We’ll be leaving Zhoukou in a week, so I’ve been trying to ride to the places I want most to visit before we go. Student friend “Taggy”, who visited us in Lincoln last summer just returned from a semester in England, so I rode to his small hometown to say hello, an 84 mile round-trip. His uncle of course wanted to drive me back to Zhoukou. Non-cyclists don’t really understand why we do it. It was amusing to see how big his parent’s eyes got when they saw me at their shop, and even funnier when Tag showed up. After a water re-fill, some snacks and some chit-chat with Tag as interpreter, it was time to head back if I was going to make it home before the heat got really oppressive. It’s been in the upper 90’s this past week.
I discovered a county road that paralleled the highway back to a much better alternative, but unfortunately the trees which usually line these roads had been logged and the new ones hadn’t grown enough to provide shade. That and the headwind made it a bit of a slog. After a tofu skin pita followed by a coffee at Dicos I was ready to face the levee road. It was even rougher than last time, but mercifully under the trees.
On the way out of town I had seen the dragon boat race crews out practicing in the early morning for today’s Dragon Boat Festival. Today is race day, and I don’t know if the races took place or not. I don’t think anyone would have gone if they had to stand in the rain. People here seem to have a particular aversion to getting wet. I commonly see people riding scooters and bikes while holding umbrellas, if they don’t have a rain cape on. Scooters often are equipped with sun/rain roofs. Most people, especially women, are well covered up from the sun with jackets, “aprons” and mitts even on the hottest days.
Yesterday’s year-end social obligations meant that I had to squeeze in a ride before noon on my other long-ride day of the week. There was an area up north I hadn’t explored properly, so off I went. There were some wonderfully shady roads, but they turned into a tangled web of inter-connecting village roads and non-connecting county roads to remind me why I hadn’t done this before. A similar thing happened Thursday evening trying out a new way back from Huaiyang. The village road ran out and I ended up in the middle of a wheat field, once again dragging my bike through the stubble. At least it was a beautiful evening.
We’ll see what rides I can fit in this week around the remaining final exams, packing, and unannounced social gatherings. We’ll have a week in Japan before flying back to the U.S.. Japan is supposed to have some wonderful areas for cycling, but I doubt I’ll be able to do any of that this time around. Also, they drive on the right, which takes a little getting used to when cycling.
So there you have it. See you soon in Lincoln, stay cool.