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Beijing Wheeling, Round I

Our train to Beijing had only first class cars. It was, in fact, the nicest train I have ever been on in my life. It, however, had no dining car, so we ate noodles from our auxiliary supply, and slept like stones. We awoke in Beijing.

Beijing Station

Outside we were immediately assaulted with Olympic propaganda and advertisements. We shuffled with the giant crowd, had our tickets stamped, and were spit from the station. Shifting and fidgeting under all our belongings, which were of course strapped to our bodies, we scrutinized the giant back-lit bus map outside the station. Scott realized at this point that he had left his Panama hat on the train. So please, dear reader, may we pause a moment to morn.

Star Wars

We located the correct bus, and navigated to one of the 10 or so possible platforms. As the bus lumbered its way through the dense Beijing morning traffic, we began to get excited about the city. It sprawled around us, a delightfully ruddy combination of old tile roofed temples, blocky soviet-looking structures, and hyper-modern office buildings. And it was filled with bicyclists. The smog was as thick as I had ever seen in my life. Buildings and people simply meted into it. And we couldn’t wait to join them.

We got off the bus and hustled our stuff over to the Red Lantern Hostel. It had been rated the best in all of Asia. I’m afraid AsiaWheeling can’t give it that stellar of a rating, as they failed to actually record our reservation and we were forced to spend our two nights in two separate rooms. But I can say it was clean, not over-priced, and generally full of fascinating people. Oh, and they rent SAVAGE bicycles.

Testing Cycles

Our bikes in Beijing were brand new Giant brand wheeling bikes, complete with fenders, bells, and tires so new and sticky, that the little rubber hairs were still attached. Despite some of our fiercest haggling yet, we were hit with a very fat deposit, leaving us with somewhat of a shoestring budget to wheel on. Not a problem. We can forgo luxury. Just give us the open road.

Huge Building

And, by god, on the back of one of those splendid cycles, not even the thinnest wallet can get you down. Beijing raged around us, and we began to wheel hard. All the pent up energy from our days on endless trains and our frustration with the damned Xiangzimen Youth Hostel became a kind of solid rocket-fuel. We blazed forth with thousands of our wheeling brethren around us, breathing the sooty and chemically tainted air as deeply as if it were a mountain breeze.

Signalling a Leichtenstein

Scott called a way-point for water and we noticed a crowded little noodle shack nearby. The decision was unanimous and unspoken. We sat down and ordered two bowls. They were killer, if perhaps somewhat poisonous, but by then we were both on Ciprofloxin, so we felt immune to culinary danger.

Now a belly of noodles added its own voltage to our ride, and we burned down the road. All in all the wheel was one for the record-books, perhaps best illustrated in pictures. So I refer you here to the Beijing Gallary Page.

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