Moganshan is blanketed with bamboo. And varicose streams of rowdy water that rushes with singular intent. A cooler clime for Shanghai expats looking to escape the searing summer heat and incessant crush of its 20 million inhabitants. Three smokkelaars and a Shanghai refugee find themselves in this otherwordly beauty after adventures and stories from Beijing, Qingdao, Hangzhou, and Shanghai that will sound better on the road; when told for the tenth time through the filter of riding fatigue. So under skip's instructions depot and gunner packed their jerseys while thunda's fleece couldn't find a space in a backpack as tight as kidd's lycra. It's wet up here, like typhoon wet, yet as warm as a winter bath and when the bikes arrive there's not a moment's hesitation; it's time to ride. This is no loop and there is no variation. This is an out and back ride and more importantly a down and then back up affair. Moganshan is a mountain, more in the Adelaide sense than the French sense but an hour of freewheeling downhill can equal a world of pain on the return. Not even the chilled Tsingtaos awaiting our return give sufficient solace.
The ride is on path, track and road. Through village, forest and tea plantation. Past chooks, dogs and bemused locals. By lakes, creeks and dams. Clad in the golden fleece imbued with smokkelaars pride we even engage in a cultural exchange during a shui stop (bing de, of course). What is lost in translation is unimportant - the connection is personal.
And the ride is king, the air heavy, and the crunching of uncooperative gears engagingly musical - and the banter less - well less of it, as we turn for home. Yes home, a traditional Chinese rural villa of rough-hewn timber, handmade bricks and paved floors, hard beds and great friends.