We gave ourselves 4 days to cover the 260km from Litang to Ganzi. We would be cycling with Romain and Emelie who were not feeling 100% having caught a cold a few days before, and the four of us had unreliable info about the state of the road.
It turns out we managed it in three days. Romain and Emelie are troupers and we liked camping next to them (in our identical tents!) and enjoyed their company very much. They have been travelling for over a year on their bicycles and were good at getting us up in the morning!
The good thing about travelling with other tourers is that you pick up other ways of doing things. Emelie and Romain taught us many things, the best being boiling our eggs before leaving for a few days cycle… The easiest way to do this is in your hotel room kettle…
Here is an overview of our ride together.
Day 1: 101.3km
Road: excellent for around 80km where we then hit major road works and had to follow a bumpy, dusty road for the final 20km… there is a long tunnel (3km) just outside Litang which helps a lot.
Because we’re on a tandem we have more momentum than a single bike so we tended to lose Emelie and Romain on the down and flat sections of the ride. We passed some beautiful scenery on the way including the most amazing valley, peppered with yurts and mountain top stupas.
At the top of the climb we are invited into one of the tents for tea. As we come back out to get back on the bike we see E&R coming up the hill. Perfect timing as its nearly lunch time!
We all enjoy the long down hill section and it’s incredible how warm it is at the bottom of the valley.
There is some pretty crazy bits of the road which are just collapsing into the to river though.
Mobbed by interested children when we stop to fill up our water bottles!
Later in the day we find the perfect camping spot near the river but have to cross this rather precarious bridge to get there.
Day 2: 90.14km
Road: very nice. Take the tunnels where possible.
We wake up early to another clear, beautiful morning.
We follow the river and pass some big Tibetan temples and monasteries.
After lunch we have to navigate all three bikes through some serious inner-town road works…
We agree we will stop and find a camping spot at 4.30pm. The weather threatens rain and sure enough by 5pm there is a big thunder storm. Luckily we find an abandoned shack which is big enough for both our tents so we shelter here for the night.
Day 3: 77.2km
Road: very up and down but road surface is generally good.
The weather luckily clears and we set off hoping to complete the final 75km to Ganzi by late afternoon.
Snow capped mountains come into view as we climb up.
We have a final lunch together before completing the final 30km to Ganzi.
We reach Ganzi and manage to find a reasonable hotel to stay in. There is a power cut half way through our hot showers though…
Romain and Emelie are still feeling pretty ill so we venture out of our dark cold hotel and find a great cafe where we gorge on Tibetan yak pie and rich butter milk tea before turning in.