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Riding High


Jianwei, an agriculture-based mountain county in Sichuan, has lured outside eyes because of its preservation of the world’s only operational rails for old-fashioned narrow-gauge steam locomotives, which have been pushing development of local tourism. The steam locomotive is now considered a “living fossil of the industrial revolution,” and although the rail in Jianwei was originally constructed for coal transportation, it now primarily moves passengers. In recent years, fascinated by its reputation, numerous train enthusiasts both from home and abroad have visited. In 2006, the county government dubbed the railway an industrial heritage to be protected.

While delighting in the locomotive and soaking up the beautiful surrounding landscapes, many travelers also realized that the winding roads and paths seemed ideal for mountain biking. According to a tourist bus driver, increasing numbers of cyclists have been visiting, including many who pedaled from outside the county just to see the locomotives.

Mr. Wang, 26, and his five friends came from Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, with their bicycles. Their plan was to spend a weekend riding through the picturesque scenery. “The bicycle is not just an exercise device, it has also become a symbol of a fashionable and green lifestyle,” Wang asserts. “We all love cycling through the suburbs, which has become our favorite holiday activity.”

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