Saturday, September 13, 2014

China CX Post 1.

Blogs are dead. I know. But if I dont write it down now, I will forget stuff. 10 years ago I would have had a journal and wrote things down by pen to maybe read later. This is easier.

So in early August CX magazine said they were looking for applicants for China. Short notice brutal trip a week before cross season? I am in.  I applied and got accepted. They bought my plane ticket. Communications were a bit tough through the language barrier. My understanding: Fly in, race a C1 UCI race, race an "amateur ride," extend my trip in Beijing for 3 days. I think it was 10 total days, with 2 travel days.

I cant quite recall the details, but I finally got to the resort at 8:30 PM Beijing time. This was about 32 hours after leaving my house in Pittsburgh.  I got put up in a room with Travis from Team Sonic. "You are American... You live together."   He and his teammate Andy Reardon ended up being awesome dudes during the trip, which made a huge difference.

We rode to the Great Wall. It was about a 50 mile ride total. Every road has a protected bike lane. Everybody is on bikes. Driving is insane, but in a controlled type of way. There are almost 3 classes of vehicles: motor cars, electric bikes and bicycles. Electric bikes look like a 125 scooter or a bicycle depending on how fast it is. They sometimes take bike lanes and sometimes are in the road.  The roads had 0 glass. I rode tubular CX tires the whole time. No problems, no worries.

Because we rode there, we ended up on some non tourist section of the wall. We basically had it to ourselves. Fuck yeah. The actual race was about 30 miles outside of Beijing. The town is called Yanqing.  I dont think it was common to have a westerner there just checking things out. The town was cool. There was a HUGE mall. Like 5 stories with probably 2,000 little shops. Some were chains, most seemed to be independent. It was a mixture of indoor and outdoor. It was packed.

Me and my new friends Travis and Andy rode to the course, did a few laps and then went back to the resort for lunch. This is why I think we got along, after lunch we went and explored on our bikes. We rode up to the Longing Gorge, which was super beautiful and insane. It was kind of a tourist town. It was super beautiful, but we were unable to go all the way in due to our bikes.

Then we rode to and abandoned ski resort, checked it out and tried finding a pass over the mountains. We found one of the smoothest, least used roads I have ever been on. It must have been paved for the Olympic road race. There were sculptures of bikes everywhere on it.  We found the mountain pass and were turned away at the bottom by a dude who's job it was seemed to be turning people away from it.

UCI C1 Race.  Standard race day stuff.... Rode around in circles. Got 21st. Pretty good for me. It was my first cross race in like 50 weeks, as I tweaked my ankle last year and had to miss 90% of the season.

Soooo there is a huge language barrier. I dont think many people knew that we were going to get into a bus and drive 5 hours to the road race. I surely did not. Also I didnt know what the "road race" was going to be like. I didnt know the name, the location, the distance. They simply had a photo of the race and there were people on mountain bikes. I figured a cx bike with cx tires would be fine.

Now I am not making fun of china, but upon closer inspection, the photo of the road race seemed to be photo shopped.  And I am not lying here, but that photo was then used on bus stops where we were, it was the sign for a bike shop that I randomly encountered, and it was used elsewhere. I think it was the Chinese photo for bike racing.

We get to the hotel. It is seriously baller. Like insane nice. We learn that the road race is like a grand fondo. Suddenly just having tubular cross tires seems like a terrible plan. There is a crazy banquet. They love having celebration banquets. Before races, after races, etc. They love rice wine. It is 52%. North Americans less than 27 years old should not be allowed to drink rice wine.

Road Race:
We rode to the start from the hotel. We had police escorts and they were blocking the intersections. The start was insane. There were bands playing. Cannons that shot confetti. Balloons. Drones. Fans. Grand stands. Sign ins. It was like the start of the tour de france (ive been to the start of the tdf..)

There were allegedly 500 people. On the start line there is an english speaking dude that I can only characterize as a "masters grand fondo racer"... 10k bike, gadgets all over it etc. He is talking about traveling to the race to race it. Suddenly it is real how real of a race this is. He says there is 10,000 yuan to the winner (1610 usd)... I think this is a shit ton of money in China.

So the race was insane. 32 miles into a 4 mile climb. We did literally 30+ mph for an hour. It was the flattest road, straightest road I have ridden in probably 10 years. There was 1 turn in 32 miles. It was a highway. It was closed. Totally insane. At one point there was a guy on a hang glider above the field filming.

Days 6+: Beijing Tourist. 
Beijing is awesome. Bike lanes everywhere. I rode around and felt safe. It is the safest city for its size in the world. I loved it. It was insane. No English. Sketchy food. Everything is weird. There must literally be a million markets or street vendors. Sick time. Was happy to leave, but am so thrilled to have gone.
town we rode to

Great Wall 

Ill dump a bunch of photos later.


Burt Friggin' Hoovis said...

Nice work'll remember that shit forever.

Thanks for posting.



Matthew Ruscigno said...

YES YES YES. I love this write up and I loved every photo you posted while you were there. Congrats on a great trip.

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