China 4 - Winter in Gansu Province

 

Every day the same routine… Read how we got here. We pedal the same ascent for the second time, healthy it feels less steep though. Unfortunately the weather changed in the meantime: It is even more freezing now. At 2500 m altitude we reach the snowline, at 3000 m the road becomes ice, as smooth as a mirror. The road is full of ice and queued trucks, only few vehicles drive downhill, with snow chains. We test the way, sliding is fun – but not for more than 100 kilometers. What should we do now? Sun will set soon and it is getting colder and colder. Back is the only option. 1000 meters downhill to the wrong direction and no idea how to go on. Usually we look forward to riding downhill, now we would prefer climbing to keep warm. So we put on literally all our cloth, not enough at 30 km/h! Plus the idea to set up camp and sleep outdoor makes us shiver. The hotel where Moni cured her cold and form where we started in the morning comes to our minds. Ironically we could hardly wait to leave, now we long for being back.

 

 

After a hot shower in a heated hotel room the world looks a lot warmer to us. We realize we are only 70 km away from Zhangye, our start one week ago! And it seems we have to go back all the way to take the only road that does not lead to very high altitudes. Frantically we search all our mapping apps and finally find a shortcut back to highway G30. This means the next morning we start for the third time towards the mountains. Only now we turn left after 20 kilometers to follow very small roads..

 

 

Surprisingly small roads are a lot more dangerous for us than the broad highways where we have the emergency lane all for us. Therefore we are not too disappointed that winter forces us to ride more highway kilometers. Crash barrier to the left and right, a fence behind, occasionally bridges to camp underneath, not very exciting but we got used to this. Right? Wrong, news for us: In mid Gansu we are no longer allowed on express highways, it is too dangerous for us… At least until the next exit? No way, the friendly police officers carry our gear and bicycles over the crash barriers, down the hill, underneath the fence and to the G312 running mostly parallel. Well, we probably would have done so anyway in the evening to find a comp site, and 6 people are a lot faster. It just does not seem very logical to us, back in Xinjiang we were forced to ride highways for our safety, now we are forced not to… for our safety…

 

 

The nights keep testing whether our sleeping bags indeed provode comfort at 10°C sub zero. We support them with hot water bottles. The worst part oft he day is getting up, the second place goes to unheated restaurants. When cycling we get warm, so we ride a lot every day. Unfortunately after all those detours our route is a lot longer and it seems impossible to cross China on bicycles. To avoid overstaying our visa we have to take a shortcut by train. We decide to do so as soon as possible to reach warmer areas. We cycle to the next train station in Wuwei and take the sleeping train to Tianshui, 350 kilometers away. There we pick up our checked in bicycles and luggage and start cycling. Big city traffic, chaotic construction areas and looking for camping gas which we had to leave behind before the train ride stress us on our way out of Tianshui. It is indeed a lot warmer here, but also a lot more wet. Was this a smart decision? Read more!

 

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