It’s hard to believe it but I’m now familiar with many or most of the major routes in and around Zhoukou. I remember when I first arrived how confusing it seemed to go downtown or get anywhere in or out of the city. Taking a taxi ride I’d count the blocks and turns and look for landmarks in order to have an idea how to get back from where I was going. It didn’t help that the city is not laid out on a grid for the most part, and the river angles. That and never ending road construction kept me close to home until I got a bike. Then I stuck to easy, straight streets near campus with frontage road/cycle tracks.
Soon I realized I could use the Apple map on my Iphone, which even though unusable as a phone in China (it’s locked), I can still use the gps and a few other features when I have wifi. The map is not current as there are new and different streets now, but it was a relief to be able to find myself on a map and read the language, so getting lost wasn’t such a big deal anymore. That let me branch out, though by that time I’d already learned some good routes.
I have five favorite routes that loop me out different directions away from or around the city.
Today I rode my loop that takes me through Huaiyang, legendary final resting place of Fuxi and Nuwa, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuxi “originators” of the Chinese people, the I Ching and the Bagua. Sometimes I ride past his temple (a tourist attraction) and around the lake, complete with it’s stone dragon. Today was the first time I didn’t get at least a little lost going through the corner of Huaiyang. The ride is similar to going out to Eagle and back at about 47 km, except that it’s flat, paved and busy as opposed to taking gravel or limestone. It’s a beautiful ride through the country but in Henan province you never go far without passing through a village that I can tell. Coming back into Zhoukou I pass by a series of three going on four block-square market complexes that stretch on for a mile or so. They seem never to end, reminding me of the opening scene of Mel Brook’s movie Space Balls. Zhoukou Normal University’s modern and landscaped neighborhood is in the nearest corner of the city. Other than the somewhat hairy entrance, which reminds me of a third-world Cornhusker highway, it’s a pleasant ride with about 4,500 years of history. I’m still looking for routes that take me south and west. Who knows what more lies waiting to be discovered?