Great Wall. Great, great wall.

12 July – China (Shanxi-Hebei-Beijing) – ~180 miles

Final day of riding solo.
Final chance to ride like a local(/nutter).
Final proper riding day.

Started off well… leaving Datong, the GPS tried to take me out of the old/inner city via a gate/bridge which turned out to be one-way, the wrong way. My very first thought was not “oh well, let’s look for a new route”, it was “well… footpaths aren’t one-way, and that gate/bridge has a footpath, so…” No need to looking for a new route.

The rest of the day – turned out to be an excellent little compilation of all the experiences over the last two weeks. Red trucks, mostly carrying coal, for ages – coal dust everywhere. Insane traffic, with us joining in the fun. Overtaking dozens of trucks all lined up for their weight checks, dodging oncoming traffic, overtaking vehicles 3-wide, overtaking on the inside, ignoring red lights, coming across the road completely disappearing – and enthusiastically trying 6 or so different detours, off-roading random places, until finally finding a way around.

And then, we roll up to our hotel, located right at the foot of the Shuiguan section of the Great Wall. Riding along, coming around a bend, and seeing that bloody great wall along the skyline – magical. Not quite as magical as my first ever sight of it – but still pretty cool.
Got in early enough for an afternoon “wander” up the Wall. It’s still a good wall. Last time I saw this bloody wonderful thing, I spent an entire day just sitting on it and staring at it, including dodging the security guards to spend the evening sitting on some of the towers after-hours.
Today – after a hard day of “combative riding”, and then climbing the approximately 70-degree slope stairs to just get to the first tower – I was happy with just a couple of hours on it – including the ridiculously perilous climb up and down. (Super paranoid about just having a little slip and spraining an ankle on this of all days – and rolling into Beijing Ace Cafe sitting in the van – I was creeping down like a pensioner)
And then standing on the roof of the hotel, reading the book, gazing up at that glorious endless masonry on the skyline as the sun went down.
Good wall.

So close, nearly over, sad-face
Riding through the Great Wall
Old vs new
Rather steep “stairs”

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