gallery The Open Roads in Ningbo

On clear days if you look out over Ningbo it is possible to see a multi layered grey jagged outline on the horizon. These are mountains, which surround our city on all four sides and are less than an hour away. For the past year or more a group of friends and I have been exploring them on two wheels.

When I first moved to Ningbo three years ago I hardly dared to venture further than the nearest shopping mall. As time went by and I became more familiar I invested in an E-bike and rediscovered the joy of two wheeled transport. E-bikes are the best way to get around any city. Soon however, I got the itch to travel further and made the decision to buy a petrol bike.

I started with a Chinese made Regal Raptor, which I bought in Beilun. I actually had the bike delivered because at the time I was too worried about getting lost with no map, rudimentary Chinese and certainly no GPS.
My first rides were short forays on my own to Dongqian lake and as far as I dared go while relying on memory to get me home. Time passed and I was lucky enough to meet a group of like-minded souls who also reveled in the freedom a motorbike can give you.

Riding a motorcycle is so much more rewarding than driving in a car. In a car your mind can be occupied with other things. On a bike all your senses must remain alert. Riding requires foresight, balance and coordination; simply put, a much higher level of road craft. Taking a bike through a set of corners well is something I can only ever hope to do. However, like most sports, there is pleasure to be found in the attempt.

Our group now consists of over a dozen riders, all from different countries and all riding different bikes. Everything including a side-car, dirt bikes, cruisers and street bikes will turn up for our weekly gathering.

The Ningbo countryside never ceases to take my breath away. So close to such a large modern city are hundreds of kilometres of twisting roads that take you up into the mountains. We pass through beautiful little villages beside rocky mountain rivers and can look across valleys of carefully husbanded tea plantations or bamboo forests constantly being tended by the hard working locals.

More often than not, one of our group has a technical issue. This has to be resolved where ever it happens and has resulted in some very lateral solutions involving bits of stick, tie wraps (the most important fix it) and anything which can be borrowed or found in the vicinity. If all else fails, the bike is manhandled on to a pick up and returned to base with its tail between its legs.

During the week plans are made for the next outing and of course weather forecasts are keenly viewed. They are exceptionally accurate in the Ningbo area. If they say it’s going to rain at 4.00pm it usually does! Where I come from we get all seasons in one day and the forecast for next week.

Ningbo has sadly turned its back on motorcycles and the reasons why are not very clear. The problems start when you try getting a driving license, registration plates and insurance for your bike. To get these necessary items you will need to have an address outside of the “no go” zone. The process can be a drawn out one and it helps if you already have a bike license from your home country. It took me many months of persistence but it paid off and finally I had all the necessary documentation.

Last Chinese New Year a couple of us travelled all the way to Hunan and back, a 3500km ride. Who knows where the next trip will take us but I cannot wait to get started! In the mean time every weekend brings the promise of more happy hours spent riding through the never ending maze of winding mountain roads and the pleasure of sharing it with my friends.

天朗气清的日子里,如果你展望整个宁波,你很可能会看到地平线上一个灰色多边的嶙峋轮廓。这些就是山岭,四面环绕着这座城市,距宁波不到一小时的车程。去年或前些年,我和一帮朋友骑车前去探险这些山峦。

三年前,我第一次搬来宁波的时候,除了最近的购物中心,我几乎不敢冒险去更多地方。随着时间流逝,我越来越熟悉这里,我买了一辆电动自行车,重新发现了两轮交通工具的乐趣。电动车是游历任何城市的最佳方式。但是不久,我非常渴望去更多地方旅行,于是下决心买了一辆燃油摩托车。

我以一辆在北仑购买的中国产大地鹰王摩托车启程。实际上,摩托车是送货上门的,因为那时我太担心在没有地图、不懂基本中文以及当然没有GPS导航的情况下迷路。

我第一次骑车出行仅仅是自己骑到东钱湖以及我敢去的地方进行短暂旅行,然后凭着记忆骑回家。时间流逝,我很幸运地遇到了一群志同道合的朋友,他们也陶醉于摩托车可以给予你的自由。

骑摩托车的收获比驾车来得丰厚的多。在小车里,你可以把心思放在其他事物上。而骑摩托车,你的所有感官必须时刻保持警惕。骑车需要远见、平衡和协调;简单地说,需要更高水平的驾车知识。骑车出色地穿过一组街角是我一直梦寐以求的事情。但是,就像众多运动一样,在尝试中总能发现乐趣。

我们这一组包括十几名骑手,全都来自不同的国家,也骑着不同的车子。包括边车、越野摩托车、巡航车和街头摩托车等,都会在我们的每周聚会上出现。

宁波乡村一直都令我神魂颠倒。在如此接近这大型现代都市的地方,有着数百公里的蜿蜒小路,带你直上山顶。我们在岩石山岭的河道旁穿越一座座风景优美的小山村,还可以眺望山谷间精心种植的茶园或勤劳的当地人在时刻照料着的竹林。

往往,我们这组总有一个会出现技术问题。无论在哪里发生,都必须得到解决,于是会出现一些十分侧面的解决方案,包括一些枯枝、扎带(最重要的维修工具)和任何附近可以借用或发现的东西。如果所有其他的办法都没用,则人工将摩托车架起,再从车架上蹬回底座。

每周都会为下次远足做好计划,当然也要热切关注天气预报。在宁波地区,天气预报异常精准。如果它说下午4点会下雨,经常真的就下雨了!在我的国家和地区,一天之内都会经历四季,天气可以预报至下一周。

令人遗憾的是,宁波禁止摩托车,具体原因不详。当你试着考取驾照、注册牌照和给车上保险时,问题就来了。为了拿到这些必要项目,你需要有一个“禁区”之外的地址。过程既冗长又烦人,如果你已经有你自己国家的摩托车驾照,就会有所帮助。我花好几月时间坚持,还是有所回报,最终取得了所有必要的文件。

去年春节,我们几个人一路骑车去湖南旅行,全程3500公里的骑行。谁知道下一站我们会去哪里,但我已经迫不及待地准备出发!同时,每个周末都会期待与我的朋友们花费数小时骑行穿过永无止境的蜿蜒山路,分享乐趣,共同度过更多美好时光。

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