Well its been a trip, currently sitting in the Beijing airport way to early to check into my flight. Turns out this whole trip was legit.
Trip over went smooth, long flight but i was finally able to catch some shuteye for once, possibly my old man for a seatmate helped with that. We were all pretty zonked out by the time we got on the bus for our 2+ hour ride to Yanqing where we were staying with the race site a short 5km ride away from the hotel.
After solid meal and a good nights sleep we were able to jump into the great wall tour, the wall was impressive and had some serious pitches on it that would have pissed IMBA off, but what really blew me away was the sheer number of people there, they must put a half million people a day into that section of Wall. Apparently we are all hero's now for getting to the top and back down.
Before long we were back at our hotel getting ready to check out the course for the event, which also came along with getting to ride on the roads here. Not as bad as i was expecting, everyone is equally as crazy so it works out. After a little rain the course had some greasy spots but overall was pretty fast. Some called it a MTBer course, i still don't know what that means. It wasn't a typical grass field venue we were riding in a forest with trees for stakes and it was bumpy, but we were on CX bikes and we had three forced stair runups a lap so id call it a cx course.
After the first full day there I think most of us started to feel the jetlag, and were ready to get some shuteye.
Mealtime was always a nice way to meet riders from other countries and mingle, turns out i had breakfast with the Eliminator world champ and didn't even know it till after, nice fella.
Course training day 2 was pretty standard, it was nice to have the morning to just chill and relax. By the afternoon the course was bone dry and fast. Made the decision to just run my SB8 clinchers as lower pressure wasn't really a benefit and I do love my SB8's and i brought my mud tubs so they would have been squirly on the hardpacked surface. Also the nicest bike lanes i have ever seen
Pre-race meal was a big banquet with a bunch of local dignitaries and the sponsors of the race, and they know how to put on a banquet, a feast of epic proportions ensued. With some rider introductions of a bunch of euro's who won worlds and world cups etc, to me every cross racer is sven nys so whatever.
Race day arrived, race day boredom also arrived, but before long we were spinning to the course in time to catch the womens race which was over pretty quick 35 minutes.
Jumped on the course to get a final lap in to dial my lines and firgure out my race strategy, which was essentially to not get crashed out on the start and take it from there. I was a little nervous about how i was feeling up until my warmup when my legs finally started to kick in and I figured id be able to go the distance at a good clip.
Race start was kinda sketch with 65 guys on the line, but i made it through unscathed probably in the low 20's. I used a few matches to get up a bit into the teens, and before long i was soloing to a big group. Unfortunately as i approached the group guys would keep falling off, and i'd need to wait to get by and chase down the group again. Had to repeat that a few times. I got onto the back of a 4 man train and looked up the track to see McNeely up about 10 seconds with another rider. So I settled on behind the group and waited to see what would happen and if McSqueezy could ride away before I made a move on the group.
A lap or two later Evan had to pit for a repair and I moved to the front of the group and put down a solid couple laps to distance myself and get into the top 10. I got as far as the 5th place group when there was a split I was caught at the back by some teammates blocking and missed out on that train.
But the efforts early in the race started to come through with some heavy legs on the false flat sections and the rough course rendered my hands two blistered hunks of meat so I was pretty much just hanging on the last two laps.
I was able to keep the pressure on and finished 8th, happy with that, I was in the UCI points and cash. Once again good to feel good racing on a bike again.
Back to the hotel and we got all prettied up for the celebratory banquet, where the beer flowed like wine and so did the rice wine.
Overall probably the most well organized bike race I've ever been too, and the hospitality we received was second to none. At most UCI races there's a VIP tent and area for “special” people to get feed and have a drink. Difference with this race was the Athletes were the VIP's. Obviously economically a much different situation but I think all race organizers could have learned a thing or two from these folks.
So yes I'm completely spoiled and will compare all races henceforth to this one.