27 May, 2008
Jiyuan to Fanyang - Friday 23rd May
After a delicious breakfast and saying my farewells to the Lis, I had an early start and was on the road before 7.30am. Mr Li was kind enough to escort me a short way down the main road south before setting off on his day's labours
It was another tough day's ride on a mix of fairly good roads, but all in all I made great progress with 530km under my and the Haobon's belts by end of day.
The landscape was changing again and becoming less green - most of the agriculture now consisted of vast fields of wheat ready for harvesting.
Just a brief note on what was my highest mileage day to date. 530km may not seem a like a long distance but you need to put this in the context of road and traffic conditions.
Here in China I have at least 20-50 near head-ons every day whilst riding, it's just the nature of riding. Trucks do not respect bikes (or cars for that matter) and simply expect you to get out of their way I also experience vehicles constantly turning across in front of me and pulling out from side roads on either left or right without looking.
Everyone does this, no-one looks when pulling out on to the highway - you are expected to somehow avoid them (the closest analogy I can draw is being on a ski slope, where skiers are expected to look out for, and avoid, all skiers lower down the slope). There is NO respect for red lights and no such thing as traffic lanes (on a divided highway you will have oncoming vehicles on both your left and right - imagine being in the left lane on a freeway with oncoming trucks! - well that's the norm). It's simply the way things are.
My worst road experience so far occurred today, being caught between a 25 metre long truck I was overtaking, and an oncoming similar sized truck. I had no choice but to keep my cool and ride through the metre wide gap, whilst towered over by massive truck wheels spinning either side of me, and travelling at a closing speed of close to 150 kph (we were each doing around 75kph) on a potholed road.
Boy, do I have some adventures to tell my grandchildren.