September 10, 2013
February 24, 2013
“Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away… and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast…. be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust…. and don’t expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
February 5, 2012
February 2, 2012
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Tashi Delay! and please be sure to keep up with what is happening in this part of the world.
January 24, 2012
The moment, I knew, it was going to be a very long and cold winter. Watching snow flurries fall to the ground during the first week of August, as we ride from the Tibetans we had spent the night with.
Sunrise near Amnematchen (Amdo/Kham Tibet). One of the most beautiful mornings so far.
The evening before, sleeping with the nomads, we had been shoved in a corner together. I was in the worst pain of my life from my stomach problems and got no sleep, Brandon told me he didn’t sleep at all either.
When getting ready for bed, the Tibetan girl and I were giggling with each other for about an hour. There was a language barrier and we would just communicate with laughter and giggles. We were watching each other, curious of the other. One of us would do something, and catch the eyes of the other, and we would both burst out in laughter. Old cranky pants that I was sharing my “personal space” with was probably confirming in his head that I’d lost my mind.
That girl was absolutely beautiful and I have about 3 dozen photos of her. I can still hear her laughter and giggles, while adding a white powder/flour to her traditional Tibetan hat. What I would do to visit her again…………………..well, it’s not that far away?
January 19, 2012
I heard a crack the day before while riding. The bike didn’t stop and didn’t really notice anything different – so I continued on.
The previous night I had stayed with a Tibetan family in a very very small village. This morning she filled my bottles with tea and sent me off with a plastic bag of tsampa!
A few hours of riding there was another loud “crack” and I immediately felt my new Brooks saddle change under my booty.
I had just thrown out my old Selle Italia saddle and replaced it with a beautiful double rail Brooks B72 in Xining. This gorgeous beauty only had about 1000km on.
Dismounting and without skipping a beat I look directly at the double rails of the saddle. Both broken…snapped right behind the saddle clamp. Shit.
Really? I’m literally in the middle of nowhere. YES. LITERALLY!
There is no point in shouting or crying and actually maintain a very cool and collected demeanor. Gently setting Nelly on her side, I step a meter back and think about this situation.
This is exactly the point where I set the bike down and what I also had to decide on – which road?
First things first. I take out the multi-tool and skootch the saddle forward so the jagged breaks are in the seat clamp. This will hopefully get me somewhere for a shitty weld. I’ll have to take my weight off the saddle while riding, especially over this terrain. It will prove to also be the noisiest saddle ever.
I plop down in the fork of the road, feeling a little proud of myself for resolving this problem so quickly and not a peep of frustration coming from me.
Looking ahead, which road should I take. Again, the only map I have is a horrible tourist map of China with only main roads shown. It doesn’t even have Chinese written on it.
After gulping down some tea…wait…does this tea make me even thirstier? What is with this Tibetan tea?…and eating some tsampa I stand up and examine the road to the right.
It heads into the hills. There is a good chance it actually heads more Northeast, where at this point I want Northwest. I walk about a quarter of a kilometer down the road, closely…CLOSELY…examining the path. How fresh do the tracks look? Are there jeep tracks or just motorcycle tracks? How is the gravel thrown about?
After looking down near 16,000km of tarmac, gravel roads, cow paths, fields, I feel extremely competent of road judging skills.
I walk off the road to cross to the road to the left. Ahead, I can see that the road is pretty damaged from ice melt run off. This part of the road becomes about 3 meters wide from automobiles and motorcycles veering off the road and even another road has been made to the left. Further beyond, the road seems to wrap to the West around some large stones.
This road shows slightly more signs of travel BUT I notice multipele sets, and obvious, jeep and truck tracks. Yes, this is the choice.
(I want to state that the Brooks saddle was repaired by Brooks for free. If you use a Brooks B72 you MUST use an old style seat post or a “seat sandwich”.)
January 10, 2012
The girl on the left could speak fairly good English. She met Brandon and I at the restaurant her brother cousin owned. The two older girls in the photo are sisters. Their family had lived in these Tibetan mountains for generations. When we walked up to the temple, as they bought Brandon and I each a beer, she explained how the city had grown since her childhood.
There were about 2 dozen small Tibetan homes now, and a large area of homes and a dormitory for the monks.
These girls were half Tibetan half Han. Their mother, Han, had passed away near her birth.
The house we are in here is new, because her father had sold the older and bigger home. Since his daughters were growing up, and one in college.
I slept in her bed and Brandon got the floor. In the morning he gets up first and runs back into the room and tells me to get my lazy a$$ up because it’s 11am! “Oh sh*t!? REALLY???!!”
“No, it’s 9:30″.
Even though we left early in the day, we didn’t make a lot of progress because we kept getting stopped for tea and tsampa. We weren’t riding road or tarmac either. The road eventually broke into a cow path through some of the most beautiful valleys I have ever seen in my life. This route continued for a couple of days and over a pass.
I’ll never forget when we got out of the mountain valley and finally hit tarmac, a Tibetan invites us in for some frozen Yak meat. Yes…raw frozen Yak…Brandon and I especially enjoyed the cookies.
January 4, 2012