Last night we rode into Luo Yang after a 300-mile ride though some of the hottest and most humid weather I’ve ever experienced. No kidding, folks…the air here makes summertime Houston feel dry. Stop and you are drenched in sweat in seconds; get moving on your motorcycle and it’s comfortable again. It’s that hot and humid.
Luo Yang is not pronounced like it’s spelled; the way the Chinese say it, it’s more like “Ooooahhh Ahhhnn.” We’re due east of Xi’an, and the land is relatively flat. We didn’t ride through a single tunnel yesterday, and that’s okay by me. The tunnels are unnerving.
The first half of our ride was along a portion of the Yellow River, and the road was wonderful. The Chinese built a road just for cars and motorcycles, and the occasional bicycle. They keep the trucks out with 2-meter-high barriers. Those barriers are strange to this boy….if you stand on the pegs (as so many wannabe ADV riders like to do), you’d get whacked in the head going under these things. When you ride under them, the barriers are only about 12 inches above your head. Even when I’m seated, I still duck as we pass under the barriers.
Yesterday morning held a really nice surprise for us. Sean had arranged it. First, I have to tell you that Gobi (Joe Gresh) and I get nervous when Sean tells us he has a surprise…we just never know whether it’s going to be a good surprise or a bad surprise. As we were getting together before breakfast yesterday morning, Sean told he had a surprise and we needed to close our eyes. My antenna immediately went up on that one, but I do what folks tell me to do, and this time I was glad I did. When we opened our eyes, our good buddy Kong was standing in front of us.
You’ll remember Kong from the Western America Adventure Ride…he rode the entire 5,000 miles with us last year, and he is one the two guys on the cover of 5000 Miles At 8000 RPM (the other rider is Tso, another great guy). When I met Kong last year, he told me his name and I immediately told him, “From now on, you’re King Kong.” The guys all got a kick out of that one, and he still goes by King Kong. He was explaining it to the rest of crew at dinner last night, in Chinese, but I knew what he was talking about when he started beating his chest and said “King Kong!” and everybody started laughing.
Kong and I have a lot in common. Kong wrote a book. He rode his RX3 around the periphery of China last year (it was a 15,000 mile ride). Kong took 150 days to make that trek, and when he finished, he wrote a book about it. He gave copies to Joe Gresh and me yesterday morning. It was a great gift.
To link up with us, Kong rode 600 kilometers from Lanzhou to Xi’an on an RX1 provided by Zongshen the day before. Speaking of the RX1, folks, they are really nice motorcycles. They are only slightly slower than the RX3 and they don’t accelerate as aggressively (they don’t have the same midrange and top end rush of the RX3), but they are amazingly capable machines. Joe Gresh and I have both commented that we are seeing an indicated 80 mph keeping up with Master Sergeant Zuo on his RX1. There are some questions about the marketability of a 200cc motorcycle in the US, but if we could get over that hurdle, these bikes would do well in America. I know they will do well in Asia. This bike will be another home run for Zongshen.
Both the RX3s and the RX1s are bearing up very well on our ride. In fact, just like on the Western America Adventure Ride, the only technical issues we’ve experienced on this trip have been with our cameras. The bikes are running like Swiss watches (pretty soon, I imagine, people with good watches will say they run as well as Chinese motorcycles). The cameras, well, not so much. My photo gear is holding up okay, but Joe Gresh’s Canon is getting banged around and it’s showing it. Some of the other guys are having camera challenges, too.
When we arrived in Luo Yang, it was the Arjiu and Dajiu show all over again. The local motorcycle club was waiting for us at the city limits, and everybody wanted photos with Gobi and me. Their bikes were cool and there was lots of custom work. The Chinese enthusiasts are into customization as much as we are. Check out a few of my photos from yesterday…
Another thing I’ve noticed about the Chinese…they love America. Oh, I know there’s been a lot of bad things in the news lately, but we sure aren’t picking up on any of that in the reactions we are getting from our Chinese friends. You can see it in the pop culture over here. I’ve seen exactly one T-shirt with Chinese writing on it. All of the others have stuff in English. I asked about it and everyone tells me they feel it’s more stylish. And check out this one Luo Yang motorcyclist’s paint job…
One of the guys in the Luo Yang moto club even had a US Marine Corps emblem on his hat, but I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo of it.
Let me back up a bit. Earlier in the day on our ride in to Luo Yang, we stopped in a very small and very rural Chinese village. A couple of the villagers were happy to let me take their picture…
We had another great dinner at a restaurant just around the corner from our hotel (we thought we’d try Chinese food). Lu’s home is about 60 miles from Luo Yang, and his beautiful wife joined us for supper last night. It was another grand evening.
We’re taking it easy today. We’ve been on the road for about three weeks now, and we need a break. We’re staying in a nice hotel and this is a good place to do it.
Later, my friends.