I thought the 40 km ride down to Doumenzhen would be pretty nasty; we'd be traversing huge industrial zones that make everything from air conditioners to bicycle derailleurs. Happily, my fear proved unfounded. The ratio of quiet lanes and cycle paths to busy roads came in at about 3 to 1, though a few hiccups were experienced when placing too much faith in the Roading Department.
|We decided to be good and follow the cycle path rather than using the overpass. This is how we were rewarded.|
Such vexations aside, the path provided some sublime cycling, often belying the fact that we live in the most populous region of the World's most populous country.
|Guiping follows the sylvan way.|
Just before Doumenzhen itself, our route took a diversion up to Wangbao reservoir for some spectacular views of Jintai Temple.
|The LKLM finds religion at Wangbao Reservoir.|
The street itself provided plenty of interest. To explain, I can really do no better than to quote directly from our city guide:
Doumen Old Street was constructed at the turn of the 19th century into the 20th, and was designed by the Rev John Galloway, a priest and architect from Canada, and his team. With both Chinese and Western architectural features, the street incorporated silk, household product and forest product stores, grain shops, general banks, pawnshops, and a church. It became a logistics center for goods on the south bank of the Pearl River Delta as well as an entrepot for overseas remittances and financial businesses.Think of Christchurch's new Regent Street on steroids and you have Old Street's late-Lingnan archtecture.
|Jiu Jie (Old Street), Doumen Town.|
|The gaudy and prosaic rub shoulders.|
|Brooms guard the entrance of a village hardware store as Old Street awakens.|
|Village stores are an Aladdin's Cave for the practically minded.|
Our return trip was longer and more challenging. Winding south, we looped back home via a collection of quiet villages, raucous market towns and inexplicable high-rise developments.
|A nicely restored classical Lingnan home in Wangshan Village.|
The final 30 km drag along the wide and busy Zhuhai Avenue was relieved by a chance meeting with Justin, an intimidatingly in-shape young American on a carbon wunderbike. He graciously slowed down, and we chatted about gear, planned trips, good routes and all the other stuff that cyclists find important. Justin was impressed by my locally made panniers and racks, and later sent a message that he'd ordered some for his fancy, Xian-made titanium tandem.
After that, Guiping and I had only to cross the frankly terrifying 2-mile-long Xi River Bridge to be back in Zhuhai proper. The bridge is not an experience I'm altogether keen to repeat, but I guess we can say we've done it now. Luckily, if we find ourselves down that way again, we'll be able to detour north via a plethora of narrow concrete paths that line the canals and drains hereabout.