On Wednesday, the Wuhan International Yangtze River Crossing Festival is taking place. The local motorcycle association is organizing a large bike parade as part of the festivities. Yesterday, a group of us rode across the bridge into Hankou to register and take part in a little practice run.
I have rode in many North American cities over the last five years but nothing comes close to riding in this crazy metropolis of 10 million. It took us over an hour to get to the practice location from our starting point here in Wuchang. The other guys have been riding sidecar machines for quite awhile and bombed along through the traffic, without a lot of sympathy for the Wuhan rookie driver! I managed to keep up as they dodged cars and buses, ran red lights and quickly changed directions whenever they realized they had made a mistake. It is one thing riding in a taxi, or even a little scooter, but it was a different story manoevring my new 700 pound machine around the traffic while trying to keep an eye on the guys ahead of me. As I have said before, there is only one traffic rule here, never stop
moving, and my friends followed it to the T. I hoped that if I stayed close enough to them, we could move as one unit and nobody would try to get in front of me. It seemed to work for the most part but the odd vehicle still managed to sneak in between us so I had to battle to get back behind them again.
We finally got to the practice area where the bikes were already beginning to arrive in droves. This was the first time I had seen so many modern, larger bikes in one place here in Wuhan. Although most were 250cc, there were several over 650cc and even one Kawasaki 1500 like my own bike in Canada. As always, our vintage machines were the center of attention and many people gathered around them, checking them out and taking photos.
The main part of the day was spent registering everybody for the parade. Over 100 bikes showed up for the afternoon but they expect to have many more register in the next couple of days. And it was friggin hot, at least 40 degrees Celsius. I know we drank at least five bottles of water
each and dumped another one over our heads, before the afternoon was over! Forms were passed out so that those who had jobs could get the day off without any hastle and we were told that the government was going to give us each a "tip"of 50 -100RMB for providing entertainment, so to speak. You gotta love this place
At some point during the afternoon, Tom noticed he had a flat tire, so we went to a nearby motorcycle clubhouse/garage to get it fixed. We finally had a little respite from the heat as we sat in the air conditioned room waiting for the tire to be fixed before we headed back to Wuchang. The guy in charge of the club has been competing with sidecar motorcycle trick riding since the 70s and had definitely been around the block a few times when it came to motorcycles in general. After hanging around for awhile and cooling down, we headed to a nearby large motorcycle shopping area where you could find any bike and/or accessory you wanted.
It was finally time to battle our way back to Wuchang through the rush hour traffic but I was getting more
used to it by now so it went by fairly quickly. My sidekick (literally, on this bike), Nancy, let out the occasional scream to warn me of approaching vehicles from all directions. We got back in one piece and now await the big parade on Wednesday. We are meeting at 5:30amhere in Wuchang in order to rush across the Number 2 bridge first thing in the morning into Hankou, hopefully avoiding being stopped. Those of you who live here might know why we need to do this! It should be an interesting day! The good part is we are going to be followed by a ton of bicycles so we need to move slowly along! We have all been given stickers for our motorcycles that tells the police, "Make way for these guys."
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