12-Sep-2006 -- This is the 7th confluence visit on a bicycle trip from China to Central Asia. The story starts at 32°N 107°E.
I spent the previous night in the village Qijiaojing at a simple hostel with 6 beds inside my room. At two o’clock in the night a truck arrived and a couple came to share the room with me. Three hours later, I got up – this time revenging the noise nuisance.
The road conditions were extremely tough: deep sand, uphill and headwinds. My speed maximum didn’t exceed the 10km/h marker. It is hard to be in good mood under these conditions, in particular when all goals for the day slowly melt away…
It was already late afternoon when I reached the village Dashitou (which means Big Stone Head). This little place is located 30km beeline from the confluence and is also the turnoff from the main road. Here I took the chance to get my bicycle rag fixed (which continuously kept loosing screws) and also to have a last meal before heading into the desert. I thought through the options that I had: to head for the confluence or to keep going on the highway in order to reach a town and hotel for the night.
Beyond all logical reasons, I decided to give it a try and turned into the desert. On sandy tracks I progressed as expected. I was feeling a bit insecure, since 30 km off-road is quite a distance in the desert. I didn’t meet any people but one camel track
with a yurt. The roughness of the track caused my rear bike rack to loose its screws again. Suddenly it broke into two parts. Here in the desert was no way I could repair it. I loaded half of my luggage into a back-pack and continued my journey towards the confluence. But the screws on the remaining side kept getting loose. Every 5 minutes I had to tighten them. That continued until one of these checks resulted in the observation that I had lost the crucial screw. Now I had to carry almost all the luggage on my back and bind the remaining stuff with a strap on the rear.
It wasn’t clear, how long that would last, but I bravely continued towards the confluence. At 11km beeline distance, two heavy loaded coal trucks appeared at the horizon in front of me. For a long time I just saw two clouds of sand approaching until I could see the actual trucks. When we passed each other, the truck stopped and the driver and his companion got off to see who on earth was cycling here.
They both insisted that I turn back, saying there is absolutely nothing in my direction. They were coming from a coal mine in the Bäyik Mountains (Beishan) ca. 100km further north. With their truck, it took them 3 days to make it back to a road. I could clearly see the exhaustion (although they were not cycling).
Suddenly I had the feeling that I shouldn’t go further. According to my map I was supposed to hit another road soon. But after they told me that there was none, I felt too uncomfortable to proceed. The sun was going down; two hours of daylight were left. Continuing would have required camp night in the desert. Water supplies were ok, but my moral was already demoralized.
Although I was two thirds through, I turned back. At sunset (19:55 pm) I was back to the road in Dashitou. I hitchhiked to the next town called Mule [Mori] and spend the night in a proper hotel. But up to the day of writing, I regret to have turned around.
CP visit details:
- Time at turning around: 18:30 p.m.
- Time to reach the turn around from the road: 1.5 hours
- Distance to a track: ? m
- Distance to a road: 30 km
- Topography: flat
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 11 km
- GPS height: ca. 800m
- Vegetation: none.
- Weather: sunny (22° felt temperature)
- Description of the CP: In Eastern Xinjiang Province, deep in the desert.
- Given Name: The Decomposing Bike Rack Confluence
Story continues at 44°N 90°E