Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stage 3 & 4 - 1st crash since 2 (?) years

We're getting deeper into mainland China. You can tell by the increased number of motobikes, bicycles and just simple pedestrians walking on the streets. Transportation by car is for many Chinese not a given thing. Walking, riding bicycles (+carrying tons of stuff on it), or using the scooter is a standard over here.

Dongguan was host for Stage 3's 115K (that's 71miles) Circuit Race. A fast course with 4 turns and 2 road bumps each lap...which resulted in 90+ guys bunny hopping those for a total of 60 times at 25+mph (see pic left)! The course was wide open and it made for a good race. Each of my teammates outweighs me by ~40+ lbs so flat, fast circuit races are not a specialty of our team as a whole ;-) I did my best and jumped with a few moves here and there but we never gained more than 10seconds over the bunch. Half-way through, a group of 20+ rode away and gained 2minutes but the Chinese National Team with the yellow missed it so you could see the leader of the bike race charging after the break, having the whole field in tow. Interesting tactics to observe here. After China convinced all other Chinese teams to help them the break was caught but not for long and another group rode away, this time making it to the line. I'm still adapting to the type of speed I haven't had since Tx Tough (?) in September. All of our guys made it safely in the bunch and this was just another day - 5 to go. We could ride our bikes directly to the hotel today and ended up in a nice 5-star place at the Exhibition Center in Dongguan. The difference between rich and poor is definitively not to miss over here (picture right).

After a 1.5hr bus transfer to Foshan we were set to start Stage 4's Road Race. I was hoping for a actual road race but it was 100K on mostly 4-lane wide highways. The day already started "great" as the organizer led the entire field neutral through the city but kinda "forgot" where we actual start for real. Once they had this figured out, we riders sat on the highway for 30minutes waiting for the team cars to show up which were not filled up with gas at the start...which resulted that the had to see a gas station first...Finally, 1hour after the planned start we officially started racing, going 50kph for the first few minutes until I hear that "zsssshhhhhhh" again. I hit on of the bridge-flex metal things they install on huge bridges - usually no problem but I must have it it funny. No circuit-race rules anymore so after getting a new wheel from the guys in blue I was off on my own, 95K to go and the field hammered away at 50kph. The end of the caravan was still around me so combined with some serious VO2max time trialing I made it somehow back in the peloton. Things were getting better then...just constantly attack and counterattack if you're riding at the front with no break getting more than 10seconds on the "Autobahn" stage. After 55K I finally had the worst and best moment of probably the entire year. WORST, because I got full-on tail gunned by a f@!%ing race motorbike (see pic left by Andrew Kozak) and BEST because I didn't break anything and could continue riding after I had the Chinese doctors convinced that I was fine. With two new wheels, a few cuts and bruises (photo by Pong), and the desire to catch back on I got some moto-pacing by our team car. The motorbike driver was left behind, turns out he broke (!) his arm in the wreck...Back in the race I just stayed out of trouble and it looked like a field sprint but the day ended how it started in chaos. The main bunch didn't make a 90degree turn and missed the real course and instead rode over the finish line in the opposite direction. After another U-turn we all figured the stage was a mess and riders were going in each directions trying to cross the finish-line in the right direction. The stage was officially neutralized and everyone got the same time. No winner, no loser and prize money being equally distributed. Kind of sucks for the few guiys who actually made the right turn but denied their stage "win".

That was an exciting day and now we're sitting at the XINJUNYUE hotel in Foshan enjoying some www time before heading to bed for an early transfer to Guangzhou for Stage 5. Broke one wheel today, one helmet, trashed one jersey, banged up my CSK pretty good but AL7075 held up very well. If I would have ridden a carbon frame today I could have left it right there on the road on the concrete barriers....since even the motobike got trashed pretty good and had to get hauled off the road.

my crazy team/roommate Pong

...just like in Bentonville, AR

ride a bike!


  1. take it easy over there.. glad to hear you weren't too banged up. Looks like that bike might need some air in the front tire.

  2. You would think that guy would realize instantly that a motorbike is no match for the German Diesel...

  3. Hardcore!

    How does Pong find cycling shoes to fit those beastly feet!?