The Police - China Blues - CycleBlaze

November 2, 2020

The Police

D58: 九坝→官店

Based on the GPS track, when the police car picked me up, I was 2.4 kilometers away from the police station. Furthermore, on the basis of how the last three hotels' went, even though the closest hotel was a mere 1.6 kilometers away from where I was when they picked me up, my plan had been to do things the way I had in Ningxia in 2018 and just start out at the police station before going to a hotel.

But they came and got me and put me in the back of their car and took me to the police station, so I didn't have to.

I'm pretty sure I know who told the police about me. There were a couple of different people who saw me on their ascent or descent  of the mountain and who stopped to talk to me, to ask me questions. 

However, I'm pretty sure it was the larger man in the white SUV, the one who was a bit rude-a bit gruff-when asking me overly nosy Covid related questions before driving off. Being as his vehicle was almost certainly large enough for a bike and panniers, and as no one would be driving on that mountain in the dark without being familiar with exactly how much mountain there was left, I kind of thought he was a bit of an asshole. He could have at least asked if I wanted a ride or needed some kind of help. Cause even if I wasn't actively in distress at that point, I clearly wasn't in a good spot either.

For much of the day, basically since I'd decided almost all the way to the pass at the top of the big mountain on the main road that I was going to change destinations and take the old road, I'd walked down the steeper descents. There were too many blind curves with too little banking; too many cliff edges; too much fog. Especially when you consider the weight of me and the weight of my luggage, walking down (occasionally even with little zig zags back and forth across the road to lessen the grade) was just the sensible thing to do.

It was 8:40 or so when I got in the police car. I'd first seen them maybe 20 or 30 minutes earlier when they'd first come up the mountain looking for me. They'd already had face masks on and while some of the questions were usual "police being police" questions, most of them were Covid-centric. In any case, whether we were talking about my passport or my most recent nucleic acid test, finding my documents on a pitch black mountain road seemed a less than brilliant idea. So I suggested that they take all my luggage and I meet them at them at the police station.

After all, I'd already been planning on starting the evening out there.

They took my bags, made a law defying U-turn (by which I mean "laws of physics" as the width of the road from cliff to safety barrier had to be less than the length of the car from tip to tail), and went down the mountain while I continued to walk. I'd already been walking for three and a half hours at this point and walking without the weight of my luggage felt incredible. Everything still hurt and, now that my shoulders and arms and lower back didn't have to control the weight of my descending bike, new things that hadn't been hurting as much as my shoulders and arms and lower back made themselves more noticeable. However, it still felt incredible.

Around sunset, at the end of the steep part, I had 4 kilometers left to go to town and 500 meters still left to descend. That was when I'd already been walking for an hour. That was also when I decided to take a codeine. 

Now generally I have very strict rules when it comes to painkillers. Doesn't matter if it's the prescription stuff or over the counter. For example, if I need to take a painkiller to go to sleep, I'm only allowed to take a painkiller in the morning if it means I'm going to spend my morning curled up in a ball recovering. If I plan to take a painkiller during the day, I have to do it prophylactically before I start the activity that's likely to hurt; it's never okay to take a painkiller mid-activity. The idea is that I should only ever take painkillers when I need them and that I should attempt to prevent myself from becoming dependent on them.

Because, totally not counting the bit where I went through withdrawal shortly after coming out of ICU, I've been dependent on painkillers and I don't like it. Even if the non-prescription stuff doesn't have brain fog, it has other side effects.

At the time I decided to take the codeine, I was not only mid-activity (which is like the number one most sacred rule to never break with regards to painkillers) but it was also taking one of my narcotics for a reason that wasn't directly linked to my bad leg being a whiny bitch. That having been said, if my bad leg had been being a whiny bitch, I would have had a hard time noticing through all the complaints the rest of my body was making.

However, at the speed I'd been managing to descend, I was looking at probably four more hours of walking down the mountain and taking the codeine was basically the difference between setting up my hammock with the new raincoat as a rainfly and making it down the mountain before dawn.

Once the police took my luggage, I could manage to walk fast enough (when still zig zagging) that the dynamo headlight mostly turned on. Being as my panniers were still in the police car when they came back and told me that the decision had been made to put me and the bike in the car as well, I assume that they did not make it all the way back to the police station before turning around again. Or maybe they did. Turns out that even though I had a lot of very steep very windy very narrow mountain road left to me, in terms of motor vehicles, I was really close to the end.

2.4 kilometers according to the GPS tracker.

Some of the panniers ended up in the back seat with me. Some of them still in the trunk. I don't think they managed to actually get the trunk all the way closed. Or maybe they used a bungee. I was past paying attention or even really caring. There was a seat and I was sitting in it. 

Slowest parts of the ride to the police station were navigating a temporary (currently above water) ford-style construction bridge across the river and not falling into the roadworks ditch outside the police station parking lot.

Doing my best not to make any audible creaking or groaning sounds, I verrrry slowly opened the door of the police car and got out. I swear I could hear every bone in my spine when I turned and reached back into the car to pick up the pannier closest to me. 

There were four steps from the parking lot up to the station lobby. On step two someone took the pannier away from me. It's a good thing that no one offered me a hand until halfway between steps three and four though as a bad incident with being dropped by the person offering me a steadying hand back in the Summer of the Wheelchair has left me permanently uncomfortable with ever taking anyone's offer of a steadying hand, and having the offer come just as I no longer needed it meant that I didn't have to think about whether or not I wanted it.

Got them my passport, my Covid test. They gave me cups of hot water. Asked me questions that were mostly on the basis of "how long were you walking down the mountain?" and "you biked here from where?" but occasionally also went into the current realm of epidemic prevention like "where have you been in the last two weeks?" and "when was the most recent time you entered the country?"

I didn't even have the energy necessary to be a smart ass.

I was about 3 hours post codeine, which even though it's extended release, if it were being taken recreationally, is the closest point I'd get to a peak. I don't know if my pupils were dilated or if something other than exhaustion was off about my speech patterns, but something made one of the officers suspicious enough to ask me for permission to look inside my bags.

He got about halfway through the first pannier, with the very open body language of someone who is making sure that everything he is doing is clearly being caught on security camera, and the habit of verbally announcing what he was finding like someone who is clearly used to documenting his moves for a body camera, when he sort of fizzled to a stop.

He'd managed to find oatmeal, a sleeping bag, and something else fabric in a ziploc bag (socks I think). And no matter what it was about me that had looked 'off' enough to trigger him thinking "I should look in her bag" had been completely negated by all the other officers in the lobby giving him odd looks like "dude, why the hell are you going through her bag?"

A little while later, whatever paperwork was going to be done had been done, and I went back out to the police car to be driven to a nearby hotel, managing to make it down all four of the steps without much in the way of audible whimpering. I'm guessing the bike really must not have fit in the trunk very well as one of the officers rode it to the hotel

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