Thursday, September 16, 2010
Chengdu City Cyclocross
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.