I ask Paul, who is the one navigating at the moment, how many passes we still have to cross and how high they will be. Every time I ask it seems as if one pass more has appeared in front of us, the number just won’t shrink.
On the other hand the number of passes we have already left behind is fading in my mind. I stopped counting somewhere in between Golmud and Yushu. The magic has disappeared. First, it was a mystical and special moment to reach the top of a pass, it was like winning a battle , like proving I am able to make it to shanghai, a beautiful moment at which we both stopped for a while, had a look around and enjoyed the mountains.
Now it is more like a hurry, we reach the top and sometimes don’t even stop to take a picture. We sometimes do several passes in on day, trying to reach our daily kilometer-aim. Passes have gotten more of an obstacle in our way to our destination than a target themselves.
I said, I stopped counting them, that is not completely correct. I actually started counting the ones that we still have to ride. I categorized them in different difficulties, ascend and descend, steepness and height. There are passes that are not even worth mentioning for they ascend very slowly over dozens of kilometers and thus are hardly noticeable. Other passes rise very steep in front of us, rise very high and fall down deep again, they are the ones in the upper categories for they cost a lot of energy an time to complete.
So, how many still to go?
All together another 8 from which 3 will probably take us a whole day to get over. When I am done with this list, when I have reached the top op of the last pass and look down on the last big chapter of our tour, I will be a happy cyclist again. But until then, I will try to avoid thinking to much and just do what I need to do. Cycle up, cycle down, again and again.
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