D9: 五里→店头 - Me China Red - CycleBlaze

March 27, 2021

D9: 五里→店头

It's a good thing the weather is letting me leave Wuli today as I've used up my entire supply of toilet paper and my asking at the restaurant last night was only enough to get me one of those little packets you carry in your pocket for when you end up someplace that doesn't supply tp.

Breakfast is a bottle of Coke and some packaged meat product that I suppose must be referred to as "sausages" if only because there's no better name to give it. The woman who sells them to me also fills my water bottles with freshly boiled water and adds my TikTok.

As today I'm wearing the jersey made from a photo I took of a tile mosaic outside a school gate in Guangdong, it's also an opportunity to discover that even the very large sleeve QR codes don't scan. 

I was so very very pleased with this maker of custom jerseys when they made me a petite maillard jeune for my friend Frank's six month old, but they really dropped the ball on the jerseys I had them make for me. The pockets on the Hebei temple mural jersey are on upside down, the patterns don't quite line up across the zipper on any of them, and I'm drowning in excess fabric because they didn't believe my measurements were correct after also being given my height and weight (and I took 10kg off my actual weight).

I'll have two big climbs and two big descents before I make it to Huangling County where, if I'd wanted to, I could have visited the tomb of the Yellow Emperor. It's a 5-A ranked tourism site which is supposed to mean it's among the best of the best but the majority of AAAAA sites I've been to were both expensive and not to my taste.

On my personal scale (which runs from "I paid my own money to go here and would do so again" to "I was paid to go here and wouldn't go back even if you paid me") the only 5-A site I actually want to visit again is the Leshan Buddha. 

On the descent into Huangling County I pass two signs telling me not to damage the Great Wall, but, although I stop and head back uphill at the second sign, I can't see anything that distinguishes these loess formations as being either manmade or historical.

Lunch is some kind of local noodle that I've already forgotten the name of. Apparently a local specialty, the shop was very very impressed that I was so knowledgeable about their local culture as to pick their special local type of noodle. However, all I'd done was order off the menu on the wall. Fried whatever noodles with meat simply sounded like it hit all the right categories of fat and carbs and protein.

The road became a divided highway after Huangling. Decent condition, not too much traffic, wide shoulders. The few villages that it passed by had been completely oxbowed and I didn't go exploring the majority of them as nothing looked particularly old or interesting and many of them were dead ends.

When I got to Mailuo'an, where the internet told me a grotto should be, I got the usual "oh that doesn't exist anymore" from people who weren't even taking the time to listen. I tried going down the end of the road and asking the house at the end where we had a bit of a back and forth over "grotto" [石窟 shíkū] versus reservoir [水库 shuǐkù] followed by my trying to show the woman my phone and having her (possibly truthfully given her age) claim illiteracy.

So I gave up and continued on to Diantou Town and a grotto whose existence was much more firmly certain on the basis of it existing not only on the internet but also (albeit with a typo¹) on my paper maps.

Finding those grottoes was such an adventure that it deserves an entry of its own.

¹ These are the Qifeng Grottoes [七丰石窟] but the map had them listed as the Qiyang Grottoes [七羊石窟] which caused quite a bit of confusion cause there's also a Qiyang Grottoes with a verified location that isn't anywhere near here.

Today's ride: 55 km (34 miles)
Total: 370 km (230 miles)

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