Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Wind in the West

You may have seen Jonathan Watts writing in The Guardian yesterday about the Three Gorges of the Sky.

Here's his opening paragraph:

"In the vast natural wind tunnel that is Dabancheng, the gales that roar between the snow-capped mountain ridges get so strong that trains have been gusted off railway tracks and lorries overturned."

This takes me back 2-and-a-bit years to when I was trying to cycle through that vast natural wind tunnel, on days 158, 159, and 160. On day 158, in particular, coming out of Turpan, the wind was so bad that in six-and-a-half hours on a flat road I only made 47 km - and that was before the wind really started blowing. Once it really kicked up, making any sort of forward progress at all became impossible. I had to lie low in a culvert under the road and sit it out.

Someone told me at a petrol station that trains were blown off the tracks in that sort of wind; I wasn't sure whether he was exaggerating. Apparently, though, it's true. Either that, or Jonathan Watts got his information from the same bloke I did.