Yesterday Gary and I drove to Taihu, a huge lake (it has a 400 kilometer perimeter) close to Suzhou to do some mountain bike practicing on the hills around the lake (we rode close to Xishan). We put our bikes into Tudou’s new SUV (a Hyundai Tucson), and they fit in easily. The car drove quite well, and it was nice to sit a bit higher in Shanghai’s traffic, because you have a much better overview of all the people around you. Driving this car reminded me of the Jeep Cherokee (with a 4-liter, 6-cylinder engine) that I used to have in Beijing. Because the new highway was practically deserted so we could even test the top speed, with 3 persons (my wife also joined), bikes and luggage we managed to drive 180 km/h. We arrived at Taihu after about 1.5 hours. We first had a nice seafood lunch at an upscale lakeside restaurant and then drove to the mountain bike site.
There is a small mountain dedicated to mountain bikers, something I have not seen before in China. In Shanghai we never train uphill rides, and that was something we could feel while trying to ride up the mountain. We both had to get off our bikes a few times to catch our breath, it was much more difficult than we thought. But we both made it, and the downhill afterwards was fantastic. We heard there will be some official races here early April, and we looked at some of the tracks for that. I could not believe that people dare to go down some of the smalll tracks that we saw. I am not easily afraid on my bike, but some of these track just seemed physically impossible to ride down and I don’t think I’ll ever dare to ride my bike on them. If you want to go here, drive the SuHu expressway to exit Xishan, go straight ahead at the tollgate and take the second right (the road following the lake shore). After about 6 km you will see a cable car lift on your right, about 200 meter after that is the entrance to the mountain bike tracks. It’s also a nice place to go hiking or running, with great views of the lake and the islands around it.
On the way back to our car Gary and I saw an accident, it happened right in front of our eyes. A Shanghai car was driving a bit too fast, and did not notice a slight curve in the road. At the last moment the driver pulled his steering wheel to make the turn, but he pulled too hard. The result was a crash in which he ended up in the ditch on his side of the road. The car was totally wrecked. I wondered whether the driver was hurt, but was hesitant to approach the car. But after about 30 seconds the driver managed to open his door and walked out. He seemed OK although he did not walk very steady. And what was the first thing he did? Looking at the damage he had just caused? No, he did not even look at it. He got out and took a pee next to his car! At the same time he took out his mobile phone to call a friend. A very strange sight. I suspect he was completely drunk. We did not check it out, and continued our ride, glad that we did not ride our bikes on his side of the road.