Last night at a basic binguan, we met three Chinese cyclists and they showed great interest in Zippy, our tandem. In the morning a larger group of their club friends arrived and there was round of picture taking and general language confusion, but lots of smiles. We saw the large group off up the mountain, had our breakfast and followed about a half-hour later.
We caught them 1,000 vertical meters later at the entrance to the summit tunnel to great exclamations of pleasure and another round of picture taking, with Zippy at the center. Lucky was busy flirting with one of the girls and got left out of the picture, again!
There were police and army personnel all over the place, protecting the tunnel no doubt, and we had to show our passports to be allowed through. We had heard horror stories about the tunnel, but found it reasonably well lit and smooth. As usual, when you worry, it is always unnecessary.
It was fun riding through with the large group and part way down the hill; Zippy, is fast downhill and we soon left them. They are staying in the same town and we will probably see them tomorrow on a 5,000 ft climb to the next binguan and food.
They are a really sweet group of young people, all in their 20’s, and we look forward to seeing them again. Two different people in the group stopped at vendors and bought us apples. They all have nice looking mountain bikes with slicks and the most up to date clothing, so they are not poor.
It’s really fun to see the Chinese getting into bike touring and seeing their own country.