April 11, 2013
Distance: 44.7 miles Climbing: 3139.8 ft
It was raining when we woke up. We thought it really funny that the only day it really rains is our very last day of biking in Asia. We put on raincoats and covered our bike seats with plastic bags before heading out for some coffee, real coffee, not Nescafe. We found a trendy looking café and pointed to the only item on the menu in English, “espresso”. That was perfect with us as we both enjoy our coffee black. What was delivered with not even close to espresso. We were handed two 20oz cups filled with warm milk and maybe a dash of coffee to give it some color. Chandler and I were flabbergasted. Don’t know how that happened.
Chandler finished his milk drink and I donated mine to the trashcan, we headed out of town. Chan was heard to be saying “milk was a bad choice.” The road was empty for several miles. We passed through farm lands growing wheat and eventually found ourselves climbing again. Right as the hill was starting, we saw a huge puff of dust and then the traffic started piling up ahead of us. As we rolled up we saw a huge truck filled with rocks that had flipped over on our side of the road. The trail of fluid leading up the road implied that the brakes had gone out and the driver drove himself off the road and luckily hit a big pile of soft gravel on the shoulder which slowed things down pretty quick. The driver was already out of cab wandering around, and a nearby excavator was already on the way over to clear it off the road, just another day on the road in China. Thank goodness we weren’t in there a few minutes earlier.
The road climbed and climbed up through trees and little towns. We were on a route filled with people learning to drive. We have seen scores of these little cars, usually VW Santanas with exclamation point decals on the back packed with 5 or 6 students and a grumpy looking old man. Every so often, the car would pull over and a teenager would hop out of the driver’s seat to trade places with another teenager, who then drove off, honking the whole time. Chandler got a huge kick out of telling me that it was referred to as a “regular fire drill” here. The hill kept going up forever when we finally noticed wind turbines dotting the summit and knew we were done. We had one last downhill all the way into town.
We rolled into town and went to the first place any American would go: the Walmart! We considered camping out, but weren’t sure if the Chinese knew about Walmart’s parking lot camping policy. We got a quick snack and headed back out of town. We had not realized that old Dali City is 10km outside of new Dali City, but we thrilled that were was actually a bike path the entire way.
Old Dali City turned out to be a dream. It was SUPER touristy, and pretty much as stereotypical as it could get, but for some reason we loved it. The main city was surrounded by stone walls studded with towers with ornate ancient looking roofs. We found the MCA guesthouse close to the center of town but off the main road, so it was quiet and very peaceful. They had a huge storage area for the bikes and Chandler was able to haggle the price down to fit our budget. Then we found a restaurant which served pizza, burgers and homebrewed beer. We celebrated our last day of riding with shots of belly warming scotch and completely blowing the budget on dinner.