Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Instead of worrying about my frost-nipped buttocks, why not....

...grab ahold of Mr Blair, Mr Cameron, and whoever leads the other lot these days and smash their heads together and keep smashing them together until they stand up before Parliament, Queen and Country and say:

"We the leaders of the three main parties in Britain commit to a joint policy of cutting Britain's annual climate-changing gas emissions by 5% in the next 12 months, counting from tomorrow, and by 50% in the next 7 years.

"These reductions are both necessary and possible.

"These targets can be met without lowering the quality of life of the British people.

"And they can be met without overall harm to the British economy.

"The technology needed to achieve these targets is available. By introducing these targets, the technology will become affordable.

"Britain will take these steps unilaterally and immediately. Other countries, sooner or later, will follow suit.

"We will enjoy the advantage of being the first mover towards creating a genuinely sustainable economy.

"Individuals, businesses, and government will all need to make adjustments to meet these targets. We will provide the assistance necessary to make sure that these adjustments can be made painlessly.

"If we do not take these steps, Golmud's height above mean sea level will decrease by several metres, and its average winter temperature will no longer drop below -240 degrees Kelvin.

"Edward Genochio's attempt to cycle to the place will thereby become no more of a challenge than a springtime stroll in Trondheim Botanical Gardens, something that even PG might contemplate undertaking if he had a decent tent."

To comfort Asmund/PG....

The 'Weather Underground' site forecasts that it will be -85 degrees
in Golmud on Tuesday.


I don't know if that is degrees Centrigrade or degrees Farenheit, but
it matters little because at -85 in either language I will really be
some way beyond caring.

Greetings, incidentally, from Dege in Sichuan. And yes, Asmund, I have
flu. Your latest comment was most timely. How did you guess?


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Day 177 - Cycling to Dege, with a brief foray into Tibet

Start: Camp near the Sichuan-Tibet bridge (G317), Sichuan, China

End: Dege, Sichuan, China
Distance: 30km
Time: 2'49"
Avg: 10.7 k/h
Max: 31.5 k/h
Total: 9756 km
Total riding days: 114
Riding hours: 0855 - 1255

Tibet cycling note: situation here seems just the same as on the G318 further south: no guards at the bridge, no problems crossing to the Tibet side. A policeman in Baiyu told me that this part of eastern Tibet is now open to foreigners. But how far west you can go, I don't know. I went about 500 metres and then turned round.

Should be an easy 25 km or so from the bridge up the side-valley to Dege. It's paved.

But I have picked up some kind of lurgee, feel increasingly dead and am scarcely able to stay in the saddle by the time I crawl into Dege.

On the way up, I pass what look like half a dozen large sheep - but they are hopping around on boulders in the river in a most unsheeplike manner. On closer inspection they turn out to be vultures eating a carcass in the river. These are BIG birds.

The sight encourages me not to die in the open air, so inch on into Dege and hide in a basement hotel, feeling about as far from jolly as a happy camper can be.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Day 176 - Cycling Baiyu towards Dege along the Jinshajiang

Start: Baiyu, Sichuan, China

End: Dege, Sichuan, China
Distance: 74km
Time: 7'24"
Avg: 10 k/h
Max: 30.5k/h
Total: 9726 km
Total riding days: 113
Riding hours: 0915 - 1845

5-star campsite (complete with 5-star pillock, silly hat and pink jacket) on a hidden flat ledge above the road, about 2km before the G317 (Sichuan-Tibet highway, northern branch) ridge to Tibet.

Downhill for a dozen or so kilometres, down the Baiyu river (not its real name) to the Jinshajiang; the rest of the day upriver up the turquoise Jinshajiang (upper Yangtze river), gentle grade but lousy road.

Tibet on the opposite bank. Hot - or warm - springs come out of the rock-cliff, marked by green algae - though the rest of the cliff is ice-encrusted.

Nice ride.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Days 173, 174, 175 - Not cycling in Baiyu

0 km etc.

Hanging out in Baiyu, Sichuan province. Grotty town. Nice monastery up on the hill.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


I am in Baiyu.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Day 172 - Cycling the Batang - Baiyu road (4)

Start: Camp, below second pass on Batang-Baiyu road, Sichuan, China
End: Baiyu, Sichuan, China
Distance: 48km
Time: 4'48"
Avg: 10.1 k/h
Max: 34.5 k/h
Total: 9651 km
Total riding days: 112
Riding hours: 0940 - 1600

A few kilometres on the switchbacks to the beautiful pass.

These few kilometres, despite climbing to around 4300 metres, are the easiest of the Batang-Baiyu ride - gentle grade, decent surface for the most part.

Prayer flag zone at the top littered with broken beer bottles.

Eagles soar under and over the pass.

Butt-crunching, bike-bashing descent on icy, melt-water-rutted road.

Hit the Ganzi - Baiyu highway for the last 15 km - it's sealed!


Monday, February 20, 2006

Day 171 - Cycling the Batang - Baiyu road (3)

Start: Camp, north of Shama village, Sichuan, China
End: Camp, below second pass on Batang-Baiyu road, c. 50 km south of Baiyu, Sichuan, China
Distance: 45km
Time: 5'45"
Avg: 7.7 k/h
Max: 25.4 k/h
Total: 9603 km
Total riding days: 111
Riding hours: 1040 - 1845

Perfect campspot, by a stream, looking up to the pass and down to snowy peaks at the other end of the valley.

Route notes - large village with shops and accommodation after about 19 km descending. Another 5 km or so and the road abandons its river-descent, and begins to climb a side valley. Very steep.

Camped where road leaves the stream and begins final switchback assault on pass.

Put my foot in it when fording a stream, so icy shoes to look forward to in the morning.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Pass photo

People sometimes email asking for more photos on my blog.


Here is one.

Me, my bike and some snow.

Pass #1, on the track between Batang and Baiyu, Sichuan.

Sorry, don't know the name of the pass.

Altitude estimate - 4300 metres.

Day 170 - Cycling the Batang - Baiyu road (2)

Start: Camp, north of Moxi, Sichuan, China
End: Camp, 9 km north of Shama, half-way between Batang and Baiyu, Sichuan, China
Distance: 38km
Time: 5'59"
Avg: 6.3 k/h
Max: 22.6 k/h
Total: 9558 km
Total riding days: 110
Riding hours: 1010 - 1810

Pushed bike from camp through snow and ice 15.9 km to pass in 3 hours 28 minutes on the move, but 4 hours 50 mins after setting off. Too steep and slippery to ride, and sometimes too slippery to push. Pass estimate 4300 metres. Without a motorbike track to follow it would have been harder.

Tall forest with green-grey lichen. Snowy peaks all around. Snow flurries as I get close to the pass, which I worry will cover the motorbike track.

Then long, winding descent on the north side, through dry scrubby oak forest. Road very rough, but little snow on the north (lee) side.

Village of Shama at the bottom, people seem a little hostile. Move on - excellent camping on hidden flat grassland by river.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Day 169 - Cycling the Batang - Baiyu road (I)

Start: Batang, Sichuan, China
End: Tent, approx 10 km north of Moxi village, between Batang and Baiyu, Sichuan, China
Distance: 65 km
Time: 6'34"
Avg: 9.9 k/h
Max: 32 k/h }
Total: 9519 km
Total riding days: 109
Riding hours: 1015 - 1850

Bright blue sky in the morning persuaded me to do the decent thing: pack and go.

Mixed opinions in town as to whether there is a road from Batang, and as to whether, if there is, it is passable on a bicycle.

Balance of opinion seems to be that there is a track, but for horses only, not wheels.

26 km fairly easy on the road-working G318. Rough dirt road for now, but in a year or two it's gonna be a superhighway, tunnels and bridges and all kinds of funky stuff.

At 26 km the road forks. Straight on (right) is the new highway route that cuts over the mountain; left is the old G318 that follows the bend of the valley, and this is also the way to Baiyu.

Beautiful, trafficless 20km up the river-gorge from the fork, then the road forks again and switch-climbs out of valley. Steep for about 2 km, then flattens to join a new valley.

I camp more or less on the snowline, about 10km after a forestry camp (where it would probably be possible to overnight). Water all the way, the track follows a stream.

This track is not on the map, but people on the way seem to agree that Baiyu is this way - even if they are sceptical that I will get through on a bike.

Tunnel on the old G318 in the gorge.

Climbing out of the river valley; Tibetan villages below.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Days 166, 167, 168 - Batang, Sichuan, China

0 km etc.

Three blokes come in call themselves lamas.

It's around 0100 hours, Batang Mean Time.

TASHI DELE, whispers the chief bloke, at about 154 decibels. He doesn't seem to take laowai's beauty sleep very seriously.

Q: What do Tibetan Lamas wear under their crimson robes?

A: More crimson robes. I watched them get undressed. It took about 10 minutes, and was like playing pass the parcel with Russian dolls. Each layer peeled off revealed another layer underneath. They go to bed in their crimson robe pyjamas.

Around 0500, they get up and leave. I tell them it's 0500; they go back to bed. At 0700 they get up and leave again.

There's a big storm brewing up the valley -

so I stay put for a few days -

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Rare PG tapes found

Although nowadays known as Asmund, PG, as a young man, was called Sven.
He spent several years living in London, Swiss Cottage to be precise, and there he developed an affection for all things British. And yet he could never quite shake off his Norwegian roots - as these recently-rediscovered recordings testify:

Has anyone seen PG?

I am becoming increasingly concerned about PG. He has not posted a
message on this blog for over 72 hours now. This is uncharacteristic.

By my calculations, he should have had time to turn right at the
fish-mongers, walk past the fishing net shop, cross the road at
Fish-R-Us, and log on at the internet'n'fish bar opposite the Ministry
of Fish on Cod Street.

But we have heard nothing.

When I met him in Siberia a couple of years ago, PG showed every sign
of being a frustrated Englishman, determined to die a futile but
heroic death, upper lip stiff to the last.

What worse fate could befall such a man than to have been born a
Norwegian, destined to follow in the fallow footsteps of Amundsen (his
near-namesake), a man fool enough to reach the Pole and not to die on
the way home - a sure recipe, as any fool kno, for historical

PG, Asmund, where are you?

I think we must begin to fear the worst. Would anyone care to contact
the Norwegian embassy?


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Day 165 - Zhu Ba Long to Batang

Start: Zhu Ba Long, Sichuan, China
End: Batang, Sichuan, China
Distance: 42 km
Time: 3'40"
Avg: 11.4 k/h
Max: 32 k/h
Total: 9454 km
Total riding days: 107
Riding hours: 0945 - 1430

Out of curiosity, I cross the bridge to the Tibetan (Tibet Autonomous Region, TAR) side, to see if I get arrested. There are no checks at the bridge, I cross in broad daylight and the man at the checkpoint in the village on the Tibetan side just waves me through. So perhaps the authorities are opening up the TAR a little now. Cyclists used to have to sneak through under cover of darkness.

Here's my "Tibet Photo" - Sichuan is on the other side. The current bridge is in the background; nearer the camera, they're building a new bridge.

This is the G318, the Shanghai-Lhasa-Nepal highway, on the Tibet side. I last saw the G318 when I rode out of Shanghai in September 2005.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Day 164 - Cycling Zhong Zha to Zhu Ba Long

Start: Zhong Zha, Sichuan, China
End: Zhu Ba Long, Sichuan, China
Distance: 98 km
Time: 8'41"
Avg: 11.2 k/h
Max: 24.7 k/h
Total: 9412 km
Total riding days: 106
Riding hours: 0920 - 1850

Down 28 km to the Jinshajiang (upper Yangtze), then the rest of the day upriver, the road cut into the gorge-cliff, sometimes high, high above the river, sometimes coming down almost to meet it.

At Zhu Ba Long there is a wooden hut luguan (accommodation), next to the G318 (Sichuan-Tibet highway, southern branch) bridge across the river to Tibet.

Hard, unsealed riding all day.

Here's the Jinshajiang in action:

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Day 163 - Cycling from Derong to Zhong Zha

Start: Derong, Sichuan, China
End: Zhong Zha, Sichuan, China
Distance: 98 km
Time: 8'56"
Avg: 10.9 k/h
Max: 31.5 k/h
Total: 9314 km
Total riding days: 105
Riding hours: 0850 - 1920

Route notes - the road follows the Derong river valley for around 20 km on good asphalt, then turns left (west) up a side valley. A dirt road appears to go straight on; don't take it. The map for this area is all at sea, rivers flowing the wrong way, roads in the wrong place, place names that nobody recognises.

After climbing the side-valley, the road opens into a broad valley. 43 km from Derong, a turnoff is clearly signposted in Chinese, on a dirt road to Batang. Xiangcheng is indicated as 120 km straight ahead.

Take the turnoff left and immediately you reach a village with accommodation. A man there tells me it's 55 km to the next village with accommodation - and he's spot on.

The road enters a pretty alpine valley, then climbs, and climbs hard and high. I have to push most of the way up, can't get enough breath to maintain enough speed to steer around the rocks on the road. Pass must be somewhat over 4000 metres.

Here's me, zonked at the pass:

Complete contrast on other side of pass, a high, dry grassland bowl, out of which leads a steep descent back down into forest, and a heavily-bevillaged valley, at the bottom of which is Zhong Zha, which has a couple of guesthouses.

The moon is blue tonight. Strange, but true.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Day 162 - still in Derong

0 km etc.

I have moved out of the very grotty Labour Union Guest House to another place whose name I don't know. It's called going up in the world.

Still trying to read all PG's words of, err, wisdom. And dealing with the press, trying to convince them I'm still alive.

Here's Derong, in the sunshine. Lovely, non?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Day 161 - Derong

0 km etc.

I forgot to mention that on the road leading to Derong, there is an anti-aircraft gun guarding an agglomeration of greenhouses. I photographed it with a little caution, hiding behind a building in case it is a state military secret, but if you want to check it out for yourself, it is between km 70 and 71 on the X041, east side of the road.

So, in case you were planning to come along in a Messerschmidt and strafe the valley - be warned: they've got it covered.



Give me another 2 or 3 hours to wade through all the 103 emails I've
had in the 8 days that I've been away from computers and telephones,
and I'll update you properly.


1. Sorry to anyone who has been seriously concerned by my silence in
the last week.

2. Thank you, too, to all those of you have been concerned, for your support.

3. I am fine.

4. PG, my internet cafe bill is on its way to you.

5. More later - if I can read PG's stuff quicker than he churns it out, that is.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Day 160 - cycling back to Sichuan - Kaifaqu to Derong

Start: Kaifaqu, Yunnan, China
End: Derong, Sichuan, China
Distance: 83 km
Time: 6'14"
Avg: 13.3 k/h
Max: 54.5 k/h
Total: 9216 km
Total riding days: 104
Riding hours: 0915 - 1720

Secret mission over, I return to the real world, and discover, thanks to PG's efforts, that I have been reported dead.

Oh well.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Day 159 - Nanren to Kaifaqu

Start: Nanren, Yunnan, China
End: Kaifaqu, Yunnan, China
Distance: 5 km
Time: 0'36"
Avg: 9 k/h
Max: 24.3 k/h
Total: 9133 km
Total riding days: 103
Riding hours: 1230 - 1310

Secret mission nearly accomplished. But 5 km? I ask you. Sometimes I wonder why I bother.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Day 158 - Nanren village, Yunnan province

0 km etc.

No bikes up here mate.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Day 157 - Xin Cun to Nanren

0 km etc. I ditch the bicycle and proceed on foot.

Strange rituals take place.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Day 156 - Kaifaqu to Xincun

Start: Kaifaqu, Yunnan, China
End: Xincun, Yunnan, China
Distance: 35 km
Time: 4'39"
Avg: 7.6 k/h
Max: 20.2 k/h
Total: 9127 km
Total riding days: 102
Riding hours: 1000 - 1615

The intrigue continues. I could tell you, but I'd have to kill you.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Day 155. Still in Kaifaqu

0 km etc. Secret mission gets complicated. Kaifaqu is a small village in the Jinshajiang gorge. That's all I can say for now.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Day 154 - Dala to Kaifaqu

Start: Dala, Yunnan, China
End: Kaifaqu, Yunnan, China
Distance: 22 km
Time: 2'19"
Avg: 9.3 k/h
Max: 21.4 k/h
Total: 9092 km
Total riding days: 101
Riding hours: 0850 - 1130

The secret mission continues. My lips are sealed.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Day 153 - Waka to Dala

Start: Waka, Sichuan, China
End: Dala, Yunnan, China
Distance: 35 km
Time: 3'56"
Avg: 8.9 k/h
Max: 32 k/h
Total: 9070 km
Total riding days: 100
Riding hours: 1030 - 1530

I am on a secret mission, no details can be divulged at this stage - it could put lives at risk.

This blog post is about cycling, biking, bicycling, and bike rides in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, China.

Day 152. Not cycling in Waka, Sichuan

0 km etc I give up riding my bicycle and spend the day learning to do Tibetan disco dancing.

And watching an advert on the telly that goes on for about 20 minutes. It is trying to persuade people to buy magic pants, which emit some kind of cosmic rays into a man's cosmic parts. It is endorsed by an actor purporting to be a German doctor.

Sadly this kind of exploitative quackery finds a ready audience in this part of China, where people are little-educated and not very worldly-wise, having only got television in the last few years.

"German medicine is very good," remarked my host, before asking whether I was in possession of a pair of said pants.

Still, I shall not preach. A few years ago, my foreign face starred in an advertisement for a new kind of electric shaving device aimed at the Chinese peasanty.

For the photo shoot in Shanghai, I was asked to bring my own conventional razor for the (before and) after shots, because, explained the boss of the electric razor company, "our product is not very good - but don't worry, we're only advertising in the provinces, not here in Shanghai".