The plan was to start and finish the ride early in preparation for day three. Ravenous, I stuffed myself on 米粉, 油条 and a warm bowl of soymilk. I over-ate and riding down the block out of town had a rolling spew of breakfast. Apparently my nerves were on high in anticipation of the ride.
Once rolling things seemed to smooth out, but within the first twenty or so minutes so began the repetitive creak of my crankset. I stopped, adjusted it, got rolling again. Within another twenty minutes the crank had worked itself loose again. No bueno. Mad as hell with the fuckwit design of my cranks, I fiddled with it yet again and vowed to just deal with the steady stroke-by-stroke groan of my bike.
Shortly after I rolled into Old Beichuan. For those who aren’t aware, Beichuan is the modern Atlantis tale of Sichuan. During the earthquake of 2008, the mountain above the town collapsed onto the city. But it didn’t stop there. The landslide created a natural dam and reservoir that filled, threatening to burst and destroy everything in its path.
Over the wet season that is the summer, the remainder of the city was buried in the rock, sludge and slurry of the mountain shedding it’s skin from other canyons above. The Chinese army was deployed in an all-out assault launching heavy munitions at the dam to break it up before it filled too far. Thousands were killed and the scar of the city remaining is a stark reminder that the mountains, in all their beauty, can be objectively lethal.
I rode onward, taking in the rolling roads that led deeper into the mountains. The creak and groan of my bike continued to plague me and I stopped yet again at a moto-shop to make a final effort to fix it. Not long after, I rolled into town and was greeted by an extraordinarily friendly group of women running the hotel I was at.
They warned me the road ahead would be rough due to heavy rains the week before. I said I’d heed their warning and come back to the hotel if things weren’t working out.