Posts Tagged ‘Bears’


Cycling the QuerPass, Maniganga and Kanga

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

The next morning I woke up and I still had my arms and legs, and the food was still in the tent porch. I had not slept well but I had slept warm despite the sub zero temperatures and the frozen water I was melting to make breakfast with. The weather outside the tent did not look that nice, There was a storm at the top of the valley and it was coming my way. I opted to stay in the tent and see what would happen.

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When I left Dege I was told that this mountain pass called QueEr was covered in snow and I would not be able cycle over it. Fortunately there was no snow and despite the higher altitude it seemed easier going, as the climbs were gentle and the road pretty good. The snow passed over and left a light dusting on the ground so I packed up and set off. I was feeling remarkably good about things, despite the bad night. I think knowing that I was going to make it to the top was a good feeling. It only looked like there were three more bends to go but the driver who had offered me a lift the day before had said that the road bent around and that what I could see was not the summit.

Near the top cycling QueEr pass

The first few hours went really well and I made it to the last visible bend from the road below and started to disappear around the back of the peak I had camped under. I stopped for short break and had a brief encounter with a couple on a bike and a police man in his car. I continued round the corner and saw that there was two or three very long bends to go. I got to the end of the first one and had a quick lunch, the weather was too good to stop, if I took a long lunch I might end up getting caught out in the snow and having to push to the top again. Fortunately the weather held out and I got to the last bend, negotiated a pack of dogs that seemed to be protecting an abandoned building and rode up the last bend.

The summit QueEr pass

I was ecstatic, 5050m the QueEr Pass, the highest point so far on the trip and all by bike this time, no pushing.

The cyclist on the summit of QueEr pass Sichuan, China

The top was a little narrow and there seemed to be a reasonable amount of traffic. I managed to get some summit photos and then pointed the bike downhill. As I started to descend I saw a line of traffic coming up the hill, only it was stationary.

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There was patches of snow and ice on this side of the mountain so I was having to take things slowly. Eventually I reached the vehicles that were stuck. A few of the trucks were struggling to get past a particularly icy section. I weaved my way in and out the trucks and cars, turned another bend and found myself on an ice free bumpy road. I let the brakes go and zoomed down the hill as fast as I dared. Half way down I spotted a tent in the valley.

Like minded travellers

I paused to see who it was. Rather than another cyclist is was some Chinese or Tibetans people who were camping out. They had a small cart with them, so were probably walking to Lhasa, a pilgrimage some hardy Tibetans will make from their home town. I continued to bounce down the hill until I met an old lady who was rounding up her cattle.

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I was due another break so stopped and offered to share some food with her. She seemed reluctant at first but then took an orange from the pile of food I had put between us. She did not say much and it was a strange interaction, but I felt nice to be in a position to be able to share. I was certain I would make it to Maniganga today and I would be able to resupply on food there. I waved goodbye to the lady and carried on, I passed a couple who were walking to Lhasa but praying all the way there.

On a pilgrimage

This involves walking three paces kneeling down putting hour hands on the floor so you’ree sliding your hands forward until you are lying down. Then you bring your knees to your hands, stand up, walk three paces then do it all over again. Most people wear a leather aprons and have blocks of wood attached to their hand. I thought cycling was hard, but this is extreme. Next I passed a very young couple who asked for a lift into town, I tried to explain the bike was heavy enough as it was, but they seemed disappointed. I wished them well pointed the bike down hill again. An hour later I arrived into a small town. Maniganga.

Maniganga was small, with one main street and not much else, but the people were friendly enough. I checked into what seemed to be the only hotel hoping for a shower. Unfortunately the water was all off due to frozen pipes, so no toilet or shower. The toilets were across the road behind another building, but you had to go before 10pm otherwise the dogs would get you. Despite all this I had a nice room and there was a restaurant attached to the hotel, I was very hungry and surprised the staff by polishing of four bowls of rice as well as my meat dish. I chatted with the owner of the hotel for a while who had a great money collection of international currency. I donated some English coins I still had and then retired to bed. It was Tibetan New Years Eve, but for me it was time to sleep.

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The next day I had a relaxing morning and was invited to the hotel owners family house for tea and meat. They had a nice house a short ride from the hostel and I did my best to communicate with his parents whilst chopping bits of meat from the hunk and sipping tea.

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By midday it was time to start moving again, so I loaded up the bike once more, pointed the bike north and started cycling. The road although unsealed was pretty good and progress went well, I found a great camp spot by a river and had a peaceful night. The family I had had meat and tea with had assured me that there were no bears in this area and I would be perfectly safe.

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I woke up to a light dusting of snow and slowly started to pack up, the day progressed with good roads and a mixture of snow, sleet and ice. It was quite cold but as long as I kept cycling I was happy. The good road climbed short hills and made for good progress. I was certain of making it to Ganze, a big town were there was sure to be water and comfy bed to sleep in.

Snow bike imprint

Early afternoon I was cycling along in my own world, as light snow fell from the sky and melted on my waterproof jacket, when a motorbike pulled up along side me. The woman on the back started speaking fluent English but with an Indian accent. We continued moving and cycling, well they were motoring and chatting. It turned out her village was a few kms away, she lived in India now but was back visiting family. We stopped at the village shop for tea and I was invited to the village. The woman reckoned she could find me a place to stay for the night and asked if I was free tomorrow, she and others in the village were walking up the local holy mountain for Tibetan New Year and then there was horse racing in the afternoon. It is a travellers dream to be invited to do all this, so I followed her up the side road that lead to a large cluster of houses, that was her village.

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Staying in KeLuoDong and Sleeping with bears.

Friday, March 25th, 2011

I cycled out of Dege on a pretty good road, it was sealed but with pot holes and the odd unsealed bit. The weather was sunny but not to hot and I was making great progress on the flat roads. Dege had been wonderful and the massive lunch I had before I left was sure to power me until last light. About 4pm I passed a group of people that were sitting on a small hill to the side of the road. The kept shouting at me until I stopped and walked up to say hello. They were having a kind of beer pick-nick and wanted me to joining them. I declined the beer, acting out that cycling drunk was not a good thing, but was happy to chat for a bit. After a while the conversation dried up but one of the guys was insistent that I come to his house and stay the night. His village was a few kms of the road that I was on. I asked if he wanted money in return and he said no, but he would love it if I took some pictures of him and his family and send them to him. It was a good deal so I loaded up my bike into the back of the van and went to meet the family.

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The short drive up a side valley brought me to a collection of about 10 or so houses that were situated all the way down the short valley we had driven up. My bike was put at the bottom of the house where the animals usually live but instead just some straw and a motorbike and I was taken upstairs. It was a typical Tibetan house and I was made very welcome with plenty of food and drink. The family consisting of Mum, Dad (who I met by the road) and their two kids who were about 13 or 14 I guessed. We had a big dinner with plenty of rice and chatted the evening away as best we could with my limited Chinese and the phrase book. We were waiting for 10pm, this is when the village would get mains power and it would be light enough to take some photos. The small light hooked up to a car battery was not really good enough for a photos taking session.

Preparing dinner2

Eventually at 10.30 the lights flickered and we got snapping. Everyone put their best clothes on and I even got to try on some traditional Tibetan clothes.

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When the photos were done I was shown to a room, I had it all to myself a bead and lots of blankets, luxury. I had a great nights sleep and felt lucky to have met this man who was genuine and kind.

Chris in tradational dress with local family

 

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The next day I ate as much of the breakfast as I could. It was the first time I had tried Tsampa (barely flower and water) and it did not really agree with me. It was a shame as I like to try local food and it is a stable for most Tibetan families during the winter. It was freezing cold in the morning and it took a while to get the bike packed up with numb finger. Eventually everything was put in its place, I took one last photo and set of down the valley to joining the main road again.

Local Ladies

On the way I met a few of the other locals in the village. All of whom invited me in for tea, I polity declined I was making a beeline for the main road where the morning sun would have risen and I could thaw out a bit.

Local Kids

Once at the main road I gathered my thoughts and say in the sun for a bit. Most people are really great I though and the kindness I have experienced in China and this trip has been a real eye opener into how we view each other normally. Just as I was leaving another guy on his way up to the village asked me if I wanted a place to sleep or some tea. I waved and said I was OK and continued on.

  Local Man

The day was relatively normal the road stopped being being good about 60km from Dege I calculated and it gradually got steeper. The weather was still good and in-between running into the bushes every hour or so (the Tsampa did not agree with me) I made quite good progress. However by 5pm I was feeling a bit fed up with my stomach and really wanted to stop. I had reached the foot of the big 5000m pass and there seemed to be a Hotel or guest house at the bottom, so I wondered in to ask if they had any room. I received blank looks and they said that this was not a Hotel. So I saddled the bike to try and find a good place to camp for the night. I was now feeling very low on energy and every pedal stroke was an effort. Slowly though I turned the first of the many bends that were above me and that would eventually take me the the highest altitude I had been on a bike. An hour or so later I stopped to look for a camp site. A van pulled up and the guy said that he could give me a lift to the top. I said I was OK despite being very tempted and he kept saying it was fine, he did not want any money it was a long way and it would be a cold night. Eventually after 5 minutes of trying to persuade me he waved and carried on. The access to the camp site I had seen was no good so I had to climb a few more of the hair pin bends until I could get access to a good camp spot.

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I descended a short gravel track to wards a frozen river, I was a little exposed but the site was flat and it would be dark soon. I nominated one spot for the tent and another for cooking. I was thinking of the bears again, at least if I cooked away from the tent it might help out a bit. I had a big dinner and drank lots of tea and started to pitch the tent just before last light. It took me a while as the ground was frozen solid and I could not get the pegs in. Eventually though I succeeded and got my bed and bags sorted.

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My stomach was still doing knots and I needed the loo again, I grabbed the trowel and went to dig a whole as far away from the river as I could get. It was a quiet night and very still. As I squatted doing my business a massive crack sounded from the ice. My muscles froze, all of them, and I jumped up pulling my trousers up as well. I was ready this was it there was a bear on the ice and he was coming over to get me. I raced to the tent and armed myself with the camera tripod and the pen knife. I had gone over this situation every night I had slept outside for the last month. My chances were low but I would not go down without a fight. I sat by the river waiting for the inevitable. Nothing. I really needed the toilet, now, I shone my torch over the frozen river to see what was out there but I could see nothing. I walked back to my outdoor toilet and started again. The fear was obviously making me shy as nothing happened. Suddenly there was another loud crack from the ice. I jumped up again and got ready. The last think I wanted was to die with my trousers around my ankles. ‘Cyclist killed by bear whilst having poo’ was not a catchy headline. If it was my time I was going to go with my trousers on. I scanned the area again looking for the faintest sign of movement, Nothing. The process was repeated about 2 more times and each time I pulled my trousers down the ice cracked. Eventually accepted my fate and managed to do my business while the ice cracked around me and the bears moved in on my position. Finally relived I moved closer to the ice, I was going to find out what was out there once and for all. I must have spent 30 mins watching waiting and listening. Lots of noise by nothing that looked like a bear. I retired to my sleeping bag and hoped that it was just the ice melting and cracking and the bears were far away. I went to bed with the tripod next to me and the pen knife open and ready.

Camp night before the QueEr pass

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Day 5 Batang to BaiYu – Morning tea and a warning about bears

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

By 10am I was bouncing down the track towards what I thought would be a reasonable size village where I could pick up a few supplies.  Then I was going to try and get to the top of the second summit.  The issue I had was that I was not really sure how far I had gone as my bike speedo that gives me my daily distance was broken or had been malfunctioning at least.  So quite how far it was to the top I don’t know.

   Thumb_0003the road1  Batang BaiYu road after first pass after Shama

The English forest track in China  

The track was lovely, pretty smooth and I passed through the occasional wooded archway and felt instantly at home, like I was in an English forest.  I passed a couple of local women walking, they were shy and did not say or respond much.  I offered them some tea and nuts and raisins as it was now time for my morning break but they declined and carried on.  After my morning tea I carried on down the path, it was mostly flat with the occasional ascent or descent,  I was not sure how fast I was going but it felt supersonic compared with days on the other side of the hill.  I came upon a house, the first for a while and a family was working on an extension or something similar,  I was invited in and given some hot tea.  It was the same women that I had seen on the road a while earlier.  I was now upstairs in a Tibetan style house watching TV with the kids.  My attempt at any kind of conversation was met the shy smiles, despite my best attempt with Chinese.  I think perhaps the men that were working downstairs would have been more open to conversation, it was the father of the family that invited me in the first place.  Still it was lovely tea and the old mother of the house grabbed one of my empty water bottles before I left and filled it up with more tea for the road.

  Thumb_0002pray flags Batang BaiYu road after first pass after Shama7

Prayer flags by the side of the road

I arrived into a big village early about 1pm.  I was keen to stock up on a few snacks, I was pretty sorted for food as I did not bank on finding the town or there being much here.  To my surprise it was much bigger than I expected and buying a few packs of biscuits turned into a spectator sport.  I had over 50 people crowding around me and my bike, mostly staring but the brave few were talking.  One guy in particular was keen to know if I needed a women, I said I was married and that I would be quite all right thank you.  Feeling a little overwhelmed at the crowd I cycle out of town about 500m and the locals went back to chatting and playing pool.  I was followed by two young guys who sat on the bikes and watched me have some food by the side of the road.  They were actually really nice and I think just genuinely shocked and amazed to see I guy with white skin and a beard on a bicycle in their town.

Thumb_0004a third of the people croud village  between first and second pass Batang to BaiYu road

A few of the crowd from the village

I pushed on eager to get some more kms done before sunset and make the most of dry and good roads.  The road started to climb steadily and by 3pm I was exhausted.  I realised that I had not had any lunch in the excitement of getting to the town and being a bit overwhelmed by my reception there.  I stopped to have some more tea and nuts and raisins as I pondered what to do.  As this rate was unlikely to make it to the top and I was out of energy really, so I decided I would carry on for another hour or so, camp, eat lots and go for the summit fresh the next day.  Another 4000m peak was probably not best attempted on an empty stomach.  Just as I was packing up to set of a couple of cars stopped and the guys got out to chat with me.  I explained what I was doing and asked about the road ahead.  They seemed amused at my journey but impressed at the same time.  Then they said ‘what about the bears, do you have a gun.’  ‘Err, no’ I said.  ‘But in the tent the bears will come and get you.’ was the summary of their reply.  Just so you know my Chinese is not that good and by this point sign language was very much in play, not that that helped matters.

  Thumb_0005local kids  between first and second pass Batang to BaiYu road

Cheeky kids on the way out of town

The guy said I could come and sleep at this house and the head on tomorrow.  Where was his house I asked.  In the village I had jut come from, that was over 5km away and it had been a bit of a slog to get up to here.  I politely declined his offer said I would be OK and the bears would not get me.  My new friends left and wished me luck.  I set off back up the hill, in my head I was going through all my options.  As the road progressed the road got narrower and narrower and I soon found myself in a gorge flanked with trees on one side and rocks on the other.  There was also a stiff breeze building up and storm clouds approaching.  Great I thought to myself.  I was either going to die in my tent from a falling tree or rock; be hit bit a drunk driver who did not expect a guy to be sleeping literally next to the road or be eaten by a bear!

 Thumb_0006rock art 2  between first and second pass Batang to BaiYu road

Rock art where i got my bear warning

I decided my best option was to carry on, about an hour later I was finding everything very hard, I checked the bike over and discovered that the back tyre was slowly going down.  There was only an hour and a half of light left but not to far ahead there was a small clearing that was probably just safe enough from falling trees or rocks.  By the time I got to the clearing the tyre was almost flat.  It was time to admit defeat and camp.  As I sat be the side of the road taking stock of the situation the wind started to pick up and the trees so the side of my started to sway more and more until a few of them started falling down.  My little clearing was still looking safe enough though.

As I assessed the best route over the rocky ground to the clearing I heard some noises ahead in the distance. I froze and listen carefully, I had no idea what it was and did not really want to find out.  A sort of high pitched yelping sound that I could not identify, man or beast I though to myself.  The noises did not get any better and my not so great camp site was now looking rather, unpleasant.  I lay the bike on the ground, pumped up the tyre with the bike fully loaded and started up the hill to see what all the fuss was about.

I turned a small corner and was delighted to see a group of locals with two big trucks heaving some massive logs off the side of the gorge.  They were using smaller trees as leavers and expertly dropping logs the size of a small bus on to a truck just below them.  I cycled passed and waved, they waved back and carried on with their heaving and yelping in unison as another log fell onto the truck.  The tyre seemed to be holding out but the wind getting stronger.  The thought of camping now was not appealing, it could not be that far to the summit I thought.  A few kms later I had a new plan, cycle till 7pm, have a quick dinner until 7.30pm, last light then cycle to the top. 

At 7.15 I was down a small embankment sheltering from the wind eating a bowl of noodles, not the most energy giving food but I thought two packets and a coffee would be enough to make it to the top.  At 7.45 I was back on the road with my bike lights and reflective jacket on slowly going up.  The road did not seem that steep but cycling was becoming harder, the altitude, my lack of energy and the general uncertainty of what lay ahead had taken its toll and I was tired.  I continued up the hill, alternating between cycling and pushing. looking out for the occasional bear that might be looking for a cyclist to snack on.  Not long after dinner I had decided that singing was good, it would keep up my moral and hopefully scare the bears away until I could get to the top and then fly down the hill and find safe spot to camp. 

Just after 10pm I was laughing in my head as I sang and pushed my way up the hill thinking how ridiculous the situation was.  I had passed a large clearing a few kms back with lots of prayer flags and was now confident the summit was just around the next corner, things were looking up.

At 10.30pm the noticed the bike was feeling particularly sluggish again a quick look at the back tyre told me all I needed to know.  At almost the same time the wind picked up and with it white fluff was starting to fall to the ground.   At 10.35 the bike and I were covered in snow.  I laughed again only louder this time but still in my head.  It was time to call it a day, a slowly started walking back down the hill to the clearing that I had passed a few kms back.  The wheel would just about hold out I thought and things would look a lot better in the morning.

Thumb_0001after two mintues of snow  between first and second pass Batang to BaiYu road

After 5 minutes of snow

At midnight I was finally tucked up in both sleeping bags, warm dry and cosy.  I had munched a few chocolate bars for good measure.  I was so tired I knew that the thought of marauding bears would not keep me awake and was also comforted that any self respecting bears would not be out in the snow and the wind anyway.  With that final thought I put my head on my pillow of clothes and fell straight asleep.

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Day 4 Batang to BaiYu – Cycling to the fist summit 4000m+

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

I woke up to clear skies and a fresh but cold morning.  Fortunately I was not suffering any side affects from the night before.  I had breakfast, loaded up the bike and freewheeled back down the grassy slope to the road.  I was feeling positive about the day, it would not be long now I thought, till I reached the summit.  The road went through many twists and turns and i was using all the techniques i had learned in the last few days to negotiate the ice fields, steep sections and isolation.  I did not see another soul all morning, but my morale was high, each bend could only mean getting closer to the top.  After negotiating a small bridge I sat down for some food.

Raod Batang BaiYu before first pass12

It looked like the summit was ahead, light snow and ice on the road and not to steep.  I drained the last of the hot water from my cup and hopped back on the bike. I managed to cycle quite a bit up the hill but slowly it got steeper, my low view point was obviously deceptive and the patches of snow and ice were not helping either.  As I approached what i thought would be the summit, the road wound around another corner.  I emerged from the trees and caught a glimpse of what must be the top.  A few bends later and i was nearly there 500m, i hopped back on the bike and tried to cycle that last little bit.  I came off straight away, i pushed a bit further and then got back on the bike for the last 100m.  I crested the top of the hill and waves of emotion hit me, joy, excitement and downhill!

first summit Batang BaiYu  Road 4000m

It was windy at the top, it made a change to the silence of where i had come from.  I took some photos and set of down the bumpy track that was my road.  The lack of speed and progress over the last few days had an effect on me and i was bombing down the hill at what seemed like a crazy speed given the amount of weight the bike had on it and the terrain i was bouncing over.  I did not care, this was the reward and the bike was handling better than expected and loving it too.

Raod Batang BaiYu after first pass before Shama

I stopped for a short rest and some food, it was mid afternoon now, a few bikes had passed me and we had shared the three questions before parting company.  I continued to bounce down the hill, gaining confidence and speed with every bend.  After negotiating some tricky sections that involved getting off the bike and a few decisions about which road to take, i arrived in the small village of Sharma. 

Raod Batang BaiYu after first pass before Shama5

The locals greeted me with smiles and warmth.  I had read from another cyclist that the people in this village were hostile but my experience was anything but.  We were laughing and joking and one girl who had a baby strapped to her back was keen to try on my helmet, that is always a source of amusement to people.  Most people don’t wear helmets on motorbikes, so having one for a push bike must seem funny. 

Local in Shama trying on bicycle helmet

The locals assured me that i just follow the road out of town and it was still the way to BaiYu.  I set off again passing some horses and soon found myself in a narrow gorge with a river to my right and patches of ice on the road again.  I pushed on until i found a clearing that was good for camping and sat down to have a drink before setting up camp.  A guy pulled up on his bike and sat down.  He gave me a bottle of juice and we chatted about my route and the road ahead.  The conversation lasted for about 30mins, he was a friendly guy but did not really get that my Chinese was limited and that i could not really understand half of what he was saying.

local guy and chris Raod Batang BaiYu after first pass after Shama

Eventually i made my excuses as the conversation seemed like it was going to last for ever and i cycled off down the road.  I did not really want to set up camp there anymore, just in case the guy was not as nice as he seemed, so i plodded on the now pretty flat road, enjoying the ability to blast up the short climbs now i was at least 1000m lower.  I soon found another clearing and set up camp for the night.  I was tucked up in my sleeping bag again just after last light and had a great nights sleep. I had cycled over my highest mountain, about 4200m i think and was feeling pretty good about myself.

See more pictures here

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Day 3 Batang to BaiYu – Slow progress cycling on ice

Friday, March 18th, 2011

The hut turned out to be a quiet haven for the night and I was not disturbed by mice, men or bears.  I had more porridge for breakfast and was on the road by 10am.  Still unsure of exactly where i was and what lay ahead of me.  I started with some good progress on the sandy gravel road, lost in my own little world surrounded by silence that reverberated around my ears with a high pitch ring.  After a few hours a car passed but did not stop, i was brought out of my slow plodding stupor and reminded myself that i really should stop the next vehicle that came along, just to confirm that i was on the right track.  The road had become increasingly difficult, the patchy ice was now covering the whole road for sections of up to 100m at a time.  It was very much trial and error but I was fortunate enough to find just enough grip on the ice to slowly, and I mean very slowly, push the bike an inch at a time up the hill.  I had just made it across a long stretch when i heard the distant sound of a motorbike engine.  Excited, i waited until the bike had managed to cross the ice and asked the two guys about the road ahead.  A few minutes later they were on their way and I was beaming, grinning from ear to ear.  I was on the right road and although i had not got to the first pass yet they were sure that this was the way to go.

Raod Batang BaiYu before first pass4

The rest of the day continued in the same fashion, cycle a little, stop, push the bike over an icy section then cycle again.  At times though i could only cycle about 10mtrs before collapsing over the handlebars, gasping for breath; at nearly 4000m the lack of traction on the road and the heavy load on the bike was taking it out of me.  I discovered eventually that if I could control my breathing enough to get about 100m cycling done i could then keep this pace up for a few kms.  It took all my willpower to tell my body not to stop, just keep going and it will get easier soon.  The above combination worked and I made progress but at a agonisingly slow rate. 

animal foot print

Mid afternoon I passed one section of road where some animal prints had been preserved in the frozen ground.  I looked at the prints for a while, one was quite easy to identify, a horse for sure.  The other I was not so sure about, after some deliberation i decided it was either a really big dog, a wolf or a bear.  This was the first real evidence that i had that bears might be here.  It could have been there for ages, and the bear was now tucked away, hibernating for winter, or the bear could have just visited his mate on the other side of the road and had just returned home to Mrs bear and the cubs.  Either way it was not that reassuring and I knew that my difficulty getting to sleep was not going to be eased by this.

Drink from the locals1Raod Batang BaiYu before first pass

About 4pm two motorbikes carrying three people came down the hill.  They pulled over and we all sat down, they confirmed that i was going the right way and started pulling food off their motorbikes.  A big hunk of meat, some flat bread and a bottle of spirit was now in front of me.  They men expertly carved chunks of meat off and then passed the hunk to me.  I was useless at cutting the meat, it seemed to be raw and was difficult to cut.  I passed the meat and the knife back to one of the guys and he started cutting out chunks off meat for me.  It tasted so good.  Then the bottle of sprits was passed around, it certainly gave a kick and I was mindful to not drink too much, given the altitude and overnight temperatures.  The first small bottle was finished and another one was produced from inside a jacket pocket.  I motioned that I could not drink any more or i would fall off my bike.  The guys smiled and opened it up and said just a little.  Thankfully it was just a little but by now I had almost drunk 3/4 of a 52% proof bottle to myself, as only two of us appeared to be drinking.  Our conversation started to dry up after my Chinese was exhausted and it was getting late in the day.  They wished me luck and said goodbye and set off back down the hill.

Raod Batang BaiYu before first pass1

I tried to cycle but the patchy ice and alcohol were too much, I was now giggling to myself as I pushed up the hill.  This was all a bit silly, getting drunk at altitude on my own, but hey the threat of the bears now seemed like a joke and I was smiling.  After about half and hour of pushing and giggling I decided it was probably time to camp, it would be dark soon and I was unlikely to make it to the top tonight. A small clearing had appeared to the right of the road.  In my mild drunk state it seemed to take ages to push the bike up the grassy verge, find a flat spot and put the tent up, but eventually it was done and dinner was simmering away on the stove.  By 7.30 I was tucked up in bed with a full belly and feeling a lot less giddy, the food had obviously helped.  The thought of the bears crept into my head again but i worked hard to push them out, trying to draw on the remaining drops of alcohol in my blood stream.  I listen to a few episodes of an audio book on the iPod before drifting off to sleep.  It had been frustrating day with only 13km covered, but so long as i could keep my morale up I would make it.

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