I washed the bike this morning and inspected all the parts. I saw that one of my cleats was acting up when I was clipping in and out of the pedals because I'd lost a screw the day before. I've been working those shoes pretty hard without adjusting or checking up on them. I learned my lesson, and a quick trip to Decathlon solved that problem in 10 min. now I have a few spare screws and cleats for future mishaps.
I rode out toward Turtle Island and another bike related problem occurred. I could not use my front derailleur, it was stuck in the second cog. I realized that even though I was moving the shifters up and down tension was not transferring to the derailleur. I hopped off the bike, unloaded it, flipped it upside down and worked on it a bit. Something was up with my shifter cable somewhere because after I unattached the cable from the derailleur, fiddled with it a bit and then reattached it things worked again. The bike isn't perfectly tuned but I can hit all the gears now.
A spoke was also really loose so I added some tension to it, nothing exact, just enough to keep it tight. Everything must have gone a little wonky after a cord got stuck in my drive train in Nanjing. At the time I didn't think about it but after a days riding these kinks did show up on the bike.
I've become a better bike mechanic thanks to the guys at Factory Five, Giants across China, Chain and Sprocket, and Serk. Watching the masters tune my bike a few times has taught me a few things. Mostly about what gears to start in and where to tension the cables.
I met a tour guide in Wuxi. We rode together a bit while he tried to convince me to stay in the city and see more of its sights. Wuxi itself has many scenic and historic spots that I mostly skipped over. However, I keep seeing road signs to Shanghai and I really want to get home. It's weird knowing my own bed is waiting for me just a few hours away.
I did stop in Suzhou for the night to visit with some friends. Lucas and Shaila are a newly wed couple I know from my church in Shanghai. They are putting me up in their amazing apartment in eastern Suzhou. The apartment is very new, it's got central heating, a big modern kitchen, and plenty of room around the place, but the best thing is the washing machine and dryer. I haven't had clean clothes since Qingdao, and to get clean clothes I had to hand wash them. This is a huge relief on me and the smell I must be sporting.
Wuxi and Taihu are beautiful. I've been inspired by the cities near the Yangtze River. Nanjing, Wuxi, Suzhou, they all are huge cities but thanks to the water and the recent public works projects there are many scenic areas to enjoy in each of them. Next Spring I'd like to take a few friends out of Shanghai for day trips around these cities.
Tomorrow I'm going to ride back to Taihu to enjoy some riding without all my luggage. Then I might do some touristy things around Suzhou. I'll probably get into Shanghai Tuesday or Wednesday.