Day EIGHT → To Chizhou
By The Boyfriend, edit and comments provided by me.
In the morning on a supply mission (namely tape for our rapidly deteriorating saddle bags) I was amazed by the power coming from the little QingQi (I stayed in bed). She was very happy to be unburdened so I suited up and took her back the same route we came for one last burn around that brilliant mountain road, we would be leaving the mountains today. I decided to head for one of the scenic spots I had seen posted on the way in. The turn-off for the spot coincided with an exact loss of road. The road was basically a relatively flat layer of rocks two lanes wide. On another bike I may have passed it up and dreamed forever of the wonderful sights in store for me at Niubi something-or-other, on the Enterprise however it was another chance to go where no man has and we tore across them rocks like-it-aint-no-thing. Felt like I was driving sideways most of the time. Very entertaining, something which Niubi was not. At the end of the road was a line of shops and small restaurants, I had to laugh. There was no amazing scenery, just a pit-stop for travellers to unload some of their money on the local industry before going back on their way. Hit some more off-road bits and pieces, as you do, on the way back to the hotel.
The plan was just to get out of the mountains and then doss around off-road on the way back for five more days or so. We were already battling with waning enthusiasm and a desire to get the most out of our trip when the last straw was lain. While Ms. “Sugar and spice and all things nice” Clegg amused herself taking pictures of dead animals and insects I was a little over zealously attacking a grass mound when I dropped the bike, this time on my leg (since I was engaged in my photography I didn’t bother to immediately come running, as I had the whole trip. I finally decided to ask from afar if he was okay…He wasn’t. He was however a did annoyed that I hadn’t come running while he was stuck under the bike). The fore-pegs gave my leg a pretty respectable gash, the one of the rear pegs had warped its holder and was hanging limply. All this aside the bike wouldn’t start! I was beginning to see that the QQ was not indestructible after all. While trying to flag down some help on guy stopped in a small (empty) pick-up just up the road and we couldn’t believe our luck. He took off before I could reach the truck, leaving us to muse awhile on the finer points of a “communist” society. I would take a paper tiger with a pick-up over a comrade with an acute sense of self-preservation any day. Anyway eventually I caught a lift into town and brought a mechanic back with me, he did some fiddling and bending, tightened the rear brake (this is important for later) and sent us on our way… no charge. Up to this point we had not paid for any repairs on the bike.
(While I was waiting for him to return, I watched the road and it’s traffic… We where standing on one side of the hill on a two lane street: one lane going this way, one lane going the other way… What I saw amazed me! Vehicles -that’s cars, bikes, trucks, buses – would over take other vehicles in pairs. So a car would over take a bus and than a truck would overtake that car… on a hill, while peeps going the other way would do the same thing! That makes a 6 lane street instead of a 2 lane street…)
We were pretty broken by this little mishap and vowed to ride the 318 all the way home. No more stop off’s. Then we rolled into ChiZhou. This is the single best city we have ever been to in China. Medium sized, clean, cheap. We stayed two days. Rode around the various sights that were on offer. We highly recommend this city to anyone travelling in the area.
After ChiZhou since we were already on the G318 (600 or so km from Shanghai) we decided to see how fast we could make it home (or how fast we could make it back there next time). It was a great big straight road with perfect tarmac except for two inch deep squares cut out here and there for no apparent reason. These can be dangerous when you’re taking a corner at speed. Anyway we got lost and our hopes were shattered as we realised that the 318 turns into an express-way for a couple of long stretches. Negotiating the country roads ate up much of the day and our enthusiasm and by the time we reached ChangDe we decided to call it a day and make Shanghai in the morning.