Trip Start Aug 05, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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What I did
Giant Shop!

Flag of China  , Guangxi Zhuangzu Zizhiqu,
Monday, June 25, 2012

Been an exciting week to say the least.  "From Utah to Hangzhou" was "featured" for the cover page of they're site for nearly a week.   Hundreds of thousands saw my site.  As a result:  this blog has had the most readers EVER in one week and might make 1000 readers for the month! 

     Ok I'm bragging.  But I do spend many hours per week writing and re-writing, editing, taking pictures, trying to include useful content into this blog so it is not some self-serving drivel.  {yet it often is just that}

I prefer to blog on Travelpod because I can give helpful info to fellow travelers, bike riders, newcomers to China and new teachers,  many have written me in appreciation.   I tend to write better if I have a serious purpose behind it,  but I am sure that it lapses into the "Ego" realm from time to time.  Please be patient.

This week started with the above excellent news.

   Soon the mood turned to crap.  I got a call from my boss that I had to sign some new addendum to the contract:  "to state what happens to my remains in case I die"!!!   She told me that this was due to a high blood pressure reading which was taken by the "Hangzhou Hospital"  (11 MONTHS AGO?)     Since then, I have been working out and my numbers are low..   I felt they were re-negotiating my contract,  which one does not do after I move to their campus!    I was wrong.  Turns out that the State "Communist Party" officials, who are in charge of giving foreigners permission to live here,  saw the old blood pressure numbers and made this addendum a requirement to getting my residence permit.   Nothing personal at all.  This had nothing to do with my beloved University.   Once I realized that my Employer has honorable,    it was ok.   So I signed the form.  It was quite vague and just said that the University and not the government was responsibile for my rather ample corpse;  should the unthinkable happen.   Just cremate me or toss me into a river,  I really do not care about this.

I spent the rest of the week gearing up my new bike into a strong touring bike.   I paid 1400 RMB for a well-known Taiwanese built entry level bike.   A "Merida" "Warrior 560",   Strong frames, and cheap tires and components,  but it would do.   Modifications will be in order.

My old friend "Eric" who owns a "Merida" shop in Hangzhou,  sent me a solid, lightweight, front fork, (a "Mosso"),  which replaced the stock, crappy, fork (shock) that was too low and fully compressed due to my weight.  I took this to the shop, where I bought the "Merida"  (farmers and traditional bike shop mainly)  and they act like they can't put the new high-tech "Mosso" brand fork on the bike they sold me.  They can however:  recommend which "bucket" to buy for slopping the hawgs.

I call my friend "Eric" who knows Merida bikes, who tries to talk to these bumpkins:  They just argued that it wasn't possible to replace to the crappy stock front shock with the well-made fork that Eric sent me.   Eric owns a dealership for this type of bicycle and they won't listen to him?Maddening!  They also said there was no way to raise my handlebars and the mechanic said they they had no rack for the back of the bike (which they did have).   "Eric" who is also Chinese said "they might not be trained to work on modern bikes".  "Eric" was being very kind in only saying this.

    I finally took the bike home and tried to install the fork myself;  which was a huge mistake, since a bunch of washers, spacers, and bearings fell out and I didn't know the order in which to put them back properly.  I guess I am an old school "Farm mechanic" myself LOL!  But I knew of no other bike shops in this town....

So the next day,  I return to the "Hee Haw" bike shop (and hardware store),  and they did put the original piece of crap fork on the bike and stated that the handlebars could not be raised.  They are kind folks and didn't even charge me.  Dumb but honest.  The lady of the place was the most helpful and intelligent of them all and DID find me a well-made rack for the back of the bike.  She wanted me for a customer I guess.   The shop people  just didn't understand how to modify anything modern.   Instead they said,    "Your too Fat"  which is the excuse many local numbties often give when they can't figure out a way around a problem.   It's a cultural thing.. "You should have bought the more expensive model"  was their other excuse.   I've been though this before and I just smile and take it...   Nothing new.

   Yet no one had the ability to modify a stock bicycle?.  Amazes me..  modern bikes are all about modifications????   The ones who sold me the bike didn't point out that the miserable front shock was weak and couldnt be adjusted BEFORE I bought it?  Nope...  "I was fat".   "I should have paid for their more expensive model".   It is "MY" fault.    Hell I knew everything about the bike,  I just wanted to replace the weak components.   Dummies!   

So I did just that!

I left the lame bike shop still with cheesy front fork,  but I still liked the bike.  So I drove around my new city for another 20 minutes, figured I would find a decent bike shop in Guilin or another big city and get it worked on there..

 .. AND THEN I SAW  "IT!" ,  gleaming in the sun, like the woman in the movie "The Natural",  right before Robert Redford, belted a home run that smashed all the lights and put the evil bastards back into their places!   THERE IT WAS!!!!.  A real modern "GIANT" (high quality famous bike shop)!   It was small but with modern bikes like the one I just bought! and the shop has TWO good mechanics,  that didn't only work on "Flying Pigeon" and "Forever" brand traditional bikes.  They knew how to work on the modern world stuff as well!  They knew what a "Sunflower" (see last picture) is.    Mechanics have changed since when I was a kid for sure.   But please don't sell the bike if you can't work on it.   

    Within one hour, this "Giant"  shop,  replaced the shock with the hi-tech aluminum solid fork (2 kilo's lighter),  and changed my handlebars with an adjustable neck--to where I can ride as upright or low as I wish to.   I even bought custom 100 Kwai handgrips,  a speedo-meter/odometer/computer,  decent brake pads,  water racks, and a touring set of rear pannier luggage bags which they promptly installed as well. 

  Now my bike is ready to hit the road!!!   These baby can carry me for thousands of kilometers now in comfort and will last much longer.  I'm ready to RIDE! :This is the feeling that a bike shop should give you.   I spent a bit of money there in appreciation.   None of this.  "We can't help you,  you are fat".  hahahahaha!

The shop owner is also well educated, speaks good English, and is a heck of a nice guy.  His shop also runs a group ride every Saturday.   The owner also teaches where I teach so I met a friend and colleague who is closer to my age than my student friends.   This shop was a godsend in this small country town.  I will bring him all my business and all the business of the friends I ride with.  I am quite loyal to a place that is loyal to me.   Hope all travelers on bike will contact me when in the area,  I will put you in touch with this shop!

I want to leave on a multi-day tour of the Guangxi region in a couple weeks.  Just got to get my endurance up a little and my ride dialed in....   First shakedown ride will be tomorrow...

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Beverly Thornbury on

Really enjoyed this blog and as far as the bike dilemna ..Alls well that ends well..

Am having some good China discussions with one of my college grandson because of the things I am learning from you..Great lessons..Must be because you are "fat' ..Haaaahaaa

Joanne on

Good post by your friend, Beverly!

Gary on

Glad you found someone who knows what is going on with the bike. Now you can ride it yo Texas ! Be safe.

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