At least I think we stayed in Guangyuan last night! It took us about an hour to get out of the city because they had closed all the roads to vehicles over 2.5 meters high and the van is about 2.8m. For the past three days we have been in Sichuan Provence (known amongst other things for its spicy food). Guangyuan is on the main road from Changdu to Xi’an and straddles a massive river which I believe is one of the main tributaries of the Yanksie River. The flow in spate must be awesome because the flood defences are built up to to 40-50 feet of concrete balustrade. It is John’s last ride with us today for he must go with Paul in the pickup tomorrow to catch a flight from Xi’an to Beijing and then onto to London. He is going to make it back in time for his son Tom’s wedding to Dianna.
We are going to enjoy the day’s ride and master every form of Completely Bonkers Chinese Driving (CBCD) that is thrown at us. Including drivers not looking where they are going
The containment of the Yanksie
In tight formation we practice our convoy maneuvers in the early morning traffic
In the morning hotels, businesses and maybe army bands gather their staff together for the day’s briefing. In matching kit these various cadres walk and parade around.
Once released from the tentacles of the City we eschew the motorway and take the main road which goes under it for 20 miles!
Back in the countryside we see houses sufficiently far from the epicentre of the big quake 4 years ago to have survived.
The Chinese love their dishes, Sun and satellite.
I have seen several dogs siting on motorbikes and enjoying the fresh air. However until now I have doubted whether Daisey and Molly our springers would tolerate the necessary balancing act required to remain aboard but I believe I have found the solution.
Every race has it peculiarities, indeed the Englishman goes out in the noonday sun. Every bit as mad is the Chinese male with a propensity to lift the shirt in order to cool the thorax . I am now collecting a series of shots on this particular habit.
After what has been been quite a tough ride the guys on the bikes due to the temperature being in the 90s, we find yet another set of barriers across all the roads in a town stopping all vehicles over 2.5 meters. In the end we are forced to go off piste
The hotel is truly appalling and gets the “second worst hotel award “of the trip. John sleeps in his silk liner so as not to take bed bugs back to Devon and the wedding!!! After a shower we repair across the street to an equally seedy restaurant but fortunately the food is OK. We have brought with us several bottles of slightly better wine and a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black label . As is customary in Chinese restaurants we are put in a private room. John has been uncharacteristically quiet during the meal and we come to that point where something has to be said. After the not unpredictable start of “ I want to say something “ interrupted by “No I want to say something!” We reflected on the fact that we have been an surprisingly harmonious bunch. And indeed as the weeks have gone by being together has gone on getting easier. Even the slightly more tense moments in Baku and Turkmenbashi where we were being abused by Azeri and Turkmeni border guards or having to sleep in no man’s land on diesel soaked tarmac in the ferry park were remembered as enjoyable. John marked the occasion gracefully by saying lots of good things but we all agreed that it was due to a unique train of events that we had got even this far. From the drunken sparkle in Dave and John’s eyes 30 years ago when they hatched the plot to do “London -Beijing” on bikes, through the sudden impulses to buy the biggest bloody monster bikes available, and then learn to ride them ! We reflected on the gradual gathering of momentum during which Richard, Nick and I became enthralled with the idea despite moments of disillusionment through broken legs (me )and overly long races through the Namibian Desert(Nick). I don’t recall Richard ever being disillusioned- for him it was always going to happen and be merely a long and enjoyably complicated way of getting his mates back to his and Christina’s house in Wisdom Valley near Beijing
Goodbye John- you will be riding with us in spirit!
Now onto Xi’an and gradually picking up members of our families for that final approach to Beijing and Wisdom Valley.
Bestwes to all