Tomorrow I set out for China with a huge duffel bag full of warm and rainproof motorcycling clothes for an October ride through the northeast of the country. I'll be landing in Beijing at 2:30 in the afternoon to be greeted by none other than Teresa Howes, the woman I stayed with a decade ago in Beijing, who has just coincidentally (are there any coincidences?) moved back to China and has offered her guest room and companionship for my ride. On Monday morning we'll go meet Jim Bryant who, a decade ago, lent me his Chang Jiang and who will this time lend me a new CJ sidecar bike with a clean, reliable BMW engine. He gave up the Subway Sandwich franchise business and is now in the motorcycle business full time.
By the way, if you're serious about CJ's join the CJ750 Sidecar Community and prepare to be informed. Jim is the go-to guy for everything about CJ's and also manages the Internet Sidecar Owners Klub, which is a great discussion group for all kinds of sidecar motorcycles, travel, technical, advice, etc.
On Monday, Teresa, Jim, and I (and maybe a few more) plan to head out toward Datong and turn inland toward Wu-Tai Shan, one of China's four sacred mountains, and other destinations, subject to change, as usual. I'll chronicle the trip in words and photos on this weblog. You can also sign up to get my newsletter.
It's hard to believe that it's been an entire 10 years since my first visit to China. In 1997 the group, led by Rich Dunagan (who now lives back in the USA), took me on a ride from Beijing to the Great Wall where we camped overnight under a full moon. I was hooked, and in Spring of 1998 I returned, intending to ride from Beijing to Burma . . . what a joke! The maps were wrong, the roads were bad, and I was slower than slow, stopping every hour or so to see this, taste that, go for a walk, get a tune up (or major repairs!). In four months I only made it to Xining back through Xi'an (terra cotta warriors) to Beijing. The China Road dispatches are still the most popular on my site. This trip I'll check out what's changed, what's the same, and finish a print book titled Flying Under the Radar about both trips to be published spring/summer 2008.
In the meantime, check this weblog the next few weeks for updates, or better yet, put http://carlaking.typepad.com in your RSS newsfeed reader (like Bloglines) and get automatic updates as soon as they're published. I look forward to your comments.