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Day Twenty Five - Wuxi to Suzhou

Added on by Paul Wood.

Today I took it easy after my century yesterday. Surprisingly I was not sore after riding 100 miles, but the distance between Wuxi and Suzhou is only 60 km.

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.

Day Twenty Five - My First Century

Added on by Paul Wood.

I rode my first century today 100+ miles or 160+ km. as you might expect I am exhausted. Not the muscle are tired kind of exhaustion more in the "I need sleep" kind. I started my day on the eastern slope of Purple Mountain in Nanjing. Weekend hikers started walking by my tent around 6:30 am. Specifically I woke up to someone walking by with a radio in hand. I hadn't slept very well due to cold feet and general discomfort in the tent. No one bothered me or my bike while I was still in the tent but I couldn't get any extra sleep while I knew people were about. I was packed and ready to go by 8am.

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I had a big breakfast which may be why I rode so much today. I ate another Xinjiang bread, oranges, and a large can of zhou, which is essentially bean soup. I had the carbs to keep a good pace for a few hours without stopping. Then I snacked on some apples whenever I felt hungry.

I stopped in Danyang for a quick lunch at a mom and pop place. It was cheap and fast so I was back on the bike in about 30 min.

I rode through 4 cities before finishing my ride in Wuxi. I thought at first that I'd stop at Changzhou. But I got there around 3pm and decided to keep on going. I also met another cycling tourist in Changzhao so he provided me motivation to keep going as well. He spoke about his travels in Tibet, of which I understood about half. One thing I did pick up is to wait until 2014 when the road construction finishes and it may be more enjoyable.

Seeing road signs with kilometers to Shanghai is what really motivates me the most. Knowing I'm only one day away from my own bed makes me feel much better. Regardless tomorrow I'm going to take a slow ride over to Suzhou along the lake Taihu. Then stay with a friend in Suzhou for a day or two. I plan to be back in Shanghai for Thanksgiving, which should be easy now that I'm so close to the city.

I'm sleeping in a nice Jinjiang hotel tonight for one of the more expensive nights of the trip at 200 RMB a night. I went to many other hotels but they wouldn't serve foreigners, so I was stuck with this expensive hotel.

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