i’ve shifted my route north, added a couple hundred kilometers, cut a couple hundred kilometers, but it’s still a month or so of skating plus a week or so of foolin around up there.
originally i planned to skate from chengdu, altitude 400m, straight up into the mountains. this would have been a 250km slog, uphill, from day one, and i would have been ascending pretty fast. actually i am ok at 2000m, dont anticipate and haven’t experienced any problems at this relatively low ‘high altitude.’ but, huffing it on my first days out, that i thought, was pushing my luck.
now i have the chance to meet one musician in the north of sichuan, a place called zoige. when i have a direct contact, arranged through friends, i can get a lot more information and experience than when i go stumbling about on my own, so it makes sense to compensate, to make that contact happen.
this place zoige, is somewhat remote. and i find it interesting, when i looked at the maps and found it, i realized if i were going to bus it to this place, it would be a long, uncomfortable journey in multiple minivans and 4×4 trucks, it would take at least 24 hours to get there from the nearest train. no fun.
skating, however, the place becomes infinitely more accessable! its out on the one road through the grasslands, and arriving form the north, though it will take days longer than the bus rides, it looks like a lovely journey to zoige. i never thought skating would seem easier than bus and truck, but in some ways it is. after a day on the bus, my back and body hurts, after a day skating, i am exhausted, sure, but my body and mind feel great! so, skating it is, to zoige.
my new route is on roads i have much researched, looking at the xining route i first discussed with rob thompson. in fact, our co-conspirator adam colton might well be out on that xining route by the time i get to my start, in linxia. i am hoping we will meet, though its a long shot.
a photo from an excellent, informative website thelandofsnows.com
linxia has one main advantage besides being more directly connected to zoige, and that’s its altitude. linxia is up around 2000m, i will hang around there for two days. i can go visit the nearby buddha statues (i kinda got a thing for stones carved in caves, and especially stones carved in caves carved in mountains in desert places. i always wondered, what possessed the artists to settle manifest their lives’ works, sculpting buddhas in these places?) in the towns near these buddhas i will find hotels and foods and the buddhas themselves will entertain me for a day, i can grab a bus from there to linxia, and plan to have been up at 2000m for two days before i get on my skate.
chilling for the first few days out, say 40 or 50km skating, i’ll get out of the desert and into the prairies, and can give myself a good five days acclimitization before i start pushing it. i’ll be on it at least a week before i hit 3000m, and i will skate around 3-3500 for a week or more before dropping down to 2000 for a bit. afterwards i push up to 3500m, then 4500m. at the high point i have maybe 5 days skating the grasslands before coming down the last 400Km to 1800m, around lugu lake. somewhere in there is an awesome 100Km downhill! yeah!
this new route has a number of high passes on the way, pushing up through the mornings, and riding down again to sleep at relatively lower altitude, which helps acclimatize for going higher and staying there. the new route also lazes a lot further through rolling grasslands at 3000m, maybe 400km further, which is very attractive.
another photo from thelandofsnows.com
as well, i should pass through an area where both mongolian and tibetan nomads herd their sheep and yaks, and i am very curious to check out their various dwellings. tents and yurts are a much more fluid architecture in the landscape, but architecture nonetheless, and if i could even catch some mongolian horse-head fiddling, that would be the cat’s meow, or, the horse’s fiddle, whatever.
the route has changed somewhat, starting from farther north and higher up, but it should be a healthier plan for me. it gives me time to work it to the really high altitude roads, south of litang, were there’ll be less oxygen, more cold, and likely a good wind (it always seems to blow in my face, and never at my back.) by the time i get there, i should be fit and in my stride.
one would think, after some days doing this ‘skate all day, every day’ thang, one would start to get exhausted and slow down. suprise, suprise! i have found i am only really skating at my peak once i have been out on the road for nearly 2 weeks, then i can push 80km+ per day, the ups and downs have become routine. after really getting adjusted to the altitude, my on-the-road diet, the rythm of mornings, afternoons, evenings and nights out in the middle of nowhere with my skateboard and my camp gear, i am good to go.
out in the middle of nowhere, that’s really where this route will take me. awesome!