Friday, September 30, 2005

Day 28 - Xiaoshuijiang to Anjiang

Start: Xiaoshuijiang, Hunan province
End: Anjiang, Hunan province
Distance: 104km
Time: 7'34"
Avg: 13.7 k/h
Max: 48 k/h
Total: 1881 km
Total riding days: 20
Roadkill: Just the usual snakes
Riding hours: 0820 - 1720

It is the day before China's National Day. Everyone has gone to the
market to buy ducks, chickens, and pigs, which they are carrying home
in wicker baskets.

I got my big descent to start the day, after yesterday's epic climb.
Really got the rims glowing.

Then it was up again, on a terrible road, and down again, just as
slow, on a rubble surface.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Erratum - day 22

Observant readers will already have noticed that my reference in Day
22's entry to the Long March in Tonggu in 1927 was historically
suspect. The Long March came 7 years later. I must have mis-heard or
mis-translated what the museum curator was telling me. I'm sure she
said something about the Long Something. I assumed it was March, but
that can't be right. Perhaps it was Lunch - Mao came to Tonggu in 1927
and enjoyed a Long Lunch. I'm not sure about that though, because when
I looked around I couldn't find anywhere decent to eat.

I think in fact this was all part of the Autumn Harvest Uprising.
Google it to find out more...

Day 27 - Xinhua to Xiaoshuijiang

Start: Xinhua, Hunan province
End: Xiaoshuijiang, Hunan province
Distance: 76km
Time: 7'04"
Avg: 10.7 k/h
Max: 46.5 k/h
Total: 1777 km
Total riding days: 19
Roadkill: A duck
Riding hours: 0920 - 1720

Wow, that hurt. Look at the average speed for today. Uphill, all day.
At the end of it, I managed somehow to jamb my big toe between my
bicycle pedal and the pavement. The bicycle, laden, probably weighs
about 60 kg, and that hurt too.

Moan moan moan. It was a nice day in other ways, not so much dust,
pretty mountain villages, some sunshine and a little rain to cool me
off when the climbing got heavy.

My next "target town" is Kaili in Guizhou province. It still seems to
be about 5 days away, on the map, as it has been for the past 5 days.
Somehow it doesn't seem to be getting any closer.

Xiaoshuijiang is a small village; it probably won't show up on your
map. It's about 1/3rd of the way between Xinhua (nr Liangshuijiang)
and Huaihua. There is one place to stay here, with one room, and I'm
in it, so save your visit till tomorrow. The bed is very damp though.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Day 26 - Loudi to Xinhua

Start: Loudi, Hunan province
End: Xinhua, Hunan province
Distance: 100km
Time: 6'02"
Avg: 16.6 k/h
Max: 46 k/h
Total: 1702 km
Total riding days: 17
Roadkill: Chicken
Riding hours: 0840 - 1600

Dust! You hear quite a bit on the news about massive projects
involving tunnels, canals, pumps and aquaducts to move water from
China's watery south to drought-prone north. But you don't hear much
about the Great Chinese Dust-moving scheme. Basically the way it works
is that every vehicle in the country is pressed into the dust-moving
effort, carting huge tonnages of dust around the country to ensure
that the stuff is evenly distributed. That they go to such lengths is
surprising, given that the whole land is already coated in a thick
layer of dust of many colours, red, black, white, grey, green (yes,
even green). Those not employed in hauling dust are paid to create the
stuff, squatting by the roadside, in courtyards, on their front
porches, smashing coal, rock, concrete, rubble, stones, bricks,
whatever they can lay their hands on into smaller and smaller pieces
until at last it reaches that magic consistency: dust. Then people
come along with special up-turned brooms to flick it up into the air.

That's all I can think of today. Dust. It has to be seen to be
believed, how dusty this place is. But you can't see it, for the film
of dust on your eyeballs.

Xinhua - I don't know anything about this place. Usually I like to
Google the town I'm staying in to find out a few key facts.
Unfortunately Xinhua shares its name with the official Chinese
government news agency, so I can't find anything relevant.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Day 25 - Shaoshan to Loudi

Start: Shaoshan, Hunan province
End: Loudi, Hunan province
Distance: 84km
Time: 5'18"
Avg: 15.8 k/h
Max: 46 k/h
Total: 1602 km
Total riding days: 16
Roadkill: a kitten, a puppy, a little black and white bird. And lots of snakes.
Riding hours: 1205 - 1730

In the morning I went to visit the house where Mao Zedong, aka Chairman Mao, was born. Up the hill is the place where his parents are buried. Visitors were burning incense sticks at the tomb and muttering prayers. Or curses, maybe.

Again I found roads that my map knows nothing about. Where I was between Shaoshan and Loudi, I have no idea. But somehow I have ended up 55 km or so south-west of where I started, as the crow flies, which is more or less where I hoped to be.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Day 26 - Xiangtan to Shaoshan

Start: Xiangtan town, Hunan province
End: Shaoshan village, Hunan province
Distance: 96km
Time: 6'33"
Avg: 14.7 k/h
Max: 40.5 k/h
Total: 1518 km
Total riding days: 16
Roadkill: my sense of direction.
Riding hours: 0830 - 1730

Lost all day.

I think I found all of the roads in Hunan that aren't on my map, and none of the ones that are. Finally found myself in Shaoshan, after going round in several spiralling circles. This little village was once home to Mr and Mrs Mao, whose son, Zedong, went on to cause quite a bit of trouble.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Day 23 - Liuyang to Xiangtan

Start: Liuyang, Hunan province
End: Xiangtan town, Hunan province
Distance: 103km
Time: 6'00"
Avg: 17.0 k/h
Max: 41.5 k/h
Total: 1422 km
Total riding days: 15
Roadkill: my sense of humour.
Riding hours: 0900 - 1700

A nothing day. I didn't enjoy it very much. Start in a bad mood and got worse. Everything is dirty, dusty, gritty. You can chew the air and spit it out.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Day 22 - Tonggu to Liuyuang

Start: Tonggu, Jiangxi province
End: Liuyang, Hunan province
Distance: 108km
Time: 6'32"
Avg: 16.6 k/h
Max: 48.5 k/h
Total: 1319 km
Total riding days: 14
Roadkill: Stoat (or was it a weasel?); more snakes.
Riding hours: 0900 - 1620

Good roads most of today; much easier going than yesterday. A small climb to a minor pass on the border between Jiangxi and Hunan. Museum in Tonggu illustrating the local episode of the Long March, when Mao's rag-tag Red Army passed through the town in September 1927.

Stoat or weasel? Usually I can tell the difference: A weasel, after all, is weasily wecognised, while a stoat is stoatally different. But one they've been run over, the difference is not so easy to make out.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Day 21 - Shangfu to Tonggu

Start: Shangfu, Jiangxi province
End: Tonggu, Jiangxi province
Distance: 100km
Time: 7'25"
Avg: 13.5 k/h
Max: 46 k/h
Total: 1211 km
Total riding days: 13
Roadkill: My leg muscles.
Riding hours: 0900 - 1715

A day of two halves.
The first half - long, hard, steep climb up gravel road, followed by descent from first pass down terrible sand-and-rock road that was so bad that the descent was slower (around 6 k/h) than the climb (around 7 k/h), and the braking muscles in my hands were as tired as the pedalling ones in my legs.
Then another climb to the second pass, on mud and rock road. Very hard work. At least the weather is still cool.

Second half - down from the second pass, suddenly a perfect new tarmac road, freewheeling almost all the way to Tonggu, where I eat a very large bowl of aubergine and red peppers, with several top-ups of rice.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Day 20 - Nanchang to Shangfu

Start: Nanchang, Jiangxi province
End: Shangfu town, Jiangxi province
Distance: 129km
Time: 7'29"
Avg: 17.2 k/h
Max: 40 k/h
Total: 1110 km
Total riding days: 12
Roadkill: UFO (unidentified furry object)
Riding hours: 0845 - 1740

Windy, but COOL! Got through the day on less than 3 litres of water. Even rained a bit. Had to ride a G-road (national trunk route) for 25km or so, but then back onto small hill roads. Getting through Nanchang this morning took a couple of hours - big city. Seriously windy crossing the huge bridge over the river at Nanchang - almost had to choose between being blown over the railings into the river, or being blown under a truck. Thereafter, the wind kept more or less where it belongs - on my tail.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Day 19 - [near Yugan] to Nanchang

Start: village north of Yugan, Jiangxi province
End: western outskirts of Nanchang, capital of Jiangxi province
Distance: 110km
Time: 6'20" *
Avg: 17.4 k/h
Max: 32.5 k/h
Total: 981 km
Total riding days: 11
Roadkill: Birds, snakes, frogs, fish (!!)
Riding hours: 0840 - 1730

Still very hot, 38 degrees plus all day. Then after I stopped, 7pm suddenly the wind blew and the temperature dropped for the first time since I left Shanghai, down to a more comfortable mid-20s. Got some sleep at last. Busier road for the second half of today, a new road that isn't shown on my map, that cuts across the southern edge of Poyang lake, via a series of causeways and bridges. Ate my breakfast of fried noodles at a little pavement cafe, watching all the local rice-harvesting machines roll along the road into the village mechanic's shop for servicing.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Day 18: Jingdezhen to ??

Start: Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province
End: Small village, not sure of the name - 20 km north of Yu Gan, Jiangxi province
Distance: 92km
Time: 5'33" *
Avg: 16.5 k/h
Max: 32.5 k/h
Total: 871 km
Total riding days: 10
Roadkill: Fat silver-scaled snakes
Riding hours: 1130 - 1815

* Time bicycle in motion, as measured by bike computer.

Pretty flat today. I decided to go south of Poyang Lake. Nice ride on quiet country roads. Leaving Jingdezhen was a bit of a struggle, I was starting to feel at home there. Cross the An river by ferry - no bridge. Beautiful wetland area. Siberian cranes are supposed to stop here on their migrations, not sure if I would recognise one though if were perched on my handlebars.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Day 17 - Jingedezhen again

Another day recovering from my week off the bike. 0 km. Spent the morning wondering whether to go north or south of Poyang Lake, and the afternoon staying put, as a compromise.

In case you missed it

The latest 2wheels email update, in which I narrowly avoid becoming Russian, Japanese, and a Muslim, has just gone out to the 2wheels mailing list.

You can read it here, but, to avoid the annoying line-breaks in future editions, I recommend you subscribe to the emailing list.


Maoerabilia from Jingdezhen

Porcelain Mao, legs sold separately, Jingdezhen.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Days 12 to 16. Jingdezhen

0km, 0k/h, 0 roadkill. I have pedestrianised myself to wander round the glories of Jingdezhen. To read all about it you will have to subscribe to Asia and Away magazine, or wait three months for their period of exclusivity to expire.

Actually, I have been out and about on the bike a bit, but without the bags, so the computer doesn't go on and the miles don't count.

On returning from the bathroom last night from brushing my teeth, the key to my hotel roomlet snapped off in the door. The front desk sent for a Man, who arrived with an enormous hatchet, with which he proceeded to smash the living daylights out of the doorknob, eventually overcoming its resistance and leaving it a pile of wrenched metal and mangled springs on the floor. The door opened.

This morning, the management have presented me with a bill for damage to said doorknob.

I must devise a new high-tech counting system for days. 700-odd kilometres in 16 days looks a bit wimpy. Perhaps I will have to distinguish between cycling days and non-cycling days. Then I'll have Lance Armstrong glancing nervously over his shoulder.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Day 11 - Wuyuan to Jingdezhen

Start: Wuyuan, Jiangxi province
End: Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province
Distance: 103km
Time: 6'18"
Avg: 16.4 k/h
Max: 41.5 k/h
Total: 779 km
Roadkill: The Australian cricket team.

Supposed to be an easy short day, which it was (85km), until I spent nearly three hours getting hot and bothered going round in circles in Jingdezhen looking for a place to stay.

Eventually I found a place right back where I had started, by the railway station.

Incredibly hot today. Had to take an hour off the bike in the middle of the day - up into the mid-40s on the road. I sat in a roadside internet cafe and read about the final Ashes test.

Ate Moon Cakes all day. They are supposed to be round to symbolise the full moon, but my ones were square. Not sure why. They're a bit like mince pies in England, festival food stuffed with nuts and fruit and any other goodies you can lay your hands on.

Sometimes they have a little hard-boiled egg yolk inside, rotting quietly. This is a disappointing embellishment to an otherwise satisfactory form of biker's nourishment.

My thoughts on Wuyuan: it looks much like most Chinese cities, though much the same could be said for most Chinese cities.

I am going to stay in Jingdezhen for a while to write an article for Voyage magazine about its ceramics industry. I mean Asia and Away magazine. They have changed their name, the better to confuse their readers and distributors. Nothing like a good name change every so often to keep them on their toes.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Day 10 - Huangshan to Wuyuan

Start: Huangshan, Anhui province
End: Wuyuan, Jiangxi province
Distance: 107km
Time: 6'33"
Avg: 16.4 k/h
Max: 46 k/h
Total: 675 km
Roadkill: Little green snakes.

This place is the hometown of Jiang Zemin, apparently, if that's anything to write home about.

Can't write more now, though - plugged into the final hours of the final day of the final Ashes test. Every ball is a nerve-jangler.

Collingwood has just been caught Ponting bowled Warne. I don't like the feeling of this one now.

Jangle jangle jangle.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Day 9 - Jiakou to Huangshan

Start: Jiakou (Zhejiang province)

End: Huangshan City (aka Tunxi) - Anhui province

Distance: 110km

Time: 6'33"

Avg: 16.8 k/h

Max: 49 k/h

Total: 568 km

Roadkill: Bats, snakes, praying mantises, mountains (blasted out of existence to make way for expressway)

Proper hilly day. Uphill all morning up to the pass marking the border between Zhejiang and Anhui. Downhill most of the afternoon. Wonderful riding - hardly any traffic all day on a decent road winding through small villages.

Light drizzle much of the day - trying to blow it towards to the Oval in London: seems like England could do with a spot of rain in the final Ashes test. Flintoff has just LBW'd Hayden though.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Day 8 - Changle to Jiakou

Start: Changle
End: Jiakou- Zhejiang province
Distance: 107km
Time: 6'09"
Avg: 17.4 k/h
Max: 41.5 k/h
Total: 458 km
Roadkill: Chickens, unidentified furry substance.

Jiakou is a small village towards the Anhui border. Another hilly day.

Got caught out by the old trap - riding on the nice new smooth highway that's not open to traffic yet. Great for 5km until I reached a bridge they hadn't built yet. A bit of a scramble down the slope....

Just bought some moon cakes for breakfast tomorrow.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Day 7 - Huzhou to Changle

Start: Huzhou
End: Changle- Zhejiang province
Distance: 95km
Time: 5'42"
Avg: 16.6 k/h
Max: 45 k/h
Total: 351 km
Roadkill: Large green grasshoppers.

First hilly day, via Moganshan. Took it a bit easy to spare the knees.

Didn't quite make it to Anji - "The Hometown of Bamboo". But everybody everywhere in this region is busy chopping, stripping, stacking and hauling bamboo.

Mr Bean attempting not to eat steak tatare is on the TV in the guesthouse in Changle.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Day 6 - Jinze to Huzhou

Start: Jinze
End: Huzhou - Zhejiang province
Distance: 100km
Time: 5'58"
Avg: 16.7 k/h
Max: 28.9 k/h
Total: 255.7 km
Roadkill: Mainly butterflies, sparrows.

Beautiful day riding on very quiet country roads (once I got off the G318) along the southern edge of Lake Taihu. Warm, sunny. Flat all day. Reached the edge of the mountains, so will be climbing tomorrow.

Passed near PingWang, then turned off onto small roads via Hengshan, Qidou.

Very friendly and clean zhaodaisuo (hostel) tonight, decent bed for 15 yuan.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Day 5 - Shanghai to Jin Ze Town

Start: Shanghai (Xu Hui district)
End: Jin Ze Town (Jinze), Shanghai Municipality
Distance: 62.4 km
Time: 3'49"
Avg: 16.3 k/h
Max. 26 k/h
Total so far: 155.4 km

Left Shanghai (finally) after lunch. An easy afternoon's ride west on the Huqingping Highway. Stayed in the same hotel I stayed in last year, in December 2004, leaving Shanghai on route to Hong Kong. The boss not only recognised me, but still had my registration form from last year on the desk - which saved a lot of fuss trying to decipher my passport a second time round. She asked me what had happened to my beard.

Sunny, warm.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A nasty case of astro-rash

I know, I know - I'm supposed to have left Shanghai today. But I was talked into a game of Ultimate Frisbee last night - and limped off the astroturf after 2 hours with no skin left on my knees and elbows.

And woke up this morning with aching legs, thighs and buttocks.

Try again tomorrow....

Day 4

0 km.
Shanghai still. Another rest day to allow the skin to grow back after yesterday.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Day 3

0 km.
Extra rest-day in Shanghai...

Played Ultimate Frisbee instead, removing skin from legs and arms in pointless astro-dive moment.

Feedback from readers

Several people have written in response to the previous post.

A.M. in Boston says "I got a place for you to stay in Serbia".

Thank you, A.M.

Another A.M., a former Shanghai resident, says "Just a word on the Shanghai street facists: I lived there for a year and you are not being fair on them (I have cycled all over the city). I like to think of them as 'pavement nazis'.".

JH says "Surprised to see that you missed out spitting on your list of Shanghai loves," and goes on to say that while on a visit to Aswan in Egypt last year, "I picked up a copy of the daily rag, the Egyptian Gazette, and lo and behold! I found a small write up of your Mongolian horseman ordeal! News clearly travels far and wide!"

Only a small write up in the Egyptian Gazette? What could be more relevant to Nilotic folk than a story about an English cyclist having his bicycle stolen in Mongolia? The editor of that esteemed rag was clearly off sick the day they did 'priorities' at journalism school.

TH of Wokingham says, on the question of what qualifies as the Atlantic Ocean, "In answer to your question about dipping your finger in the Atlantic if you can get to the Gulf Stream/North Atlantic Drift I reckon you've hacked it. According to my Edinburgh World Atlas - published by Bartholomew - this flows towards the NE past Eire and Scotland but significantly splits to the SW of the UK flowing,   to some extent,  into the St Georges Channel and the Bristol and English Channels.  So I judge that Lands End should be fine."

He signs off as "retired RAF navigator", so I'll take his comments as authoritative.

However, GF of Eton puts the cat among the oceanographic pigeons by asking "Only one thing - why the Atlantic?  What's wrong with Hull?  The North Sea?"

Please add your comments by clicking on the comment link below.


Back on 2wheels - Dipping a finger in the muddy Pacific (2wheels mailing list posting)

If you are on the 2wheels updates mailing list, you will have received this yesterday. If you're not on it, you can join here.


Yesterday I dipped a finger into the muddy waters of the Pacific Ocean (muddied by the silt that pours out of the mouth of the Yangtze River), and so officially began my bicycle ride back home, from Pacific to Atlantic, China to England, Shanghai to Exeter (I might have to carry on to Land's End to make sure I really do reach the Atlantic...).

To old-timers on this mailing list: hallo again, apologies for the deafening silence that has been pouring out of the 2wheels updates machine for the past half a year or so, and welcome back.

To newcomers to the 2wheels list, thanks for signing up.

To recap:

Last year, 2004, I rode a bicycle (well, two bicycles actually, after the first one was stolen by a Mongolian horseman near Ulan Bator) from England to Hong Kong.

This year I am going to try to ride back again, via a different route that you can map-gaze on

The general plan is to head south and west across China down to Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, and then, at the turn of the year, head north again back into China, across the Tibetan Plateau and the Taklamakan Desert into Central Asia.

First up in the 'Stan department will be Kyrgyzstan, followed by Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. Cognoscenti of the former Soviet republics will notice that Kazakhstan is not on the list – but then neither is Filthistan, Ghastlistan, nor for that matter the far-flung Utterlighastlistan.

If the good people in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Islamic Republic of Iran are kind enough to issue me a visa, then Iranwards I shall go, before pedalling west along the Anatolian coast of the Black Sea, across the Bosporus into Istanbul, up the Balkans, over the Alps, down the Rhine, across the Channel and so on to an as-yet undisclosed location in the south-west of England.

Since this journey started at the Pacific, it seems that the only decent thing would be to end it at the Atlantic – but I would like to consult more widely (this means you) as to which (if any) parts of
England can be said to have an Atlantic coastline. Does Land's End count? Or do I have to keep going to the Isles of Scilly?

But that is 25,000 km and a year or so's ride away.

Today, I am cycling through Shanghai for the last time.

Will I miss it? Well, yes and no.

I won't miss the automobilist madness of the no-bike road system that blanks out most of the town centre to two-wheelers.

I won't miss the small nation of petty-minded, brown-trousered, life-diminishing whistlocrats who patrol Shanghai intersections with their shades, white gloves and delight in taking control of the
minutiae of other people's lives. The other day one of these proto-fascists ran across the road, whistling, waving and hollering, to move my big toe two and a half inches kerbwards.

I won't miss the incessant noise of Shanghai's latest urban design fad: jackhammering half-decent pavements into rubble and replacing them with something slipperier.

I won't miss having a few pieces of food with my oil at every meal. Or perhaps I will – it could be that it's an acquired taste, and I've acquired it.

I won't miss the silent but deadly electric bikes, which cruise the pavements at twice the speed of regular pushies, but with half the stopping power. You don't hear them coming until they've smashed your hip through your armpit, and should be banned immediately, or retro-fitted with noise enhancers. Perhaps that way they could drown out the pavement jackhammers.

I won't miss the drivers of sleek black tinted-windowed poncemobiles who know that might is right and that a right turn on red is just fine fine fine, especially if it means mowing down a column of bike-laning bicyclists on the inside track.

I won't miss dying of asphyxia, lung cancer and an overwhelming sense of malaise every time I sit in a wangba [internet cafe] to send an email. It can be hard to see the screen through the fug of cigarette smoke. No, I won't miss that, and I won't have to, because it's the same in every wangba in China. Anyone know any smoke-free wangba chains, please let me know.

I won't miss having to lie to everyone and telling them that I'm a student at Fudan University, just because that's what foreigners living in my part of town are supposed to be, and my Chinese isn't
good enough to convince people that in fact I'm just a lazy, good-for-nothing cyclist on a break from cycling.

But everything else, give or take, I'll miss. Shanghai can be fun, especially on days with no Ys in their name. Other days can be OK too; after all, at least you can breathe the air – so long as, to borrow the fine words of Tom Lehrer, you don't inhale.

Some words of thanks to a pair of very fine Shanghai institutions:

Decathlon China, and their bike team headed by Michael Zhao, have done a great job in kitting me out with a new bicycle, sleeping bag, socks, bells, whistles, etc. Thank you, Decathlon, Michael, Haro, Cyril, and the rest of the team. Anyone passing through Shanghai in need of bicycling or outdoor gear could do worse than to check out

Roger Owens at Drennan Co., Ltd, has saved my emotional bacon by fixing it for me to have my old Mark I bicycle, as stolen in the Great Mongolian Bike Robbery, and subsequently, against every expectation, found by the Ulan Bator Police Department, shipped back to the UK, after the Chinese post office declined to do so on the grounds that it didn't fit in the right sort of box. We went through a lot together, that bike and I; I'm glad we'll be able to spend some more time together when I get back to England. Anyone passing through Shanghai in need of engineering equipment or components could do worse than to check out

I must stop there. Some of you have jobs to do.

Next stop: Jingdezhen in China's Jiangxi province. I'll write more from there. In the meantime, have a peek at If you haven't been there recently, you'll find a lot of new stuff, including 600+ photos from the UK-China ride last year at, and a new blog section at

Thanks for reading. If you know anyone else who might like to join the list, please point them in the direction of

Edward Genochio
Shanghai, China bicycling from England to China and back again


FORCE Cancer Care in Exeter
Please donate if you can – see

SUSTRANS – practical projects for sustainable and enjoyable transport
Please donate if you can – see
Or donate directly at


* Decathlon China

* Drennan Co., Ltd., Shanghai

* Eclipse Internet

* P&O Ferries


Join the updates list here
or comment on this message by using the comment link below.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Monkey mascot

Emily got me this little monkey for the front of my bike. It's part of a pair of monkeys she bought in Emeishan. She's got the other one - they will be reunited some time in 2006. The real Emeishan monkeys are not as cute as this one though - Emily was mugged by a pair of the brutes half way up the mountain.

Day 2. Shanghai (NE) to Shanghai (SW)

Sunday 4th September 2005

Start: Shanghai (Hongkou district)
End: Shanghai (Xu Hui district)
Distance: 16.8 km
Time: 0'55"
Avg: 18.1 k/h
Max. 33 k/h
Total so far: 93 km

Up all night for the last three days packing things up. Didn't want to
set off exhausted, so made it an easy day across town, one last trawl
across Shanghai. The traffic lights and the wind were in my favour.
Staying with Rupert Alesbury (see previous post) on the south-west
side of town, well-placed to make a proper getaway tomorrow.
Beautifully cool this morning. Got hot and sticky again by the

Day 1: Shanghai to Shanghai, via the Pacific

3rd September 2005

Start: Shanghai (Hongkou district)
End: Shanghai (Hongkou district)
Via: Sanjiagang on Shanghai's Pacific coast/mouth of the Yangtze
Distance: 76.2 km
Time: 4'33"
Avg. 16.8 k/h
Max. 32.5
Total so far: 76.2 km

Ferry over Huangpu river, send-off ceremony at Decathlon with some
Shanghai journalists, ride into the wind out to the coast. Sat there
on the concrete-lined beach for half an hour and rode home again with
the wind. Rupert Alesbury, an old schoolmate I haven't seen for 10
years, appeared at the send-off.

Bike absurdly overladen as usual. In Shanghai you don't notice it
because there are no hills. A week down the road it will be a
different story.

Have done very little cycling, or exercise of any sort, for 6 months.
Not in the best shape to start a 15-month cycle journey.

Step forward Roger Owens and Drennan Company Ltd (Shanghai, China), engineering equipment suppliers and top logistics fixers too...

Dee square peg don't go in dee round hole, and dee bicycle don't go in dee biggest box in dee China Post office, and if it don't go in dee box, dee China Post won't post it.

Lost? I was. Trying to ship home my Bike Mark I, the famous steed that took me from Exeter to Ulan Bator before being swiped by a passing horseman, I had reached an impasse.

The sequence of events then went like this:

August 2004

Marin Bikes in London ring me up and offer a new bike.

I say yes please.

Four or five other bike companies ring me up and offer me new bikes.

I am tempted to say yes please four or five times.

But don't.

The Marin bike is sent out to me in Mongolia.

The Chief Constable (for it is he) of Ulan Bator CID rings me up and says "we have found your bike".

I now have two bikes in Ulan Bator.

But only one pair of legs.

I ride the Marin across the Gobi to China and down to Hong Kong.

The Mark I stays in Ulan Bator, guest of the French Ambassador's garage.

Fast-forward to August 2005.

French Ambassador comes to Beijing, bearing bike.

I collect same, take to Post Office.

No can do, says the Man in Charge of Boxes at the post office. Bike not fit in Box (see above).

I say Zenme ban?

Man say Call Roger Owens.

I call Roger Owens.

Roger say let me think about that one.

Roger say he know way.

He can get bike shipped to UK via his company, Drennan Co.

Shipping stolen-by-Mongolian-horseman bikes to England is very much a sideline for Roger and his company. Usually, they work wonders with supply chain management for engineering components and equipment between Europe and North America on the one hand, and China on the other. And vice versa.

Which is probably why they made shipping my little velocipede from East to West look so easy.

So, thank you, Roger Owens and Drennan Co of Shanghai.

(Need a hydraulic pump or a piece of ultrasonically-welded prismatic sheeting? is only click, blink and a link away.)


Saturday, September 03, 2005

Crawling home

The long ride home starts today - here I am at the Pacific Ocean coast just east of Shanghai. My bike is the heavy-looking one. Crawling to England might be quicker than riding that overladen monster...