D48: 福泉→瓮安 - China Blues - CycleBlaze

October 19, 2020

D48: 福泉→瓮安

Today is another one of those days where I'm completely 100% repeating the ride from 2012 (only going the other direction). Once I get past the trucky bit immediately after Fuquan, it turns into quite a nice ride with the periodic pleasant surprise of knowing that if I stop at certain points, I'm going to find something interesting.

I wish I'd done more exploring of the area inside the Fuquan City Walls back in 2012 as the majority of it has been completely demolished and replaced with Ye Olde style buildings - not all of which are completely finished being built. As Chinese city walls go, they are fairly intact with one of the gates still having both a barbican and enceinte. 

As an American, with an American sense of what constitutes 'a long long time ago', it makes me cringe to see that they are using giant earthmoving equipment to knock stuff down and prep the land for construction. Surely, this ought to be an archaeological site with grids and sifters? But it's not. Because it's only a few hundred years old and besides which anything properly old or interesting has probably been preserved. Right?

The spillover outside the walls on the side I leave from is a mix of mostly post 70s architecture. I'd thought I was going to get my breakfast there but its all slated for demolition and if any of the remaining shops were selling food, they didn't look like the sort of places I wanted to eat at. As a result, just shy of noon, I pull over at a Weird Rock that had caught my interest in 2012 and which now at least has a sign explaining that it's a Weird Rock of Historical Interest. There's a fairly lengthy inscription carved into the rock about three meters off the ground which is probably the reason why it's of historical interest but I can't the inscription from the ground and none of the signs at ground level bother to say what's written on the rock.

I make myself oatmeal and coffee and then get back on the road only to immediately stop because there's a weird noise driving me crazy and even if it was probably just the fact that I needed to oil my chain I had to figure out what it was and make it stop.

What it was was that my chain wasn't on the sprocket.

However, the tension on the chain was just enough that even though it was doing a terrible job at energy conversion and making a dreadful racket, still meant that pedaling made the rear wheel turn. I don't know how long it had been like this as I'd been mostly coasting on the very big downhills and mostly walking on the very big uphills but even with the chain off, pedaling still managed to do something.

I think I only dropped the chain a little bit before lunch. I'd already had a noise that was annoying me and I'd run my hand along the chain and found it very very dry. Had, in fact, been planning to get out the chain lube and do something about it only to lean my bike chainside against a tree and forget until I got on the road again and the noise not only still existed but was substantially worse. 

There were a handful of sites that I'd photographed that I'd really really wanted to see again which I either missed because it was dark by the time I passed them or which I missed because I didn't realize that the new and improved road bypassed them. The only one that annoys me is the historic bridge since it very much should have been completely noticeable and the only reason it wasn't was that the paving, which had been perfectly fine all the way down the hill, turned to shit just as I was crossing the modern bridge that parallels the ancient one, and I was watching the road instead of watching the scenery.

Filled up my water bottles at a weigh station which, unlike in 2012, actually seems to be doing the job of keeping overweight vehicles off of this road. At the very least, other than at key points where its quite understandable why the road is torn to hell and back again, the road is in really good condition. More than anything else, the markers of China's ongoing rise are good roads and pointlessly decorative additions to things like waste transfer stations or public toilets. Then, after putting the new rear light I purchased at the Fuquan Merida on the back of my bike and added my neon green windbreaker over my thermal vest and I was ready to do the last 12km of riding in the dark.

More like 15 actually but that last 3km were done after I was already into the streetlight zone.

Weng'an is much bigger than I remember it being but despite my spending two nights there in 2012, I didn't actually do a whole lot of exploring. I end up at a fairly random hotel that's in the middle upper range of things I starred to check out as possible lodging and which I go to first because it's closest to where I stop to eat dinner. There's no problem at all with me staying (in fact they've had a foreigner stay there once before) and in combination with their willingness to let me use their washing machine to do my laundry, I don't bother checking anything else.

Today's ride: 53 km (33 miles)
Total: 2,427 km (1,507 miles)

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