On this trip we have experienced a wide variety of riding surfaces .Everything from sandy tracks, gravel tracks , gravel roads , “sealed roads” where the pot holes took more of the road than the seal , roads under repair and nice new sealed roads . The longest stretch of road under repair was a track through part of the Taklamakan Desert where 400 kms was being repaired and upgraded at the same time. This meant there were small sections of seal and large sections of unbelievably rough sand and gravel road , huge numbers of trucks and choking dust.
Well the road we were on today made up for all the rough roads we have experienced on our trip. Soon after leaving ” false Xanadu” for ” true Xanadu” we were able to get on a magnificent 4 lane motorway . We are normally banned from these motor ways but as this road is in the final stages of being completed the toll gates were not operational so we simply rode on to the the motorway .
What an experience ,a great view of the surrounding rolling grassland ,as the motorway is elevated above the surrounding countryside, a smooth riding surface and no traffic.
For the next 200kms we counted 8 cars , although there were a a number of those three wheeled ,single cylinder truck s I have referred to in a recent blog and workers putting the final touches to the stonework on all the motorway cuttings .This stone work is all beautifully done with each stone cut to size and then placed by hand, once the wall is in place then the plasterers come in and point around each stone .The affect is one of a giant stone jigsaw really quite a sight.
We are not sure where the motorway ends , but summise it is part of the nationwide infrastructure upgrade that is evident all through China . Inner Mongolia is about to experience an increase in economic activity and I suspect a change to the village life based on agriculture . We observed these small villages today, frequently no more than 30 houses clustered together spaced about every 5 kmns along the motorway. Nearby the sheep and cattle grazing, and the crops planted in adjacent fields.This motorway will play a major role in this transition . It is interesting to ask the locals why are all the roads and motorways being built ? Their reply is often ” getting ready for the 2008 Olympic games”, there could be something in that too.