D46: 小梅沙→盐田 - Oh Hai - CycleBlaze

November 25, 2019

D46: 小梅沙→盐田

My 2012 Tour was the first time I carried a laptop with me; it was also the first time I had work while I was on tour. That laptop was a Black Friday special that wasn’t very nice. It did the job well enough and, surprisingly, managed to stumble along as a workable machine (for certain values of ‘workable’) used by my assistant for very specific tasks up until this summer.

In 2014, on my ill planned trip to the mountains of southwestern China, I had a much nicer laptop. It was my first foray into owning frightfully expensive electronics and, as it also had a lot more important stuff on it than the 2012 laptop, I was justifiably worried about it getting wet or damaged. Prior to that point, I’d only been using cloth panniers (specifically Vaude’s range of cloth panniers because that was what was randomly available in the outdoor stores that wasn’t clearly made of tissue paper when I started touring and, even when I went to buying things online, I never changed brands) but I decided it was time to look into getting some waterproof ones.

Specifically, one waterproof one.
In which to put my laptop.

Everything else was already, from force of habit, being waterproofed and compartmentalized with gallon ziploc freezer bags and I couldn’t see any reason why I might possibly need more than that for my clothing when it had done me fine so far (including in some very wet weather).

As I recall, the stores around me didn’t have anything waterproof. Giant bikes had some really poorly made “Giant” panniers that looked like they might survive a single trip, if one were lucky, and some really expensive proprietary mounting system matched to special racks (Topeak maybe?) things that not only weren’t waterproof but which also cost a ton and were smaller than the Vaude I already had, and neither the mountain bike shop nor the camping store had any panniers at all.

On taobao, when it came to waterproof panniers (of which, you'll recall, I wanted only one), my choices were Ortleibs (plural, at a shocking markup over the US price), waterproof Vaude (again in pairs, again at nearly twice the overseas list price), Roswheel, and KranGear. The KranGear wasn't expensive but it wasn't cheap either, only came in pairs, and I wasn't sure about buying something at that price point from a Chinese brand I'd never heard of. The Roswheel allowed for me to buy a single pannier and was well within my budget. 

I ended up buying the Roswheel and writing an email to KranGear introducing myself and asking if I could buy a single pannier from them. Implying that I would write an honest review about them on foreign websites like crazyguyonabike, I was hoping that I'd get a discount above and beyond being allowed to purchase half of a pair; I wasn't expecting them to offer me a full set of panniers for free

All told, I got two front sized waterproof panniers, two rear sized waterproof panniers, a waterproof rack top bag, a waterproof handlebar bag, and a stainless steel rear rack to replace the no-name rack I had at the time or about USD 500 worth of gear out of them.

I've come to the conclusion I don't especially love waterproof panniers over cloth but I'm still using that rear rack, and I decided a few years ago to pay for their second generation handlebar bag because they're really nice people and I don't exactly need the freebies. (The first gen that I had been given suffered from being a little too waterproof in that it was also cyclist-proof and required at least three hands to get into most of the time.)

I visited with the people from KranGear (who also make the LKLM line of touring bikes) in 2015 with Myf when we passed through Shenzhen. This time, I decided to visit them at their factory. I also (with their permission) used their mailing address as the place to receive my first mid-trip shipment this trip.

In Xiaomeisha I wasn't all that far from the factory though it was still a couple of solid hours of riding to get out of the beachy tourism area (where I had a shockingly overpriced bowl of breakfast noodles and a bottle of Coke for breakfast) into the beginnings of the city and back out again on a really steep mountain road of the crazy steep "someone paved this?" variety because bikes can't go through any of Shenzhen's many tunnels and because, apparently, the GPS's 'bike directions' are at least partially weighted in favor of roads that cars are less likely to use. (I'm not sure how this weighting is achieved but I was shown that there is another road I could have used to get to their factory that is, at most, dozens of meters longer and which never goes above 8% grade.)

I was so wiped out tired from slogging my way up the mountain when they came and met me that I didn't stop to confirm that the random Chinese people whose car I was putting my panniers in were in fact the people who were coming to meet me until after my bags were off and in the trunk. I last saw them face to face four years ago and only once. It wasn't very likely that random people would stop and come up to me like that but they could have.

At their factory I got to see some prototypes of cool things they are doing, prototypes that other companies have sent them to stress test (including a Chinese made 14 speed planetary gear hub by a company that no longer is doing bicycle stuff), had my bike thoroughly tuned up, went out to lunch, and basically spent the day drinking tea, swapping tall tales, and talking current events.
It was well and truly wonderful.

A little after dark, we put my bike in the back of the big van, and they drove me to the Yantian Border Crossing point. I don't know if the border crossing was still open at that hour or not but I wasn't going to cross into Hong Kong until morning. Got dropped off at the border crossing to go find myself some lodging, spent a while determining that everything reasonably priced in the immediate vicinity was either showing as "fully booked" on the booking software or was too hard to find, and went about two blocks inland where I promptly got told "No Foreigners Allowed".

Today's ride: 21 km (13 miles)
Total: 2,796 km (1,736 miles)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 4
Comment on this entry Comment 0