Cycling in Sichuan China

China 2012: camping in the snow

by Bicycle Junkies

As soon as we leave Kanding we start climbing towards the first 4000+ meter pass of this cycling adventure in China. Clouds are rolling in and soon we have rain, at 3600 meter it changes into snow and at 4000 meter we are pedaling through a snow storm. There’s nothing here, so we are forced to pitch our tent by the side of the road. Luckily for us, traffic is also stranded, so it’s a quiet but cold night…

As soon as the tent is up, we crawl inside and warm ourselves in the sleeping bags. Our fingers turned into little icy things! But we can’t stay inside for long, it’s snowing a lot and we can see the canvas of the tent come closer and closer.. Poor Elmar has to go outside to wipe the snow of our tent! In the mean time I clear up the inner tent, so we can cook ourselves a pasta meal and drink a large and hot cup of tea with it. Our first night at 4000 meter high is a tough one and the night lasts forever… Elmar has to get out every now and then to clear the tent, while I keep the sleeping bags warm. Somebody has to do it, right? 😉

Cycling in Sichuan China

Cycling in Sichuan China

The next morning we continue our climb in the snow to the 4300 meter pass, which is slow, but doable. The downhill on the other hand is a nightmare! Breaks don’t work anymore because it’s all wet and it’s so cold! We have to get of our bikes many times and walk a bit to stimulte blood circulation through our fingers and toes. But, the lower we go, the less snow and it warms up a bit. After a night under a whole bunch of blankets we can start climbing again: 1000 meters up in 20 kilometers to the first pass of today at 4412 meter. Then another one at 4475 meter. By the time we reach it, hail is falling down from the sky! The downhill is muddy and wet and dirty and slow… The Chinese seem to be working on the road, but it looks so disorganised from our point of view. Twenty people are building a tiny wall, then for kilometers it’s just mud, then a half finished road… wow, this will take a while before it’s finished!

Cycling in Sichuan China

Monks and Tibetan people
In the early morning we walk to the Litang Monestary where many Tibetans walk around the huge structure with their praying wheels. “Tahsi dele!” (Hallo) they all shout to us and when we reply with Tashi dele, they smile with grinning blackish teeth, some of them like their picture taken too.
The tempels with the decorated Buddhas are very pretty; there are many wallpaintings, wood carvings and giant Buddhas. From a speaker we can hear the voice of the Dalai Lama and many photos of him are hanging on the walls. Not a lot of tourists here and when a monk sees us walking around, he invites us to a cup of milky tea. We try to have a conversation, but my Chinese is a bit rusty… 😉 As we walk back to our hostel, a group of children come running after us. Spontaneously they all grab Elmars hand and want me to take a picture! As soon as I clicked the shutter, they come running to me because they want to see the image on the little digital screen. They laugh, wave goodbye and ran of!

Cycling in Sichuan China

Best moment ever!

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Sarah September 22, 2019 - 05:19

Hej there!
Me and my partner have been cycling for a year now, from Portugal and now about to enter China. We were wondering which route to take and are a bit afraid big the seasons… We will be in the region you seemed to have cycled in mid October. We were wondering what time were you there and if you think we will also suffer from the cold as you seemed to have had. Thank you for any input…

Bicycle Junkies September 24, 2019 - 09:24

Hi Sarah, we started this trip in Chengdu september 29th, riding along in t-shirt and shorts. Then we had a few cold days with one day with heavy snowfall. Other than that it was not so bad at all. Hope this helps with planning your trip!


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