D23: 荔浦→阳朔 - China Blues - CycleBlaze

September 14, 2020

D23: 荔浦→阳朔

Well, after a little over 120 kilometers, I'm back to someplace I've been before.

In 2008, after giving up on the monumentally poor idea of heading north through the Jinxiu Mountains, I was convinced to take the main road north. The combination of my really just not liking main roads along with some pretty serious fatigue left over from my attempt to go through the mountains meant that when I saw a bus heading north, I thought I'd take it just a short little while with "a short little while" ending up to mean my sleeping all the way to Lipu (perhaps 115 kilometers north of where I'd gotten on the bus).

I then rode from Lipu to Maling, spent the night in Maling, rode to Yangshuo, met up with friends in Yangshuo, took two days in Yangshuo, and eventually continued east by northeast.

Part of the wisdom of being 12 years older is the knowledge that while I can do 100 kilometer days (or longer), that doesn't mean I should and that tiring myself with super long days just results in more days spent not biking because I simply don't have the energy to get out of bed.

Now that I'm in Lipu getting ready to head north to Yangshuo, I'm somewhere I've been before. The explorations done in a place I've been before are generally different from the ones done somewhere completely new though I have no recollections or photos of Lipu in 2008.

Lipu is a recently elevated county level city. This means there's an older core that generally looks kind of 80s and 90s but which isn't very big and a then a bunch of great big boulevards and fancy tower blocks around the edges that are sort of a mix of the worst of suburban life (you need a vehicle to do anything) and city life (it's still a tower block). I'm the kind of person who either wants to live in the middle of nowhere or the middle of everything; suburbs (and especially Chinese suburbs) really aren't my style.

I go looking for the various bike shops marked on the map but none of them look terribly promising to me in terms of wanting them to try to help me find and diagnose the cause of the mystery problem two nights ago in Sipai when-after dinner-my rear wheel decided that turning was overrated (as if the brakes, which weren't seized, were seized). A mystery problem whose source hadn't been identified when I parked the bike overnight ready to deal with it in the morning but which was gone come morning.

Then, it's a random local items breakfast which I'm honestly not that impressed by. I'm even less impressed by the breakfast restaurant owner and her staff all recognizing me from TikTok, wanting to take pictures with me, and wanting me to say something about their food with the explicitly stated glee that they were going to be famous but not considering that perhaps, maybe, if they were going to make this much of a fuss over me and my ability to shill for them, I oughtn't be expected to pay for my breakfast.

I'm not seeking free things. I don't expect free things. But I also didn't make a video showing where I was or talking about how amazing the food was (partly cause they annoyed me and partly cause it really wasn't terribly good).

The road from Lipu to Maling that was wide and gentle in 2008 is still wide and gentle though now I know its because of the large number of factories to either side of the road. Although Lipu is apparently famous primarily for its radishes and its production of clothes hangers, none of the factories seem to making hangers or making anything with radishes. Since the shape of the road of the driveways and the occasional factory with both an old gate and a new gate makes me think early 90s, I'm on the lookout for development related slogans but any walls around here that are getting painted are getting painted over and repainted on the regular and I don't catch sight of anything interesting.

I actually manage to find both of the buildings I photographed in 2008. The bank in particular is so thoroughly renovated that its hard to believe it isn't a new building in the same place but its the same height and shape so it must be the same.

North along the road to Yangshuo, I also manage to find all the bits of karsty mountain that I photographed at least up until the point where I'd gotten off the main road since I'm not exactly sure where that was other than "after Gaotian [高田]" and, by the time I reach Gaotian, I'm overheating, feeling the lack of a proper breakfast, and generally being far more fatigued than the terrain or my sleep patterns indicate I ought to be.

I take an hour rest and a plate of fried noodles in Gaotian which, along with the I'll never do business with you conversation with the truly charming lawyer who clearly thinks I'm a moron, is plenty enough to raise my spirits to get me through the rest of the day.

The tourist road into Yangshuo definitely isn't the road I took in 2008 (cause I took some small winding-y thing that went up and over hills) and, by virtue of it not being the road with the Post Office (and my recent shipment of UHT cream for my coffee), probably isn't the road I wanted to take into Yangshuo but it is the road I took so I keep going into Yangshuo and out the other side and up a hill to a place in the countryside that was recommended to me by a friend in Haikou and which turns out to be owned by people who, if Covid hadn't cancelled Dragonburn, I would have already met in May.

Today's ride: 51 km (32 miles)
Total: 1,145 km (711 miles)

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