Limping into the Promised Land
Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
360Trip End Aug 21, 2011
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Looking back on today ( its now Sunday, we were absolutely in no fit state to write anything yesterday!) I can't believe we made it. We had to drag ourselves out of bed and back onto the road for 9.30. A difficult task, knowing we were starting with 2.5 unnecessary miles uphill. They did at least warm us up however, and back on the highway we saw that actually we were 3 miles closer to Kunming than we had thought – excellent.
This days ride was not fun however, we constantly felt under pressure to keep pedalling fast to make sure that we made the city by dark. We were expecting hills as we knew from the guide book that Kunming was at 2000m, and so we were expecting to at least have a big climb at the end. We made fairly good progress for the first 25miles although Mikey’s knee was really hurting him and I had to cycle with a flat tyre for the last 2km
After this point, things really went downhill ( not literally unfortunately) and first Mikey got a puncture, using our last new inner tube, and then we hit a huge ascent. My bike felt like I cycling through treacle and my legs and lungs were burning . Mikey got really far ahead before he realised and when he waited he noticed that one reason for my discomfort was another PUNCTURE!!! We didn’t have anymore spare tubes so he said I had to cycle the 2km uphill to the next service station where we could get a bucket of water and hopefully some food. Uphill with a puncture is no fun at all we were gutted when not only was there no water at the service station, but no food either!
We managed to find the tiny hole in the tube after I used some Gick ingenuity and cut a water bottle into a trough to hold the last of our drinking water and dunk the tube. Despite cycling over loads of broken glass on the hard shoulder, the last 6 punctures in China have all been caused by tiny strips of metal like staples. We’ve no idea why they’re on the road, but they’re impossible to see and a nightmare to find in the tyre and then extract
We were no extremely short on time, and definitely not going to get to Kunming in time to see the women’s Australian Open final. We were hoping Li Na was going to win. (She didn’t!). Anyway there wasn’t too much uphill, and we eventually reached a tollgate before the city, thinking we were 6 miles from the promised land. They told us it was another 20k which was pretty gutting, but it was actually mostly down hill or flat. As we reached the outskirts of the enormous city, we realised that we must have cycled to well above 2000m on our journey from Chengdu, (at 500m). No wonder it was so cold, and we are so very exhausted.
The 6 mile ride through the city to our hotel was fun and we were excited to see our first non-chinese person for 12 days. Arriving at the Camellia Hotel, we got into a funny conversation with the receptionist, who kept offering us more and more discounts for rooms, when we were just trying to get a bigger and better one than she had shown us. She really didn’t understand that we had cycled for 12 gruelling days to get here and didn't care how much a room cost as long as it was luxurious! In the end we got a lovely double suite for £22. It even has a bath which was absolute heaven. I had to shower as well though as the water was black by the time I finished.
Clean and revived we found the last of our clean clothes and set off into town to find the pizza and white wine we had been fantasising about for days. We found the perfect place next door, and ended up having 3 courses and a bottle of wine – exactly what we needed! We’ve definitely not been as ridiculously physically drained by two weeks before though. We even had to sit on cushions in the restaurant as our bottoms were so sore!