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.

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