D13: 直罗 → 富县 - Me China Red - CycleBlaze

March 31, 2021

D13: 直罗 → 富县

The frustrating thing about today's road is that I don't merely feel like "this would be so much prettier with a bit of green spring growth to it", I actually know it would be. I've done this road before. Eight years and eleven months ago on April 25, 2012 to be exact; and, it was absolutely stunning.

Today, however, is mostly painted in shades of gray and brown.

Gray skies that are threatening a cold rain which, luckily enough, won't show up until evening; and bare brown loess hills with black stick figure trees.

Also, despite the day's rest that I had in Zhiluo, the oh so very gradual but constant up that I'll have all the way to the short tunnel at the top of Beidaode Ridge is something I'm very much feeling in my legs. Marcus, who cuts weight so much that he doesn't think it necessary to travel with a spare set of clothes, would say its because I'm carrying too much junk with me. Fact of the matter is, while my bike and gear is a substantial amount of weight, the rider is too. 

Although I am surely much much fitter than I was at the beginning of last year's tour (if only because I was so very very out of fit at the end of last summer), I doubt that the half month of stops and starts and short days that I've had since arriving in Shaanxi has brought me anywhere near back to where I was at the end of last year's tour.

The only Site of Interest I've got scheduled for today is a rock with some words carved in it about 1,000 years ago by the poet Du Fu¹. Everywhere else I've been in China where someone famous went and either carved a poetic inscription somewhere or put a bit of calligraphy in reference to something, lots of other people have then gone and done the same thing. You tend to get entire cliff faces or boulders full of artful carvings that refer to the other carvings that are already there.

This rock, however, has two carvings. The thousand year old one by Du Fu which, to be perfectly honest, makes absolutely no sense to me even after I read and re-read the context online; and, the 500 year old one when some moderately important dude was passing by. The 500 year old carving isn't very deep and is most illegible but, from online reading, at least makes sense as a reaction to the poetic awesomeness of the completely opaque-to-me original.  

And, that's it.

With the exception of that one boulder in Guizhou that I couldn't even find a non-calligraphy version of the text so that I could make a guess at what it was saying, it's possibly one of the least decorated inscribed bits of rock I've encountered. Which makes no sense to me when you consider just how incredibly culturally important the original guy was with his original four words with extremely Deep Meaning. Makes even less sense when you consider that I'm in an area where Mao (who had a very recognizable calligraphic style and who was once a librarian) was active.

But, yeah, nothing.

Which probably explains why, when I asked the people at the place where I had lunch (a whole 1.5km away), they'd never heard of it. 

Today's highlight was an unscheduled Point of Interest just outside Zhiluo at a village where Mao once spent two days and two nights in advance of the "world famous" Battle of Zhiluo Town. Not because I actually visited the Point of Interest in question but because the historic marker sign telling me that I could be visiting was clearly inscribed by someone who didn't take the time to read the file he'd just loaded up into the CNC machine. 

It starts in the usual way of a marker sign about a place that just doesn't have that much interesting to say about it with the size and shape of the buildings but then it continues, "due to lush overgrowth and an active hornet's nest at the top of the structure, I cannot proceed with measurements."

¹ By which I almost certainly mean, he had someone carve his calligraphy into the rock for him rather than he did it by himself.

Today's ride: 60 km (37 miles)
Total: 551 km (342 miles)

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