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.
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.
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.