August 19th-20th; 316km/217km; Zhongwei, NX to Wuwei, Gansu to Zhangye, GS
The morning of the 19th, Amy woke up not feeling so well. We took our time packing up then to see how she felt before hitting the road. It didn’t seem to be anything too serious, just more of feeling a little rundown. Luckily though, she seemed to feel ok enough to get started.
After being on the road for a bit, all seemed to get better, and the nicely paved roads today certainly helped. We crossed the border back into Gansu as well, though the roads weren’t as spectacular as our last Gansu section, the terrain did change again a bit as it flattened out and got noticeably drier.
Wavy Roads and Overweight Trucks Ahead
The second half of the day wasn’t as nice as the road got extremely wavy, which I mean quite literally. The CFMOTO 650TR has a relatively short frame too so we really felt the ups and downs of the gnarly pavement (at least it wasn’t gravelly potholes!). What it looked like was obviously happening was that all the overweight truck traffic (a market distortion caused by government imposed price ceilings combined with fees that still make it more profitable to over pack your truck rather than follow the rules) had wreaked havoc on this stretch of road.
Finding Our Camping Spot
We decided we would be camping for the night so passed through a town, Wuwei before looking for a place to camp. One thing about the Chinese is that they don’t like to waste space. This can make it difficult since anywhere that might be good for camping, is also prime farming real estate. We finally found a little spot on the side of a road off the main highway after wandering through a village that seemed to have all of one one-lane dirt road going through it. Needless to say, we got some stares driving past some of the small clay and brick homes, two foreigners on our 650cc sports tourer motorcycle.
After that, other than the old shepherd that stopped by right after our dinner with his flock, it was a pretty normal evening camping on the road.
A Rough Night
That is until Amy’s food poisoning set in. It hit her in the middle of the night and it didn’t really let up. This didn’t make for a great morning either as we were both exhausted when we woke up. Amy seemed to be feeling better but at the same time, couldn’t eat anything and definitely wasn’t 100%.
We couldn’t stay where we were as it wasn’t the most comfortable place to recover from illness, so we would have to push on until we found a decent town to recover in. The scenery kept transforming today as it began to resemble more and more a desert. The land was flat and dry, with large wind farms dotted far across the horizon reaching the narrow mountain ranges that paralleled our road.
The landscape was great to drive however, and though the road wasn’t in perfect condition it was well enough that I had a lot of fun driving through it. The provincial road here was very narrow, close to 1.5 lanes and paralleled the expressway.
Unfortunately, Amy wasn’t feeling well enough to put up with the rough patches of road though so at a gas stop 100km or so into the day, we evaluated our options. There was a small town nearby we could possibly find a hotel or we could jump onto the expressway to ride out the last 100km to the next actual city. We went with the second option.
Just a quick side note about this section of road is that we unexpectedly passed right through a gate of the Great Wall of China while on the expressway. We were actually paralleling it for a while, but the section out west in China is primarily made from dirt and clay rather than the brick used in the sections near Beijing. This makes it much less conspicuous as it looks like some old village structure of some kind.
We got into Zhangye in pretty good time and found a nice family run hotel/guesthouse that seemed very excited to have us. They let us park the bike in a little storage unit next door as Amy went into the room to get some sleep. She still wasn’t able to eat anything and the ride had really taken it out of her.