Monday, December 15, 2008

Stage 1 + 2, Latex tubes and broken 3K to go signs

After arrival in Hong Kong at 1am Saturday I got to sleep in for a little bit and went for a easy 2hr ride in Sha Tin, a suburb in northern HKG. The temps are in the 50's in the AM but by the time I got back the sun was out and it felt like a humid 'Houstonish' 70 degrees.

Stage 1 was the same course like 2years ago on a 2.5K loop on wide open roads. Half-way through the race (80K) it looked like 'business as usual' with a field sprint but a group of five rode away at the last-minute. Of course, a Chinese guy won while I finished "safely" in the bunch. It's not easy to go to 50mile circuit races with having a lot of base miles and a handful of 60min CX races in your legs. But I'm not just here for vacation so I got in a few small breaks but everything got brought back. I could feel my lack of V02max training when it came to riding "flat out" in the last 5laps. At this race, the real chaos begins after the stage when you go back to the hotel, shower, eat, pack, wrap your bike in bubble-wrapper and put it on a semi-truck to the next city for the following stage. The riders get to ride in buses - quite comfortable actually. Yesterday we went over the border to China and believe it or not immigration/customs goes quicker for me here then trying to get back to the US. Not that I support their government...but they are actually very efficient and organized over here...Something you might not really expect when reading/hearing about China in the US or the rest of the world....and not so conservative as you'd think either...see picture left)!

Today's Stage 2 on the outskirts of the mega-million city Shenzhen was a similar 80K affair like yesterday. Except that I ended up with two rear flats within in 3miles which never happened to me in a race before (see our DS + mechanic airing up tires pre-race in left pic). First the latex tube gave up (after flatting the front one during warm-up) and later the Shimano neutral wheel with a brand-new, beefy Vittoria Corsa went 'zshhhhhhh'. Thanks to criterium-style rules even in those circuit races I got a free lap and got back in quickly. The race was fast but nothing got seriously away so it was field sprint time and 'chill time' for me. I got confirmation about my lack in fast-twitch fibers one more time as I finished somewhere near 50th in the bunch. Almost didn't make it there as Asian riders go Kamikaze for the last lap and one guy hit the 3K to-go sign right in front of me but somehow I missed his bike and other rider's crashing around me.
Cycling fans in China are quite young

There are 2 road races coming up over the next 6 stages so I'm more looking forward to those rather than doing long crits on 3 lane wide, communism-style architected, concrete roads.

Government Building in Shenzhen

post-race lunchbox (one of them features tuna inside)
that guy was our personal guard for the stage from China's Special Police Force


  1. dude!
    I never knew you're out there East racing - fun times what I read!
    looking forward to the next days reports. enjoy!