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Topic: Xinjiang Cycling Tour

Posted on: 18th Nov 2012 11:37 PM    Quote and Reply




Day 4 - Taklamakan : Soldiering On

We trundled forward despite the biting windchill.  The endless roads got more challenging - with counteless upslopes that didn't necessarily led to a downslope.  So it was up - flats - up - flats - up throughout the day.  Chills were replaced by the desert heat once the sun turned on its boilers.  Navigating through cracked bitumen, stone chips and drifting sands, and secretly hoping trucks would come from our behinds to generate slipstreams to pull us forward.

The Type R (the Retirees) proved their mettle in their experience and training.  Sticking to medium gearing throughout but with much higher cadence, they pulled away every time we hit the flats.  In general, they were about 20 minutes ahead of us (that's at least 7km at our speed).  Drafting behind them taught me something - I do not need to let other decide my pace and risk suffering a meltdown.  I need to decide and follow my own pace with measured incremental steps, even if it means riding alone.  It's my life afterall.

Saddle sore starts creeping in, arms began to ache, neck began to stiffen, and mind started to get lulled and whitewashed by the featureless backdrop surrounding us.  More breaks along the way became necessary, and giving pep-talks to our quavering legs got frequent.  Still we soldiered on to our next checkpoint.  We spent the night at a pump room for recovery, downing 白酒 and pinned our ears to the crews waxing lyrical over Chinese political yarns while witnessing the Milky Way amidst the sea of stars.  It was as stirring as it was surreal.
 

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Posted on: 18th Nov 2012 11:47 PM    Quote and Reply




Day 5 - Taklamakan : 穿塔。逐沙


Yet another day spent between freezing and thawing while reeling in the desert highway.  WIth our throttles opened, we were breathing in dust and sand.  The sun continued its scorched-earth policy while we sweat dirt from every pore.  We had sand in our mouths, sand in our hair, sand in every orifice and sand in my point-and-shoot camera sensor.

Heck, we even had sand in our riding shorts.  Don't ask how; we didn't know either.

We passed by local tourists on their 双十节 and workers from 重庆, 河南 and 四川.  After they realised where we came from, they took group shots with us, queried "为舍你们花钱找罪受?" and egged us on.  We didn't had a rational answer to that other than to 息尘心.

We then arrived at a sweeping downhill section stretching for kilometers where we witnessed the desert's shifting sand at its best.  Riding straight into the vortex of a swirling cyclone of sand a meter high is enough to throw one's balance off if you're caught off-guard.  And that is not a good proposition considering we're barreling down at more than 50kmph.

Finally at about 6pm, we approached the end of the highway, face and limbs caked with sand.  It was a relief since our behinds no longer felt attahced.  Both sore and numb, we slumped back as we reminisce what we have accomplished.
 

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Posted on: 18th Nov 2012 11:56 PM    Quote and Reply




Day 6 - Minfeng : 穿塔。逐沙 - 圆满成功!

It has been a humbling experience after witnessing the vastness of the desert, bewildered by its boundless sand dunes, and endless roads that stretch further than our eyes could see.  We encountered a rough 70% cross-wind, and the rest a mix of tail- and headwinds.  Overall average speed was 22kmph, while our max was just shy of 58kmph.  Not too bad an achievement considering our standards.

Our overall lack of training began to show especially towards the end where we stopped every 10 to 20 km to nurse our sore behinds.  Despite these, we couldn't help but feel totally alive as we were conscious of every breath we sucked in, count every pedal stroke uphill, feel every twitch on the handlebar, and grimaced at every vibration that shot through the seatpost.

Tracing back from we came from, we looked in disbelief and couldn't imagine we did it.  Like all adventures, it began at a crossroad in life, and being exposed on the barren roads in such raw vulnerability is deliberate; one that transcends common logic and reasoning.  But it turned out to be our most sublime and soaring experience, yielding new friendships and acquiring new tastes.  And being the first Singapore team to cross this desert on organic-powered two-wheelers is exhilarating.  Indeed, it is a mini-milestone etched in our lives and a micro-adventure in its own right, one which we can always revisit with delight.

The desert has become my compass - featureless as it may be - for freedom has become my bearing.

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Posted on: 19th Nov 2012 12:01 AM    Quote and Reply




To FoesZZ who first poisoned me into MTB, and Horseman who willingly shared his immense wealth of knowledge in overseas riding, here's my utmost appreciation.

And finally, thanks for reading.
 

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Posted on: 31st Jan 2013 11:35 PM    Quote and Reply


Congratulations! What an experience eh? Years later, you may still get flashbacks


Go where you've not been to in life. Cycle.
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Posted on: 4th Feb 2013 10:21 PM    Quote and Reply


Hi Kevin, thanks.  
Yup, it's really an unforgettable surreal experience.  So much so I'm now toying with another trip to Tibet/Nepal!  

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