Oh the hills – First ride for Niklas. Shaoguan to Xinwu/ Nanling National Forest Park

This was a tough one. We had a not-to-late-start and the part until Ruyuan isn’t really woth mentioning. Little hills, sucking your energy.

In Ruyuan we had a lunch break, cooled down and hit the road again. And that’s where the real pain started. Up, up, up. In the merciless heat. Thunderrolling and threatining in the distance but no relief by rain or clouds.

So this was Niklas first day of cycling. Bloody, merciless, energy-sucking uphill. Slow, slower… The villages where I wanted to stop for a cold drink didn’t exist. Not good. And we were slow. Exhausted. Especially Niklas. It was his first ever day of bike touring. I tried to figure out the map but couldn’t tell if and when there would be a downhill today or if Nanling National Forest park was just up somewhere in the mountains.

I started to worry. Camping? In this heat? With a thunderstorm rolling in the distance? And with the little water supply and very little food supply weh ad? Didn’t feel good. Not at all. I felt ever so reliefed when I saw a hotel and a restaurant on google maps just a few k ahead. I told Niklas.

The hotel came. All fenced up. The restaurant. All fenced up. The whole village. All fenced up. Deserted. Maybe in high season? Maybe not at all any more? Whatever. Not for us. Every place we came past I scanned for a hotel. But to no avail.

At least, we came past a store. Stocked up on food and fluid supply, drank salted cold coke and went on. Niklas became mono-syllabic and I got fits of laughter. Our individual reactions to exhaustion. I was still able to talk, so I poor Niklas had to listen to me. We stayed close, so I told him, how good he was doing (remember – his first ever day of bike touring!), told him to keep going, told him, he didn’t get a cramp (he did get one but I wasn’t having anymore stopping at that point), to stop worry about his heart rate, he wasn’t going to have an attack and that we really were doing great progress (which was true. For some reason, we regained some energy and were making progress). I didn’t tell him when I decided that we were going to make it to the first hotels as I was a bit worried, he would have a fit and tell me, I was crazy and he was going to camp right there and then.

Then it came. Finally. The DOWNHILL we were working for all afternoon. Sweet joy! The last 20k were easy and we lived to see another air-conditioned hotel room and have dinner at a restaurant.

 

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