Ok, back on the road again !! Been a long time off the bike, was very happy to be packed up and moving !! Here is the bike fully loaded and ready to roll. I did change out the tires to ones that were a bit knobbier. Will miss the great Tex Mex food and stawberry shakes in Chengdu but the open road calls. And I know you guys are waiting to see what new punishment I will visit upon myself..... Decided to head up north to catch up with Franki and test ride the new Jialing dual sport bike. However no visit to Chengdu would be complete without visiting the giant panda center. Paid my fee and start walking around looking for pandas out playing in natural settings. It is midday, and this is what I see.... Hmm, no pandas in sight. Then see a small building with a sign in front that says due to the weather please see the pandas inside. And sure enough there they are, kicking back in air conditioned cages chomping down on bamboo. Basically escaping the heat which makes perfect sense. Here are some pint sized ones. Another area had red pandas. They are fairly small about the size of a medium dog. Also clearly a lot tougher as they were out in the outside area playing around, and eating of course.. Here showing off the zoom on my new camera. I must have a warped sense of humor, since I got a kick of a sign there warning Chinese tourists not to pester the foreign tourists for pictures. A pretty uneventful ride up to Mianyang for the Jialing motorcycle event. I had no idea how big the city was. I had been given the name of the hotel from Franki, and thought no problem to find it. They knew otherwise, and had two people waiting for me to arrive at the outskirts of the city. Out of the corner of my eye saw these guys waving and screaming as I went by. So they escorted me WAY out of town to a resort where the event was held. The resort was on a lake. As I walked around the hotel area I noticed this cable car down to point of land across the lake. It was no longer in operation, think you would have to be a very brave person to take this... I did not know a soul at the event except Franki whom I had never met in person before. We had only exchanged emails. Yet everyone there treated me like a long lost brother. I was truly amazed. They also took endless pictures of themselves with me like I was a motorcycle touring superstar. I did not have the heart to tell them I was just an ordinary bozo wasting my time riding around. And of course they spent lots of time spent examing the modifications I had done to my bike. The whole event was very elaborate and well done. Here is the parking area after all the test riders came back from the day's ride. Franki being interviewed by a film crew. He is a very well known rider in China. Jialing is a major motorcycle manufacturer in China. They wish to enter the large bike market with this 600 CC dual sport bike. So they invited 60 riders from all over China to come on a three day road trip to test ride the bikes. With Franki's help I just sort of weaseled my way into the party.... Here are the test bikes lined up. One of the bike clubs there. They forced me into their photo...:rofl A few assorted non Chinese bikes were there as well. And no bike gathering would be complete without a big nightime party. Let's see, beautiful dancing girls ?? Check !! A stunning girl that was an excellent violin player?? Yep got that too.... And of course a guy wearing a mask blowing out gouts of flames....... Franki is from Hong Kong, and speaks perfect english as well as Chinese of course. So he very graciously acted as my translator the whole three days. Think he told everyone that I was famous, because everyone kept coming over to my table and wanted a toast. Or maybe it was because I was the only white foreign devil there. :evil When you toast here you have to drink the whole glass at once. So by the end of the evening Beemer Boy was turning into Blasted Boy. Had a great time though. Good food, good friends, and lots of motorcycle talk. A little piece of heaven! Next day time for a test ride on that bad boy. As the bike is basically targeted for Europe they were very curious what I thought of the bike. Notice the sort of evil grin that is saying what were these Jialing people thinking letting a maniac ride one of their prized new test bikes.... A stop along the way... Rider viewpoint... Overall I liked the bike. Plenty of power, actually better roll on power than my Africa Twin. Mild surging from the fuel injection was the main issue for me. Am sure that can be mapped out. Also a bit heavy for a 600 CC bike. But I think the bike will sell well. Lunch stop. Basically I ate like a king the whole time. The point and shoot method of ordering food is on hold for a couple of days. Now I sit down, wait, and endless plates of delicious food keep showing up. Yeah baby !!! Finished up the ride with a big party at the factory owned hotel named amazingly enough the Jialing Hotel. Shared a toast with the head guy of Jialing but did not get a chance to talk to him. This is Franki on the right with a fellow rider that wore green surfer shorts the whole time with knee pads over the top of them. I kept asking him if that was special Chinese safety gear. Looked pretty funny but with good knee pads probably was safe enough. I want to add a special note of thanks to Franki who helped me endlessly with translations, adding to my enjoyment by being able to share humor both ways with these wild and crazy bikers. They may ride smaller bikes and speak Chinese, but they are just as wacky as we are !!! :clap I also want to add in a belated note of thanks to Crazy Carl as well. He helped me a lot while I was in Chengdu, and was instrumental in enabling me to purchase a bike. Without him I would not be still touring around China right now. Thanks my friend........ The next day everyone left so time for me to scoot on down the road. Damn, have to start paying for my meals again.:cry Headed out in light rain, trying to find my way out of a very large confusing city. I have a GPS of course, but it does not help much in these cities, as it only gives a general direction to head on. Finally after some lucky turns I am on the way north to Xian. Some of the mountains along the way. After a long days ride ended up in a medium sized town for the night. Stopped alongside the street and pulled out my Lonely Planet guide to try to find a hotel. I had a feeling they do not see many white people , because within ten minutes I had a crowd of a hundred people in a circle around me. I pantomimed for them to smile and took a shot of everyone as I was leaving. Yep, just start calling me Superstar !!! The next day was a long ride to try to get to Xian. Attempted to make it to a small town just before twilight when the bike started to feel a bit squirrely. Checked the front tire and rear , everything seemed ok. Went a ways further and it got worse. Ok, time to stop the bike and really check things out. Hey!! Ten broken spokes on the rear wheel !!! :eek1 :eek1 :eek1 Remember this is on a bike that is ten days old, and only had only traveled on a paved road. I think another few kilometers and the wheel would have collapsed. Am now at a really small town, basically a wide spot in the road. And now it is almost dark... And there is no place to stay... And no place to eat...It is another ten kilometers to a large town up the road. Time to work ! All the broken spokes were on the side opposite the sprocket. My first thought was to take some of the spokes from the sprocket side and transfer them over to the side with all the missing spokes. Then limp in very slowly to the large town up the road . Just as I am getting ready to work a man comes up and motions that there is a shop fifty meters up the road. So I walk the bike down there to find a closed shop. No problem, this is a small town. A phone call, and the mechanic shows up in five minutes. He then takes spokes that were too long and clips them shorter using a pair of side cutters.:eek1 .Not the toughest spokes in the world..... Here he is working away at night time. He seemed to be well on the way to fixing it. Hate to hover over someones shoulder when they are working, so time to tour the little town... Here are some of the local kids who must have thought I was the greatest entertainment that ever showed up in this town. Late at night did you ever wonder where dried mushrooms come from? Well, wonder no more, as it seemed to be the main product of this town. Here are some very nice ladies filling up giant bags with mushrooms. They were so happy to have their picture taken. Finally after two hours of work the bike is done, with in essence a temporary fix to get me to the next town. I then asked how much for all the work. The answer? Fifteen yuan. About two US dollars. Let's recap here. Before I was broken down in a tiny town and could not go on. The mechanic then shows up from home to fix it and get me rolling again. I tried to pay him fifty yuan but he refused. I was finally able to force him to take twenty yuan. I shook his hand, big smiles all around , and I am off. Into pitch darkness, something you never want to do here unless you really have to. Hey, here is my chance to test out the new HID light I put in. It worked very well as you can see here. Had a feeling it was going to get some usage on this trip. So was able to slowly make my way to the next town and a good nights sleep.