I write code. I ride my bike. I've got great friends. Life is good.

Day Fifteen - To Qingdao

Added on by Paul Wood.

I had a slow start to the morning. First off I was tired and enjoying comics in my bed. Then when I finally motivated myself to start riding I discovered I had a flat tire again. Basically I've been living with slow leaks for the last few days. I can ride but my bike doesn't sit overnight. After attempting to fix it myself I realized I was doing everything wrong. My patch kit doesn't have rubber cement which is quite helpful and I had run out of patches. So I went outside my room to discover a bike repair guy was situated across the alley from me. The repair man fixed a couple of my patches and got the tire full again. I rode down to the local Giant store to find that they did not have a tube to fit my tire. However they did give me rubber cement and a few patch kits to help me out. So I'm still riding on patched tubes. The local repair guy told me not to put much air in it so I'm riding a little slow as well. All day long I felt the difference in speed and handling. I feel like I'm riding on ice because the tire slides a little left and right under the weight of my gear when I start out. I wanted so badly to add a little more air but I knew that I'd be risking the patch giving and then I'd be stranded in the countryside.

I got out of Pingdu around 11am and headed south to Suzhou. I had a big lunch at 12 because I ate no breakfast. After an hour and thirty minutes of riding I had another flat. One of the patches that I had put on the day before and was working this morning and come loose.I quickly found another local bike mechanic and told him plainly that I am no good at patching tires even though I have all the necessary patch kits and tools. I even broke a tire iron when I took off my tire! He showed me that my problem was the ridges on the tire. My patch kit couldn't lay flat and I needed to sand them down. He pulled out a high speed sander and sanded them away. I learned not to touch the sanded area with your hand the hard way so he had to sand it a little more. He added rubber cement and waited it for it to dry, lastly he applied one of his own patches. When I tried to pay him he refused.

I'm amazing how I never have to pay for bike repairs.

After all of this trouble I realize that my equipment is to specialized for China. I'm in Qingdao and I doubt I can find the right kind of tube for my tire. I'm worried that I need to custom order everything! After reading up on things I recommend people ride on 26 inch wheels with American/Schrader valves. Basically ride a mountain bike, which is what more Chinese people tour on. You'll have no problem with finding spare parts out in the country side. I do have a cool converter now so I can use my Presta valve on an normal country side bike repair man's pump, which is quite handy. I bought it for 5 RMB on my way to Pingdu.

Another thing about my equipment. I don't think I need a tent or a sleeping bag for this kind of tour. Guest houses are everywhere and better than camping. I've only used the tent once ont eh Great Wall and the sleeping bag sparingly when I don't like the look of the sheets in a guest house.

I got to the Qingdao metro area around sundown and started riding into the down town area. I started out on the Expressway! It was an awesome ride, safest road I've been on in a while due to the wide shoulder and no one honked at me. I have no idea how I got up on the elevated road ( It was the G20) but as soon as I had a chance I got off of it. I kinda wish I had stayed on the elevated highway because Qingdao has horrible roads. It seems that everything is under construction here. And the roads that are not under construction are almost to bumpy to bare. I attempted to take a detour away from one horrible road only to end up in another construction area. I then found out, the rather fun way, that my bike handles excellently in the mud, even fully loaded. Once I got back onto the pavement The road I had attempted to skip became my only option of riding again. I gave up and just kept at it.

I finally arrived near the center of the city and decided to crash in a Motel 168 for the next two days. I'm doing my laundry by hand tonight and drying it with my newly purchased hair dryer. I've learned a lot in the last 2 days, mostly the hard way.