Riding the G321 / by Rachel Banfield

I am writing this while perched awkwardly on a chair. Let's just say that sitting down, after 8 hours of sitting down on a bicycle seat, is rather unpleasant. Well, it is when the roads look like this:


Apart from that, life as a muddy cyclist continues to be pretty great. I have now ridden about 970 kilometres, most of it along the same road, the once trusty, and as of today, now hated G321. 

Some of my favourite parts of those 970 include:

Cycling among the karst mountains near Yangshuo,

Where the scenery was stunning.

The town itself had a pretty nice setting,

And although it was overwhelming in the streams of tourists milling about, it was nice to have a proper conversation.

It's always great to meet other cyclists, like cowboy Song Rei,

Or these guys heading to Tibet (apparently the Mecca of Chinese cycling)

Chinese food. Ahhh, yes, the glorious food.

Big bowls of rice noodles,

Delicious tofu (which the lady drowned in chilli which I sneakily scraped off around the corner), 

And ice creams that cost 20 NZ cents. 

I love wandering around town in the evenings and coming across interesting scenes, like a small group of people doing exercises turn quickly into a MASSIVE group of people doing exercises,

Or beautiful buildings,

Or a talent show,

Or an amazing bridge,

Or a lovely old man serenely doing water calligraphy on the street. He did offer me a turn, but as the only character I could think of off the top of my head is the one for 'congee', I declined.

Or this amazing band. One of their songs was just incredible. I had no idea what they were saying, but just stood there enjoying the moment.

I have cycled far above the mist-covered hills,

Which is incredible, even if I often look like this at the top...

It is particularly rewarding when, while recovering at the top, this guy walks past. He seemed to find me as interesting as I found him.

The trusty G321 has taken me through through little villages,

Past rice terraces,

And more incredible bridges,

As always, there are some low points, such as my current sitting difficulty, but nothing that comes near to competing with all the reasons to get back on my bike tomorrow.