D36: 红军岩 → 瓢里 - China Blues - CycleBlaze

October 2, 2020

D36: 红军岩 → 瓢里

I'm not all that surprised that I don't have a hangover in the morning. For one thing, despite having had very very little alcohol between when I started this trip and now, I really didn't have all that much to drink in terms of what my liver is capable of processing (this is my way of saying that my friend group tends towards alcoholism). Secondly, I chugged a full bidon of water before starting the night's drinking sesh and took one up to the room with me. Third, I've got this amazing capability to simply sleep through discomfort until my body feels better.

To be fair, I think most people have the third but are so accustomed to waking up at set times to external stimuli (like alarm clocks or the sun) that they wake up despite feeling like crap. I've been dealt a very lucky hand in life and waking up earlier than my body is ready for is the exception to the norm rather than the norm.

For some reason, what ought to be a consistent downhill ride for the next hundred and some odd kilometers of river valley has an awful lot of uphills in it. Ten meters gained here, twenty meters gained there, it's like a roller coaster of up and down and up and down which, from the tops of the many little peaks used to be even steeper and more erratic than it is now. Even without the earliest stone plaque I see commemorating the construction of the road up to certain standards being from the 80s, this is clearly not a new road.

It's visually far more appealing than a new road would be but it's also quite a bit more tiring than it could/should be (okay, maybe I am suffering a hangover).

The mountains tower a good 200 and 300 meters over the river valley going, in places, practically straight up with a surprising number of paved goat trails leading to a single house or cluster of houses. A mix of rice terraces and artificial pine forest, it's little wonder that nearly every turn off has a sign or signs about a guesthouse up this way, or a farm restaurant, or some other tourism related poverty alleviation project.

If the sun would come out and turn the sky blue, the ride would be stunning. As it is, it's merely really really pretty.

I have no detours marked for the day and the closest I get to finding something random to go off and explore is a parking lot by the side of the road with a ceremonial stone gate in it from the late 19th century. I'd say somewhere between a third and half of the stone gate is original and the rest is restoration.

I'm perilously close to dragging ass by the time I get into Piaoli but that doesn't stop me from deciding to leave the main road to check out the old bridge into town. What can be deciphered of the slogans literally pressed into the concrete as it was being poured make me think early 1960s though there's something about the style of the bridge that feels like it could be late 1960s or even early 70s. When I eventually find the bridge's inscriptions the morning of the day that I leave Piaoli, it's possible to tell the name and who built the bridge and even what day and month it was dedicated but the two digits after "19" are worn to obscurity.

(I started taking pictures of Chinese bridges because they are a good place to get a view of the scenery without trees or buildings blocking the landscape. Then, because words were involved, I started reading the bridge inscriptions as well as some of the various signs about why heavy vehicles shouldn't use this bridge. I'm not sure why I started trying to guess the age of a given bridge before finding the inscription but I'm sure I had a very good reason at the time. Whatever the reason was, the result is that one of my particular useless skills is being really really good at dating the construction of Chinese bridges.)

Dinner is wontons and for my hotel I pick the one that's off the main street thinking that it'll mean a better night's sleep which it mostly does. At the very least, it's not the sound of trucks beeping that wake me up when I want to still be sleeping; it's the school behind the hotel.

Today's ride: 53 km (33 miles)
Total: 1,796 km (1,115 miles)

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