
A couple tire patch kits
Bicycle Pump
Extra brake shoes
2 Water bottle Cages
1 Water Bottle 800ml
Tire levers
1 Water Bottle 600ml
3 extra Inner Tubes
A Rear Rack
3 Rear Panniers (Bags)
Helmet
Puncture Resistant Tire Liner
Mud Guards: so cheap they're probably
going to break immediately
Bicycle Shorts
Wrench Set
GPS Unit
Duct Tape

Posted by Springroll2011 00:39 Archived in China Tagged china bicycle shanghai liaoning touring dalian Comments (5)

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