New roads

With the CDC骑 race/ride series out in the open air, I’ve felt the pressure to get all my ducks in a row, and begin the process of scouting and designing the race routes. Sunday proved sunny and warm(ish), so it seemed an opportune moment to ride the upper stretch of the intended CDCL route (part 3 of 3, its emphasis on climbing).

Originally, I had in mind a route that took me years to sort out. It stretches the length of the ridge line of the Longquan mountains which run at a parallel to Chengdu, from south to east. To do the ride out, traverse the ridge line, and loop back to the city, was a big day. So, I figured I’d break the scouting down into two parts.

The upper half runs from a town called Taiping, to the well-renowned Longquan peak. I was anticipating just riding the course I’d sorted in the past, but after doing the ascent from Taiping, found myself side-tracked by a dirt road.

I’d seen the road in the past and had always earmarked it to be ridden at a later date. It’s tough getting in the mindset to explore a new stretch of road. Up there, taking a new track means an hour-or-two long detour and double the climbing. With the sunshine blaring though, I was in full fuck-it mode and figured I’d go off the beaten path.

What ensued was a few hours of glorious new track, mostly dirt, gravel and mud. Mind you, when I first scouted out the connected ridge line route, most of the roads were dirt, but in the past two years they’ve been entirely renovated and given a fresh coat of tarmac. It still makes for a nice ride, but it lacked the wildness and cross country technicality of before. Yesterday, however, unveiled a piece of the former rawness of the region that I’d fallen in love riding.

With the first new stretch of dirt down, I found myself at a pass besides a familiar temple. I knew another dirt descent down the lesser portion of this canyon, so naturally, I followed that. Taking a pause, I saw an unexplored basin. The basin seemed to have a few roads that lead in the Longquan direction. I took a gamble and aimed for yet another, unknown set of roads.

Pay dirt. I found myself riding stretch after stretch of dirt road. Some were well-travelled and groomed, featuring a decent gravel surface. Others, not so much. It had been raining the past couple days. This mean that the lesser traveled stretches had been converted into slick, red-clay tracks. Rutted from other vehicles, it was the type of ride where I often felt my wheels going two separate directions. On inclines my rear tire spun hopelessly. On declines I had the butt-puckering sensation of feeling the the front end of my bike at an angle, sliding haphazardly downhill. It was pretty fun.

It was one of those days out on the bike, where each turn led to yet another jolt of excitement. Soaking in the sun, sounds and smells of the area makes up for any of the grit and grime. Needless to say, I think I’ve got a new stretch of road to add to the race.

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