(A mix of travel notes and comments added later)
09-09-2014 - Tuesday
It was fine but cold when we started riding so I had my rain shell on as a wind break. After a run along the lake the climb up above the dam was a bit of an effort but made much easier than it once was by a huge cutting through the hill. It must have taken 100m off the hill.
The downhill on the other side was awesome. I got to 58 km/h but was a bit careful on the corners as concrete surface, a bit damp and knobbly tyres are a bit of an unknown. Also got to smell a whiff of my own brake pads at the bottom as they got a bit of use on approach to one particularly sharp bend.
Again it clouded over and started raining but by the time realized it was serious rain was too wet to bother with the full wet gear. I had my cycle shorts, cycle shirt with light icebreaker top and a waterproof cycle shell. Tim, an Aussie I first met on this trip, was the same and as we rode into town I suspect some of the Tibetan locals were laughing at the stupid cyclists in shorts.
We all arrived looking like drowned rats, some really cold. I was feeling ok but was glad to get into the awesome hot shower. Wouldn't have been so pleasant arriving at a camp night in that state. Wide chunky tyres certainly move a lot of water so my mission was to find glue to fix my broken mudguard, or another.
The only bike 'shop' in town didn't have mudguards so glue it was. With the help of a picture of Superglue downloaded from the Internet I could explain what I needed in the supermarket. The bracket is now fixed but opening the tube was a reminder of what happens to some packaged goods up here.
As I cut the nozzle about half the glue spurted out as it had been packed at a lower altitude. Luckily I had paper all around in case I spilt some so nothing in the room was inadvertently glued! The potato chip packets look like foil party balloons here for the same reason!
Gyangze is quite a small town dominated by an ancient fort. I didn't ascend the steps to view it but did get some photos from below. The rest of the town I saw was that rather odd newish—but tired looking—architecture seen in other towns, nothing special. There was also typical mix of shops, many small businesses with a mix of goods. Was interested to see a cabinetmaker working on the pavement assembling furniture which mustn’t be possible for much of the year! It looked, by the tools & workshop, to be locally made rather than just a kit assembly
Had a great dinner at a local restaurant, now for some sleep in a real bed with pillows that are ready inflated!
The Yeti Hotel was fine, quite traditional on the inside of its non-descript exterior. The rooms were great, left a tip for the room cleaners as they rapidly readied my room so I could get into the excellent shower.
The only oddity, which seems typical here, is they are rather economic with toilet paper. Having seen the tiny serviettes in all the restaurants, 1/2 to 1/4 normal, you get the impression that paper products are expensive here. Perhaps that's down to the lack of trees!
Quote of the day:
"I saw Robin with a whole lot of shit shooting up his arse, bet he regretted breaking that mudguard" – Nic who witnessed me break it.
Yeti hotel bed altitude 4038.500 meters
Post 8. Gyangze to Xigaze (Shigaze)