When the first warm beams of sunlight are falling on your face, while you are sipping your warm coffee and enjoying the view over the snow covered mountains it’s the perfect start for a bicycle day.
A few days ago we started our day like that. After breakfast we biked to a town called Dulan and bought some food for the next days. While searching for rice we met a fruit shop owner who gave us apples for free. Really nice! When we were done shopping we decided to change into our short biking outfit because the temperature was rising quickly. As we stood in front of a new building, trying to cover every bit of naked skin with sun lotion, a car arrived and a man with a huge camera jumped out. He greeted us and asked if he could take some photos. We smiled for the picture and turned our attention to the bikes again. Meanwhile two old and traditionally clothed man joined the photographer. He told them to stand next to us and more photos were taken. Now we noticed that this was something more than just a photo of crazy Europeans on bicycles. This was our second job as photo models. The new building was not any building, it was a new museum shortly before opening. We were guided into the Museum and had to act as visitors together with the two old man. A second photographer showed up and in the next 15 minutes every move of us in the museum was documented. We were wondering if we should quit our bike tour and start earning our money as models. But as our payment was just a warm handshake, we decided to carry on. Motivated we jumped on our bikes and reached the 3000 km point of our journey on the same day.
After renewing our visa in Lanzhou we have been heading west into the Tibetan Plateau. The visa renewal was surprisingly simple. Now we have until May 7th to reach Kirghistan!
In the next three days we will try to reach Golmud. The road to Golmud leads us through very remote mountain and desert areas. We are stocking up on food and water and are quiet excited for the days to come!
We’ll write some more lines about the visa renewal and our experiences on the Tibetan Plateau once we reach Golmud.
Cycling in the rain can be a nasty activity! It never takes long until the water finds its way past the rain jacket and pants. The vision is poor. Everything becomes muddy. If you pair up heavy rain with strong headwind you’ve got all the incrediants for a rather miserable day on the road!
Some days ago we experienced exactly such a day. Riding through the desert towards Lanzhou, rain and wind had teamed up against us. Beforehand we had many fantasies about riding through the desert – Rain was definitely not one of them!
But we were thought a valuable lesson on that day! Never judge the day before it’s actually over! Arriving in Yanchi, wet and tired, we were on the lookout for a cheap and dry place for the night. As we rolled by some stores a man and a large group of young lads in red overalls greeted us!
After a bit of laughing, gesturing, and trying to pronounce the Chinese word for Germany correctly we were invited inside for some hot tea. Very quickly they continued to offer us a hot pot of noodles. We couldn’t be any happier! After finishing up, the man, who apparently was the boss of this little company, escorted us to a small hotel. Happy to have found a warm shower and a dry place we thought the day was finally over…
But, wrong again! As we walked downstairs to get some snacks and a beer we met the company boss again, whose assistant asked us whether we could do his company a favour. Not quiet sure what to expect we were told that “the reason was propaganda”. Entering the business rooms of the little company we saw that the entire crew was still there, that the families had been called to have a look at the unusual guests, and that a local photographer had been hired.
Apperantly we were supposed to be featured in some marketing photos for the company’s products. As we agreed to our first jobs as models the fun began!
In some photos we accted as foreign experts, in others we were just requisites to give the company some international flair! The shooting included a good amount of laughing and everybody enjoyed themselves greatly!
Our salary consisted of a good amount of snacks, salad, meat, and beer! What a wonderful way to end this long day!
…fully story to come soon.
While writing this blog entry we are sitting on the top of a mountain near Shuangshanzi. We have been cycling for two days now, starting in Qinhuangdao, were the smog was so thick that we had difficulties to find the ocean. By touching the waves of the paific ocean we officially started our trip! By sunset of the first day we finally found a little spot were we could set up our tents. At first we had a hard time to find sleep as quiet a few cars were driving up a small dirtbroad nearby and people were shouting through the night. The next morning we packed up early to leave without being seen.
We were very happy as the smog had vanished over night and the sun cheered us up as we got our bikes ready for the long haul. The cycling today was almost to good to be true. Passing by the Great Wall, little traffic, good roads, and some photo shooting with the locals made our day.
We are leaving in three days! It’s almost unreal how quickly the last weeks have passed. Today we fitted our bikes into the airplane boxes and packed our bags, finished some more items on the shopping list, and also got to enjoy some great food and excellent weather.
We’ll be heading to Frankfurt early on Thursday to catch our flight to China around noon. We hope to spend the first days doing some sightseeing in Beijing before then heading for the coast to start our bike trip.
Both of us are really excited for taking off! We are exited for the people we are going to meet, for the landscapes, and just all the unknown things ahead! Certainly we are both a bit nervous, but in a good way. After all those months of preparations we are now finally ready to go ride our bikes for a while!
Here comes a little update on the recent events. The good news are, we both are finally done with our exams for this semester. Now Florian only has one term paper left and Johannes is in the process of finishing up his Bachelor thesis.
In the meantime we have applied for our Chinese visa. We should hear from the consulate in the next couple days. We are really looking forward to that.
Furthermore we are both in the process of getting the needed vaccinations. Shots against rabies, Japanese encephalitis, Typhus… to name only a few.
Slowly but steadily our To-Do lists are getting shorter and we are starting to get more excited from day to day!
In the last months we had spent a lot of time thinking about which bicycles to use for this trip. We wanted several requirements to be fulfilled: of course our bicycles needed to be very sturdy, fairly easy to maintain and repair, while still being affordable. This meant we wanted a bike featuring, among others, a steal frame, 26” wheels, and solid components for the drivetrain.
After consideration of many producers and specific bikes we settled on the VSF Fahrradmanufaktur TX-400. A bicycle promising to fulfill most of the above terms while still coming at a very reasonable price.
The TX-400 features a 25 CrMo 4 steel frame, a mix of XT and Deore Components, as well as Tubus racks. It is furthermore equipped with a Shimano hub dynamo which we intend to connect with an USB-Werk to keep our electronic devices charged.
So far we are both very happy with the bikes and we are hoping they will get us far!