D64: 享堂→璧山 - China Blues - CycleBlaze

November 9, 2020

D64: 享堂→璧山

Shuangfu really is very close to Xiangtang where I spent the night last night. And, as it turns out in the daylight, if I'd come out the far side of Xiangtang to head towards Shuangfu, I'd've discovered that I'd already left the worst of the bad road behind. Point is though, I shouldn't have had to be discovering this in the dark unless I wanted to be discovering this in the dark and, as I'd already clearly stated I didn't want to be discovering this in the dark, it was really quite irresponsible of the committeeman to be trying to force the issue on me.

Furthermore, although I really do empathize with the people whose lives I'm making a little less simple by my refusal to just accept "no" as an answer, I can't (won't) empathize with people who whine at me that it's unfaaaair of me to be making their life difficult when I could be making someone else's life difficult. And who fail to grasp the idea that this is not especially pleasant for me. That all the horrors and difficulty and people asking questions and maybe even paperwork I've just dropped on their head isn't my fault. Isn't even standard government policy for fucks sake. 

I just want to check in to a fucking hotel room, okay. I don't want to go to seven hotels in a row. I don't want to call in advance and ask for "permission". I don't want to show up to an already paid for room and be told to go somewhere else. I just want to check in to a hotel.

Xidesheng in Shuangfu is able to adjust my brakes so that they don't screech any more. He thinks the brake pads probably need replacing soon but since I'm also planning on going back to Haikou pretty soon, I'll leave it 'til then. The level of bikes for sale in his shop don't give me the confidence to mention the dodgy wrong length bent into almost shape spoke I got in Tongzi as the rear wheel is surprisingly true and anything with spokes would involve taking the wheel off which is a bit of a pain as, among other things, the fuckwits I ordered the frame from deemed "Rohloff Ready" to mean a rear triangle that is slightly narrower than my hub.

Also, despite it being dead simple and really obvious and not actually being anything done differently at any time, I'm extremely not so good at getting the gears to reconnect properly. Takes me on my own something like five passes of disconnect and reconnect to get the shifter to give me the majority of the available speeds. Only times this trip I've had all 14 available was in Haikou and immediately after the shop in Dao.

Long lunch in Shuangfu combined with a phone call to my friend Sarah in Haikou. I talk roads with the guys at Xidesheng and decide that, in terms of avoiding the worst of urban roads, my best choice is to go up and over the nearby mountain in the direction of Bishan District (what would be called Bishan City anywhere in China that's not Chongqing but which can't be called Bishan City because the government, in their wisdom, decided when calving Chongqing Province off of Sichuan to call it a "municipality under the direct administration of the central government" and not a province, even though it very clearly is a province).

I'm just finishing up taking a video of the most adorable mural I've ever seen featuring Huhu the Fire Prevention Tiger when a bunch of guys in SUVs pass me, stop, and get out to take pictures with me, letting me know that they were specifically on this road because they were looking for me. This being internet famous thing is weird as fuck and as I continue to get more followers (such as on trips around Hainan or whatever I do in the Spring for my 40th birthday), it's just going to get weirder. I think I like it. But I'm not sure.

The ride up the mountain is wonderful. As in 2012 when I was coming down to the Chongqing mountains (which are all less than 500m elevation) from Gansu's 1000 - 2000m range, I'm down from Guizhou's 1000 - 1800m range and I've acquired all sorts of lovely new red blood cells which are thrilled by the low altitude air pressure and I am strong

The ride down the mountain is less wonderful with pretty serious roadworks that regularly force me to get off and walk not only for safety's sake but also because the surface is too muddy or sandy or rutted by trucks to be even the slightest bit rideable.

After the 19th century ceremonial arch where my camera's memory card helpfully lets me know that I haven't been emptying the card onto to my laptop anywhere near as frequently as I ought to have been doing this trip by informing me that I can no longer take any photos, the scenery actually turns suburban enough that I wouldn't really be feeling much of a need to take photos anyways.

I've got my GPS destination set for a likely cheap hotel in the center of urban Bishan. See an even likelier looking place in the vicinity while scoping out dinner possibilities and, per an internet search of the neighborhood options while eating dinner, decide on that place instead. The cheapest room option won't let me book because "foreigner" but I take this as a good omen because it means that, at some point in the hotel's history, the person ticking boxes decided that they have rooms for foreigners and rooms not for foreigners; and this ought to mean that the rooms for foreigners will be easy peasy.

Ought to.

Cause honestly, even though getting your hotel listed as "accepts foreigners" on the Chinese booking platforms is only the matter of saying "yes, we know how", I've never figured out what the common denominator is for why some hotels have some rooms that they won't sell to us. (It's not even exclusively the cheapest/worst rooms either.)

There's an overly friendly local from dinner who insists on following me to the hotel across the street while constantly refraining about how he can show me all around town and if I need any help and just generally being a pain because I'm not attracted to him and I don't want to go out with him for a beer or to hang out at a coffee shop and he's not catching the hints. He's also getting involved in trying to explain things to me when the hotel doesn't want to check me in, and then getting involved in trying to solve things and none of this - particularly the part where he offers his ID card for me to be illegally registered on instead of my passport - is actually helping the situation.

But if there was ever even the slightest shred of doubt in my mind that "we aren't allowed to take you" ordinarily means more than "I don't know how to do this" it was confirmed when, among flirtatious messages to just come and join him for a drink, he apologized to me as a resident of Bishan on behalf of his city for the behavior of the front desk clerks and how they'd caved in because my threat to call the police was scarier than the prospect of having to figure things out.

Today's ride: 37 km (23 miles)
Total: 3,043 km (1,890 miles)

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