Merry Xmas to all of my readers! While most of you were perhaps gorging on traditional Xmas foods, I was out riding here in chilly three degree Hangzhou weather for the Rapha Festive 500 challenge. Today’s mileage was not much to speak about (55kms) but I wanted to spend more time taking quality photographs so that you can enjoy and get a taste of what Hangzhou can offer the exploring cyclist. I was out for 3hrs 30mins, a time frame that I would knock out over 100kms easily…
In my mind, the point of the Rapha Festive 500 Challenge is to showcase the areas that you are riding in so that others will become inspired to do something similar. Also, if I can help with promoting China as a wonderful cycling destination despite China’s bad image revolving around pollution and crowds. You will be pleasantly surprised to find some great cycling destinations and even the Chinese themselves are getting into cycling as a leisure concept.
Hangzhou is located 45mins by fast train south-west of Shanghai and it is one of the more beautiful cities in China, hence the high numbers of Chinese tourists flocking in to see the famous West Lake and surrounding tea plantations in the hills. Many residents here, both Chinese and expat, say that this is the best city in China since the outdoors and nature is easily accessible. The cycling route that I took today was one of my favorite loops that take in the best of what Hangzhou has to offer in terms of sights and nature. I live on the Yuquan Campus (Zhejiang University) and is only 3kms to the West Lake. First stop was a cluster of ancient Buddhist Temples including the Lingyin Temple – one of the largest and wealthiest in China and contains numerous pagodas and grottoes. After the Temples exploration, its a short hill climb on Meiling South Rd and after exiting the long tunnel you see tea plantations in neat formations nestled in the valley and reaching up the mountain as far as possible. There are several villages that you can pass through. It is a good idea to explore the cobbled-stoned streets of the first one you come to and perhaps sit down for a cup of tea if you have time…
The next place worthy of mention is the climb through Nine Creeks area. It is a stunning area thick with trees, river crossings and Roubaix style cobble-stones for some real rough riding! There is a good section of cobblestones lasting for several kilometers with stream crossings that I had to dismount for. If I was on a mountain bike, it would have been a blast riding through that section. The Nine Creeks climb puts me onto Longjing Road and its downhill back to the West Lake for the final short loop taking in some of the popular spots on the lake.
As a summary, I completed 55kms today but was able to bring you more quality images to enjoy (I hope!) and appreciate what China has to offer. My cumulative total is now 258kms and this leaves me with 242kms to go with four days remaining for the Rapha Festive 500 Challenge. I will still try for some big days on the bike in terms of miles, but this would be a trade-off on time spent taking photographs! The weather was as cold as yesterday but the biggest difference was that it did not rain – therefore I was able to stay warmer. Did not need as much gear and wore a lighter weight Champion System jacket and Lycra shoe covers. Stay tuned for Day four!
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