cfsmtb in low earth orbit

Saturday, September 18, 2004

China roll

There are more than 300 million cyclists in China, so what better way to see the country than on two wheels, asks Merope Mills.
Early in the morning, on the road climbing out of the town of Jixian, the woman in high heels overtook me on her bike. Given that my bicycle and I had about 20 years apiece on her and hers, it should have been no contest. But as I panted and puffed and pedalled that bit harder, she swanned ahead, seemingly unaffected by her inappropriate footwear, the creaking rustbucket she was riding or the bags of shopping weighing down her handlebars.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that the Chinese really know how to ride a bike: China has the highest number of bikes of any country in the world, with about a quarter of the population owning one. So if there was ever a way to see a country as the locals do, it was to saddle up and join those 300 million-plus souls on the Chinese roads.