Breaking snow on an early winter morning. Pedaling in near silence. Not a sound save for my panting breath and the snow crunching under my wheels. Still air. Not a single leaf rustling or a snowflake falling. Not another soul to be found. I have the ride to myself. The emptiness, the silence moves me as I pedal on. Times like these are special. They’re moments for adventure, small opportunities while living life in the normal world.
Destination: Anhui province and the misty mountains of Huangshan or Yellow Mountain. In China, adventure is always near. Hopping a high-speed train with your bike in a bag will take you southwest to the city of Jinhua, which is located in the middle of mountainous Zhejiang province. From there, it’s a couple of days ride to the Huangshan national park on twisty mountain roads that transit some of the most stunning scenery to be found in China.
Continual travel is a way to keep the dream alive. Time on this rock is limited and everyday reality has a nasty way of interfering with one’s dreams if you’re not careful. Seems the wolf is always at the door. Big adventures in New Zealand and central Asia are still on the distant horizon. Shorter adventures must fill the gaps in between. The close proximity and easy access to the emerald mountains of Anhui offer the perfect adventure fix.
The great thing about China is an adventure is always near. As the longest continuous civilization on the face of the earth, there is always someplace to go, something to see. It was time to let the spirit run and see what there was to see. Destination: the coastal fishing village of Za Pu in Zhejiang province on the north shore of Hangzhou Bay.
After kissing my wife and daughter on the cheek, I pedaled my bike out the compound gate and down the street in a southerly direction. Gradually the concrete, steel, and glass of Shanghai fell away behind me. Traffic congestion easied and the riding became more relaxed. I considered the importance of time, our most precious resource. When the opportunity presents itself, ride.
When it comes down to it, there is nothing between you and your dreams but thin air and opportunity. And more times than not, it’s about working up the guts to go and just doing it.
As a child, I never thought it possible to have the opportunity to travel the world in search of adventure in exotic faraway lands. As with most kids in small town America, I grew up believing my life was about getting a job, paying a mortgage, and living a “normal” life that eventually led to a quiet retirement and old age.
Adventure Close to Home
With commitments and obligations keeping me in the city for a few months before the next long adventure, I’d been yearning to get out on the bike again.
The milder and warmer spring weather around Shanghai was beginning to provide excellent opportunities to get out on the bike for local adventures.
It was time to get out the bike and explore some of the sights in around the city to “see what could be seen.” After all, in China, a country with over five thousand years of written history, surely there was something to be discovered and explored.
Practically anywhere you go in China, the Chinese people have a rich, robust culture foreign to Westerners, which makes for interesting places to see and experience. [Read more…] about Going Local: Exploring the Watertown of Qibao
Peering from atop of the ruined stone ramparts that once marked the edge of known civilization for the Han Chinese through the morning haze out across the vast and intimidating mountains to the north, one could not help but imagine life in the Chinese dynasties and the harrowing experiences imperial soldiers must have faced defending the Middle Kingdom against the savage marauding warrior trips of the Xiongnu sweeping down from the hinterlands of the Eurasian Steppe to visit havoc and destruction on the cultivated and ordered Han society.
Free of the thick, jaundiced air, congested streets, oppressive heat, and clogged tourist attractions of Beijing, rugged highlands to the north of China’s capital lend themselves to an unfettered exploration of the Great Wall of China and its ancient ruined ramparts ensconced atop of forbidding mountain ridges blocking hostile encroachment from the north.
Prizing authenticity over the highly commercialized “Disneyland” experience the more popular and overcrowded tourist destination Badaling has to offer, one can hire a car and head for the lesser traveled sections of the Great Wall that stand above the village of Mutianyu located about 70 some odd kilometers north of Beijing.
Escape the thickening jaundiced air, congested streets, oppressive heat, and clogged tourist attractions of Beijing. Search the ruined ramparts atop of forbidding mountains blocking the Eurasian Steppe to the north. Clamber among the scattered stones of the “wild walls” of the Changcheng or the Long Wall as the Chinese know it. [Read more…] about Exploring China’s “Wild Wall”
My bags are packed. The Divide is ready to roll. Distant horizons of the burnt red sun of the Australian Outback call.
Setting up a bike and kit for a long journey is an ongoing ever evolving process of tweaking and changing, deleting this and adding that. For me, it’s just the nature of the beast.
Setting up my rig and kit for Australia was a pretty casual affair. In the Land Down Under, I’m rolling fairly light and not over thinking the gear. Other than protection from the elements, a few items to keep the bike rolling, and a camera and notebook to document the journey, not much more is needed.