Monday, September 27, 2010

The Seasons they do a Change (quickly)

A week ago we were sitting in the office with the windows open and enjoying a nice breeze on a reasonable hot September day. The coming holiday was going to mark the mid-autumn festival and we would be amongst the revelers dancing and eating moon cakes and hopefully enjoying a beautiful autumn evening. Sadly this was not the case, in fact on Tuesday it decided to rain, letting up long enough for us to for a bike ride which was a bit chillier than we had expected. While enjoying some post exercise noodles at the Jiuzhaigou's Number 1 noodle house, we pondered the current change in weather and thought about the leaves changing color and the amount of green still covering the landscape. Wednesday was a little bit better, still with some rain but not so bad and some occasional breaks in the clouds. Thursday marked the end of the mid-autumn festival, celebrated outside of our building with a display of singing and dancing from one of the many cultural shows that plays nightly in the towns around the park entrance. Friday seemed to be a mark of an overall change in the weather. It was a little bit colder and there was some rain but it also just felt different. I don't know if it was the chill in the air or clouds constantly surrounding the higher peaks but I could feel that the weather was about to make a statement. That statement came on Saturday morning with long bouts of rain through out the morning. In the afternoon we decided to head out for a 80 km ride. The ride actually lasted 50km since it was cold and we were a little under dressed for it. It was however about 10 km into the ride that we decided that the mid autumn festival is aptly named even though it does not fall in the middle of what we traditionally refer to as autumn. It turns out that autumn in Jiuzhaigou is actually only a few days long and the mid autumn festival occurs right in the middle of it. The deciding factor being that there in front of us was snow atop the peaks that tower a few hundred meters overhead.
This being a sub alpine area we expect to see some early snow but the dramatic change in temperature and overall weather leaves us to only conclude that the weather will only get colder and colder from here on out. The fortunate side effect of this is that we should get drier and drier weather as fall tumbles on. This being a monsoonal climate the rain begins to subside at the end of September and tapers off through October. This means for us an increase in drier trails and roads but at a sacrifice of enduring colder temperatures.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Repeat Photography project

Josh and I have been working on a bit of a side project with repeat photography recently. Since we did a bunch of this last week and you don't need to hear me whine about how it went from being "hot in shorts and t-shirt" to "cold in a fleece and jeans with a beanie on" weather in the span of 5 days (and the mid-autumn festival was in the middle, how appropriate), I thought I'd post some of the pairs of photos. Josh and I took the 2010 photos. 1990 photos are by Daniel Winkler or from a book called Dreams of Jiuzhaigou. 2010 is on the bottom and 1990s on top in all pairs.


Shuzheng Mills; 2010 (bottom) by Amanda, 1990s (top) from the Dreams of Jiuzhaigou book

Pearl Shoals, far right hand side (notice the walkway in the left hand picture). 2010 by Josh (bottom), 1990s by Daniel Winkler (top)

Sorry. I can't get the 2010 photo to rotate, I don't know why. You'll just have to turn your head. In any case, this is Long Lake. 2010 (bottom) by Josh, 1990s (top) from the Dreams of Jiuzhaigou book

Jianpan and Panya villages as seen from the trail to Yala village. This is probably the biggest difference since it was a farming area that now is waist high regrowth (even more obvious in later photos). On the top is 1990s photo by Daniel Winkler. On the bottom is a 2007 photo that I took. I would like to get a more recent photo to show more regrowth and the change in the villages.


amanda :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

10 reasons to take Nuun on your upcoming trip to a developing country

Josh and I managed to squeeze a lovely interval ride in in between rain storms. Fall has arrived and it is cool and rainy here. Cool enough for hot chocolate as a post lunch drink.  While riding and enjoying my Nuun, we started thinking of the things that we like Nuun for, here in Jiuzhaigou (and in general), other than the obvious - that it is a good sports drink. In no particular order:

1) It makes the local, alkaline water taste better
2) It covers up the boiled water taste when traveling
3) It is almost as good in tea form as cold
4) It tastes better than all local sports drinks
5) It is great for rehydrating when you have traveler's sickness
6) Looks good on the front end of a Sampan in Vietnam
7) Tastes better than most local "juices"
8) Probably could cover up the taste of the horrid mint water
9) Helps keep one hydrated when stupidly hiking the Great Wall in July
10) The bottles are great for storing pills when traveling or spices at home



I have just posted photos from before and after the Birkebeinner Rittet China and Beijing Track Nationals at They should be the two most recent photos. Enjoy. Sorry I am too lazy to upload them all to here.

amanda :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

The ice shaving machine

Here the girls at our favorite taiwanese dessert place are shaving
green tea ice.

An ode to Taiwanese desserts

I love Taiwanese desserts. They are awesome. Bubble tea, shaved
flavored ice, crushed ice with toppings, smoothies, milkshakes... All
around very awesome in miserable Chengdu summer heat. Below is a
picture of one of our favorites: peanut xuehua 雪花冰 ice with peanuts
and chocolate on top. The xuehua is snow flower. I was told that these
are snow like smooth desserts. In contrast, baobing 宝冰 or treasure
ice focuses on the chunky toppings, including jam, fruit, red beans,
jello, and other neon colored things. Also delicious, but the snow one
is really a treat. It is not so commonly available, so we enjoy it
when we get it.

Post script

I put up two signs. One above the "please slipper" (meant to be please
remove your shoes, they have the same pinyin) sign and the other above
the tv.

Sent from my iPhone

Smoking is forbidden

After waking up to someone smoking in the flat (again) and denial from
our flatmate, despite a cigarette butt and ashes everywhere on the
floor, Josh and I made a no smoking sign. It doesn't say anything
polite like "please don't smoke". It says "smoking is forbidden" and
below says "it is illegal to smoke in this building". I also
complained about the smoking and the food out (and hantavirus rat
problem) to the woman who acts as our low-level liaison to the park.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Birkebeinerrittet Experience

For the second year in a row Nordic Ways has successfully put together a Birkebeinerrittet mountain bike race in the deep reaches of Inner Mongolia, China. The town of Yakeshi was built to support the Trans-Siberian Railway and is located near the border of Mongolia on the grass lands. On September 11th, 2010 approximately 150 riders lined up for a mass start to both the 26km and 50km races with about one third racing the longer version.

We arrived in Yakeshi, Inner Mongolia a couple of days before the race so that we could orient ourselves to the course and decide what gearing to choose. Being the crazy foreigners that we are we had decided to put together single speed bikes for riding in China. Whether this was a good decision or not has yet to be determined. Never the less we set out to find the course, which after talking to Tobian the race course setter, we thought we could find easily. The purpose of this was to get a preview of the course for strategy and test the existing gearing on the bikes. At this point we were running 34x16 that we had set for riding in the city. After a couple of hills I decided that it would be worthwhile to drop down to 34x17 in order to get some better traction on the hills and save my legs. We mostly wound up riding around on the roads around the course instead of the actual course since it had not been properly marked yet and we got a little bit lost.

The next day we went back out with a couple of guys who had come up from Tianjin, both of which were from Denmark and wanting to get a preview of the course as well. This time the course was a little bit better marked and we followed the markers through the first 15km of the course up to the first big climb. It was there that I decided that 34x17 was the smallest I could go and still climb some of the steeper sections. Amanda decided that 34x20 was the smallest she was willing to go. My theory was that I could make up a little bit of the time that I would lose on the flat paved sections by pushing myself a little harder on the steeper and more technical sections.

On Saturday morning we were treated to breakfast which consisted of a variety of normal Chinese fare. After consuming a couple thousand calories of simple and complex carbohydrates we set out with the big group to the race start. The race started at the center of town in a public square. In true sports fashion there was a stage with presentations and music reminiscent of the Olympics. To signal the racers to prepare for the start there were several fireworks and an anxious crowd. I have to admit that I have a small pet peeve when it comes to lining up for race starts, which is it really annoys me when people try to crowd into an already crowded front line and the marshals do nothing to stop them or worse place them there.

As it’s been said “Rubbing’s racing” and a tight start line is no exception. When the start pistol went off I knew that I would be dropped by the majority of riders in the first couple of hundred meters but I still took off as fast as I could and started to settle into a nice pace my legs spinning at a little too fast cadence to make me look less like a racer and more like a windup toy that’s been wound a little too tight. The first challenge in the course is a corkscrew like overpass that goes over the railroad tracks and down into the long stretch of tarmac that precedes the more technical sections of the course. This was my first chance to pass some of the riders who were falling back on the short climb. I bested the climb and took advantage of the short descent to recover from my sprint at the beginning. Knowing that I had another steep climb coming up I dialed back a little and settled into a nice pace. You know that you are not working hard enough if you can talk to your fellow competitors while riding, but hey part of the fun of racing is getting to know other people. The first climb snuck up on me but I stood up on my pedals and mashed my way to the top passing a slew of other racers and readying myself for the first descent. I had done this section of the course the day before and knew that the best line was the upper of the two jeep tracks, unfortunately this was common knowledge and I had to continuously move between the two tracks in order to pass other riders and maintain speed. At the bottom I was passed on a flat section of road by another rider who yelled something at me in Mandarin. I was a little confused by this because I couldn’t tell if he was cheering me on or if he was berating me for passing him on the descent. His face was kind of nonplussed and he didn’t give me the normal cheer of “Add Gas!” that is normally yelled at Chinese races.

I made my first ever “hand up” at the first water station and proceeded into the first of many steep technical climbs. The climb starts out relatively flat through along a tractor trail. Most of the trail was covered in grass that had been rolled over and small sections of dirt trail. The grass makes for little bit of a greasy feeling while powering through narrow and bumpy road sections. I was able at this point to pass a few more riders who had begun to wear down a bit. I made it about a third of the way up the steep climbing section and began to lose traction and ability to keep pushing my legs up hill. The funny thing is that getting off of my bike and starting to walk up the hill did not effectively lower my heart rate it pretty much stayed the same but I felt a bit better. I got back on the bike about 10 meters from the crest and caught up with Stian one of the Norwegian racers and noticed that I was actually at a false summit and there was another 20-30 meter steep climb to the top. This time I mashed my pedals up the hill in hopes of a long descent back down the other side. I was blessed with a medium descent that led along the ridge line to a saddle and another water station. At this point I had only drank a little bit of my own water and wanted to save it for the long section between the next two water stations.

On the next climb I was once again forced to dismount and walk the bike up the trail for part of it. It was at this point that I got a good chance to really appreciate the remoteness and beauty of this area. There around me were vast rolling hills of grass and trees as far as the eye could see. The top of the hill led into a beautiful section of rolling double track cut through a grove of birch trees. The trail continued to follow along the ridge line with some scary off camber descents and greasy grass climbs mixed in. Coming down into the bottom of the valley I almost missed one of the markers and at the last second tried to turn sharply on the grass. Of course I lost traction at both the front and back tires and slid out. After brushing myself off, I noticed that some of the other racers were walking through this section. I found out why after a few meters of struggling over a horrendously bumpy section. The sadistic person who set the course sent us through a field that had been overgrown hiding the parallel rows beneath the grass. After walking most of this section up a short climb we got a reprieve with a long descent through the grass fields and onto a dirt road.

At this point I had finally reached the halfway mark of the race and began to hope that there were no more steep climbs and a minimal amount of paved road, oh and I really needed something to eat. I had just about run out of food and water was beginning to get low. However I was not being tailed by anyone and making a good pace along a slightly inclined dirt road. At about kilometer 34 or so I got some moderate cramping in my right leg which woke me up to the fact that I had some black cherry Shot Bloks in my pocket just for this type of thing. After consuming the rest of my food I continued up the dirt road where I saw another of the foreign riders on the side of the trail with a broken chain I offered my condolences and hope that he could get back in the race and moved on. The next food station came up after a fast mix of rolling hills along the road. I decided to stop and drink an entire bottle of sports drink and most of a bottle of water. The two people working the booth also gave me a banana despite my desperate cries for the Snickers bars that were sitting on the table next to them. Instead of a Snickers they offered me everything but Snickers including something that looked like white bread. I left the station with a banana in my pocket and the hopes that the calories contained within it would sustain me for the rest of the race.

I caught up with another of the foreign racers a few minutes later; he had a flat tire and needed a tube. Deciding that I had sealant in my tire and that should hopefully save me in an emergency I gave him my spare tube. He then handed me a pump and asked if I had a pump that he could use. Apparently he had borrowed someone else's pump and wanted me to give it back to that person. I rode off thinking I had done something nice for a fellow racer forgetting about the fact that the tube I gave him had a Shraeder valve and his light weight wheels were likely set up for Presta’s. When I talked to him later he said that the tube did not fit and since he had already put air in it he just through it in the grass rather than try to stuff it in his pocket. Now I’ll be honest, I didn’t need the tube but it would have been nice to get the tube back if it he didn’t use it. More than anything though who just throws a tube into the grass in a 50km course, it’s one thing to throw your used water bottle onto the trail a few meters from the feed station but to throw a brand new tube that someone gave you as a show of sportsmanship into the grass like trash is an insult not just to me but to the beauty of the surrounding landscape.

As I continued down the trail I would occasionally look over my shoulder to see if anyone was gaining on me. For the most part I never saw anyone catching up with me but around kilometer 40 I saw someone actually gaining on me and prime to pass. I was quite surprised to see that it was one of the Norwegians that I had no recollection of passing earlier in the race. Nevertheless she passed me and I decided to take the opportunity to grab her wheel and follow somebody for a while. For me this was nice as it gave me a chance to let somebody else set the pace and gave me a feeling of extra energy. Of course when the person crashes in front of you it kind of kills the whole momentum of the situation. I stopped to make sure she was ok and we got going again with me taking the lead until we hit the last climb. It seemed to be mutual in that we both walked the grassy slope to the final descent and onto the road that led to the finish line. I did my best to keep up with her on the road and another woman who had appeared seemingly out of nowhere but alas my little legs can only move so fast with respect to the speed of light.

I crossed the finish line at 2:58:51 just a little under 3 hours and about 45 minutes longer than I had planned. This time put me in 10th place for the men’s 50km and 13th overall a result that is pretty good considering the competition that I was up against and on a single speed as well. In order to properly recover I went searching for food, I was directed to the area behind the podium where I found some of the other foreigners crouched around the water, yogurt, and cucumbers that were being handed out. After consuming two yogurts and a cucumber and a bottle of water I was starting to feel a little bit better. Amanda came in about 25 minutes after me and of course the first thing I did was to get her some yogurt and water and offer her a cucumber. There was fried rice as well but I decided to forgo that option.

The race day was capped off by a dinner at the hotel with plenty of food and drinks going around. Amanda and I of course consumed more than our share of Coke and Sprite. After dinner as things were winding down we were lucky enough to get to sit down with some of the race organizers from Nordic Ways and give them some honest impressions about the race, what we liked, what we didn’t like, and give some suggestions for improvement in the future, all of this under the guise of fruitful consultation. All of this left a favorable impression of the event and organization with me and given the opportunity to return next year I would definitely but this time maybe on a more competitive bike.

Chengdu City Cyclocross

Hi Folks,

This is sort of a fake race report. Just for fun. And because riding special Chengdu city bikes is exciting. Especially at night.

On Tuesday night Josh and I had to meet some other Fulbrighters at 7 pm at the Wenshu Temple for a vegetarian dinner. A map of our route is attached. The first "aid station" is the bike shop, second is near dinner, third is DQ on our way home (yum!). We decided that since we had been driving around all day and hadn't had a chance to exercise, we would ride our special Chengdu bikes (I believe a previous post on our blog has information about them).  We figured we needed about 45 minutes to get there, so we left at 6:15.

We went downstairs dressed in city clothes (I had a skirt on!), helmets, and sandals - proper chengdu city cyclocross attire. We always wear helmets and try to spread the word to everyone we come in contact with. Generally we are the only ones we see in helmets. But that's ok. We were crazy anyway, by virtue of being white, and foreigners tend to ride bikes quite a bit faster than Chinese (although in my mind you can hit your head regardless of the speed you are going). On the way to the corner, we discovered that my tires were flat (both of them), Josh's crank was falling off, his handle bars were about to break in half, and his seat wouldn't stay raised. None of these problems had been there when Josh last rode the bike, so we figured that our flatmate decided not to tell us about them. Not really excited to let him ride the bike anymore. A stop at the bike shop was definitely in order. I dragged Josh there - he hung on to the rack on the back of my bike. My bag and lock were in the basket on front. Josh's lock was in his basket. We got to the shop and I executed a perfect city dismount - stand up on pedals, leg over the "top tube", and slowly slowing down with inadequate brakes. My brakes on that bike don't really work. Both our bikes are what we used to call "girls bikes" where the top tube is curved down like the down tube. It makes it easier to ride in a skirt.

At the bike shop we got my tires pumped up but by the time the mechanic got to Josh's bike, he said it would be really a pain to fix all the problems. New crank, new headset, new handlebars, etc. For 80 RMB (<USD15) he offered us a new used bike in exchange for the old one. We took it on the condition that we got to keep Josh's (relatively) new saddle and seat post, and the basket on his rear rack, which we put on my bike. After about 15 minutes we were good to go, but running late for our dinner.

So we took off at the speed that only foreigners on Chinese used bikes can reach. We rode through intersections with the motorbikes instead of bicycles and passed everyone we could. Sometimes we rode outside the bike lane instead of in the bike lane. We raced others at all the intersections and even at one point dismounted, ran up some stairs (carrying the ridiculously heavy bikes), and then jumped back on the bikes at the top. We swerved around pedestrian obstacles and enormously annoyed all the electric bike drivers who decided they really needed to pass us.

We were only 5 minutes late for dinner.

On the way home we rode in a calmer manner, but still passed lots of folks and made sure that we didn't get passed by the electric bikes of death. And we stopped for blizzards at DQ. Yum. That is a special Chengdu treat for us.

We also decided to take the bar road back home (along the river) and so we got to practice salmoning up that road (it's one way and we were going the wrong way) and dodging all sorts of cars, motorbikes, and people going to the bars. All together fairly exciting.

We got home in one piece, but a little sweaty.

Amanda :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Birkebeiner Rittet China

Last weekend Josh and I participated in a 50 km mountain bike race, by far the longest race either of us has ever done (pictures are posted at, some of our pictures of the area will be up at some point soon).  It is the Chinese version of a famous Norwegian race. We trained really hard for this. Really really hard. We did intervals on tuesdays and thursdays, long rides on Saturdays, 2.5 hr rides on Sundays, yoga on Wednesdays and went to the gym on Mondays. We fairly religiously followed the Blue Rooster team training schedule. The prize money for this race was amazing (1500 USD for 1st place) and so I really wanted to win. However, I had some idea that the competition would be tough. The woman who won last year has done the BC Bike Race and the Trans-Rockies Bike Race. From a distance, the profile for the course didn't look so bad (900 m climbing over 50 km) and totally doable. The major catch was that we were going to be riding single speeds. And that there were basically no categories. Pros are technically not allowed in this race, but the line between amateur and pro is rather blurry in China. The categories were: 50 km men, 50 km women, 25 km men, 25 km women.

We arrived a few days before the race with the idea that we could pre-ride on Thursday, do a ramp-up ride on Friday, race Saturday, and have a nice ride Sunday before our flight back to Beijing. We discovered Thursday that we couldn't pre-ride because the course wasn't marked yet. So we had a nice, relaxing ride. Friday we pre-rode about 15 km of the course and discovered that our dreams of riding 34-17 were just not going to pan out for me. I decided on 34-20 once we started to pre-ride the 2nd of 3 large climbs (the first was on a road and not so hard). I thought (naively) that I would mostly be able to stick the climbs in this gearing. I knew it would be a major disadvantage for the first and last flat 5 km. After the pre-ride I knew that I would be aiming for 3 hrs to finish and for top 5 rather than to win.

On race morning there was pretty much no time to warm up because we were supposed to be listening to opening speeches. I figured it didn't matter for me anyway since I was going to spin out in about 3 seconds after the start anyway. I was mentally prepared to be the last racer to the start of the first climb. Still, it didn't feel so good once that happened. Once we started climbing I was passing people everywhere, but pretty much they all were the 25 km group. Then the first descent came and I was really passing people. Pretty much the entire race was on tractor tracks which are sort of double track, so it was easy to pass people. I passed a lot of people. Chinese don't have a whole lot of actual mountain bike experience. Often mountain bike races are on the road using mountain bikes.

I rode through the first drink station since I had lots of food and water and it had only been 30 minutes. Next came the grueling second climb - the biggest of the day. Since we had done most of it the day before I thought I would be ok. I kept passing people and eventually broke down and walked up a good chunk of steep stuff. It was not really a trail. More like a tractor track (not smooth!) with lots of cut down wheat on it hiding the bumps. I did ride up the last bit to the top of the mountain and kept up my passing people plan on the descent. Only a few times did guys not want to let me pass. I just rode around, between, or through groups of them. It was helpful to know how to say "please let me through" in Chinese.  At the bottom the 25 km folks split off and the track quieted down a lot. Just the 50 km ones left and I was towards the end of that group. I passed a few more people on the next climb and descent and stopped for water at the water station. I chugged along and felt really good on the flatter bits. The 34-20 gearing was good. Then came the part that wasn't even a tractor track. After a really really sharp right turn off a decent dirt track, we rode straight across the fields with recently cut down wheat. No trail. Just bump bump bump across all the furrows. Poor Josh was on a rigid-fork bike. At least I had front suspension. After a few grinding halts and almost crashes I noticed people walking their bikes were gaining on me. I decided to walk. This was by far and away the worst part of the race. It included a climb as well.

At this point I wasn't yet half way done and was feeling pretty bad. The 3 hr plan went out the window when it was nearly 2 hrs by the time I passed the 25 km sign. Finally I passed 25 km and kept wondering what else was in store for me. There were only supposed to be 3 major climbs and I was sure I had done them all. I fed myself every 30 min (gu mixed with water in a hammer nutrition bottle (thanks Antonio!) and shot blocks when it was easier to eat). Also drank lots of water. I wish I had nuun in both bottles. Discovered that bar ends are a god send for single speeds. I love them. They are my favorite new accessory on my bike. At the next aid station I filled up one bottle with a nasty energy drink (some local brand) becuase I needed more calories and the other with water. I got lost briefly around km 40 but fortunately others were around. Managed to pass 4 more men, including a buff russian in a halter top. The final climb was brutal. We all walked it. I think even on my "real race bike" I would have walked it. The descent spit us out onto a paved road around the lake to the finish. I lost one position to the Russian dude on this bit since I spun out immediately.

I think that I lost about 15 minutes on the flat paved bits due to the single speed and climbing gearing. Another 15 at least for not having a granny gear and full suspension. I still would have finished 4th; I was about 45 min behind 1st and 35 min behind 2nd and 3rd. The other girls were really fast. Probably expert racers if they were in the US. Overall I felt like I brought a knife to a gun fight. Both in bike quality and in my riding skills and fitness. I did finish far ahead of 5-7th places though. The other women who started (just 2 more) didn't finish at all.

We discovered at the finish that if there are under 40 participants, money only goes 3 deep and if under 10, only first place gets money. so I had no hope of getting any prize money anyway. Bummer.

It was interesting to see how people react to the single speeds. The only other North American there (the Canadian woman who won both last year and this year) didn't seem fazed by them. She just said she felt bad for me on the climbs. Everyone else was wondering why we were so stupid as to not buy gears for our bikes. Or why we didn't rent bikes (which were wicked heavy, but geared) from the race organizers. I guess that single speed hasn't caught on outside of the US/Canada yet.

amanda :)

Todays pic

Today I present this picture under the guise of "what is it".
It may seem obvious at first but take a second look and enjoy.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bierkebeinner Rittet China


> Josh finished 10th in men's 50 km and I finished 4th in women's 50
> km. Race report to follow in a few days when we are back to computers.
> Amanda
> Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chinese track nationals

Yesterday we watched about an hour of Chinese track nationals. So much
fun! We watched someone from hong kong win the 30 km, which was very
exciting. Sichuan wasn't at the heats last night and I feel more
loyalty to hk anyway, so we cheer for them. We're going back today and
will send pictures and more of a report the. The event is happening
at the Olympic velodrome despite the look of being under construction
and generally in disrepair. And the driving lessons/tests outside.
Cool to see the Olympic track.

Ok, more later, just thought we'd share a cool experience.

Amanda and Josh

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, September 6, 2010

Yellow lines

I know no one would pay attention if it were farther back, but
honestly, what is the point of a yellow line this close to the baggage

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Gaodong-Taiping Ride Sunday 5 September

Thanks for sharing a rainy Sunday on the trail. You all helped restore my confidence that I can lead a trip and return with the same number as I started with.  

Todays stats: 
Time:  04:42:41
Distance:  38.28 km
Elevation Gain: 921 m

Avg Speed: 8.1 km/h
Avg Moving Speed:11.5 km/h
Max Speed: 36.9 km/h

Until next time, cheers




































Things I learned tonight

First off, I went on a fabulous, rainy ride today. No one got hurt.
Secondly, the injured guy from yesterday was flown to hk today to get
care at Adventist. Which is a fabulous hospital.

Now, things I learned at dinner:

1) even if your flatmate is driving you crazy, it is better to have
company for dinne than not.

2) cold noodles are an ok, but not great banfan sub at the Korean
restaurant, but taste better when noodles weren't lunch as well.

3) your bugbites are bad when the pharmacists look shocked at them and
discuss how many you have.

4) you have had too many milkshakes this week when they know what you
want without you saying. But in any case, it's like a smoothie/
milkshake blend: banana, ice, water, 2 oz milk (measured), and ice
cream. Yum.

5) I discosverd this over the last few days: the bean tree and pigs in
heaven by barbara kingsolver are fabulous. So is hotel on the corner
of bitter and sweet (i've been reading a lot with josh away).

Love to you all from mosquito bitten Chengdu

A :)

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, September 4, 2010

My WFR training kept someone from getting paralyzed today

I am not sending this to show off about my skills. Actually, I did just about everything wrong. The one thing I got right was the important one - I remembered that a concussion is an automatic mechanism of injury for a spinal injury. The patient in question has chipped his c6 vertebrae and is spending the night in hospital before being evac'ed to Hong Kong tomorrow. I'm sending this note so that hopefully someone else does better next time.

Here's what happened:

I went mountain biking today with the Chevron bike group. It's something Josh and I just discovered and it makes being stuck in Chengdu much more pleasant. We were doing a 25 km "easy" ride with about 400 m elevation gain on a decrepit old road. The road used to be paved but hasn't been kept up, so it's got lots of potholes and loose gravel and strange brick quasi-paved sections. Well, it's a decrepit Chinese road, what can we expect?

We had ridden up both hills and down one and half. The ride was going slowly because there were 14 of us, including some total newbies. I was riding Josh's rigid singlespeed and doing ok with all the potholes and remembering to manual off stuff and pull up my fork more than usual since there was no suspension. Pretty happy with myself actually as I was the 2nd fastest climber in the group and one of the faster descenders.

So on the last descent I was 4th back. Ahead of me were rider 1 (a new cyclist who is really strong and was riding his old bike as his squishy one was out on loan), rider 2 (former CX racer for Phil's in Seattle), and the patient (new to mountain biking, on rider 1's squishy bike; previously rider 2 had pointed out how comfortable the new rider seemed today, maybe a natural). I came down around a corner and noticed that a rider was face first on the pavement in front of me, later I learned who it was (keeping his name out of this). I slowed down around the edge of a pothole and dismounted (even managed a speedy cx dismount). I promptly forgot everything I ever learned in my WFR class or the 3 subsequent recerts. The rider was tangled in his bike and lying face down in a pool of blood. I tried to untangle him but he moaned so loudly I backed up. Then I was joined by rider 3 (not sure his experience...) who ignored the screams, pulled out the bike and rolled over the rider. It didn't occur to me to check vitals, see if he was conscious, or anything. I started to feel faint (me and blood... it happens). After a few minutes I noticed that the rider wasn't really alert. More like a "P" on the "AVPU" scale (it's a measure of consciousness - Alert, Verbally responsive (i.e., someone calls your name), Pain responsive (i.e., moan if it hurts), Unresponsive; you can be Ax3 (awake, alert, aware) ranging to out cold). He moaned in pain but didn't really seem aware at all. Over the next minute or so he moved up to A-. He was groggy and trying to sit up. Stupid rider 3 kept helping him. I made him lie down. He was angry at me. I tried to get him to lie still but stupid rider 3 kept helping him up. Finally I ordered him to lie down and and sat down behind him and held him spine stable. He was bleeding a lot - glasses cut his forehead and nose and he bit through his upper lip. Blood everywhere.

We then started to wait. Over the entire time we waited I forgot to take any vitals, do a physical exam, or do anything except alternately feel faint and hold his head. My training vanished into thin air. The place patient fell smelled like a pig farm. Ick. Everything smelled. Hours later poor patient still smelled. Someone who speaks Chinese called 120 (ambulance) and got directions. Someone else called the Chevron medical officer. I traded off with someone responsible enough to actually hold patient's head still and explained to rider 2 and the group leader, rider 4, about how I was certain that patient had a concussion and may have injured his spine. We figured out how to fashion a neck brace if the ambulance didn't have one. Patient's driver showed up. I decided I didn't want any more patients and tried to make the 12 healthy people eat. No one eats on these rides! I think they are all trying to lose weight and so they don't eat. Then they might bonk. I did not want more patients. Finally the ambulance arrived and we agreed on making sure Ian was moved properly. Rider 2 also has had some medical training so he directed the procedure.

Turns out that the ambulance carries a neck brace (phew!) but that's about it for spine safety. No backboard. Just a low slung litter without any straps to tie him in. Rider 5 (a Singaporean) and I were sent in the ambulance. I kept the ambulance doc from putting in an IV drip (just salt water anyway and it was making Ian very unhappy). I told the patient that I was there because a) I speak Chinese, b) I have medical training, and c) I am also foreign and can advocate for treatment he wants or doesn't want. We then commenced on my first ever ambulance trip. Lots of traffic. nearly 2 hrs to hospital/clinic. Good thing Patient's car is a Prado Landcruiser. They have pretty much free reign over roads in China and when he put his flashers on he was able to just follow the ambulance. We got to the clinic with an american doctor. The Chevron medical lady met us there along with the american doctor at the clinic. I explained what happened as far as I could tell/put together (hit pothole, lost control, fell over bars, slid on ground, scraped up hands, teeth through lip, glasses cut forehead and nose badly, concussion, unconscious for a long time (minutes), amnesia about accident, squishy bikes make you feel safer than you are). Patient got a CT scan and xrays of wrists and elbows. He ended up having no bleeding or damage to his brain, a fractured radius near his elbow (minor), lots of abrasions, fractured nose, and a chipped c6 vertebrae. Yikes. I left soon after that because more folks, including his boss, had arrived and I hadn't eaten and was still in my kit. The Chevron medical person complemented my attention to vitals and good reporting of them, but I feel like I really messed up. I have so much training and all I could remember was to hold his head still. And that wasn't right away. Fortunately I wasn't too late.

In hindsight I wish I had remembered:
1) Don't move him until you know more about what is going on
2) Keep rider 3 very far away (and anyone else interferring. I needed to have appointed a crowd manager and have delegated better)
3) Move him properly onto his back
4) Keep him spine stable immediately
5) Do a proper physical exam while we were waiting
6) Take vitals regularly
7) Write a soap note (ok, that is impractical, I didn't even have a first aid kit, I was on a mountain bike ride, for heaven's sake! we barely carry anything, only what can fit in jersey pockets)

We also should have had someone riding with him and cautioning him on speed since it was his first time out. Those squishy bikes really can be deceptively stable. I think it was 6 in front and rear travel.

But seriously, there are so many things I forgot in the heat of the moment and I am embarrassed that I have lost that much of my training. I guess this is why we get 3-yearly recerts. I am due up in 6 months.

Be careful out there.