We headed further up and past a glacier hanging on the mountainside.
Just around the corner there was a commercial view point. Once the guide van showed up where some guy walked up and wanted 10$per bike each for parking….we said ahh no. We had already taken our pics anyway!
It was down down from here to the valley. We rode along the lake with spectacular views.
The next pass was switchback up and down the mountain. On the downside we stopped for some fried rice at about 3.
The last 70 km were hell with the truck traffic. We had 4 police checks today and we made it thru with the bike as cargo. It is illegal to have cargo and passengers in the same vehicle in China. The guides told the police that Trevor was to sick to ride and appealed to their sympathy. It worked for day 1.
We arrived to Shannan and finally found the gas station for bikes. With all the “issues” of China/Tibet with government control and insane rules this was 1 hour to get gas for 3 bikes. Finally to the hotel at 715. This is a common design feature in the bathrooms of China…. Not so good for Orvar and Trevor! The shower in the toilet/sink space is not ever a good idea!
We walked to a local place for dinner and the whole kitchen staff came out to check us out. We had tea leaves deep-fried with pork and chilies, cauliflower with bacon in a hot pot, shrimps and vegetable, and glutenous rice with pork.
Now what to do with Lulu? Our options for the next 5 days in Tibet and to keep her in the van and hope the police will let us go. This means Sara must ride in the van a play sick at the checks. This means we could be fined 40-400$ if the police refuse to let us thru. The other option is to try and find a truck in Tibet, which will prove very difficult and very expensive. We will take our chances.
From Shangri-La in China we could have ride China pre arrange a truck to transport Lulu from there the 5 days to the Chinese/Laos border. This still leaves us with a broken bike there, but there is “not a no mans land there” and we would only have to “push the bike 200 m” to get to Laos according to Toni. We should be able to get a truck easily there according to the guys from MotoLaos. We also need to have the shock shipped asap from Thailand.
Today we have 451 km to Nyingchi (Nyinzhi).
I had consulted the Ride China itinerary and it was clear to me that a portion of the day was unpaved or pavement in poor repair. I thought for Trevor’s back this would be an issue and so I consulted our “guide” Toni. He assured me the road was entirely paved and “exactly like today’s road”. It will become obvious later that he had no idea what the road is like and just blew me off with what he thought I wanted to hear.
Trevor is well enough to ride today and we set out just after 830. We had gone 50 km and thru 2 police checks to find the road closed for construction and we were sent on a detour to the next road over and this rejoins our original route. Then another 10 km later we are at another police check and It is clear to me from the arm waving of the police to other drivers that there is an issue ahead. I bring this up with the guides and they again blew me off. We went another 25 km up the mountainside on switchbacks to a 4 th police check with a gate blocking the road. They say the road ahead is very bad and too rough for the van. So back track 40 km to the more major road and finally head east. It is slow going in the van with the speed camera and the point to point speed checks.
I lost count of the number of check point we went thru today. One even had dogs sniffing the van inside and out. None of the police seemed to care there was a motorcycle in the van. We stopped for lunch at 3 and we still have 234 km to go. There was gas here and that took 20 min for the 3 bikes of course. After lunch there were very few checkpoints and at most we were just waved thru.
We were still 88 km from the city at 645 and it will be dark at 730. The guys were ahead and as there were no real check points they ended up 12 km from town on the secondary road (motos not allowed on the express way) when they called us. We had just spent 5 min sitting on the side of the road to make the minimum time for the point to point speed cameras and we are 50 km from town.
The driver Mr Tang decides we must have gas with 50 Km to go! We pull into the gas station where there are 3 cars in line. They gate off the stations here that have 6-8 pumps, but only let one vehicle in at a time and only after registering with the police. We pulled in and the driver got out to register for gas and when he got back he pulled in behind the third car. After 10 min 2 cars had moved and another policeman came to tell him that he must have cut in and go to the back of the line which now has 10 cars in it. (Much yelling and arguing in Chinese followed) and we left.
It is now 745. I had told the guide that the guys were on the secondary road at a gas station 12 km from town with no-one in line. Despite that they flew by the turn off and onto the expressway. AGH! Lucky I could call the guys back and they went to town to the first exit of the expressway. We had 50 km to go and the tank supposedly on fumes. We did meet them luckily since the guides idea was to send them the name of the hotel in Chinese and told them to ask for directions. I informed him that would not help much as they were highly unlikely to understand the Chinese directions. 2 km from the hotel the driver again decides he should get gas at a station with 8 cars in line! Its 9 pm and raining and the guys have been on their bikes for 12 hours except the 20 min for lunch. I though Dan would loose it. Luckily the pair of them changed their minds and went directly to the hotel instead. That said we are all pissed off and shattered when we arrived to the hotel at 9 pm showered, and went straight to bed without dinner.
Dan and Sara had a team meeting at breakfast to discuss our concerns with how it went yesterday (total disaster). We stated that we know it is not the Chinese way to confront issues like this directly, but that it is the western way and we need to deal with the problem before we can go on. We said that the guides inability to admit he did not know the road, caused us not to have enough information to make a different decision, and eventually caused the riders personal safety to be jeopardized. If we were on our own we would not have just blindly gone with an injured rider. We vented and said our safety depends on them and we need to be able to trust them. We decided to put it in the past and move on. We also again expressed how grateful we are to Mr. Tang for transporting the bike and of course we do not expect him to do this for free.
Today at Mr Tang’s suggestion we cut the itinerary short to just 231 km to Bome (Pome), so that we could have a shorter day and also stay in a bit larger town with more hotel options than the one we originally planned, which is farther down the road.
The road is curvy most of the day and we had a few sprinkles of rain until the last 10 km when it was heavier. Sara was in the van today for the first 100 km and until the first traffic police stop. Unlike the checkpoints who could care less about the bike in the van the traffic police were very concerned. They were actually more upset that a foreigner was IN the van as our permits here are only for “riding on a motorcycle” and not riding in a car/van. They decided to let us thru with a warning, but as soon as we caught up to the guys she suited up and rode with Dan.
We passed thru Lulang Linhai Guanjingtai Town, which is an expensive new tourist development with a Disney feel, but it is picturesque.
There were only 2 other minor stops the rest of the day and they were not concerned with the bike in the van PHEW! The other nice thing today was there was very little traffic and almost no heavy trucks. The views are mostly from the valley floor along the river except for first thing when we ascended one pass to 3000 m . We saw a lot of bicycle riders on their way to Lhasa and quite a few pilgrims as well.
We arrived to Bome just after 4 and managed to get gas in less than 30 min. We of course had 1.5 l too much and they freaked out when we suggested the jerry can and so we gave it to the girl on the scooter behind us in line and she was thrilled!
The hotel is across the river in the new/Chinese part of town, but very nice. It started to pour just after we got here and it is pretty chilly. They have electric heating pads on the bed (which is still hard and like sleeping on plywood) We are getting closer to Sichuan and Yunnan and the food is spicier here for sure.
We have heard from YSS and they will ship us the shock!! We have also been in contact with the riding community and have had advise and offers of help from Gt-Riders, Ride Asia, and Moto Laos! Thanks to you all for assisting us!
Today we have a whopping 410 km to Zogang and 2 passes with the first just over 4600 and the second at 5000m. This will be a slow day of switchbacks especially with the weather predicted. The van is the limiting factor mostly because of the point to point speed cameras. It poured rain all night and it was still light rain at 715 am when we loaded up in the underground parking. It was light just before 730 and we set out. Sara opted for the van with the 5 degrees and rain, but it actually cleared up pretty quickly.
The road is very good and there is really very little traffic. There was only one real military check point today and they did not care about the bike. The rest of the day there were 3-4 police checkpoints, but none of them even looked at us when we slowly rode by. We made it just over 100 km and over the first pass to have breakfast about 945. It was still raining on and off until about 20 min later and Sara was able to get out of the van and pillion again.
The views today are stunning as we ride along the river canyon.
The rise up the first pass is steep and the switch backs are long. We had to pass almost 100 military vehicles on the way up and they continued part of the way down as well.
We started up the second pass about 1330 and found a local spot for lunch at the road side. The guides were behind us, but making good time today and there are few speed controls. We managed to order our own lunch, which I was called into the kitchen to point out what we wanted from the cooler unit.
You head up the mountain over the switchbacks and hope not to encounter the semi trailers coming down at a hair pin as they will certainly be in your lane. Almost at the summit there is a viewing platform to see the amazing road you just came up.
There is not much to see from the summit itself and then it is all down hill for the rest of the afternoon. This was lucky as there were no gas stations for the last 200 km and we all had great fuel economy with the down hill finish.
Getting gas today was no issue and we were the only bikes there. The woman in the office could not be bothered with all the paperwork needed to sell foreigners gas and so she said just go to the next window and pay. Normally they give you this pink form to get gas, but today it was a blank paper with the 100 RNB we had paid written on it. So easy. We still needed to use the metal cans of course.
Then we have a 2 km back track to town and the hotel. They have underground parking again, which is nice. The beds here are like boards. We did have to pile several extra blankets under us to get any sleep. We had a pretty good meal in the hotel restaurant and our last dinner in Tibet. We did a lap of the town and it has a very Chinese feel to it. Poor Dan is having a hard time with the beds and his old disc problem is starting to act up. Trevor on the other hand is improving.