Monday, March 17, 2014

Chengdu Road Race Festival '14

Welcome to Chengdu- land of pandas and pigs....

Not to mention some quite pleasant scenery out of the city...

And an excellent place to hold a road race it seems- 120km of great quality roads with some kicker little climbs to liven things up. For this race I teamed up with Pierre and Adam to form a 'Time' team (Pierre is now importing these beautiful bikes)- we're on the far right off the start line here. And so we joined a big Hong Kong contingent of collective team gwuilo, to be looked after by our good Chinese friends.

The racing itself was pretty fast and furious- we averaged 39.5kph for the 120km, despite steam rollering 1000m of climbing in the process. I felt like I was on a good day, making a few breaks or feeling comfortable near the front of the pack. Indeed, it seems I have the Strava KOMs for both of the course laps we did.

But it was not to be in the real prizes- a bit of engine failure (cramp) with 2 or 3 kms to go after a local guy shoulder barged me sending my right leg into spasm going into the sprint, pedalling with one leg trying to recover off the back. Which in turn put me in the worst place for a Chinese sprint- near all the crashes. And so it was, just as my leg started to recover I was bunny hopping a stray bicycle on the ground- a bystander to the race that just disappeared up the road.

Of course, you can't win them all (and not like I make that a habit...), but I was more than happy to see my colossi club mate James actually win the race good and proper- a man on top form having a top day for a great win!

What's worth more- the fruit stall or the bike?!?

Still, what we lost out on in prizes, we gained in old men and fresh fruit- pineapples on a stick being a definite highlight.

The story of Chengdu at night is for another day, suffice to say it was an equally tough test of endurance as the race itself. Let's just say I've never been turned away from a hotel before for not being local- it's tourism Jim, just not as we know it.

But at least we didn't end up in the Eurasia men's hospital. I'm glad not all my weekends are like this, but it was fun for a flying visit! Viva Panda!

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