It Feels Like Years Since It’s Been Here

By Stephen Ewashkiw | November 14, 2013

7,731 km so far.

Finally, after three weeks without sunshine, it returned. There, above the not-so-thick layer of dullness was the sun! I thought it had abandoned us, and was unsure what we had done to hurt its feelings, but it’s back. We spent most of the day riding in t-shirts and shorts, enjoying the feel of warm sun on our skin.

As we headed out of Yichang we rode along the Yangtze for the first 15 km. The city has done a terrific job revitalising the waterfront. Between the road and the river was an exquisite park, filled with people dancing, walking, singing, ribbon dancing, playing traditional music, and generally enjoying this magnificent morning.

It’s amazing how your perspective can change with a bit of sunshine. It reminds me why everyone (OK, not everyone) in Los Angeles has a smile on their face.

Long Haul Truckin’

We are heading to the town of Chibi over the next few days, but it is more than 300 km away. To get us there quickly we have planned three days with more than 100 km cycling each. Our bikes, made by Surly, are designed for just this sort of work. They are called, after all, Long Haul Truckers.

We rode through ferociously fertile flatlands today.

Fertile flatlands in the delta of a Yangtze tributary.

Fertile flatlands in the delta of a Yangtze tributary.

We saw piles and piles of oranges waiting to be boxed up, strawberries and fresh green coconuts for sale by the side of the road, and row upon endless row of various leafy greens, teas, and yams.

And we rode.

Taking a brief breather on the way to Jianzhou, Hubei Province.

Taking a brief breather on the way to Jianzhou, Hubei Province.

By 5pm we were exhausted, but we’d managed to cover 128 km of ground. We’d pre-booked a Home Inn room in Jingzhou, so didn’t have to go through the normal routine of finding a hotel, seeing the room, bargaining for a price, and so on. We were just able to roll up, check-in, and load our bikes into our room. This is quite refreshing, and I wish we were able to do it more often, especially after these long rides.

All We Can Eat

After riding our bikes 128 km today we were tired and hungry. I was pleasantly surprised to find out there was a vegan restaurant in town. The only thing better for vegan cyclists than a vegan restaurant, after a marathon of a day’s ride, is a vegan all-you-can-eat buffet. And this is exactly what we found at LianXin SuCaiGuan.

The restaurant is just outside the gates to the Zhanghua Temple, and for $4 USD (¥ 25) each we were able to eat as much as we wanted, knowing everything was animal-free. They even had sesame seed and chilli encrusted cold thin potato wedges that were astoundingly delicious.

The weather forecast says the sun’ll come out tomorrow. I wouldn’t bet my bottom dollar, but it will be nice if it’s true.

Soundtrack: Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP2 | Brakes, The Beatific Visions | Systema Solar, Systema Solar | Calexico, Algiers | Common Prayer, Frame The River | Radiolab podcast  

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