Across Continents

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Neither backwards or forwards

The situation wasn’t quite desperate, but it was looking dire. Despite no obvious abatement in the weather, I’d decided to make a run for the town of Turpan. I’d reckoned on thirty miles or so, and knew I could walk that in a day if it came down to it. What I’d overlooked was the sheer strength of the crosswinds, and the propensity for a fully loaded touring cycle to act like a sail. And a large one at that.

Started well enough, the wind directly on my back. But, as the road gradually curved further east, it became increasingly difficult to control the bike. I pressed on. Towards the wind farms, their huge rotors stationary rather than risk damage in the gale. Soon forced to walk, riding now quite impossible. Hoping conditions would improve ahead. Impossible to judge. The flat, bleak, rocky landscape devoid of any feature to indicate wind strength. Not even a culvert to provide shelter.

The wind strengthened, stiff gusts becoming steady, unrelenting. My pace rapidly falling away, struggling just to keep the bike upright. Almost an hour to cover less than a mile. Retreat a no more appealing prospect than going forwards. Or feasible, conditions worsening.

Brief respite as a passing lorry driver stopped a short distance ahead of me. No hard shoulder, instead coming to a halt on the inside lane of the dual carriageway. Apologetic that strapping the bike safely onboard would be an impossibility. I nodded in reluctant agreement. A few minutes shelter, enough to consume some chocolate, replenish my energy levels.

As he pulled away I spotted another lorry, parked up on rough ground a few hundred metres away. Must have stopped whilst I was having my break. Glimmer of an idea. Spurred on by the prospect I might be able to hitch a lift, it appearing possible there might be room to secure the bike, I pushed on. Hoping the driver didn’t head off before I reached him.

Took about twenty minutes to stow the panniers in the cab and lash the bike down onto boxes of bottled water in the open-topped trailer. Buffeted by the wind, the driver then obliged to manoeuvre the lorry so I could safely open the passenger door. Then off to Turpan.

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