Electric scoots in Beijing…

After visiting the Forbidden City earlier, we were standing on a corner for just a few moments when I noticed that virtually every scooter and trike rolling by was electric.  I snapped a few photos to share with you…

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Those last two photos of the bubble-top trike are especially cool.   That would be a lot of fun to roll around in.

Later, folks.

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Beijing (a bit more)!

Wow, it has been an incredibly intense two days.  It was two nights ago when we ate in Yangyuen, and both Master Sergeant Zuo and yours truly were a bit under the weather after that meal.  It only bothered me for a couple of hours (I was lucky); my good buddy Master Sergeant Zuo has been recuperating for the last two days. It was bound to happen; we have been eating in some pretty unusual places and we’ve enjoyed food that is more than a little out of the ordinary.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Back to the ride…it was an easy run out of Yangyuen and it was neither hot nor humid (a much welcome change from the heat and humidity we had been experiencing).   We took a detour on what the Chinese call their Route 66, and because of that, it was overrun with Chinese tourists.  We stopped in one of the hundreds of wind farms I have seen in China and shot a few photos.

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I am seeing the future on this adventure, it is electric, and it already exists in China.   You would not believe the number of electric vehicles we are seeing (including cars, trucks, motorcycles, and scooters).   You’ll have to read Riding China to get the inside details, but let me tell you, it is amazing.   The Chinese are so far ahead of us in this area it is scary.

Here’s a photo of a donkey we saw while we were shooting the above photos. If he looks a bit nervous to you, well, let’s just say he has a good reason for his skittishness.

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We’re in Hebei Province now, and I didn’t know it when I rolled in, but I know it now.   Hebei Province is famous for, well….read on.

We were stopped at a traffic light in Zhangbei when Furem became excited and pointed to a sign at a tiny place diagonally across a rather busy street.   We all pulled in and my good buddy Kong asked if I would like to have a “donghee burger.”  It almost sounded as if he said “donkey burger,” but that couldn’t be, I thought.  I mean, a donkey burger?   Who would eat such a thing?

Then I saw this menu posted on the wall…check out the illustrations in the lower left…

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The guys were excited.  I could tell, even though I don’t speak Chinese.   Then lunch arrived…

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Yep, donkey burgers. It’s a delicacy.   Kong tells me they only use young donkeys (much more tender and tasty, he said).   Donkey burgers, and donkey soup…

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Kong told me there’s an old Chinese saying that goes something like “people in heaven eat dragon burgers, and people on earth eat donkey burgers.”   I can’t make stuff up this good, my friends.   We are experiencing some amazing things.   Cue in the music from Indiana Jones.

Later yesterday afternoon, we entered the Badaling area in the mountains outside of Beijing and we saw The Great Wall.   Folks, here it is…

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We got in very late last night, and that really ticked me off.   I had something in my eye that was bothering me a lot (Kong experienced the same problem yesterday), my left shoulder was bugging me (it acts up on long rides), it was super hot and humid again, and there was that God-awful Chinese traffic on the expressways heading into Beijing.  It was probably more the fatigue than anything else, but I don’t like riding after dark and I let the guys running the show know it.   I went to sleep upset about getting in that late and I woke up feeling the same way, and I still felt that way when we rode into the mountains to see the Great Wall again this morning.   It was nice riding up there, though.   Here are a couple of shots I grabbed along the way…

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As we were riding back out, I started riding slower and slower, until I was the last guy in line, and then the guys were so far ahead of me I couldn’t see them.   Something was going on…I suppose a shrink would call it an anxiety attack.   I was driving around every twist in the road expecting to see a truck stopped in my lane, an oncoming truck passing another vehicle in my lane, a person sweeping the street in the middle of the turn in my lane, a guy pulling out right in front of me, a bus making a U-turn in front of me, a car cornering too hard drifting into my lane, someone going the wrong way in my lane, someone just pulling into my lane without looking, an old woman walking directly in front of me, people who stopped and got out of their car just to have a conversation in the middle of the street, or someone squatting down in the middle of the road relieving themselves (in my lane, of course).   I’ve seen it all over here, and the enormity of the insanity that is riding a motorcycle in China caught up with me.

The guys were waiting for me at the next intersection, and from there we went to a Sinopec station to feed the bikes. I was still feeling what I suppose must have been accumulated anxiety when a guy in a black Mercedes starting blasting his horn at me because he didn’t want to drive around me; he wanted me to move.   I don’t know what came over me, but I looked at him, made eye contact, and pushed my bike directly alongside his window (which was open).  I then leaned on my horn and let it rip for a good 20 seconds.   Then one of the other Chinese guys did the same, and yet another yelled a bad word at the Mercedes pilot (which he probably learned from either Gresh or me).  It was pretty funny.  That broke the spell.  I felt a lot better after that.

Okay, enough about me being a butthead…on to Beijing proper.   We stopped at the Beijing Zongshen dealer this afternoon (where they were expecting us) and it was the Dajiu and Arjiu show all over again.   Lots of photos with Gresh and me.  Hey, how often do Dajiu and Arjui show up in your neighborhood?  We were asked to give the keys and Zongshen fluorescent vests to five lucky guys who had just purchased new RX1 motorcycles.   It was pretty cool and it was great fun.

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While I was there, I grabbed this photo of a guy who owns a pearlescent white RX3 with a cool hand-painted windshield emblem…

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That “438.000” Harley-looking bar and shield number is the frequency of their walkie-talkies.   They all have walkie-talkies when they ride.  Our guys have them, too.   It’s part of the Chinese riding experience, I guess.

Zongshen and the local dealer treated us to a Peking duck dinner fit for a king tonight, and it was perhaps the best meal we’ve had in China so far.  Kong taught me how to do a proper Chinese toast.   It was grand fun.

And that’s a wrap for now, folks.  It’s on to Tien An Men Square tomorrow.   Watch for the photos….

Oh, but before I go…the Beijing Zongshen dealer had this puppy in his shop, and Gresh posed while I shot….

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You might be wondering (and perhaps guessing) why I found that bike so interesting.  Yep, you guessed right…we’re bringing the RZ3 (Zonghen’s naked bike with the RX3 engine) to America, and you’re hearing it here first!

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Beijing!

Yep, I rode my RX3 across China and we’re now in Beijing!   Hotter than hell and humid as Houston here.   More to follow later tonight after dinner, folks!

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Yesterday Pingyao, today Yangyuen, and tomorrow Beijing!

I didn’t post yesterday because we were just having too much fun. We stayed in the ancient village of Yingpao, which I’ll bet you’ve never heard of before.   I saw a sign or two indicating it was a World Heritage site, and I’ll do a bit more research to confirm what that means.

It’s been said there aren’t too many ancient things left in China as a consequence of the Cultural Revolution, but you couldn’t prove that by me.   As an aside, I’ve also heard it said that there is no religion in China, and folks, I’m here to tell you that’s just not true.   We’ve seen countless Buddhist temples, numerous mosques in China’s Muslim sections, and even a few Christian churches.

Anyway, back to Yingpao…it was a hoot.    Before I get to the photos of it, let me tell you about the ride there.  It was a bit on the challenging side, especially since the toll booth people wouldn’t let us on the freeway in Jiao Zuo.  That mandated a trip through the mountains, which was both a blessing and a curse.  The blessing side of the equation is that it got us some altitude and that provided a bit of relief from the stifling heat and humidity.   The bad news was that our route took us by a gigantic quarry, and we got caught in the convoy of literally a thousand or more gigantic trucks carrying gravel, sand, and other construction materials on that road.   Passing the trucks on those winding mountain roads was like being in Colombia’s Andes mountains all over again.   Hey, everywhere you look in China, the skyline is peppered with construction cranes.    China had been building massive projects for at least the 25 years I’ve been coming here, and folks, something has to feed that construction monster.   The trucks we mixed it up with yesterday were doing just that….

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I have a few photos from Yingpao, but the Internet is not cooperating.   Maybe next time.

This morning we left Yingpao enroute to tonight’s destination, which puts us under 300 clicks from Beijing.   We’re staying in Yangyuen this evening.  It’s cooler and it’s much drier, and I got some good shots on the road coming here and at dinner this evening.  First, two or three photos of Lu playing with the RX1…

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Next, the photos on the road…

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That one above is us going through one of China’s thousands of tunnels.  This was a medium one…it was about three miles long.

And finally, a couple of shots at dinner last night, including one with my good buddy Mr. Qi…

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Jiao Zuo

We made it to Jiao Zuo tonight (east of Luo Yang and Xi’an), and it was a rough day.   We didn’t cover too many miles because we stopped at a couple of Buddhist temples.  To cut to the chase, this was the hottest and most humid day I’ve ever experienced on a motorcycle.  Wow, it was a challenge!

One of the temples was the White Horse Temple, the first Buddhist temple in China.   The other was the Shaolin Temple, a favored spot for martial arts movies.   ‘They have a martial arts/Kungfu school and as I understand it, this was the place where Bruce Lee learned his craft.

I just returned from yet another great dinner, and I’ll post just a few photos from today.  We’re hoping the air conditioner will catch up with the humidity and the heat in our hotel room, and then I’m out for the night.

The bikes in front of the White Horse Temple, the first Buddhist temple in China.

The bikes in front of the White Horse Temple, the first Buddhist temple in China.

A martial artist demonstrating his moves at the Shaolin Temple.

A martial artist demonstrating his moves at the Shaolin Temple.

More moves.  I told the guys I could do that, but I don't think they believed me.

More moves. I told the guys I could do this, but I don’t think they believed me.

A figure inside the Shaolin Temple.  It's likely Bruce Lee saw these when he studied here.

A figure inside the Shaolin Temple. It’s likely Bruce Lee saw these things when he studied here.

...and another.    These were about 15 feet tall.

…and another. These are about 15 feet tall.  The Nikon did a good job capturing these images.

That’s it for now, folks.   It was a challenging day and I’m going to get some sleep.

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A nice note from Bill…

Ryan sent this note from Bill on to me…

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Hi Ryan,

Not sure if I sent you this to stick to your bulletin board but I thought you may enjoy it. Gotta keep the wild Zongs hitched up after a day’s ride when you hit your favorite saloon….. They’re still ready to go!

Your awesome service and support is greatly appreciated, as always! :-)

BTW, tell Joe that I’ve been following his China trip blog here at work (on break, of course…;-))….and others here saw me on the  site…and keeping track of it…and  they have zero interest  in motorcycles. They’re just loving the pics and  adventures. Just an FYI…

Take care,

Bill

Bill, thanks for the note and the photo.  That’s a great shot!   Ride safe and enjoy your CSC motorcycles!

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Luo Yang evening shots…

Just a few, folks.  We’re leaving Luo Yang this morning and continuing our eastward journey across China.

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Gobi gets a haircut…

…with Tracy supervising.  “Hold still,” he kept saying.  Gresh was enjoying it.    Me, I snapped a few photos of the stylists…

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Memories….

This one is for you, Bear…

Snickers

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A cool note from Stephen…

You guys will remember our good buddy Utah Stephen…

I received a nice note from him a couple of weeks ago and I am just now catching up on things.    Check this out…

Hey Joe,

I was just on your blog and I happen to be in Taiwan for a couple weeks working on eyewear/lens stuff. I took these shots the other day and I think it’s line with some of the ones you’ve been posting. You’re China ride looks amazing! Wish I could do that! One of these days I’m going to ride around the perimeter of Taiwan. I wish you the best on your journey. Ride safe!

Stephen

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Thanks very much, Stephen.   That’s a great photo.

You know, much to my surprise, I’m not seeing too many cases of overloaded scooters and the kinds of scooter photos people post from other Asian countries.  China is really booming and it is dramatically different from what I saw 20+ years ago when I first started traveling here.   I’m going to write a lot more about that in Riding China.  One of the biggest differences is bicycles.   25 years ago, China was awash in utilitarian commuter bicycles (the famous “Flying Pigeon” brand, for example).  I just haven’t seen any of that on this trip and we are seeing the real China.   The few bicycles I’ve seen have mostly been recreational high-end road and mountain bikes.   There’s quite a story to tell about the changes I’ve seen over the years in this country.

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