Why? - 儋州→海口 Danzhou to Haikou - CycleBlaze

September 15, 2005


So, exactly what was I doing in Danzhou that I was able to bicycle from there to Haikou?

I'm not entirely sure.

It was some kind of festival. Involving bicycles. Hundreds (maybe thousands) of bicycles. And speeches. A whole bunch of speeches. Screamed into a microphone and echoey enough that I couldn't even tell if it was Chinese or Hainanhua. There were also tv cameras. (I now know that it was called 1000 Bicycles Around the City. I still don't know why it happened or why they invited 35 of us to come in from another city.)

The first text message I got indicated that people would be going to Danzhou on Saturday. The second said Thursday.

I'm not sure why it became Thursday. Thursday is very inconvenient for people who do things (like work). But the trip was still pretty full. Seven people bicycled down. Twelve bicycled back. Two of them went both ways. Thirty five people or so rode the bus down.

Danzhou city government gave us dinner, hotel rooms for the people staying overnight, and breakfast. The hotel room wasn't as nice as the one I stayed in the last time I was in Danzhou. On the other hand, no prostitutes phoned my room asking if I wanted a massage, and there weren't any public health pamphlets next to the free soap in the bathroom.

There was a lot of hurry up and wait before we set off to ride our bikes around the city. 14 kilometers total. Danzhou is a very small city.

Rank upon rank upon rank 6 by 6 by 6 by 6... The bike club with its matching spandex (almost everyone was wearing red, yellow, and black Giant, a few people had on Shimano blue and white) was the second group in the parade so it was hard to see exactly how many ranks there were. There was a group with matching bikes that had little red flags, a group of police officers with black t-shirts, a huge number of high school students, postal workers, and who knows who else.

A couple few people on bikes who weren't assosciated with the parade randomly decided to join it. I tried not to be too annoyed at the old man with the Flying Pigeon work bike who kept riding nearly in front of me and interfering with my steering and coordination (staying in a straight line rank of 6 is hard). After the parade was over I heard the person who had been next to me vehemently telling someone in great detail about the crazy old man on the Flying Pigeon who kept riding nearly in front of Meigui (my Chinese name) and interfering with her steering and coordination.

After the parade was over we bicycled to dinner.

I'm not exactly sure what happened but it started raining. We had all accelerated in the hopes of getting out of the rain and one guy crashed with a work trike. I missed the actual accident. By the time I got there a peasant woman in a conical straw hat was standing surrounded by bike club people and looking scared. If I were 4'6" and surrounded by muscular people a minimum of a foot taller than me wearing clothing matching that of the person I'd just crashed into and that person was now lying on the ground bleeding I'd be pretty scared too.

He was able to get up and walk to the ambulance himself so it couldn't have been too too bad. Which is good because the ambulance crew didn't seem very competent. They didn't even attempt to stabilize his neck before trying to pick him up and put him on the stretcher (which hadn't been lowered all the way to the ground). In fact, in retrospect, it may have been their efforts at putting him on the stretcher that prompted him to stand up and walk to the ambulance.

I'm not sure if this is a reminder that I should never get injured in China or a reminder that if I do get injured I should only do it in big cities.

If he hadn't crashed we probably still wouldn't have made it to the hotel before the heavens opened and poured down upon us. We ended up ducking under trees, and into shops, cafes, and telephone booths.

On the bus down to Danzhou I'd gotten permission to go on the ride back. At dinner I was sitting next to the librarian (because of the two fluent English speakers present she wasn't annoying) when permission basically got revoked. She was too much of a newbie and I wasn't ready for it.

We conspired. I really really really wanted to go. I knew that if I let them say "next time" to me this time that next time they would say "next time." And she had just dropped the equivalent of 6 months' salary on her bicycle toy. She needed an excuse for having spent that kind of money.

A third woman joined us in our conspiracy and then changed her mind. We presented a united front of "let us try" and they caved in.

I think it was my deviousness in going to the man in charge (the bike shop manager) instead of the woman in charge (the bike shop owner).

Having been given permission we rescued our bikes from the crew putting them on the truck back to Haikou, took them up to our hotel rooms and turned in for the night.

Today's ride: 14 km (9 miles)
Total: 130 km (81 miles)

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