09-Sep-2006 -- This is the 5th confluence visit on a bicycle trip from China to Central Asia. The story starts at 32°N 107°E.
At 5:45 I got up in my run-down hotel near Lanzhou Central Train Station. Equipped with bicycle, GPS and camera I cycled through the dark city streets.
The reason for my early start was to get a train ticket from Lanzhou to Hami in Xinjiang Province. The ticket sale was supposed to start at 9 am and would be sold out quickly due to the high demand in autumn. So I tried to have an early visit and be back in time.
The beeline distance between the train station and the CP was 15 km and the road was quite direct. But as an experienced confluence hunter I know that there are always delays. As a general rule: expect the unexpected.
The first unexpected thing was the inclination of the road. Following a county road always next to an interstate (a more suitable expression would be inter-provincial highway) I didn’t expect such a steep and tiring uphill ride. Behind every curve I expected the uphill section to end, but it didn’t until I reached the confluence.
Unfortunately, I was on the wrong side of the motorway. From my map I couldn’t judge on which site the confluence was and at that time, I didn’t know about Ray Yip’s visit to the point 2 month earlier, so I had no a priory information.
After searching a while, I found a small bridge nearby and followed a minor road on the other side. At a remaining distance of 550m to the DCP the road suddenly ended at a gate. I felt uncomfortable, because it looked like an army camp and I could hear military-style voices in the background.
I turned to the right and rode up a steep hill, left my bike behind and hiked another hill down – until I ended up at a barbwire. This was 60m from the CP. Since I didn’t know what was behind I decided that my goal was met and no risky adventures were necessary. In Ray Yip’s West
picture you can see the fence from the other side.
On my way back I wanted to avoid the military-like gate and went down cross-country an extremely steep grade. The soil consisted of yellowish loose loess and suddenly I unwillingly begun to slide down until I landed 20m deeper in a dusty cloud around me directly at the road. Two farmers were just passing by on foot. For them, it must have been quite strange – a foreigner with a bicycle sliding down a 70% slope. But they kept cool as if it was an every day event.
It took me just 40 minutes to be back in Lanzhou – all downhill. I was actually back in time earlier than expected, at 8:30 am.
CP visit details:
- Time at the CP: 7:45 p.m.
- Time to reach the CP from Lanzhou: 2 hours
- Distance to a track: 350 m
- Distance to a road: 550 km
- Distance of bicycle parking: 350 m
- Distance to houses: 200 m (from inside the fence)
- Topography: hilly, high up on a mountain.
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 60 m
- Position accuracy at the CP: 5 m
- GPS height: 1738 m
- Vegetation: dry soil with terraced fields. Some low grass. Erosion area.
- Weather: cloudy (20° felt temperature)
- Description of the CP: On a hilltop above Lanzhou (the city can be seen from a spot in 400m distance). Some electric overhead power lines cross the area. The CP is in a fenced area.
- Given Name: The Loess Sliding Confluence
Story continues at 43°N 93°E