End of the line

This past week, referred to as Golden Week throughout Mainland China, is one of the two long holidays of the year. Coincidentally, it’s the last national holiday before the unpredictably long while before Spring Festival rolls around. Despite the schedule being wide open for most, this means a lot of people are on the move and the regular rides and riders tend to go quiet.

Then word got out amongst the group. People were looking to get out for a ride. Something short and easy, a spin really, to motivate the passage of time and distance. Nothing serious, just a little out and back. One of my favorite “loops” is a quick 8 km rip around a distant lake development. Feelers were put out to do this loop. Everyone was on board.

When we met up we had a larger bunch than expected, six in total. The set out was tardy and slow. People seemed to still be in the holiday spirit. What proceeded from there was a little off from the chartered plan. First, things got quick and we went from riding two abreast to hammering it, all lined up and hanging onto the coattails of those in front of us.

The pace was bizarre and convulsive, switching from an uptempo mash fest to random, intermittent ease-ups, where everyone could quietly sit up and secretly fume over the intended/unintended efforts of the bunch. At some point we quietly slipped past the lake loop I’d thought was the termination of our course. A few questions were asked, a few mechanicals sorted and we continued plodding southbound.

The plan had changed. Someone had changed it. Nobody really knew how this came about, but we were steering ourselves toward the end of the road. Yes, the very end of the boulevard we were on.

天府大道 (Tianfu Blvd.), the boulevard whose namesake is representative of the land it cuts through, a land of milk and honey, stretches from the very city-center of Chengdu, across a bleak square overlooked by an oft-groomed statue of Uncle Mao, hand out-stretched in a mildly authoritative wave. It’s terminus, one I’d never had the patience to ride to, is less than grandiose. Straight as an arrow for the first of it’s 50 or so km, it gradually bends as it enters the hills, before coming to an absolute dead end. Eight lanes of groomed, pristine, symbolic road just suddenly stops. There’s nothing to do but stare down a big mound of red clay.

It’s almost surprising. Having just spun out 45km to find the end of the line; An ending which is pretty damn abrupt and unspectacular. The whole thing seems silly, but then again, so is riding in a straight line for 100 km.

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