Nanyang – China
With much difficulty, we managed to navigate our way through construction sites and along wide highways until finally we were out of the streets of Hefei. We had only gotten into the groove when the clouds opened and it began pouring rain, again. Our legs were covered in grit that was thrown up by our front tyres as we passed through the standing water that covered the road. We were making good progress along one of the flat, six lane highways when we came to a “Y” junction. We were in the process of crossing the apex, and were looking for oncoming traffic, when suddenly I found myself sliding across the road. Ferg had slid out too, both of us at exactly the same time. We both called out to each other and luckily we were both grand, barring a few grazes and a bent brake lever. The contents of my handlebar bag (including our new video camera, iPod, camera etc) were stewn across the road but luckily I got them before the water got in. Once I collected myself, I looked down to find that we had both slid on a hidden rain gulley that was submerged in a pool of water. We legged it into a shop to chill out as I was aware that shock often hits after a crash (having crashed off my BMX and mountain bike numerous times, I know what to expect). In the couple of minutes that we stood in the shop, two other people on scooters crashed in exactly the same place. We pushed on after a short rest, but had lost our mojo so looked for a place to stay.
The following day we turned off the big bad roads and onto a much prettier minor road that we’ll follow across China. We passed through beautiful tree lined avenues and many ramshackle towns where chickens and geese were freely roaming about. At sunset, we set up camp next to a padi field and since it wasn’t raining I just put up the mosquito net part of my tent, and lay there watching the stars.
Since we’ve only had 1 day off out of the last 12 days, I’ve developed a couple of pressure sores and a slight rash due to the extended periods in the saddle. A couple of days ago, which was pretty hot, I thought I’d try a new trick of cooling my nether regions. I was wearing my shorts that have suspenders over the shoulders and I figured that if I pulled down the front to let the air through, the suspenders would obscure the view to any oncoming traffic. It was definately very cooling, and a welcome breath of fresh air, especially on the fast downhills! But it was only after a good few cars had passed that I realised that I had pulled down my shorts so far, that people could actually see me, full monty style!
At a particularly lovely rest stop where we sat with some locals overlooking some lush green padi fields I noticed that there were water buffalo swimming in the river across the road. A little further up the road we noticed some guys skinny dipping so we jumped in. I kept my shorts on though to protect my modesty, but mainly to clean them as they were absolutely manky. I felt great after the swim, it’s amazing what a good wash can do. I cycled into the sunset listening to Pink Floyd “Echoes”, and I felt free.