China Day 1
After a long flight from the UK I am finally here in china and with a 2 hour coach trip to our stop off hotel which is a bit basic but will suffice after the long journey. The hotel is actually next to the great wall of china so we actually got to wall along it for 15 mins before we started the ride in earnest.
On the bike Day 1 was an easy days ride mostly flat and only 37 miles long. The weather is great we had 30 degrees today with a little wind. There are only 10 of us doing this ride so a nice small group to get to know. One of the guys I meet on the Jordan ride, Paul, is also doing this ride so I’ve buddied up with him as a familiar face. We stopped at a nice lunch stop where I was able to take a cable lift, 2 seater job, up to a Buddha statue with some nice views to take pictures of.
After lunch we cycled to a lake side hotel which is better than the one we started in but not quite as scenic, but it has hot water, better than the first one which didn’t so I’m not going to complain. Anyway, tomorrow we start heading into the mountains so it starts to get a bit hillier but living in Scotland this doesn’t bother me.
China Day 2
Well today was the first of the difficult days where we would be cycling up some hills. There were 4 in total not too bad from my point of view, 1100m being the highest one to climb. So up at 06:30 for a 07:00 breakfast and a 08:00 start on the ride about the usual with all these rides. Some flat riding to the first hill then up it, down a little bit the up the second hill but this one wasn’t as bad and we stopped for lunch after it. I can’t say I’m enjoying the food that much I was never a big fan of Chinese food and over here the food doesn’t really taste that good to me, everyone else seems to like it. This causes a slight issue in that what little I can eat isn’t really enough for me to cycle comfortably with so I’m left feeling hungry most of the time.
Anyway after lunch we tackled the last 2 hills and then it was basically flat for about 15 miles to the end by which point in time I was looking forward to it. Have to say the weather has been quite hot around the 25 – 35 degrees depending on the time of the day and I’ve got a little sun burnt, need to be a bit more generous with the sun cream.
China Day 3
So we started off the day with a decent breakfast which actually included fried eggs and coffee, coffee is hard to come by over here :-(. Anyway after breakfast it started to rain which is surprising considering all the rides I have done over the years it’s never rained, even the LEJOG it didn’t rain and this is in the UK! Thankfully it wasn’t heavy but did require some wet gear for the first couple hours or so of the ride. By lunch time it had cleared up and then it started to warn up and get sunny. There were a couple of hills in the ride today but not as many as yesterday and the distance was about the same around 60 miles, the last 10 being mostly downhill as we came off the hills down to the hotel. I think today has been a good day and tomorrow is supposed to be the toughest day and the last day the easiest, these rides always seems to fly bye so quickly :-(.
China Day 4
Well it’s been another good day of cycling with some good hills to begin with and a spectacular road to finish with. The day started as usual with breakfast at 07:00 but at least there wasn’t any rain to start with, and then on to the bikes. We were starting with the hill climbs at the begging of the ride rather than at the end of the ride, which I much prefer anyway. There were 2 hill climbs and great ones there were, right through some amazing mountains. We were tackling some switchbacks but the gradient wasn’t too steep so the climbs were quite easy. The second hill climb lead to a great lookout point up some stairs where I got some great photos. It was then onto the downhills which were long and fast with some twisty bits and into a little village for lunch, which was quite good today, and I needed the food as I was quite hungry from the hill climbing.
We then carried on with a gradual downward section and then onto a long flat road that no cars seem to use but it was great for cycling along. I think all in all this was my best day of cycling.
China Day 5
So it’s the last day and again its flown by too quickly, need to find longer rides :-). Anyway today was a short half day ride to the Great Wall where we finished our ride, it was only 29 miles and on flat roads. The last 1k was up to the actual wall itself this was the only challenge we had that day and it was fairly easy to do.
Once there we had a quick drink of some Chinese sparkling wine and a group photo at which point we had 45 mins to walk along the wall before we caught a bus to Beijing. You can’t really get very far in 45 mins as there are a lot of stairs to climb up some very steep slopes. But I was able to get some great photos on top of one of the parapets. Don’t think I sweated so much on the bike ride as I did climbing the stairs on the Wall.
Beijing is very busy the coach journey took 3 hours! For something like 80 miles but since it was rush hour we spent a lot of that time just stuck in traffic Anyway we made it to the hotel by 18:45 which gave us an hour to get showered and changed for the evening meal. I have to say I think this was the best meal night so far the food they put out I actually liked! The rest of the night was for the foot massage but since I have ticklish feet I gave this one a miss. There was supposed to be a guided tour tomorrow but that was cancelled so we have been left to our own devices tomorrow.
Sightseeing day, and a long day it was. Thankfully breakfast was at 09:00 so a little sleep in was in order, and a good breakfast it was with cereal, sausage, scrambled egg and coffee. Then at around 09:45 we caught a taxi to Tiananmen square, which is huge! So we walked the length of this to get to the forbidden city where we caught our guide for the tour around it. Again the forbidden city is huge so it took us a couple of hours to get around this, where in we went to a tea house and a calligraphy house, both of which were outrageously expensive to buy stuff from so I didn’t. It was then onto lunch and what a nice little restaurant it was, where I was able to get burger and chips in fact none of the group bought any Chinese food.
After lunch we walked back to Tiananmen Square and caught a taxi back to the hotel to the evening celebration meal. The celebration meal was at a restaurant where we were served Peking duck and a lot of other stuff that I didn’t recognise but actually tasted quite good. It was then back to the hotel bar for some drinks which we had to buy for a supermarket as the hotel bar had closed Anyway we stayed up till 01:00 by which time we were all tired and went to bed.
So rounds up another charity bike ride for this year as is all too often they go by so quick and now I need to start organising next year’s one which will be in Vietnam and Cambodia again, to celebrate my fifth anniversary of doing these rides.