Day 108 883 days to go. Distance today 82km total 6619km. Its 815p, Saturday 17/3/2012 Lixian and the day of our epiphany. Ever had one of those moments on a spiritual level when you get a certain truth. That is exactly what we experienced today. It went past good luck and fortune. I can’t stop looking at the photos and we definitely can’t wipe the smiles off our faces. Ill give you the details. Leaving Changde Rubes crank broke. Moments later a group of local cyclists came pat and stopped. One was a bike mechanic and owns a bike shop with top brand mountain bikes and components. He checked her out and found the problem. Another fell’as sister spoke English so he called her to explain it all to me. His wife picked us up to go back to the shop. The sister turned up to translate and I asked if Rube could have a full service. Three hours later she has a new crank, rear cluster and derailleur, chain, levers, front brake pads and cables, all good stuff with service and parts costing $250. At 2.30pm we got escortedback to the 207 to Lixian. 82km later of fully functioning bliss, we arrived at Lixian with the allocated kms done for the day. I had just promised the girl yesterday she would be pampered in Beijing. Obviously not soon enough for her needs and our guardian angel stepped in¡ It¡’s surreal and I know as it was happening that it was more than good fortune. We were being looked after.
What an incredible day. Its been so full and so full on my heads still spinning and Ruby’s tucked in bed dreaming of racing car red and her new bits. The day started awesomely with a freebie breakfast with the truck stop family, omelet, greens and rice yum. We then had a photo session with everyone into it. The Truckee stop folk had adopted us and waved us off like family. We headed all good for our days ride to Lixian. Not even a kilometer into the ride rube started to play up crunching and slipping when I peddled. I got her and the trailer up on the footpath and was thinking I had done something terrible to her the day prior when I serviced her. We had no sooner stopped when a group of about 10 lads all ages pulled up. They were kitted out in their cycling gear and mountain bikes for a morning ride. One of the lads stepped in clearly knowing what he was doing and checked rube out for the problem. Meanwhile the others wanted to chat and know our story and were literally all thumbs up to us both. I was a bit distracted I must admit waiting for the verdict. One man was on the phone and soon passing it over to me. A woman on the line told me that Rubes crank had broken and even my novelist head knew this wasn’t good. She explained that the lad looking at rube had a bike shop and he could fix her there. One of the guys wife arrived to pick us up while the other men went on their cycling way with waves of goodbye and good luck. The woman on the phone ended up being the man’s sister and could speak awesome English. Her English name is Jasmine and Chinese name Tian Jia. Jasmine majored in English and now works at a local university. She lived for a time in New Zealand but came back to China to be with family and friends. She was wonderful and I loved her company. Jasmine said I was her idol so I liked her more
I asked her about the red ties on the cars and they are for good luck and a safe drive. She called it Chinese red and gave me a new red scarf when I told her the story of the Chinese cyclists in Cambodia. I told her of our adventure plans and that I was hoping to have rube serviced proper in Beijing. She then asked the lad to give her a full inspection and talked me through the whole process with her translation. The new levers Rube got in Vietnam were for an 8 speed and rube is a 9. That’s why we’ve been missing a few important gears but managing with what we had. It’s got us from Hanoi to here and that has been a good thing. They weren’t compatible but. The rear cluster and derailleur were totally worn as was the chain and front brake pads. So he got to work. He put on decent 9 speed levers so now we have all front and rear gears fully operational yay big yay. The components he used are good quality because she is a good quality bike. Do you think she liked hearing this? Let’s just say she was flashing her best red side at him!! Meanwhile the neighboring shops and folk all gathered around the fuss. This one old lady came out and presented me with a bowl of home made rice flour dumplings, greens and stock. Jasmine said the old lady liked me but that I was too skinny and my face was dry!! Pleased with her good gesture she gathered the other woman about for a game for cards and they were betting and she was winning and full of cheek. She kept looking over flashing me a smile of approval. Very funny! We went and got some cash out at an ATM and a few hours later the girl was done and glowing with her shiny new bits. The fella gave her a test ride and the all ok approval. His name is Liunei and he was meticulous and impressive and I told him he was MY idol. I exchanged details with Jasmine and Liunei. She wants me to email her this post so she can translate and share it with the lads. One guy jumped on a bike and the others in the car and we were escorted back to the road to Lixian. Ruby always travels he beautiful best bu she was purring. We both were!! So what are two girls to do with new gear, an incredible sense of good and all smiles? We smashed it!!! The weather cleared to blue skies and the road was fabulous and we both were in top notch condition and feeling dam fine with the world. The temperature warmed to 15 degrees so we peddled ourselves silly loving every moment and every perfect gear change. The hills were a breeze and our momentum unparallel since the start of the trip. It was like all our new and old bits just clicked in harmony and in perfect conditions, we flew the 82kms to Lixian. Fun big big big!!! We had a stop at a small petrol station where the workers and their families were about. Pretty soon they had gathered around me and the girl and I couldn¡¯t help myself. I had to let it out and tell someone. They got the whole morning story with every bit of animation and candid gesture and photos. If they didn’t understand they were at least entertained. Or maybe they were just too polite to walk off
A man invited me to sit with him and his mates and they too were playing this poker style card game. The cards are long a narrow with Chinese characters and he had a pile of the other men’s money which I made a joke of. I think they got it too by their groans and giggles. Back on the road and just outside Lixian, we spotted a roadside stop and asked if it offered accommodation. The woman and her family were totally welcoming and showed us the room which was very basic, clean and all good. Unfortunately on my high from the day I assumed it would be cheap and didn’t ask the price. I mucked about with the kids and neighbors then she had served me up something to eat. I didn’t ask for anything and it wasn’t dinner o’clock but I rolled went along with it. I saddled up to fried eggs tofu and ginger. It was really good!! I thought it time to pay my bill and the cheeky woman charged me double what the price should have been for the room (80 yen) and dinner (20 yen). Last time I paid 80 yen I had a computer in the room with internet access. Serve myself right for not asking and I wont do that twice. One negative thing from the day is that someone thought their need greater and has pinched our bike light from rubes saddle bag. I found it missing today when I went to show it off to one of the cyclists asking about a light. Location of the offence somewhere between Hue and Changde. That narrows it down bugga bugga. But to tell you the truth I’m just so relieved with the day. The weight off with Rube all good is worth its weight in gold. Look out Beijing I say. We may make that milestone yet!! Talk soon x
PS The sun as it set was a misty mushroom pink. We said goodnight and invited him back tomorrow if he liked
PPS Back in Vietnam my nephew Evan wished that Aunty Ree see a falling star. The weather has made that a bit tricky to date but tonight the sky is clear albeit a bit hazy. So Ill keep an eye out mate. I did watch fireworks earlier and though of my wish from you xxx
What can I say
as we make our way
through the land of Chinese red
It surpasses good fortune
and given us faith
in the strength of human kindness
What can I say
as we find our way
our guardian angel’s here.