China | Mengyang - Puer - Moijang - Fuxian Lake - Kunming | 26th July to 2nd Aug 2015 | 12223km
Day 261 - Menyang to Puer 128km (distance) 7h58 (riding time) 16kph (av. speed)
Breaking Bad finished and brake blocks changed, rough calculations show that we essentially need to get a shift on. First dry day in China and we began our assault on the G213 riding past tea fields covering every inch of useable land and bagged a long day.
Day 262 - Puer to near Mohei town 93km 5h43 16.3kph
At least 10km spent being lost on the outskirts of Puer, the road ('our road' we now affectionally refer to it as) had been replaced by a construction site. We found a stretch of it eventually, as shown below, but the morning was lost and we inched our way up several slow winding tea clad mountain sides.
Day 263 - Near Mohei town to Tongguan town 55km 3h44 14.8kph
Woken by fireworks at 0719h. Rain, riding up into the low clouds. Dogs increasingly interested, we need to find a stick. Ended the day early and attempted to hand wash our remaining riding gear. Found quick cook oats in a random shop - porridge for breaky on the cards should help our cause.
Day 264 - Tongguan town to Mojiang 71km 5h44 13.1kph
Put wet badly washed gear on. As the average speed attests to, this was an arduous slow day in the rain. Exacerbated by two punctures, which were a right mess to change given the state of the roads and bikes. Fire roasted sweetcorn on the side of the road, some of the kernels popping into popcorn as it's handed over. Second puncture change revealed Flo's rear sidewall was bust. It could have been fixed, but we'd been carrying two chunky Schwalbe Mondials we'd acquired in Bangkok, meaning to swap to them in Kunming, so we just made the change a bit earlier. Luke feeling ill.
Day 265 - Mojiang to Ganzhuang 100km 6h20 15.6kph
A miscommunication from a stylish Chinese cyclist going the other way, teaming padded boxer shorts with leg warmers that didn't quite join up, meant we'd been fearing a 30km climb for days. We'd planned a whole day to tackle it but experience a wonderful realisation, travelling at about 50kph, that he hadn't accounted for us going the other way. Our 30km descent wound down through a valley, panniers being shaken off every few minutes by the bumpy tree lined road until we arrived at the bottom where it was noticeably much warmer. Met another group of enthusiastic Chinese tourers who wanted photos of us and them, in every possible combination, with all their cameras. We were laughing at their knee pads... Waiting for Luke outside a market a man gave Flora a bag of Goji berries, good for flavouring your water apparently, and later on we were invited for food with some local lads, beer and handy translation app made for good chat. The Yunnanese seem very hospitable and we can now say hello, thank you and beer in Chinese.
Day 266 - Ganzhuang to Gucheng Village 121km 8h58 13.5kph
2hr climb to start the day. Road turns to construction site on descent. Flo suffering. Sixth consecutive day on the road. Heat really picked up and we again veered away from the highway and off on a series of wide looping switchbacks. Trucks coughing out fumes and churning up dust that sticks nicely to our sweaty skin. Vast seas of polytunnels in the valley now below us. Both properly ran out of water for the first time in ages. Usually we'd flag a car down, but on this occasion not one of the five we stopped and waved our arms at even slowed down. Mainly discussed how much we would enjoy a cheeseboard and other cheese based snacks.
Day 267 - Gucheng Village to Xiaowan Village 117km 6h26 18.1kph
Slight detour from the 213 to stay a night on the edge of Fuxian Lake, the 5th largest fresh water lake in the Yunnan we were eagerly informed. Yeah mate, we're from the Lake District, give it a rest, eh? Small rural roads, cue extra pointing and staring when we stop for a bowl of noodles, 5 yuan (50p) for a mega bowl. Finally clearing the mountains the average picks up to a more normal level. Another huge downpour and the water is now somehow getting into the panniers and the chain and cassette are bone dry. Big puddles and comedy style soakings from passing cars. Arrive at Eric's (named after Clapton) and welcomed in for all we could drink locally picked tea, bread and yak cheese from Shangri La. It was pretty potent. Dinner with the whole family with plenty of tofu and veggies, so both ate well. Got some oil on the chains and can feel them literally drinking it up!
Day 268 - Xiaowan Village to Kunming 77km 4h24 17.5kph
The last day! Flo cadging lifts from slow moving trucks up the last climb before descending into the outskirts of Kunming. More comically horrendous roads. Traffic takes a free for all approach to the huge potholes and lots of horning is required to get from A to B. Huge building developments appear from a long way out. Cycle paths nearly all the way in. Ditch bikes as planned (they are in need of some tlc when we pick them up) and grab what we need for a few weeks off, which doesn't amount to much. By chance, we bump into Joe and Carmen who are cycling the other way having been through central Asia. They need all their cold weather kit taking back to the UK and we're more than happy to help. The worlds slowest delivery service. We’ve only gone and made it to Kunming! Celebratory beers all round and a rapid exchange of stories, routes, places and people with new friends. We're half way home and at the end of our south Asian section. We fly to Hong Kong tomorrow to stay with Luke's friend Hugo and see our Mum's. No cycling for two weeks...
762km in 8 consecutive riding days since the day off to find a Bank of China. Add to that the 201km from the border that's 963km in 10.5 riding days. On the main highway, it would have been 674km. Intrigued, we put the route into ridewithgps (here, if you're interested), which produced the terrifying profile below and indicated that we'd climbed just over 40,000m in total. It felt like it.