Wheeling in the Wind
28 Apr 1998 10:21:22 -0700
Guesthouse, Cangzhou; Hebei -- China :: 16 APR 98
The cyclist's worst nightmare, at least this cyclist's
worst nightmare is a headwind. Hill's are a slog, but they always crest
and there's usually a refreshing descent to follow. Rain's a real drag,
but the proper gear in even a hard rain minimizes the grotty sogginess.
A headwind, however, can dog you all day, tormenting you with its buffeting.
We woke today to another windy day, not a stiff breeze but an
even 25-30km/hr blast. Visions of the previous century plagued our thoughts:
a 20-25km/hr wind out of the West/Northwest and our compass heading was
North/Northwest. An ugly grind. I checked the map for our day's ride:
in the beginning due North then angling to a Northwest diagonal. It looked
like an ugly day ahead. At least only 76km separated us from our
We packed up our gear, did some much needed maintenance on our
drive trains and headed out of town due East. The wind swirled fiercely
around Heimin's buildings, kicking dust, grit and plastic bags into our
faces. This could get ugly. At the edge of town, our route turned North
T A I L W I N D !!!
Oh, yaassss! A 30-35km/hr tailwind, coming from directly due
South. Oh my. The cyclist's BEST friend. At a 30km/hr pace, the safety
flag on the B.O.B. trailer ripples lazily, the flagpole standing upright.
WEEEE-HAAAA! At 35km/hr we overtake the wind and finally feel the air
in our faces. It's an easily maintained pace and the countryside whizzes
Adding to our buoyancy is the sun beaming down through the cottonwood
canopy of the narrow, unlined roadway. In the open farmland, with few
buildings in sight, the scene's reminiscent of the treelined roadways
criss-crossing the French countryside. We pass an old man, pedaling with
knees bowed out, wobbling slightly due to unsteady stearing and a rickety
bike. Put him in a beret; add a basketful of baguettes. But he is no less
charming as a an old Chinese man cycling through Rural Hebei province.
We are reminded of our fortune by every cyclist taking the opposite
heading. Jackets rippling, heads bowed down, bodies swaying with every
grinding effort to spin the pedals another half circle. We taste a bit
of it ourselves when occassionally our route jogs to the West or, painfully,
to the West/Southwest. But soon enough we turn Northerly again and the
wheels roll almost of their own volition. We cover the first 43 kilometers
in an hour and a half, including a stop for water, and to recheck our
route in the guide, and to retrieve the tail-light which bounced off the
back of my bike, clattering to a halt beside the roadway.
Neither the cottonwoods nor the tailwind last the day. The second
43 klicks introduces us to a much more heavily used throughway, and our
heading changes from North/Northwest to Northwest with frequent westerly
jogs. Still, we cover the 76 kilomoters to our guidebook's scheduled destination,
Yanshan, by 3:30 in the afternoon.
Yanshan's a place offering little of interest, says the guide.
A fact plainly discernable with a glance of an eye. The next day's ride
would be just 47 kilometers to Cangzhou, a much larger town with greater
potential for interest. We opt to push on and, despite the many westerly
jogs bringing us into fierce crosswinds, manage to make Cangzhou at sunset.
123 kilometers in a little over 6 hours, including stops. Another century.
~~~ Responses Sought ~~~
The Tao is infinite, eternal.
Why is it eternal?
It was never born;
thus it can never die.
Why is it infinite?
It has no desires for itself;
thus it is present for all beings.
The Master stays behind;
that is why she is ahead.
She is detached from all things;
that is why she is one with them.
Because she has let go of herself,
she is perfectly fulfilled.