Meneghina Express’ numbers:

12379 Kilometers in 44 days

350 hours riding

297 batteries recharged

12 countries

4500Kg Co2 reduced vs. gas

Day 2 - China flag - June 11

We have "full power"

The alarm clock rang, but we were so tired the night before that, incredibly, we didn't hear it. However Nicola, who has energy to spare, wakes us up. Luckily we're not really late: we rush, we go down in the garage where we parked the pickups and where in the meantime the electric motorbikes have been put in charge. Outside it's windy and raining. It isn’t the best conditions to start the day, but not so daunting so much so to make us worried. Dazed for the sudden clock's alarm, we find Valerio who is already wearing the suit. Then we ask him if it is possible ride the bikes with this awful weather. He looks at us as a math teacher who might ask to a student "How much is two plus two?" Woe to answer five!

phoca thumb l BestShotMirco 11giu
The best shot of the day by Mirco Lazzari

Obviously the “boys” power up the engine: they are experts, have a passion for the two wheels since when they were born and obviously isn’t the rain that can dampen their enthusiasm.

After the first hundred kilometers we continue the journey and cross through the town of Tai Shi Xin: the air is heavy, the sky darker, and huge chimney stacks begin to sprout like mushrooms, close to which there are heaps, almost mountains of black material. It is coal. The coal dust settles on our helmets and on our faces as we open the windows of the pick-up to take pictures and shoot. It is remarkable to think that, at the end, the electricity we use even to recharge our equipment is the result of the synthesis of the extraction and processing of coal!

After another hundred miles, we permit ourselves to take a rest and go for a walk through one of the many open-air markets full of seasonal fruit. It is now clear that peaches, apples, watermelons, bananas, cherries are the most common fruit of this period, along with the cabbage and cauliflower. Then we were drawn from a species of curious flattened cake. Mirco and Carlo buy it: it is excellent. Inside there is chives. Then, all together like good brothers we divide the pie. We are happy to enter more and more into a rural and unknown China, where there is no person who does not stop us, that wants a photo souvenir with us, caress the bikes as if they were foals at rest.

At Dezhou hundred and fifty miles to the north, we see something that we never thought could exist: a huge, really huge, expanse of solar panels, manufactured in vertical series, horizontal, placed on wind turbines on every lamppost, for miles and miles, with a structure culminating like a disc shape; all coated by panels. I do not believe we exaggerate when we think of a diameter of at least two hundred meters.

Fast as a bullet, comes the first real sunset of this China: Nicola and Valerio are happy to cross the town of Dong Guang Xian doing the slalom between pods of barley that peasants have thrown on the road, where they make a first step to sieve them and then a first packaging for the transport. Slalom and “some wheelies”, as if to proclaim to the world that sometimes you just have a wheel to be happy. With safely and with full mastery, because they can do it, and who is travelling on the pick-up remain open-mouthed, admired by so much virtuosity.

Enrico does a great job, he goes up and down from the pick-up to resume the most significant moments of each day. Carlo is a perfect traveling friend, reliable and pleasant from every point of view. What a pity to think that he'll be with us only for a few days. And Giorgio? Observes, evaluates and acts when it's time. He has no rivals, from a technical and mechanical point of view.

We finally arrived in Cangzhou and as soon as we parked we realize that there is a problem: the generators have limitations, they are not exactly doing the work that they should. Our most atrocious thoughts go to Mr. Sun, who prepared our 4X4. Never mind: we skip the dinner and practically work until one o'clock in the night. Tomorrow is another day, the problems can be solved, this is an adventure and not a movie and all of us, now, we are a team more and more compact: we will succeed. This is also Meneghina Express!

Text and photos by Flavio Allegretti

Path traveled today