A sweet little loop, today’s route takes you down and around the lower horn of the airport. The roads within the 4th Ring Road are pretty damn “meh”, but if you can tough out the traffic, construction, and choppy concrete, it makes for a decent ride.
At a cool 50km, this loop is a good spin, putting you out for just under two hours. The highlight of it, though, is at the halfway point, which sits at the base of Shuangliu Airport’s landing runway. If you’ve got the time and are looking for a little diversion, you can chill roadside and watch planes come roaring in, reminiscent of that scene from Wayne’s World.
An interesting aside about the airport itself is the role it’s served China over the years. Originally built in 1938 as a military airfield, it served a role in providing defense to the KMT as it was pushed westward from Wuhan to Chongqing (about 300km to the east of Chengdu).
In 1942, the U.S. set up operations at Shuangliu in a joint effort to provide additional defense for the Chinese, as well as act as an deployment base for a fleet of B-29 Superfortress bombers, used against Japanese Imperial forces throughout South and East Asia. The States would eventually pull out in 1945 as the war wound down and China was able to actively re-engage in Civil War.
Riding out there it’s an interesting little fact to think on, sitting there, watching commercial 747s come gliding in, one after the other. I try not to think much on the bi-polar and openly apoplectic vibe you pick up from both sides of the political spectrum in the States. Nor do I really care for the weird nationalistic zeal Americans apply to foreign relations. Especially when it comes to people’s incomplete perception of China on the international stage, it’s handling of governance and economics and society. It’s generally pretty negative and petty. Instead I prefer to think about little pings in the past, where the times and situation necessitated cooperation.
In a world where media has pitted the States against the World, warns the rise of an imposing Other Superpower, and takes pride in pointing out the moral depravity of other nations, I like to focus on the fact that generally speaking, organizations of people are more ineffective than we’d like to admit; Humanity ultimately lacks authority and control in a way we romanticize; We’re all really trying to do something, anything, that may help ourselves and help others in the codified, but easily misunderstood, network of altruism.
Then like that, with the roar of a jet passing overhead, poof, these little ideas vanish. It’s back on the bike and spinning out the last 25km home.