amdo kham 2012 – stage 1

after five days on the road, i arive in langmusi, having skated 260km through gansu province. a lot of uphill, some awesome flats and fast downhill, its been a great movement through the big big sky country.

i have been up arund 3000m for the past three days, finally feeling today somewhat acclimatized and i blazed 60km across yaklands, powered on meussli breakfasts and beef noodles, yak noodles, lamb noodles…now i am gorging on pizza, seeing as langmusi has that good ol’ tourist infrastructure. well, one place, anyway.

the subsomic gt is fab, just takes some adjustment of my stance to get going efficiently, but that came pretty quick. am getting a lot of creaky-squeak, though, i think it’s the pivot cups on the new v2 buzzed trucks. craig said they are using a new material for that, think i need to grease it a bit, to go silent.

om..nom…pizza…

so far it’s been mellow, am making good time, about 50km per day. folks on the road are so pleasant. just before entering gannan, a man stopped his car, gave me a bottle of water, touched his fingertips together and said ‘i’m tibetan. welcome’

drivers often offer rides which i don’t accept, and today a woman handed me an amazing pear out the window of her moving car. sweet!

i camped alone by the wayside, and with yak herders up at the top of one pass, and stayed in a one grubby hotel, gonna rest in this town for a day to recharge…

and i met a man, who met another man, who said he was driving on the road to xining, and saw a speck approaching… was it a yak? no…it was a skater, pushing…that would be adam colton, making his way across qinghai. cool.

footbrake pad #3

after some cutting and carving and one intermediate design (footbrake pad #2) i have arrived at a workable model for my next trek. this one is cut from a moped tyre, which was a lot easier than hack-sawing through the steel radials of the car tyre i used for the first prototype. the moped tyre has enough tread to function well as a brake shoe, but is a lot lighter in weight. bonus.

i use this contraption for long long downhills (30km +) when i cannot use the drogue chute to air brake, and in places where the road is too narrow, with sharp blind turns. there i cannot carve off speed and have to take a straight line.

my first footbrake pad was quite heavy, and ultimately became unwieldy. i couldn’t push well with it, and carving while wearing the blocky shoe addition wasn’t so smooth, so it was either footbrake only, or end up going like a bat outta hell. this new version should be less intrusive but still practical.

sometimes the bat scene is cool, especially with the wind brake/drogue chute. it’s not quite a cape (check out super cycling man! http://www.supercyclingman.com) but kinda…

sometimes the bat scene is bad, riding with a backpack, going way too fast without the option to carve. then it’s down to footbraking to descend safely. excessive footbraking means trashed shoes, and though i expect to kill my current trekking shoes in the next six weeks of skating, having one shoe totally worn down and the other relatively intact, makes for strange balance while walking and skating. i try to put that off as long as possible.

route rundown

‘coffee high’ is about to take off! my route follows a simple plan – head for the mountains. but these mountains are a bit different…

1] train to lanzhou – 20 grueling hours in a hard sleeper coach
2] bus to the hydroelectric dam near linxia, try and find a hotel, if not, camp
3] boat to the bingling buddhist art grottoes – a day of acclimatization
4] bus through the badlands to linxia – shouldn’t start skating at 2000m right away
5] expensive hotel in linxia – not all hotels accept foreigners, maybe i’ll be lucky and find a cheap one
rest day in linxia – not expecting much of this town on the edge of the desert
6] skate south! 40 km flat, then up up up
first week of skating 2000m to 3000m, rolling hills and grasslands – this will be my breaking in period, no need to push too hard

7] find the musicians on the grasslands – really, the middle of nowhere
chill for a bit, we’ll see what this place offers up
8] week two, skate the grasslands and along a river 3500m
9] week three – higher into the mountains, climbing, several 4000m+ passes, and a few short, fast downhill runs
10] week four – skate the grasslands around litang, 4500m! high in the mountains, but flat, open, rolling countryside!
11] week five – down to lugu lake, more 4000m+ passes and some major downhills, descent to 1800m
12] depending on my time and energy, skate or bus to lijiang, to shaxi
13] week six – chill in shaxi a few days, bus to dali, to kunming, train back to beijing…

plenty of time to relax, i have six weeks to do this, and if it’s really really cold, i might do it faster, it’s about 4 weeks’ skating distance, but i plan to take it easy. ok, skating 2000km isn’t really taking it easy, but everything is relative!