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The Magical China Trip 2012

The Leisure Bicycle Ride around West Lake, Hangzhou

CHINA | Monday, 8 October 2012 | Views [1327] | Comments [3]

Think about the words “Leisure bicycle ride around West Lake.”  What images does this conjure in the western mind?  Maybe you think about riding a sleek 21-speed mountain bike along the green belt in Boise, even riding out to Lucky Peak to experience the river beside the path.


Now think again.  Make that bicycle a 50-year-old girl's bike, weighing in at about 100 lbs., single gear, brakes on the handlebars (unevenly adjusted, of course, so that the back break slows the bike, but doesn’t stop it and the front brake would throw you over the handlebars if you used it), yellow plastic basket on the handlebars.  The bike pulls strongly to the right and I can’t even get it centered to balance on it.  (One never forgets how to ride a bike, right?)  So I traded bikes with Vickie, my long-suffering guide.  Now the bike only weighs 75 lbs. and doesn’t pull so hard to one side or another.  Imagine, “pretty in pink.”  The pink pedals fit my legs just fine, though I’m still too short to be on the pink seat when I stop; that is, I have to dismount each time I want to come to a stop or I will topple over.  Now I’m set to go.


Vickie leads me straight to the busy street!  Wait a minute!  What happened to “leisure”?  We rode for an hour and a half around West Lake in car, bus, taxi, bike, electric bike, and pedicab traffic.  I only had to walk the bike twice – both times because the moon bridge over the water was too steep for me to pedal up (no gears, remember).  The other four or five bridges we crossed were not so steep; determined pedaling got me across.


All in all I did just fine.  I only hit one person:  a family had stopped on their bikes ahead of me, and I couldn’t stop in time.  When they saw it was an old foreign woman, they were very accepting of my apologies.  The near misses as the bike geed when it should have hawed don’t count because no one was hit.  I remembered all the traffic rules I’ve taught myself and managed pretty well.  Somehow, though, I hadn’t expected to have to use those very rules on a “leisure” bike ride.

Tags: bicycle ride, hangzhou, west lake




Did I mention that all bikes come with little bells that function as horns? Brrrrrng! Coming through!

  emacinat Oct 11, 2012 6:22 PM


Thanks for this story I laughed until I cried!! Keep them coming! Love you.

  Carol Stouffer Oct 12, 2012 2:06 AM


Ah, the romance of moon bridges!

It sounds like the traffic is as thick there as it was in Shenyang in the '30's, only made up of very different vehicles and moving a lot faster.

Elizabeth, you are very adventurous for "an old foreign woman."

  Jody Howe Oct 13, 2012 5:24 AM

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