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Old 10-06-2010, 06:13 AM   #1
Smackit OP
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Location: Reno, Nevada & Guangdong China
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Laugh China, To Fujian for beer

My friend, Felix, mentioned going for a little ride during the National day holiday here in China. He lives in Suzhou and I live down in Dongguan, so we settled on Fuzhou as a half way point. He then mentioned something about the possibility of cold beer there, so I figured what the hell, let's give it a go. Four days of riding and roughly 2500 kilometers took me over the following route.

Many months since the Wee Strom had seen action. The wife and I spent the summer touring America on a Concours, and I was happy to be back on the roads of China with my Wee,

I've never seen traffic as bad as what I experienced in the first few hours of the ride. Multiple traffic jams, accidents and thousands of vehicles stuck and going nowhere. Sometimes I could see the toll highways as they passed overhead and even they were at a complete standstill. Something terrible is happening to the roads here in China, and I live in fear of having to drive anywhere in my car as traffic has reached a crisis level.

It took me a few hours to get back in the groove of China riding, but I soon returned to the flow of dodging obstacles and incessantly honking my horn. Finally I made it into the countryside, and stopped for a little break. Seems like the countryside has gotten so much further away than it used to be.

Tried to make the trip mostly X and S level roads (county/state level), and enjoyed a nice mix of sweepers and twisty's as I made my way north out of Guangdong.

I spied a group of large bikes, an unusual thing here, and decided to join in. We eventually stopped for a chat and they invited me to tag along. I'm not a big fan of riding in groups, but it was late in the day, and I figured it would be fun to hang out for the evening.

We made it up to the town of XiaYang, just over the Guangdong/Fujian border. All of my new found friends were Guangdong natives, so they quickly located nice accommodations and delicious food.

And plenty of ice cold beer! Splendid group of people and a fun time was had sharing tales, as all bikers do. Thanks for the great dinner guys.

It had been a long day for everyone, so we were off to bed fairly early. I went back to my humble abode to swim some laps in the ridiculously huge bathtub. It's quite amazing what a couple hundred Yuan (30 bucks) gets you for a night in China.

The next morning was sunny and warm. Felix and I had agreed on meeting in JianOu, so I was up early and rolling by 7:00.

I decided to stick to my plan of S and X roads which started out well enough as I passed through the rural countryside. This was a nice little sugar cane farm that I stopped at for a peek.

Fujian is quite mountainous and I was pretty much going up or down all the time.

Then the roads got bad, and I mean really bad. Lots of construction and mud with plenty of obstacles to keep things interesting.

I passed this cool little covered bridge, something I'd never seen before on previous journeys.

The scenery was good, but the roads were really taking their toll on me. I figured I had plenty of time to get to JianOu, but at this point, I was struggling to make 30-40 kilometers in an hour.

Stop for a rest.

Finally reached JianOu and was happy to find Felix and his friend Dao Fei had only been waiting about 10 minutes. We found lodging for the night and then hit the town for some beers and boasting.

JianOu is a river town, and lots of local people enjoy eating crayfish. I'm not a fish fan, and I had also seen the condition of the river, so decided to pass on the local delicacy.

None the less, we manage a big feast with plenty of cold brews and lots of good conversation.

We were up early (some earlier than others..cough..cough), and after a couple bits of bike tweaking, took off towards Fuzhou. I wasn't planning on hitting the coast, so I told Felix I would probably head back towards Guangdong around MinQing. We headed south on S303 and hit a little rain and gravel in the mountains, but overall, not a bad road.

Felix winding it up in the corners.

Followed by Dao Fei. Dao Fei's bike is completely custom, and he's done an amazing job of picking components from several different kinds of bikes. It's a nice blend of trick little gadgets and common sense upgrades that are a huge improvement on what you see from most of the factories here. They should hire this guy, they could learn a lot from a passionate rider like him.

The rice is ready for harvest and everything has a beautiful yellow glow.

We stopped in GuTian for a quick breakfast.

A traditional breakfast of eggs, pancakes and sausage…er…dumplings I mean.

Followed by more nice scenery.

This is the MinQing Hydro power station on the MinJiang river. I stopped to grab a photo and wait for the boys to wish them well on their journey. They didn't notice me as they whipped past and that was the last I saw of them. They headed towards the coast as I continued south.

Which started out pretty well. I had learned from the previous days to avoid the X roads in Fujian and stick to the S roads. They don't have the tight twisty's, but at least they would most likely be in decent condition.

Or so I thought. This is when everything went to shit. So I'm coming through one of those little towns where everyone with a sense of entrepreneurship has set up some kind of roadside business, effectively cutting traffic down to a lane and a half. There's a bus in front of me that's stopped for no apparent reason, so I move left to go around. Just as I start to pass, a passengers head comes out of the bus window spewing barf in all directions. It's unavoidable, and she manages to cover a good portion of the bike and my helmet. Naturally, my face shield was open due to the traffic jam, so I got a good face full. Yuck, it was almost making me puke. I stop a couple hundred meters up the road and try to de-puke my bike and riding gear. I seriously debate throwing my helmet away as the smell was just revolting. Just a little after the puke incident, the road turns into a construction project gone wrong and my mood is not getting better.

I asked people about the construction and they said it was only about 20 kilometers, they were wrong, as you can see the sign in the picture bellow mentions something about Kilometer 255 through Kilometer 344 being a mess. I never saw this sign, as I came from the north, and I guess they forgot to put one up there. These 4 people riding a 125 didn't seem to mind and gave big smiles as they passed.

Shortly after this picture, the adventure really began. As I reached another spot of congestion, I slowed down to figure out the best attack for a deep mud hole. I decided to go right to avoid the water and as I made my way through, some idiot on a scooter comes up the middle, bounces off a rock, and whacks my front wheel. I'm in shallow mud with no stopping power going 5 km/h at most. The hit is just enough to send me off course and I start going down. The natural reaction when you fall is to put your arms out, and as I'm falling, my hands don't hit ground, but rather, pass through some loose vegetation and bamboo. I realize I'm falling into a ditch. A very deep ditch, but I never made it to the bottom. The bike has pinned my foot and now I'm hanging upside down trapped by my motorcycle. Not good, as this is China, and it's fairly normal for people to avoid those in need, less they get blamed. I struggle to get upright, but there's just no possible way I can get up or pull my foot out of my boot. After three monumental efforts, I'm getting dizzy and start yelling out for some help. A few minutes later, I finally feel the pressure on my foot subsiding as someone pulls the bike up and I go crashing down on my head into what is basically a garbage ditch. Oh well, it's nice to be free again and I thank my new found friend for helping me. He's reluctant to shake my hand as I smelled like puke and trash at that point. I finally manage to get on my way again.

It was getting a bit late, probably around 5:00 or so, which meant I only had another hour of light. I had managed 35 kilometers in the last hour and a half, and I still had more than 50 to go before I would intersect another major road. Never ride at night, never ride at night, was starting to creep into my head as I lumbered on. I looked at the GPS and came to the grim realization that I was going to be riding through this crap in the dark. Another hour passed and another 25 kilometers covered. I could see my headlight beam now and the sky was starting to go black. The traffic had decreased to the occasional motorcycle or small tractor and I noticed the road was getting very narrow. I looked up ahead and saw there was no road. Just a huge mound of dirt and a tiny trail to the left that looked barely passable on foot. I walked it over a couple times, removed the hard luggage and squeezed through. Again I came to a another mound and barely managed to get through after removing the luggage, this was getting exhausting.

About this time I started to come full circle on the Kübler-Ross model. Those are the five stages motorcyclists usually go through when dealing with a crappy ride.

Denial - This road can't possible be under construction for 90 kilometers.
Anger - How can a road possibly be under construction for 90 kilometers.
Bargaining - If I can just get to an intersection, I will gladly go anywhere else.
Depression - This sucks, why did I ever take this route.
Acceptance - It's not so bad, at least my bike is running fine and I'm not hanging upside down covered in puke.

I stopped for a few minutes and sat there in the pitch black and silence. I finally started moving again and as I rounded the next corner, realized I was at the summit of the mountain. I could see lights and a city off in the distance, and a huge feeling of relief washed over me. I slowly plodded along down the mountain feeling like there just may be a chance I would get off that stupid road. Another 15 or 20 minutes passed and I reached a couple vehicles that were stuck. There was another impassable mound and I wondered (A) how the hell did they get there and (B) how many days had they been stuck in that spot. I was in no mood for conversation and quickly pulled the luggage and managed to wiggle through. I imagine those people are still sitting in that spot.

That was the final obstacle. A few kilometers later my headlights struck concrete and I realized I was finally on a regular road again. Hallelujah! Onward into the town ZhangPing, where I stopped at a hotel, and then another, and then another and jeez... will this day never end. At last I found a room at a dirty little Bingguan and called Felix. How was your day?.... Mine was pure hell. We chatted for a bit and then I headed into the shower with all my riding gear on. The stream of filth was astounding and a half hour later I finally felt human again. I bought a couple beers and pulled a granola bar from my bag for dinner.

What a day.

Here's the section that kicked my ass. It's S203 between XiangHu and ZhangPing. Give it some time and I'm sure it will be a lovely ride when the road is completed.

The next morning I woke up feeling a bit sore and abused. I decided I wasn't going to take any chances and would hit the very first G Road (national highway) that I could find and head straight to Guangdong. Started out with some lovely coal country.

And a few kilometers of torn up roads from the coal trucks.

But finally I hit some decent high speed sweepers on G205 and just let it rip. It was so nice to be cornering again.

Many hours later I was back in familiar territory and enjoying the serenity of northern Guangdong.

Home at last! Time for a bath and some TLC for my Wee. I love this bike, seems like she always comes home looking like this, but still goes back out for more time after time.

Trip Log:
Day 1 523km Time 08:32 Average Speed 71.37 km/h
Day 2 597km Time 10:17 Average Speed 67.42 km/h
Day 3 493km Time 13:17 Average Speed 48.23 km/h
Day 4 838km Time 11:00 Average Speed 82.72 km/h
Total 2451K


The rewards and punishment tour
Guangdong, the nooks and crannies
Moonfest 08 Dongguan to Yangshuo

Smackit screwed with this post 04-19-2013 at 09:00 PM Reason: Repaired Photo Links
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Old 10-06-2010, 06:38 AM   #2
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Wow! Great ride and pics!! I didn't know the wee strom is available there... Looks like there's a lot of nice twisty roads. Thanks for the report and pics (except for the barf part!! we could have lived without it! )
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Old 10-06-2010, 02:21 PM   #3
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Great ride, report and photos!

Looks like a fantastic area to explore! I envy you!

Are you allowed to roam freely with the V-Strom everywhere in China? Both in the cities and the countryside? Any limitations?

Registration and insurance of bike no issue?
Ride safely!
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Old 10-06-2010, 09:26 PM   #4
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Great ride reports and photos !
It looks like long way but fun to get the beer... ha ha ha
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Old 10-07-2010, 06:37 AM   #5
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Great to see another ride report from China. Enjoy reading and seeing you great photos. Thanks.
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Old 10-07-2010, 07:31 AM   #6
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What a wonderful opportunity you have to explore such a fast changing part of our world. Keep it up!
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Old 10-07-2010, 09:18 AM   #7
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Been to China a few times and love to ride over there. Thanks for the report!
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Old 10-07-2010, 10:25 AM   #8
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Great report.....thank you!!!!
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Old 10-08-2010, 10:53 AM   #9
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Pretty soon I knew the tune,
And we sat and sang under the Moon
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Old 10-08-2010, 12:07 PM   #10
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Thanks for the great ride report! I was in China back in 2001 and your pictures bring back memories. Unfortunately, I didn't get to ride there. Sorry about the tough times you experienced. I'm sure you'll never forget!
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Old 10-09-2010, 03:37 PM   #11
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Big bikes in China?

I had the impression that they did not allow bikes over 125cc in China for the general public. I was obviously mislead. Can you rent a big bike (say BMW 650-800-1200GS) there? I travel to Ningbo, Nanchang, Chong-ching and Shanghai for work sometimes and would love to bundle in a ride.

Any chance?
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Old 10-09-2010, 04:20 PM   #12
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nice ride.

how much is for a room and good meal, and beer? like shown here.


" If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself " - Max Ehrmann
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Old 10-09-2010, 07:14 PM   #13
Smackit OP
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A big thank you to everyone for the kind words and questions.

China is one of those places where there's never a straight answer on what you are allowed or not allowed to do. There's also a very different set of rules for native Chinese, foreigners with residency permits, and visiting tourists. People that come here on business or tourist visas don't have much hope of traveling via motorcycle without arrangements made through a licensed tour agency. Yes, you can fly in, buy a bike, ride around most of the country and probably never get caught, but getting pulled over, or involved in an accident, will land you in deep doo doo. Foreign residents can acquire a motorcycle and license through patience and a convoluted procedure that varies from region to region. It's pretty easy for any Chinese national to pick up a license and motorcycle, though few choose to do so, as cars are much more sought after.

Originally Posted by Gadget Boy
I didn't know the wee strom is available there...
The Wee is not approved for general sale in China yet. I purchased mine in Hong Kong and worked with a special importer to get it here. It was very expensive, but as a long term resident, it was one of those luxuries I felt I needed to help maintain sanity.

Originally Posted by longwaybackhome
Are you allowed to roam freely with the V-Strom everywhere in China? Both in the cities and the countryside? Any limitations? Registration and insurance of bike no issue?
Registration and insurance are available at a very steep price.

Difficult places to travel in China are Tibet & Xinjiang
Sometimes parts of Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces will be closed if there's unrest in the bordering regions.

Beijing & Shanghai are the only cities that allow real motorcycles (i.e.: BWM 1200 Adventure or Harley Davidson Heritage Softail) with a special, outrageously expensive registration. The "on the road" cost of a BMW 1200 Adventure in Shanghai would be in the ballpark of $50,000 USD.

The following cities have more or less banned motorcycles, and it's a good idea to avoid them if possible.

Guangdong Province - Guangzhou, Zhongshan, Shaoguan, Zhuhai, Dongguan, Shantou, Shenzhen
Liaoning Province - Shenyang, Dandong, Dalian, Tieling, Benxi, Anshan
Jiangsu Province - Nanjing, Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou, Zhenjiang, Nantong, Yangzhou, Yancheng, Huai'an, Xuzhou, Taizhou, Changshu, Zhangjiagang, Jiangyin, Lianyungang, Kunshan
Fujiang Province - Fuzhou, Quanzhou, Zhangzhou, Longyan, Xiamen
Zhejiang Province - Hangzhou, Wenzhou, Ningbo, Jiaxing, Shaoxing, Yiwu
Shandong Province - Yantai, Qingdao, Jinan
Hebei Province - Shijiazhuang, Tangshan, Zhangjiakou, Qinhuangdao
Henan Province - Luoyang, Zhengzhou, Xinxiang, Nanyang, Linzhou, Jiaozou, Anyang
Heilongjiang Province - Harbin
Guizhou Province - Guiyang, Anshun, Tongren, Duyun, Zunyi
Anhui Province - Hefei
Jiangxi Province - Nanchang, Jiujiang
Hunan Province - Changsha, Xiangtan, Yueyang, Zhangjiajie, Hengyang
Sichuan Province -Chengdu, Mianyang, Deyang, Yibin
Yunnan Province - Kunming, Yuxi, Qujing, Mengzi
Hainan Province - Haikou
Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region - Nanning
Hubei Province - Wuhan, Xiangfan, Yichang, Zhongxiang
Shaanxi Province - Xian
Shanxi Province - Taiyuan
Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region - Baotou, Ordos, Dongsheng, Hohhot
Jilin Province - Changchun
Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region - Yinchuan
Gansu Province - Lanzhou
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region - Urumqi

Other than that, you're more or less free to move about, but you should register your stay in approved hotels as you move from place to place.

Originally Posted by John Smallberries
I had the impression that they did not allow bikes over 125cc in China for the general public. I was obviously mislead. Can you rent a big bike (say BMW 650-800-1200GS) there? I travel to Ningbo, Nanchang, Chong-ching and Shanghai for work sometimes and would love to bundle in a ride.
Any chance?
Yes, you were mislead about the 125cc rule. There haven't been engine size limitations in China for many years. I think China's WTO membership is what changed that law.

A European friend of mine has been working on a bike rental business for non-residents visiting China. The red tape is astounding. Hopefully he will make some headway in the near future. At this time, the license issue is the only thing standing in the way of acquiring a rental. There's a 90 day temporary license now available for rental cars, but, as far a I know, the 90 day temporary motorcycle license can only be issued by a handful of Chinese tour operators.

Originally Posted by Arte
nice ride.
how much is for a room and good meal, and beer? like shown here.
A nice hotel room in China runs about $20 to $30 USD. Accommodations here are ridiculously cheep compared to America and Europe, and the service is usually quite good. I think our meal was probably $10 USD for food. Beers are less than $1.00 each.

I really wish China would grow up and honor the international driving license system the rest of the world shares. For a country to host the Olympics and the Worlds Fair, without allowing visitors to travel freely, is just wrong on so many levels. I know ride reports is no place for politics, but I'm very disappointed by the fact that, by the time China starts playing by the rules and allowing you folks to experience its greatness, much of it will be destroyed and replaced with gridlocked traffic.

Thanks for coming along.

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Old 10-09-2010, 08:03 PM   #14
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well china did invent buracracy and they still are the masters of it. its interesting that china appears to be so anti motorcycle. i would have thought they wouldnt be. do you know why so many cities have banned them?

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Old 10-10-2010, 09:01 AM   #15
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$30? Wow....

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