D63: 李市→享堂 - China Blues - CycleBlaze

November 8, 2020

D63: 李市→享堂

I'm so wrapped up in watching the news from the US and refreshing and refreshing and refreshing again that getting out of bed for realsies takes me an extra long time as does actually leaving the noodle shop. Also, although I had long since accepted that there was no way in hell I was making it to my original "end point", I've now gotten close enough to what will be my actual end point that I'm getting ready to buy my train tickets back to Hainan.

I'm not quite at the "longest I've been on the road" but I'm approaching the burnout point where I need to start doing more things that aren't cycling. For the Amsterdam trip that was supposed to happen next year, my big break was going to be flying back to China to renew my residence permit and attend Dragonburn. Not sure what it will actually end up being when the trip gets rescheduled for real but 60 or 70 days is a relatively good "limit" for me after which I've got to go do other things and come back to biking.

Breakfast is this amazing soft tofu dish that's similar to Guizhou tofu noodles only without the noodles or the mint. It's accompanied by a steamed bread wrapped in a big leaf sort of like a zongzi only without the greasy meaty filling.

My front brake has started to make this incredibly painful squealing noise since I was coming down the steep ridge on the side road into Zhongshan Town and I'm determined to find myself a bike shop to have them take a look at my brakes before I go much farther. Even if I'm not going to be doing that crazy Gansu mountain range at the south edge where that province borders Sichuan, I will still have some relatively big descents left to me before I finish up and - despite the fact that my bike is still stopping fine - I have this inherent distrust of brakes whose brake pads I can't visually inspect with ease.

Nothing of any interest to see on the road to Jiangjin [江津] City. Stop to have a conversation with a touring cyclist. Then, ten minutes later to talk to a guy on a motorcycle (who I randomly meet again two hours later in the city). I feel like this is a very major road that I'm on but that's because I have no idea what kind of road I'm going to be on when I leave Jiangjin.

Neither of the bike shops in Jiangjin are the sort of place where I'd so much as want them to fill my tires for me. (Speaking of filling tires, that shop in Tongzi that unimpressed me so much, he asked what pressure I liked my tires at. I answer "the tire says between 65 and 90, I like to go with 85" and then he promptly said "is 45 hard enough for you?") The Xidesheng at least tells me that I should try the Xidesheng 20km to the north in the satellite town of Shuangfu where roads are broad and relatively flat and the universities are located.

But first, the GPS has to try to send me the wrong way up the bridge ramp for the bridge over the Yangtze.

I don't like this road and I don't like the traffic on this road so I do my best as much as possible to ride on the sidewalk. Sometime after dark though, the sidewalk not only stops having curb cuts but also starts being used as the storage location for things like as yet uninstalled sewer pipes and I'm forced to ride in the road.

It's about this time that I arrive at the oxbowed townlet of Xiangtang. I notice the signs for cheap hotels about the same time I see the first restaurant but I'm still kind of set on making it to Shuangfu; I've just decided that I'm going to get something to eat first. Sure the traffic is discombobulating me but the volume of traffic is actually forcing it - for the drivers' own safety - to be particularly well behaved. When I've been in the street, no one has whizzed by too close. It just feels scary.

My decision to sleep in Xiangtang is actually caused by the guy from the Village Committee who started asking me questions during dinner. He wasn't unfriendly or anything like that, just checking up on things and calling them in and making sure everything was right. To my way of thinking, if I had to put up with 20 minutes of questioning (not unfriendly questioning but questioning nonetheless) during dinner, then I was probably going to get the same level of questioning 5km down the road when I got to a hotel.

(I suppose I should mention that Jiangjin is one of those places that has a honorable mention from 2012 for being a particularly interesting story involving the police and that both Shuangfu and Xiangtang are part of Jiangjin.)

So, when he gets 'round to asking where I'm going to spend the night, I make it quite clear that although I'd originally planned on Shuangfu, it's probably going to be here. At the very least, I'm going to check out the nearby hotels first.

"Oh, you'd be much more comfortable in Shuangfu."
"Maybe, maybe not. But I'm going to check these hotels first."
"You should go to Shuangfu."
"I might, but I want to see what these hotels are like before committing to another 5km in the dark."
"It would be best if you go to Shuangfu."
"Not really. After all, you've already checked my documents. If I go to Shuangfu, I'll have to deal with someone checking them again."
"You should go to Shuangfu."

As Mike put it when we were talking later on that evening, it's a good thing that the Authorities who I piss off are on the "frustrated petty bureaucrat" end of the scale and not the "mobster" end or I might come downstairs one of these days to find that someone has taken a wire cutter to my spokes.

In any case, I paid for my dinner, got on my bike, deliberately went to the third hotel down the road from the restaurant, and had already paid and gotten my keycard for the room by the time Mr. Village Committee showed up (as walking to the first two hotels and confirming that I wasn't there took time).

"I thought I told you to go to Shuangfu."
"So you should go to Shuangfu."
"I told you."
"Uh huh. You did. And I said I was going to look at the local hotels before making my mind up. I've made my mind up. I'll be staying here tonight."
"No. You won't."
And with both the hotel owner and the committeeman protesting and yelling at me to stop, I grabbed my bags and went upstairs. 

Although the hotel owner would knock on the door later to bemoan my "making things hard for her" and to plead that I go somewhere else before asking me a bunch of questions (more or less identical to the ones the committeeman asked me at dinner) and to insist that the police were insisting that I needed to visit them at their police station (in Shuangfu) to register in person, because I was in big trouble over no one being able to find any registration for me in Lishi, the police never came to the room.

Today's ride: 45 km (28 miles)
Total: 3,006 km (1,867 miles)

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