D52: 傲溪→湄潭 - China Blues - CycleBlaze

October 24, 2020

D52: 傲溪→湄潭

Last night's police asked me to call them when I left town. I thought this was both egregious and egregiously stupid so I waited until I was at lunch in quite another town altogether to call back. Because despite my habit or being all kinds of unpleasant to people who make my life difficult, one thing I'm very much aware of is my role as a cultural ambassador as it were.

As the first American - first non Chinese even - most of these people have ever met, horrible grumpy bitchy me who isn't putting up with your shit still has to be reasonable. I have to have a method to my madness. I can't just be insisting that you do things my way; because doing that way will almost certainly ensure that the only thing they take away from their encounter with me is that Americans are pushy obnoxious assholes.

It's why, when I edge over into truly dreadful behavior for anyone over the age of 3, I always make sure (once I've gotten my way) to apologize. It generally isn't true that I was tired; and, I know exactly what I'm doing in terms of pressing buttons to get results, but that apology for getting angry (an apology as fake as the anger I'm apologizing for) makes a big difference in how they'll remember the situation.

So even if the police have no right to be asking me to call them to tell them that I've left, I call them and tell them that I left. It's just that I wait until a good 90 minutes after I've actually left their jurisdiction to do so. Cause I'm petty like that.

Lunch in Songyan is some nothing special noodles that might be why I end up with an upset stomach at night. Not sure. I also ended up drinking some non-boiled water when I got really thirsty around midnight and didn't want to wait for the kettle to cool down. However, I'm under the impression that bad water generally takes longer to have an effect and I'm also under the impression that most urban water in China has been safe to drink for a decade or more.

Combined with the fact that I've also acquired yet another broken spoke, the Mystery Noise from yesterday is really starting to get on my nerves. I tend to walk up hills that don't need walking up just so I don't have to listen to the Noise.

Nothing much of interest happens throughout the day. All of the points of interest that show up on the map (including the fact that Songyan is apparently a National Bicycle Town) between Aoxi and Meitan are somewhat commercial agritainment type things aimed at local urban yuppies. It's also mostly the wrong season for them. So I walk up, I coast down, walk up, coast down.

There's a handful of bike shops in Meitan and it turns out the first one I go to is actually the professional one. He's located in a strip of shops practically underneath the Largest Teapot in the World. It's listed in the Guinness Book of World Records and everything. I'm more interested in the Confucius Temple and the other historical things (mostly related in some way or another to the Long March) but even though I end up having an upset stomach and spending two nights in Meitan, I don't actually visit any of these places.

He replaces my broken spoke and diagnoses my Mystery Noise. Chain stretch. Assuming that my shop in Haikou didn't replace the chain after last year's tour, it's about 6,000km old. Maybe a bit more than that. If he did change it, it's only about 2,500km. The amount of chain stretch that I've got going on is impressive and I tend to think it's likely that I started this tour with an old chain.

Considering that it was a cold rainy day in Kaili and that the Kaili bike shop stripped all sorts of things down including taking my chain off and cleaning it for me, I'm kind of disappointed that they didn't say anything to me about the chain stretch or getting a new chain. Cause they weren't that long ago and if my chain is this bad, it was already on the way to being not so good when I was there.

The difference a new chain makes is amazing. Following the bike shop owner to a hotel across the street from the bus station which is owned by a fellow cyclist, it feels like I've a good 20 or 30% more power than I had an hour and a half earlier.

I get checked in (which involves some haranguing the police over the phone) get showered, and end up a few doors down blissfully having two bowls of local Tofu Noodles. A dish I've not encountered yet on this trip to Guizhou, they were the signature dish that made me fall in love with Guizhou cuisine 8 years ago only I didn't know what they were called. 

Today's ride: 40 km (25 miles)
Total: 2,570 km (1,596 miles)

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