This time next week I’ll be back to teaching English and riding my bike around Zhoukou for another ten months. That was not originally the plan, but there was no one lined up to replace us, so I said I’d do it again, one more time. There are still many places I never got to see and explore, so now I’ll have the chance.
If you want to know more about anything in particular let me know, I may be able to write about it.
I’m trying to soak up all the blue skies I can before we leave because they aren’t so common back where we live in Henen province. Also the hills and gravel, though I got plenty of those riding Gravel Worlds, so that might hold me for a little while. For the first month or so back I still reflexively reached for my mask along with my helmet, now I’ll have to get used to using it again.
Another thing that will be different is seeing people out walking and riding without being encapsulated in their cars. One can ride or drive all the way across the city here without ever seeing a person walking on the sidewalk or using another form of non-car transportation.
Speeds will be lower, in part because of the many other forms of transportation mixed in, and part because of congestion and road surface.
There will be as many, or more, three-wheelers, scooters and bikes as cars. Our friend Tag, who came back with us to visit, told us that three-wheelers are called “bumpers” in China because their ride is so bumpy, having no suspension and going over rough roads.
Tag rode to Roca and Eagle with us and has found a group of cyclists in Shanghai to ride with. He’s studying to be an interpreter and hopes to create some sort of pub pedalers group there.
I do miss the levee roads and the wide rivers, goats and people out working their vegetable farms. Also, people in Henen tend to pass more time out-of-doors in general, playing cards or Chinese chess, selling food or goods and “square dancing” in the evenings. People tend to retire at an earlier age so many spend time at the “adult playgrounds” exercising on the equipment or just visiting if they aren’t taking care of grandchildren. These are the ones most likely to be seen still riding their old three-wheeled cargo bicycles.
I won’t look forward to the piles of trash and all the acrid burning of it in the winter months. I will look forward to riding with my cycling buddy Ding, who was away in Shengen last semester. It will be fun riding back to the pagoda near Xiaoyaozhen, Nuwa’s mausoleum, Huaiyang, and hopefully Luyi. Also, I hope to see Leaf Manor, currently under restoration and dating from the Qing dynasty. I will be scouring my maps trying to find more relics and points of interest, that are really there. I’ve found there are relics on my apple map that don’t actually exist, or have been built over.
Until then, keep your wheels turning and the rubber side down.