D21: 黄田→闽清 - Oh Hai - CycleBlaze

October 27, 2019

D21: 黄田→闽清

Damn, that's a really big dam
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Having taken so long to fall asleep last night, it takes me an equally long time to wake up. When all is said and done and I'm out the door, it's another one of those days where my breakfast is more of a brunch heading towards being an early lunch. Also, I can tell from how stiff and sore I am because yesterday's "short and easy" ride only met one of those two conditions that it's a day for taking the real painkillers.

Now, because I'm mostly doing relatively short days of less than 70km per day, I'm also managing to go most days without so much as an Aleve. My bad leg hasn't really and truly been bitched at me since the day of the Fair and that was more from walking than it was from biking. I really enjoy the ability to walk places now that I have it again but I have to admit that I'm really not very good at it.

Even the day after crossing Wuyishan the mountain on my way from Wuyishan the town to Wuyishan the city, I was less in pain than I was simply very very fatigued.

But this morning, I'm fatigued and I'm sore and tired and achy and I know I've got a whole bunch more of these rural mountain roads with their steep ups and blind downs before I get out to the Real National Road and I have codeine in my medikit. Maybe I'm only really officially supposed to use it for pain that's specifically the bum leg but if it weren't for the bum leg, the rest of me would be in better shape, and if I was in better shape, I wouldn't hurt so much today.

Chicken wraps at Wallace again. Basically, it's a reasonably priced protein bomb in a reliably same environment when I don't want to have Local Variation on Fried Noodles yet again.
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I also take an anti-inflammatory and preload with a bunch of caffeine. Knowing how loopy high I got with the codeine I took for pain so bad I could barely stand the week before I left for Shanghai, the general lack of a noticeable high lets me know that even if I'm telling myself I'm fine and I don't hurt that bad, I do in fact actually hurt that bad.

Based on what Grampa Bates told me, Huangtian seems to exist as a town because of relocations done 30 years ago when the big reservoir on the Min was built. It's not much of a place other than that. Sure, the gray and mucky weather could be coloring my perceptions but I've been to all kinds of backwards out of the way places and, with the exception of the recognizable brand of chain fried chicken, this one is particularly untouched by modernity.

I doubt I see a single building less than a decade old which is pretty darn rare in China. Since the 1980s,the beginning of Reform and Opening Up, and Deng Xiaoping's "to get rich is glorious", China hasn't stopped moving at a breakneck pace. Except maybe here in Huangtian. Where things are just developed enough to be just okay enough that anyone who wants something more... leaves.

It's hard to tell with the lack of any kind of fascia over the exposed brick but the size of these huge glass dormers makes me think former workshop or factory and just old enough that they were wanting to avoid spending money on electric lighting if they could. I'm thinking late 70s or early 80s.
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I really like the way areas near the railroad tracks tend to use recycled bits of railroad track for things like safety barriers (even though these are only nominally less unsafe than nothing at all)
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When I get out of Huangtian and more into the countryside around Huangtian, there are newer farmhouses in all sorts and kinds of styles ranging from the start stop start stop style of building whenever you have the money to baroque confections of hideousness to things that really look quite nice.

When I got off my nominal National Road onto the Provincial Road directly south of Gutian [古田], the road condition improves considerably. It's still all kinds of steep ups and downs (and soon enough an actual mountain) but there's a very real attempt to smooth out the sharp curves and cut through the tops of hills that you don't get on the lesser roads. This, of course, is why the lesser roads are usually more fun ride but also why it doesn't take too much mountain-y distance on lesser roads to really wipe you out.

I cross the water at Shuikou [水口], and get an overpriced lunch in one of the only restaurants this side of the Min. Despite how things look on the map, most of the town is on the north side of the river and what little bit there is on the south exists to serve the Road. Therefore, things are priced more expensively than you might find in a place where people have the option to choose this place over that one or where they might have repeat customers.

Don't disturb Telecommunications Cables. Anyone who steals or damages Telecommunications Cables or who engages in burning, earth moving, or explosions near Cables without getting prior approval risks serious consequences under the Law.
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Preventing Forest Fires is a Major Undertaking that Should Be Kept in Mind at Every Moment of Every Day
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A forest fire that my friend Jake and I came across last Tomb Sweeping Festival
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The big road I'm now on barrels its way straight through mountains, slicing off inconvenient bits of terrain and straightening out curves with bridges and viaducts. Also, like most of the roads in China, it's perpetually undergoing a series of upgrades and roadworks that will make it better, faster, and safer.

This is both advantageous for the people around here who want to conveniently be able to get from here to there and back again and disadvantageous as the local services which used to exist because non-local services were too inconvenient now shrivel up and die because the non-local services do a much better job.

I saw this last year in the mountains of eastern Shaanxi and again in southern Gansu when I revisited places which six years earlier had been extremely remote and now weren't. The overall quality of life had gone up on average but, paradoxically, there was a lot less really nice stuff than there had been before.

I'm not sure what I think about all this.

A particularly patriotic tending towards xenophobic Chinese acquaintance of mine really actively dislikes my taking photos of old things and countryside poverty and posting them on my WeChat Moments (where the rest of my Chinese friends think they're really cool) and was recently arguing with me about this. He thinks I should only take pictures of 'good' things with the problem being that whatever his definition of 'good' is, it probably isn't the same as mine.

Death of a roadside restaurant
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Near this closed off bridge, a former restaurant and guesthouse
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Weather be damned, as the general downhillness of the terrain becomes more pronounced the longer I go downstream alongside the Min, I'm finding this afternoon's riding really nice. That, or the codeine is kicking in. It's been enough hours by now, I'm pretty sure though that's it's just a nice ride.

Huge amounts of construction are going on so what traffic there is is never going very fast as it may suddenly have to slow down again when the ongoing changes to the Road temporarily cut us down to a single lane or something like that.

On a particularly jouncy bit, I hear a *crack* noise and discover that I've broken one of the seat rails on my saddle. By moving it forward though, I get the broken bit nicely sandwiched between the clamp parts of the seatpost and, funnily enough, find that it's a much more comfortable position as well.

I will do anything to avoid a tunnel
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Even if it means going around and over and beyond and taking the side road that they really don't want cars using anymore
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I started late enough in the day, spent enough time over lunch, and am far enough east in China's single time zone that even without the gray weather it's definitely getting dark and definitely going to be dark by the time I make it to Minqing. I've got a headlight now and for all the years of smugly insisting on never carrying a light so as to force myself to be off the road by sunset, I'm finding that finishing up the day after darkness falls isn't actually all that bad.

I pick my hotel in Minqing based on them having an obvious first floor entrance as, for some reason or another, nearly everything I can spot that lists on the Maps as being in either the cheap or reasonable price categories is one of those places that wants me to go up to the second floor to check-in.

Now, it so happens my bike and gear are light enough and well balanced enough and all that jazz that I can carry it up a flight of stairs (loaded even) but I don't really want to.

Like many places, they are a little uncertain about the whole passport thing but perfectly happy to let me register myself and then want to take lots of pictures with me so they can brag that their hotel is so nice a foreigner decided to stay with them.

It really was a pretty nice place.

Not that I had much of a chance to notice as I collapsed sound asleep after my shower without even getting my night stuff unpacked or plugging in my power bank.

Under construction viaduct to get rid of all those unpleasant, unsafe curves
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Or is it a bridge? It does go over water in a few places but it doesn't feel to me like this should be described as a bridge.
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Today's ride: 52 km (32 miles)
Total: 1,350 km (838 miles)

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