BDMC Mayday ride from Jim Bryant
We made it! Riders were Lennart Holmes and his son Sidney riding an M1S; Ralph Hois and his girlfriend, also riding an M1S; Jared Malarsky on an old M1 6 volt; my wife and son—Jiao and Eric—and me on my BMW powered Chang. A one-week ride to Inner Mongolia and across the grasslands to Datong and then back to Beijing. We crossed parts of three provinces—Hebei, Inner Mongolia and Shanxi. We left Friday afternoon and took a leisurely ride up to Jingshanling where we stayed once again at the Ming-style motel just down from the Great Wall. We were able to custom order our dinner and our breakfast the next morning. They had over a hundred rooms and we were the only guests. We had another rider—Jim Middler—but his bike developed a nasty bearing noise so he returned to Beijing the next morning. After breakfast Saturday we rode up to the Twin Towers and visited the steam train switching yard. There was only one steamer but it was a pretty sight. The forecast before leaving called for three days of rain. We were lucky in that we got only a Saturday afternoon of rain. We ended Saturday's ride early in Weichang where we could dry out and do some preventative maintainance. We got an early afternoon start up to the Imperial Hunting Grounds. No matter how many times I go there it's still a beautiful scenic area. We wrangled permissioin to ride across the grass out to Moon Lake and were tempted to just keep riding. But we did ride back to Weichang only to find that every hotel room in the town was fully booked. We finally found some rooms and got a good night's sleep so we could get an early start out to Duolun and points beyond.         

We leave Weichang on Sunday morning and the weather is clear but very cold. There must be ten thousand small 150cc three-wheeled taxis in this town. The road is basically two ruts and we spend a long time in furst and second gear trundling along. At one stop the boys entertain themselves by chasing some geese. By noontime we hit the city of Duolun and stop for another great meal. So far we're batting 1000% on choice of restaurants thanks to the women on board. They are performing admirably as restaurant scouts!

At Duolun we perform some more minor electrical repairs and a crowd gathers around as we do this. Ralph and I decide to find a car wash to clean off the pounds of mud caked to our bikes. You'd think we just landed from mars by the stares we get. As you can see from the pictures there is not a lot of anything between towns. After we get rolling again we make good time as to the west of Duolun there is a freshly paved road. We ride into Zhanglan Qi and stop for the night as we don't know how far along until we find the next town. The hotel is clean, about 120 RMB per night and there is another great restaurant just around the corner.

(Imagine being able to see a working steam locomotive in 2004!)

We were having a nice pleasant ride along scarcely populated roads, making pretty good time. I didn't want to ride at night—half because I didn't trust the traffic and half I didn't trust the electrical system on any of these bikes. We rode into a dirty little city of Huade at close to lunchtime so we stopped to (again) make some small electrical repairs and find a good restaurant. Big mistake #1. Almost immediately after stopping a huge crown gathered around our bikes. We were on the main street of this city and cars stopped in the middle of the road to get out of there cars and come have a look. We sent the ladies on ahead to scout out a good restaurant while we waited. Big mistake #2. By the time the ladies returned, there were maybe 300 people all crowded around our bikes so we could not move. I overheard a short guy calling the police on his cell phone so I signalled everyone we'd better get moving. At that moment this short guy attempts to pull the key out of Ralph's bike. He brushes his hand away and I signal him to slowly inch on forward. He's actually pushing this short guy along when the guy pulls out his badge. So we stop once again and wait to see how this is going to turn out. We are told we must drive to the police station for questioning. Unfortunately the two police that show up are so drunk they have trouble finding the police station. We finally make it with the help of an older lady who sits in my sidecar. Once in the police station we are asked for our passports. But before we can get them out of the bags the police leave and a while later come back and want to see our driver's licenses. Once again before we can get them out they leave and this time don't come back. So after sitting in a room by ourselves for about half an hour and not knowing really what to do in this situation we head out for the bikes to get rolling. Two of the drunkest cops are fighting so the older lady tells us to get moving. Don't stop for food and don't even stop for gas. She doesn't have to tell any of us twice. So now instead of hoping to make Datong before dark we've wasted two hours and didn't eat lunch or refuel. We decide to munch on the snacks Lennart and others brought and keep rolling. A couple hours later we pass through Jining which means we've entered Shanxi Province. We finally make it to Datong at long past dark where we're met at the city gates by the Datong Motorcycle Club. There are probably sic or seven of them and we get a full escort into the city where our rooms are waiting for us. The next day we perform maintainance on all the bikes which includes changing out all the fluids, electrical repairs, rear spring repairs on my bike and other maintainance. It's after lunch time when we finally get rolling out to the Hanging Temple. It's a fantastic ride through the mountains to reach a Temple that was stuck into the side of a cliff 1800 years ago. There is also a huge dam and reservoir at the site. On the way back we see some gliders so we follow them to the airport. It turns out there are close to 20 gliders belonging to a club hangared at this small airport. Plus there is a (flying) Chang Jiang which is used as a tow plane. Some of our group make arrangements to be taken up the next morning while the others will see the Yungang Grottos. The next morning we split up between the airport riders and the caves riders meeting back at the hotel by noon for the ride back to Beijing. Once again we get a late start, not heading out of Datong until after 2:00 PM. The ride back to Beijing is a nice ride once we leave Shanxi Province and enter Hebei Province. There are some good ride destinations noted along this route for our next big ride. Some of the scenery looks like the Badlands of South Dakota. We finally come into a huge lake which I've never seen before, ride around the perimeter and come upon the Jing-Zhang Highway which leads us to the Badaling Highway and home. All told we rode 1600 kilometers in seven days, crossing three provinces. Amazingly, other than some minor electrical glitches we ran trouble free.

Regards,

Jim, BDMC