Fall weather is an excellent time to ride. The overcast skies and cooler temperatures typical for Mid-Autumn Festival make for pleasant cycling. It’s a great time to get out and it the road and spin those pedals, especially in China.
For Mid-Autumn Festival, our family celebrated the holiday with a family lunch and dinner. In the evening there was an all-nighter playing mahjong for those who could hang. I wasn’t one of them. Besides, I would be playing on scared money anyway. Always wanting to work a bit of adventure cycling in wherever possible, decided to make a couple days of it by riding out to the ancient water town village of Xinchang near where we would be staying.
Always wanting to work a bit of adventure cycling in wherever possible, I decided to make a couple days of it by riding out to explore the ancient water town village of Xinchang located near where we would be staying.
Ever-tweaking my set up, it was also a great opportunity to load out the Divide for a little testing and evaluation session in preparation for bigger journeys to come.
Lots to See in China
One of the great things about living in China is the country offers so many adventures, both near and far. The Chinese people’s long history and rich cultural strata provide neverending interesting places to explore, people to meet, and local cuisine to sample.
Scads of rural villages made for interesting riding. Curious locals were always wanting to engage me in friendly conversation about what a foreigner is doing in the countryside on a bike all by myself. China’s a great place to meet new people who are interested in meeting you.
China has very good roads. Most are modern and well-maintained, which goes for the bike paths too. The 45-kilometer cruise to the hotel located in the Pudong countryside consisted of rolling along modern separated bike paths along highways with occasional forays along backroads and through fields. I also took a ferry across the Huangpu River, as bikes and mopeds are not allowed on the bridges and tunnels.
Backroads and country byways took me through a simpler rural life, far away from the hectic city streets and glass towers of Shanghai. Most farmers work their fields by hand and sell vegetables and fruits grown in their gardens along the roads.
About two and half hours of spinning gradually vectored me to a nice hotel where the family had already checked in. Annie and I joined the family for a big lunch, followed by chatting and a power nap, followed by a big dinner. Most Chinese eat family style. All of the food is placed on a Lazy Susan or rotating disc so everyone can share. Fresh dishes of fish, chicken, and pork were on the menu. There was plenty of cold beer to go around.
After dinner, I begged off and hit the hay. Annie joined her aunts and uncles for a night of mahjong. The following morning we headed to the ancient village for breakfast and a little exploration. Afterwards, we returned to Shanghai. Them by car and train, and me on my bike.
Xinchang Ancient Village
As one of Shanghai’s some ten or so nearby water towns, Xinchang provides a lot of old town charm. The cobbled streets, tiled roofs, and whitewashed walls give visitors a taste of old Shanghai.
Village architecture dates from the Ming (1368-1544) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties. Several arched stone bridges span the still canals running through the township. The famous Chinese film “Lust Caution” was filmed here. The labyrinth of small shops hocking snacks and trinkets interlaced with well-kept gardens and narrow alleys and walkways provide an interesting glimpse into a world that once was.
A Cuppa of Espresso
More and more Chinese coffee shops are offering quality espresso are popping up all around China. Being “the” original tea drinkers, Chinese people are gradually warming to coffee beverages. A short search along the ancient streets of Xinchang yielded an excellent coffee shop. As with many Chinese businessmen eager for business, the hip barista sporting a cropped ponytail allowed me to park my bike inside the courtyard so I could keep an eye on it.
A short search along the ancient streets of Xinchang yielded an excellent coffee shop. As with many Chinese businessmen eager for business, the hip barista sporting a cropped ponytail allowed me to park my bike inside the courtyard so I could keep an eye on it. In no time at all, I was sipping a hot cuppa and mixing with other daytrippers from Shanghai interested in checking out my bike.
Opportunity to Pre-Flighting Gear
Short adventures are a great opportunity to check out your rig in preparation for future forays further afield. Riding a loaded bike on short rides allows you to check the bike out and see how it rides. This way, there is time to tweak your set up before striking out on any bigger adventures.
I’m currently checking out a new set of Ortlieb Gravel Packs and a Quad Lock mount for my iPhone. They aren’t big changes to my set up, but I don’t want to get out on the road and encounter any issues with them. Additionally, I’m riding with a fully loaded rig (sans tripod). This is the same kit I carry on my furthermost adventures. Carrying all of my standard kit on shorter rides provides me an idea for how the bike will perform on longer ventures.
Get Your Ride On
It’s not so much where you ride, but that you ride. Fall weather is awesome for riding. Get a little adventure together and go. Tune up your kit and get it ready for bigger adventures. You’ll be surprised at what you discover.