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Home / Trip Diary / Heilongjiang / Day 11 – More Nasty Roads Ahead

Day 11 – More Nasty Roads Ahead

July 29th; 121km; Anda, HLJ to Qiqihar, HLJ

Not a fun day today really at all. We were back on track and even though the roads were more or less paved (not the mud and construction from yesterday), they were not in good condition.

There seemed to be a constant stream of sections of road that were completely dilapidated. We would be cruising along at about 80km/h when out of nowhere would appear gravel and potholes. Sometimes these would be massive pits that I would have to find a relatively flat path around in the gravel and mud. Amy frequently had to get off the bike to make it lighter, which raised the bike a bit, and made it easier for me to navigate around the holes at slow speeds.

Cows in the chinese countryside

Stampeding cows on the horrendous roads we spent all day on.

All of this made today much less productive then we would have liked and certainly more tiring. My left hand is really starting to get sore now from how often I’m using the clutch during all of this “off-roading”

Interestingly, the worst section of the day was right on the outskirts of the city where we ended up staying. It was almost like a moat of some kind protecting the city from outsiders. There was a 10km approach that seemed to be the only way into the city (from the south at least) that was pretty much like a dirt bike track, with sharp inclines, lots of gravel, and sharp turns.

A storm's a brewin' as we stop in our first town in Inner Mongolia

A storm’s a brewin’ as we stop in our first town in Inner Mongolia

This approach was particularly strange because the city itself, once arriving at the city center, was relatively clean and bustling. The outskirts where we came from felt like the whole city was still under construction, with half built apartment complexes, unfinished roads, cranes, and construction sites everywhere you looked!

We’re really going to have to start re-thinking our northern detour if the roads continue on like this. We barely made any progress today and if the roads are like this all the way up to the Russian border, it could put a serious dent in our schedule.

About Buck

Buck, originally from New York, first came to China in 2006 traveling with some friends and immediately fell in love with the country, returning frequently including a semester studying at Tsinghua University in 2009. He finally moved to Beijing after graduating from the University of Toronto in 2010. He has a passion for adventure and travel, completing numerous long distance motorcycling and hiking trips around the U.S., Canada, and China including a circumnavigation of the U.S. (13,840km) and a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail (3,500km). When he's not wandering (and sometimes when he is), Buck works as a web developer and marketing consultant in Beijing.

2 comments

  1. Sounds scarily similar to a trip that a mate and I did back in 2009-2010 on a couple of Dragstar 1100’s through Jiangxi. We’d been riding with a larger group numbering about a dozen or so, many of whom also had Dragstars or Roadstars at the time. We’d covered a lot of the Southern and Western areas of Zhejiang and while two of us had an extra week, the rest of the clan had to get back to their jobs and what not. My friend and I decided we were having too much fun and weren’t ready to pack it in just yet, so off to Jiangxi we went. Much of the roads we pretty similar to how you’ve described them. At one point we ended up riding in behind a 5 tonne flat deck truck with an open rear with tall drop sides. Seemingly it was being used to cart all manner of general goods, that wouldn’t look out of place in many Ma and Pa hardware stores. The driver was driving way too fast for the conditions, which resulted in the rear axle bouncing up and down between one pot hole and the next. It was almost like watching a coloured version of an old black and white Laurel and Hardy comedy. Except the humour was missing, as each set of dual wheels bounced from one contact point to the next, I was expecting to see either the drive shaft hit the deck or one of the axles give up. No wonder the roads get so bad. Eventually we managed to pass the driver, and once in front I slammed on the brakes, which forced the driver to slow right down. It worked as he seemed to follow at a more appropriate pace.

    This was just one of the trips of many that have convinced me that a mid-large displacement dual sport / adventure is likely the most ideal motorcycle type for long rides in China.

    Been waiting more than a year for the CFMoto dual sport / adventure 650 to make its appearance. Hoping they get it right.

    Following a long on the adventure.

    Bikerdoc (www.mychinamoto.com)

    • Thanks for following Bikerdoc and for sharing some of your stories from the road too! Scenes like these can definitely become all too familiar on the roads in China and yeah, a dual-sport/adventure definitely would be ideal for the types of roads you can encounter here. That said, the TR has been holding up surprisingly well given how rough some of the roads we’ve gone through so far have been (river crossings, 20km of construction, miles of mud, etc.). Maybe not as good as a dual-sport but been very impressed so far!

      Excited to see what CFMOTO does with their KTM partnership :).

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