Meneghina Express’ numbers:

12379 Kilometers in 44 days

350 hours riding

297 batteries recharged

12 countries

4500Kg Co2 reduced vs. gas

Day 4 - China flag - June 13

From Beijing to Zhangbei: The reward

To balance the books, one way or another, you must be an excellent mathematician. Sometimes all square without a lot of calculations, kissed by fortune. Other times are like if there was an unwritten law that can be called Justice. It doesn’t matter if today we've been lucky or it's "just the way it had to go." What matters is that, since this morning, we are once again smiling.

We just really wanted to leave behind the day earlier, and we reaffirmed this when, a few minutes after eight o'clock, we were all on board of our vehicles and our motorbikes, ready to leave for one of the most eloquent- imagined, represented and dreamed - destination of China: the Great Wall. We have left Beijing with difficulties due to the heavy traffic, but after the first seventy kilometers it is a revolution: finally after constant change from rural areas to big cities, and vice versa, - contrast that we have experienced every day until yesterday - we have the perception of entering into a new world.

A lot of green, the oldest and the most "true" or simply the land less contaminated. We cross a number of villages that expand to the right and left of the road that passes through them. We dance like on Tagadà, on board of our pickup, while Nicola and Valerio don't seem to be regretful for the road up and they take the opportunity for small jumps and for trying out motorbikes' dampers. On these sides, people live in poverty that almost anyone would indicate as extreme.

This is a demanding consideration after a day where we were literally destroyed. These preoccupations are blown away like clouds after the storm, when on the summit of Kubelkou, about 400 meters above sea level, set in a labyrinthine system of hills, we see the Great Wall! It really exists, and the section that we reach - away from the tourist crowds is completely integrated into nature.

It looks like a snake, huge, endless, and every two or three kilometers is placed a control tower. However our pickups cannot proceed. Not only because there is a mountain to climb that sometimes includes important steps, but because the motor vehicles cannot access, as well as motorcycles. Ours, however can: are electric!

Nicola and Valerio up the dirt roads and when it is obviously impossible to climb on, we help them, by raising all together the two wheels. We do not know if it's already happened, but we think we're the first people in the world to bring electric bikes near the Great Wall. We enjoy the show, take some photographs, and relish for the silence, even inside, contemplating the magnificence of what we see and think that dreams sometimes come true.

From the Great Wall to next destination - Zhangbei, (lacking very little kilometers) but it will take about six hundred to reach the border with Mongolia - is full of tight turns and large lakes, green hills, reddish rock formations, strange rocks, white like milk, which seem to float on the water.

It is also the first time that Nicola and Valerio do not travel with us, but they release for coming first us and heeling the bikes.

The whole area that we cross is cultivated with corn and we imagine the difference weather condition with Italy, because here trunks, are around twenty centimeters high, that means that have been planted recently, while in our Country at this time you can already play hide and seek.

The villages are built according to the work of the earth: arise compact, as if they were a single structure, directly in the middle of the fields. Also greenhouses have logic all their own: here are dug into the ground with a triangular section, which extend horizontally. Also today it is late, very late. We must rest in this small town unknown, no skyscrapers or shopping centers, that has the beauty of three hundred and seventy thousand inhabitants, and there is only one place that "house" foreigners. It'll mean something, if for the first time we were not asked for our passports. The civilization, understood as a modern blend of people, activities and things, it's definitely left behind. Now there is the real China, which, in a few days, will be followed by Mongolia.

Text by Flavio Allegretti

Path traveled today