I loaded up the bike and found a spot for the old tyres and the new winter over boots. I went for a chicken pie and a coffee at Carol’s new restaurant and then hauled the bike up the stairs of the hostel to the snowy pavement. I bid farewell to the guys from the hostel, they had been my family for the last few weeks but now it was time to leave. I cycled past my favourite restaurant and said goodbye to the lady that run the place. Then slowly I negotiated the snow and slush covered roads to find the road north. I was still undecided weather to go to Deqin a small town that is the gateway to the Snow Mountain area or to turn of earlier and head north. At this stage I was not even sure how far out of town I was going to make it. The main road was a little easier to negotiate as the cars had melted a lot of the snow and cycling in the tyre tracks made things almost normal. I eventually came across the sign for Deqin, I was to follow this road for at least 80km before having to decide where to turn off. I faced south and took one last look at the town before pushing down on the pedals and cycling north.
The first hill was not too bad, the road was sealed but as I progressed it turned to a gravel path and I was learning fast how to handle the bike in slush and snow. I was though, surprised at how well I was doing, I stopped at a junction with no indication of where to go. I cycled up the road in what I though was the right direction and waited to flag down a passing car. It took a while for a car to stop and when it did I found out why, just by stopping the car slide all over the place, still he managed to keep the car under control and he gave me the good news that I was on the right rode. I tried to set off up the hill again but the wheels kept spinning, the road was too wet and there was no way I was going to get anywhere cycling. I pushed the bike for 50m or so until I found a bit of solid ground, after a few attempts I was on my way. Things were going well and the snow soon evened out and there was a wide white road for me to follow.
This was a great improvement to the start of the ride where I had to cycle in the middle of the road to get anywhere, the side of the road was to slippery. The problem I though was that if I fall off in the middle of the road where the cars and trucks are they will not be able to break in time and I will be tasting wet tyres. If I was lucky I would get squashed outright and end up in cyclist heaven very quickly, if I was unlucky I would just get a little squashed and die a slow painful death, waiting for some form of rescue. My other hope was that the truck would do a good job and that I would look like one of those squashed cartoon characters that just go flat after they have been run over then manage to pop back into shape afterwards. Anyway none of this mattered now as the road was wide and I had been pulling over to let the cars past just in case.
I eventually found myself on a beautiful road with white fields, a frozen lake, birds and horses to take pictures of. I passed a sign that said Chinese Exploration Research Society and wonder who would be doing the exploring and who would be doing the research, me or the Chinese. I decided that if this foray in the snow turned bad they would being doing some research to figure out what happened and what to do with me, and if it goes well I would be exploring china.
The road started to climb again, I had to time my ascent of the hill when I thought that there would be no other vehicles coming down, if there were I would have to move to the side of the road and stop and I was not sure I would be able to cycle off again. Fortunately I timed it right and made it past the narrow bit and up to a look at point with a great car park that looked like it would make a great home for the night.
I admired the view at the look at wondering what it would be like without the snow and then started to put up the tent. The ground it turned out was solid and it took me ages until I got the pegs in and camp set up. I got the stove going and was soon tucking into my rice, vegetable and meat concoction. I had done some research into what kind of preserved meat you can get and brought some at the market. Now I had no real idea if what I got was preserved meat or how long it was going to last but I was pretty sure it would last a week or so. Half way through the meal my stomach started doing summersaults so I decided that maybe the meat was not so good after all. I could not be sure but to be on the safe side decided that tomorrow I would go vege and see if the same results occurred. I made it through the night without needing to make a quick exit of the tent and woke up the next morning to a cold snowy landscape. How far would i get today, was it possible to cycle in these conditions, time would tell.