10 July – China (Shanxi) – ~120 miles

A short day, but one of the grimiest, filthiest, sootiest.
There was an option to take the well-known, safe and comfortable, G108 up to Pingyao, but some of chose to take the unknown new road, the S224, for part of the trip.
Like all newly found diversions, it initially seemed a nice sweet alternative. Four lanes (each way) of empty road, clean. Not particularly interesting – but an easy way to get where one is going. Then – warning signs – a random car parked in the middle of the four lanes, hazard lights flashing. First thought “Okay – maybe a warning for an upcoming hazard”. Then – another car, in the 3rd lane, hazard lights going, slowly turning back out to the third lane. “Odd… hazard-warning guys with very poor danger awareness”. A third example – completely halted in the middle of this “highway” – I glanced inside – saw the car packed full of very young people, the driver very very nervously hunched over the steering wheel. Fourth car exhibiting similarly odd behaviour – the same. These were teenagers learning how to drive (apparently very early learners) – in the middle of a four-lane highway. I gave them even more leeway after that.
And then – the red trucks again.

I am meaning to look up how many trucks there are in China – and specifically, the red ones, and whether they are perhaps state-owned.
Today – many, many red trucks – the majority carting coal.
I don’t know how many red trucks I overtook – it would probably be hundreds. I do know how many I overtook in a standard deemed appropriate in NZ or UK law – zero.
Yesterdays little mining town, where the colour seemed to disappear from the air, and everything was just a dirty dark-grey or black… was nearly the entirety of today’s ride. There were little “dust-devils” of soot flying around in the road. During some rain, I glanced down at the wind-visor, the water dripping down it was far from transparent. After the rain, the stuff left on my helmet visor – yuck. Other riders got into the shower in their full waterproof kits – and apparently the runoff was something to behold.

And – I thought that was just the nasty S224.
But – apparently – the G108 knew of my little misdemeanor/diversion – and decided to punish my infidelity with more of the same.

But – eventually got to Pingyao – dirty, but in some sunshine, and made my way into the old city. The old city is surrounded by wall/moats – with no cars allowed inside. Bikes… yeah, sure – rules don’t apply to motorbikes, as we all know. Snaked my way through some very small alleys/dirt-tracks – to find our hotel – in enough time to wander around the old city for the afternoon. Lovely place – all re-built rather than original (apparently) – but very much a tourist-trap “old Chinese city”. Albeit the vast VAST majority of tourists are chinese. Even in a tourist-trap like this, we are the subject of photos, shock, etc.
Difficult to get any decent photos of the general town, and wasn’t really too bothered to do so once cold beers were found, but a couple of cursory attempts…

Central street/tower – with one of the few real bicycles left in China
Some building

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