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.
The following morning we caught the first flight to Nyingchi. Nyingchi is one of those fantastic corners of the world. The landing at the airport requires an extra-qualified pilot capable of navigating a series of mountains lining both sides of a broad and ancient river valley. It’s a pretty crazy trip. On the ground, the altitude, at roughly 3000 meters starts to work it’s effects. Surprisingly this is the low-point of Tibet. Heavily forested, dotted with meadows and glacial blue lakes it’s a veritable heaven on earth held aloft by the press of mountains beneath.
The drive to Basomtso, the eventual site of our two day mountain bike race was as smooth as could be for foreigners in area. See, this area very rarely sees tourists let alone those from without China. Our required tour guide needed to register us several times throughout the day. Added hiccups came as race organizers scrambled to find approval for our team to stay in this remote little town. As this all shook out, we soaked in the high-altitude sunshine, raced go carts, napped and got to the heart of our trip’s vibe: Tibet and chill.
With tentative approval we drove on, deeper into the mountains. Upon arriving we unpacked and pieced together our bikes to take them for their first test spin. We rubbed our temples hoping to will away our headaches. We ate dinner and took to bed tired, worn out from a long day’s travel.