As it turns out riding from Zhoukou to Luyi , philosopher Lao Tze’s https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laozi hometown here in Henan province is like riding to Omaha from Lincoln, about 100 kilometers. Last week we had a fall break for Golden Week, China’s anniversary of nationhood. We didn’t travel much because it seems everyone else does, and in China that’s reason enough to stay home. It wasn’t a total bust however, as we got in some rides, did little sight seeing, got together with some great people and ate some great food. Our friend Wade (his English name) had invited us to his hometown so we took him up on his offer. I biked and Steve rode in Wade’s car as his bike isn’t up to the task.
We made the trip on short notice and forgot our passports when we heard there might be rain rolling in later. That’s a problem when you want to get a room at a hotel or enter some tourist attractions. Luckily Wade was able to use his ID so we could do these things. I didn’t have any trouble navigating after getting the basic directions, but in Huaiyang I did have to stop to study my map, causing a group of schoolgirls to surround me wanting selfies. That’s a hazard anywhere I go as they’ve apparently seen very few westerners, especially with my coloring. There are hundreds of pictures of me already floating around China from the last time I was here two years ago, and many already from this year, most taken on the sly. A little further on while still looking for the way to highway G311, I showed a bus driver a slip of paper with the number on it and he gestured up ahead and to the right. It worked. I got out of town and was on my way to Sitongzhen where I would pick up another highway. There are villages everywhere you go in Henan province, China’s most populous at 100 million, and I kept wondering “is this it?” Eventually I did get there, the largest town on that leg. While stopping to check the turn off, a woman with a baby couldn’t help herself and asked me to hold the baby so she could take a picture. I was off again for the last leg after refilling water and buying bananas when who rolls up behind me but Steve and Wade!
Only 45 km to go so they went ahead to make arrangements and I rolled into Luyi about 4 ½ hours after leaving Zhoukou. The hotel was on the other side of the city so after meeting up they escorted me across town in my own lane, which was definitely easier and more fun than battling traffic on my own. After a shower and a change it was time to meet Wade’s family for dinner (and more photos), some having traveled home from as far as Shanghai for Golden Week and walked along the lit up riverfront. The next morning we did some sight seeing at Laozi’s Temple and around Luyi before lunch and the trip back. I had mentioned to my riding buddy Ding that I was making the trip so he rode up and met me 10km outside of Sitongzhen. It was fun to ride with someone after so much time solo in the saddle and he knew a shortcut through Huaiyang that bypassed traffic and took us directly to the lake where we took a break watching a silly herd of goats and then taking in the wetlands boardwalk over the largest lotuses I’ve ever seen.
It was a straight shot back to Zhoukou from there, arriving at dusk. Although the roads are all hard surfaced and flat, not my normal choices for a ride, it’s always interesting to experience life here from the perspective of a bicycle. I know I’m getting to know the area in a very different way than I would have been able to otherwise.