14degrees off the beaten track
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June 17th, 2008 | categorizilation: all categories,China

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Today’s distance / ???????: 49 miles / 78.8km
Average speed / ????: 7.2mph / 11.6km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 6h 47m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 4928mi plus 377mi (?) / 7931km plus 606km (?)
Ascent / ??: 680m
Descent / ??: 130m
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N41° 58′ 08.40″, E094° 42′ 01.60″

A huge thanks to Heather Burge, a fellow human powered traveller from Australia who provided me with some very helpful route information regarding the National Highway 312 route through Xinjiang and beyond. Heather cycled the same route as I am taking last year, and GPS’ed the whole thing. I emailed her before setting out in China, asking for advice on road conditions, and among her very detailed advice, she let me know that from Lotojue to Xinxinxia in Xinjiang, there were no official services. That’s a distance of 130km. A good solid two days skating if the wind is not fair.

So I stocked up with water in Lotojue. When I rolled out, I had 10 litres on my trailer. I estimate the trailer weighed about 20kg. Plenty enough for me, thank you very much.

After the wonderful tree lined road of yesterday, this was what I saw only 10 minutes out of Lotojue:

Endless (National Highway 312 between Lotojue and Xinxinxia, Xinjiang Province, China)

A massive, endless plain of stones and dust. The wind was in my face. The only thing that made the situation bearable was the fact that the road was smooth (good old China!) and a hazy low fog was blocking the sun. I considered waiting another day in Lotojue in hope that the wind would change in my favour, but realised that the road would still be there. Miles skated today are miles I don’t have to skate tomorrow. I rolled down the hill to the awaiting plain.

Big desert scenery on National Highway 312 from Lotojue to Xinxinxia, Xinjiang Province, China

Apart from a few down hill spots, it was uphill all day. And not a nice short and sharp uphill either. Long, gradual uphill that looks like it is flat, but isn’t, but tricks you into believing that it is, and makes you think you are weak for skating so slow on a ‘flat’ road. Very frustrating at times. All morning I was pushing into a headwind, that only increased in velocity as the morning wore on. At times I was moving only just faster than walking pace. Looking back however, I could see how much I had climbed, and how much pavement was now behind me.

Endless (National Highway 312 between Lotojue and Xinxinxia, Xinjiang Province, China)

At 12:30pm it was time to get out of the sun. The day was heating up again, and I certainly did not have water enough to last me two days if I was going to skate through the heat of the day. I did what I always do; I found a nice culvert under the road and set up camp for the afternoon.

Midday siesta spot under the road on National Highway 312 between Lotojue and Xinxinxia, Xinjiang Province, China

I am not alone in my fascination with culverts in China. Round the world cyclist and friend Daniel made many a culvert his home while in China, as did Edward Genochio.

I napped until 4:30pm. Poked my head out to see how the wind was, and lo and behold it was a raging westerly (tailwind). I packed up quick, despite it being earlier than usual, and got out on the road by 5pm.

With the aid of the tailwind, I made short work of the continuing gradual uphill.

As the sun began to set at around 9:30pm, I began scouting out a good sleep spot for the night.

Massive sunset on National Highway 312 between Lotojue and Xinxinxia, Xinjiang Province, China

I settled for a spot out in the open on the under construction expressway. The night was cool. Much cooler than any night I have had in China so far since Santai. Santai was at 2200m, and here it was 1300m. The altitude certainly makes a difference. I put on all my clothes and snuggled into my thin cotton ‘sleeping bag’. Since Turpan, I have not been carrying a tent or sleeping bag. I sent them ahead of me to Shanghai. I bought some thin cotton gauze and had it stitched into a sac that I can sleep in. The cold night reminded me why summer travelling is so tiring. I can never sleep as well in the heat as I can in the cold. Give me a super cold night over a hot night any day.

Sleep spon in the open on National Highway 312 between Lotojue and Xinxinxia, Xinjiang Province, China

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    Permanent Link     Comments (3)

Comment by Martin — June 22, 2008 @ 4:51 am | post a comment

Happy "Go Skateboarding Day" (21. June, see: http://www.goskateboardingday.org/). You are making a good job and me longing for updates of your journey.

Longboarders Greetings from Warsaw


Comment by Dad — June 22, 2008 @ 5:05 am | post a comment


Just got caught up with your travels again. I can understand what the big dust storm was like. We get them in central Australia. They always bring awesome sunsets and sunrise after though.

The water race and bath must have been very welcome!

Comment by Aunty Les — June 26, 2008 @ 12:25 am | post a comment

What a pity you had a head wind, otherwise it would have been pretty plain sailing on those smooth roads. I'm not sure how you know you've actually gone from A to B when the countryside looks all the same!

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