You’ve probably managed to catch a couple glimpses of the bike I was riding in Tibet. The last chance we had to attend this race, we all used bikes borrowed from other racers. Although a wonderful gesture of sportsmanship, there was one major dilemma. Most of the racers were a good head shorter than any of us. As you may have figured out, we find bike fit super important. It’s a large reason that beyond our large selection of stock-sized frames we offer full custom frame geometry.
Now, anyone who’s attempted a long ride on a bike that’s three sizes too small knows it’s tough. Top that off with other trying factors including the length of the race, the terrain, the altitude and the competition and you find yourself staring at several hours of grueling, uncomfortable riding. No bueno. So this year round we decided to put our minds to the drawing board.
Race day two was easily the coldest start. The mercury dipped below the freezing point as we started in on our preparations for the start. Outside was grey and overcast, but the forecast called for a break in the clouds during the day and for it to be much warmer. Breakfast went down a little bit harder than the day before as we went over a quick rundown of the course. Starting at about 3600 meters elevation, we were looking at just over 300 meters of climbing stretched out over an out-and-back route around 25 kilometers up a canyon. Continue reading Racing Tibet re-cap: Day 5.
Sleep for everyone had been a mixed bag of bad dreams and waking up panting in anticipation. Fortunately the organizers had decided to get a later start the day before as to let the trail dry out a bit. Our group sat around and silently ate breakfast. You could feel the tension as everyone ran the impending race through their heads.
We woke up to a cold steady rain. As the weather slowly broke over the morning a few set out to ride, only to get caught in the elements a few hours in. The rest of us who delayed would not regret the decision to sit in a couple extra hours.
Pumped to get out and do a little recon we awoke to a standard Chinese breakfast at the hotel. We scarfed it down alongside with a few cups of coffee we’d had mind to prepare and make on our own. (It’s impossible to get any coffee in these remote reaches). Running a tally on the state of our riding group we gave ourselves the go-ahead and set out. Within a kilometer Jacob flatted out in a rookie effort to follow the young champ. It’s good to get this sort of bad luck out of the way early, right? Patched up and ready to roll out we moved on.
On Thursday our team trickled into Chengdu from all corners of China. Hailing from Beijing where he works as the head mechanic and ride leader at SERK, our Danish champion Morten was first to arrive. Within half an hour Jeff and Tyler, the dangerous duo behind Factory 5 in Shanghai came rolling in. From there we’d spend the better part of the afternoon walking everyone through our current projects. We’d give everyone a turn on the tall bike, drink a few cold beers and shoot the breeze. We had an after-hours debriefing of our following week’s itinerary, then packed it all in and hit up our favorite hole-in-the-wall for grub.
We’ll be spending the next week in the rooftop of the world, Tibet, racing mountain bikes with our buddies at Factory Five. We’ve put together a special bamboo race whip, but we’ll talk about it more later. Check back in for ride updates, videos and more coverage of our travels.
Cycling is a poise of strength and technique. Every motion on the bike can be broken down into a beautiful form, repetitive yet striking, like watching a painter sculpt a landscape stroke-by-stroke with a brush. That said, I wished I’d learned the right way to blow a snot rocket earlier on. It’s a messy skill to get just right without a little coaching.