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Dispatch from the Silk Road 3.0

Silk

Pro tip ( from two of the best bicycle mechanics I've ever known ).....higher bars + lower gears = 👍✌️

Back in China just in time for QingMing Festival, April 5-7.  I brought along my old All C#@& single speed Cyclocross bike which is now a shadow of it's original self.  I added a 8 speed internal Shimano Alfine hub, high rise stem, Sim Works Get Around handlebars, Clement X'Plor 40c tires, Crank Works Stamp flat pedals, and all my favorite Road Runner Bags ❤️.  Comfort is key ✌️.  Looking to set your ride up like this?  Stop on in the shop 🛠 !

For the holiday, four New Yorkers and an Alaskan ventured by public bus from Shanghai to Shaoxing.  Our two day bicycle tour was to take us from Shaoxing to Yiwu, a hub of the modern day Silk Road.

Shaoxing is famous for three things, their canals, the famous Chinese writer Lu Xun, and Shaoxing wine.

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We sampled.........

 

The first day was epic to say the least.  We were met with heavy rains and a hike, though the mountains, in the dark. Luckily we had high powered lights and scooter ponchos are available in most stores.

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Photo : Ammon Lewis

 
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Day 2, we awoke to a beautiful view from our guest house and the sight of rain clouds moving away from the mountains.

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Infrastructure construction is something I've encountured on every ride I've done in China.

It's important to have cushy tires.

 

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We arrived in Yiwu..................

Yiwu is one of the first places I traveled to when I first arrived in China, and it is still one of my favorite.  It is a major hub of the modern Silk Road or what is now called the "Belt and Road". 

What I love about it is that by bicycle you can explore the city that is not only a hub for the modern Silk Road, but it is also one of the largest, if not the largest small commodities markets in the world!  You can ride though neighborhoods and see stores where their only product may be wholesale Christmas ornaments, fake trees, beads, bongs, plates, iPhone chargers, drones, plastic bags.......

Because of the large amount of wholesale commodity goods and other factors there is a large population of people from the Middle East who are in Yiwu for business or who have settled here.   This expat population mixed with China's Hui Muslims and other local populations have created a city were the culture and food are extraordinary! 

 

Take aways from our two day tour : 

#higherbarslowergears

Ponchos are one of humans greatest creations. 

Yiwu is rad!  I highly recommend.

 

Dispatch from the Silk Road #2

Silk

Two friends of mine, both teachers in Shanghai, invited me on a bicycle tour of China's largest Province, Qinghai.  Qinghai Province is the most western you can go in China before you enter the Autonomous Region of Tibet.

The providence is part of the Tibetan Plateau which is home to Tibetans, Muslim Chinese, and Han Chinese, averages 9,000 feet above sea level, has China's largest lake, and is where one of the longest rivers in the world, the Yellow River, originates.

Enough with the geography lesson......here's some pics with captions from our tour :

 Departing from Shanghai, we disassembled our bikes, threw them in bags, put "Fragile" stickers on them and hoped for the best. No baggage fee and to our surprise we arrived in Xining Airport with our bicycles undamaged.  Apparently U.S. airlines need to take some tips from their competitors across the pond.

Departing from Shanghai, we disassembled our bikes, threw them in bags, put "Fragile" stickers on them and hoped for the best. No baggage fee and to our surprise we arrived in Xining Airport with our bicycles undamaged.  Apparently U.S. airlines need to take some tips from their competitors across the pond.

 After the bikes were built, we headed into the city of Xining.  The city is investing a huge amount of money in infrastructure.  Bicycle paths across the city, world class sports fields, silky smooth roads.......

After the bikes were built, we headed into the city of Xining.  The city is investing a huge amount of money in infrastructure.  Bicycle paths across the city, world class sports fields, silky smooth roads.......

 Into the mountains we go!  photo : Ammon Lewis

Into the mountains we go!  photo : Ammon Lewis

 China loves to build tunnels. I've been though a lot of them in my short time here. But I've never experienced one 3.45 miles long.  White knuckles for sure!  Also probably lost a lot of brain cells from the fumes

China loves to build tunnels. I've been though a lot of them in my short time here. But I've never experienced one 3.45 miles long.  White knuckles for sure!  Also probably lost a lot of brain cells from the fumes

 Though every tunnel and over every mountain pass we were greeted with an even more awe-inspiring view than the last. Photo : Ammon Lewis

Though every tunnel and over every mountain pass we were greeted with an even more awe-inspiring view than the last. Photo : Ammon Lewis

 Caught in a thunderstorm

Caught in a thunderstorm

 This beautiful family gave us a lift  We were fortunate to interact with so many wonderful people.  Luckily our buddy Sam speaks Mandarin pretty well.  But many in this area only speak local dialects or Tibetan.  Smiles, Hello, in English, and body language went a long way.  Everyone we interacted with were incredibly welcoming.  I doubt many westerners come though these parts. Because of this, we were asked to take selfies on the regular.  The three of our faces are for sure all over the Chinese internet at this point.

This beautiful family gave us a lift

We were fortunate to interact with so many wonderful people.  Luckily our buddy Sam speaks Mandarin pretty well.  But many in this area only speak local dialects or Tibetan.  Smiles, Hello, in English, and body language went a long way.  Everyone we interacted with were incredibly welcoming.  I doubt many westerners come though these parts. Because of this, we were asked to take selfies on the regular.  The three of our faces are for sure all over the Chinese internet at this point.

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 Wet and wild road headed to Qinghai Lake

Wet and wild road headed to Qinghai Lake

 Qinghai Lake, China's largest, and it's salt water

Qinghai Lake, China's largest, and it's salt water

 Our favorite meal.  Blood sausage and yak yogurt. We encountered a lot of sheep and yaks up in those mountains. Paired with the Muslim population in the providence, lamb was plentiful and delicious.

Our favorite meal.  Blood sausage and yak yogurt. We encountered a lot of sheep and yaks up in those mountains. Paired with the Muslim population in the providence, lamb was plentiful and delicious.

One of my favorite experiences during the tour was the hoots, hollers, and thumbs up as we cycled past people on motor bikes, farm equipment, cars, or from the mountainsides.  People would give a smile, a loud HELLO! in English or my new favorite Chinese word 加油 (Jiayou).  It translates to "add oil" or "lubricate".  But it was explained to me as being similar to "Allez Allez !".  Next time you are climbing up a steep grade be sure to give your comrades a good Jiayou Jiayou! yell of encouragement.