Cycling in Shaanxi - General Info

Watch out for CLOSED AREAS

We crossed the Yellow River from Shanxi on highway 307. When we were there the bridge was only open to pedestrians and cyclists, vehicles had to cross on small ferries. This meant that traffic was very light. The Yellow River is at an altitude of 750m, heading west the road climbs to 1250m and then drops to a small town about 30km west of the Yellow River. This town had hotels and an interesting looking temple. The next town was Xindian (there is a bridge even if most maps don't show one) from which we went south on highway 210 over another gently graded 1250m pass and then downhill for 50km to Yanchuan. From Yanchuan we tried going south on a "brown" road but it was bumpy dirt so we returned to highway 210 and followed it to Yan'an. By Yan'an the traffic on highway 210 was getting heavier so we got a bus to Xi'an. Further south highway 210 got really busy and I didn't see any alternative to the motorway from the bus (although there must be something).

We left Xi'an by bus for Hanzhong and then took another bus from there to Guangyuan in Sichuan. We did the first leg by sleeper bus so we didn't see anything of the road (except that it crossed some mountains), but highway 108 from Hanzhong to Guangyuan was wide and smooth for the first 40km, then there were 10km of bumpy broken tarmac, then 50km of narrow tarmac road. Then the bus crossed a 1300m pass on a 10km stretch of unmade road, after which the road was tarmac again into Guangyuan. Between the pass and Guangyuan there were about five tunnels of up to 500m in length. Except on the pass (somehow a bad surface seems to magnify the traffic) the road was not busy.

The weather in northern Shaanxi in December was clear and cold, around zero during the day in the shade but usually sunny. Xi'an lies under its own cloud of pollution haze so is rarely sunny and the same seemed to be true of southern Shaanxi in January. All heights are from my wristwatch altimeter, so are +-100m, I include them because few maps give relief information.

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