Bull Dust and Noodles

Leaving the Yecheng hotel we went through a series of checkpoints and once more found ourselves on the dirt road leading to the mountains. Some stretches of it I had ridden five times the previous day doing my impression of a sheep dog rounding up its flock, so a sense of déjà vue accompanied me much of the way. I was relieved to see that yesterday’s ramp was no longer needed as the trench had been filled. Likewise the sandy stretch our rider had fallen in was now flattened.

We wound our way up, travelling steadily, pausing at a village to grab soft drinks where I seized the opportunity to have a quick lunch of noodles with veg – or at least that’s what I thought I was ordering although I couldn’t understand the strange arm gestures of the woman in the kitchen. I waited and waited, then realised that they were making the noodles from scratch hence the extravagant arm movements as they stretch out the noodles. Never mind, I was tail end Charlie again and so being amongst the last to leave wasn’t an issue and anyway, the noodles in all their misshapen hand cut glory were delicious.

And I needed them as 30 minutes down the road we came upon the bull dust. Huge troughs of the stuff, swirling round, masking the uneven track underneath and the serious ruts underneath. In places the dust was so deep that the passing Toyota Landcruisers were creating bow waves as they passed. Bull dust is deceptive; it looks like sand but requires a very different style of riding. In sand you HAVE to go fairly fast to keep a straight line, in the dust you can go more slowly but it requires a steady nerve. Some of the riders went down, requiring me to catch up and give a hand with lifting the bikes up– at times with impatient 4WD drivers accelerating through the dust seemingly straight at us.