Thursday, October 29, 2009

October 28: A great day (Rongxian to Zigong)

We set out in the morning from Rongxian planning to do our usual 90 km from there to the next town, Neijiang.  The morning ride was nice, lots of rolling hills, and everywhere full of people with their picturesque plots of agriculture.  When we stopped for our fruit break in the morning, a sweet old man carrying a basket full of freshly-picked food wandered up to us and after we said "Ni hao" and came about 1 foot from Jen's face and asked in an astonished voice "Nimen shi waiguoren ma?!?" (Are you foreigners?!?)  We had a nice little discussion while we finished up our snack, facilitated by the old man's buddy who came by on a motorcycle halfway through and helped translate (his "translation" consisting of repeating pretty much exactly what we said, just yelling it louder and with a much thicker accent.)
As we approached Zigong where we planned to eat lunch, a fellow cyclist joined up with us.  He was a pretty serious cyclist and had been many of the coolest places to cycle in China (Tibet, Xinjiang, the whole south from Chengdu to Guilin, etc.)  He worked as a cycle tourist guide, pretty much the most kick-ass job ever, we'd imagine.  We chatted for awhile as we rode into town, and he said he wanted to take us to a bike shop in town to meet his friends before lunch.  We did and were quite the center of attention for a bit, using the opportunity to get a few lingering annoyances fixed on our bikes.
Working on Mike's squeaky pedal...
Us with the bike shop guy and Feng You, the cyclist who we met up with out on the road...
Afterwards we went for lunch with Feng You, our cycle guide friend, who asked whether we didn't want to stay the night in Zigong so we could bike around the area with him and his friends in town.  We decided to go for it, and were very glad we did!  The rest of the afternoon continued to amaze us.  We went back to the bike store where one of his friends who worked there called her cycling buddy at a local hotel and got us a very nice room for the cheapest price we've paid yet, which she lead us to so we could dump off our stuff.  By the time we got back to the bike store, at 3:00 on a Wednesday afternoon, there was already a crowd of about 10 people ready and waiting to go for a bike with us, along with a local newspaper reporter who wanted to interview us!
Jen explaining our story to the local newspaper journalist...
After a quick interview, we set out on our bikes, with a guy from the bike store driving the newspaper reporter along with us so she could take some pictures.  Mike has been on many 'a group ride, but it was pretty cool to see what the Chinese version was like.  Turns out much the same as at home, a bunch of friends find the hilliest place around town and try to punish each other, and follow it up with drinks and bbq afterward.  We biked through banana trees and rice paddies up a series of hills to a picturesque peak.  After a quick descent, we all went our own ways to clean up and met back up at a Korean grill downtown, where we got a taste of Chinese nightlife with the locals.  Pretty cool... 
The whole crew, followed by bike shop car with the repair guy and journalist inside... the whole procession got alot of attention as we were leaving town.
Mike at the top with a view of the rice paddies below...
Later that night, Mike gets covered up in the required garb at the Korean Grill...
Grilling the squid and Feng You grabbing a pic of me taking a pic....  never a lack of cameras anywhere here!
The whole group enjoying a great meal!
As we left, everyone posed for a goodbye photo.  Thanks guys for a great day!

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