After a great season of China racing we believed things had wrapped up and summer racing in NZ would be next on the cards, but it turned out that China had one more race left for us! Awesome!
Due to work commitments and busy schedules we decided to make this a whirlwind “in and out” mission…
We flew into china the day before our race, jumped on a bus and did the 4hr drive from Chongqing to the race venue, near Simian mountain. This area was beautiful! Lush forest and clean water, topped off with fresh autumn air! It was a great looking race venue.
Arriving at around mid day, the day before the race, meant we had to get into race prep straight away. We built bikes, sorted nutrition and fluid and soon we’re being driven around the course on crazy oversized golf carts. These things hussled along and we zoomed from transition to transition, stashing gear in allocated spots for the next day. As can often be the case in China there was quite a bit of confusion during this prep stage. We had brought our own paddles and PFDs from NZ and it was very unclear where we should put them… or if we could use them at all… eventually after much discussion it was decided that we could not use this kit… something that would have been great to know before we lugged it all the way to China! Ohh well.
Transitions all packed up we jumped back on our speedy golf cart. In contrast to our usual China experiences we began to get really cold on this ride back to the hotel! It was fresh! We were stoked to get back inside and into some warm kit, with the golf cart now officially referred to as the “Ice Train”.
A quick meal was a welcome breather. Checking messages Sam discovered that we had been invited to race another event on the Sunday (day after our race) in Chongqing. It was a stair challenge – 72 flights up a skyscraper! A quick chat amongst the team and it was decided that we might as well have a crack! This was turning into a pretty cool (and efficient) trip!
Race briefing was next. This was a confusing affair, with some vague rules announced about towing… it seemed that towing was not allowed. We were amazed. It would make the event a race of the girls… with the guys doing what they could to draft / feed / look after the girl. Interesting…
We discussed this with other teams, our translator and even the race director. Many people were saying that it was ok to pull and push but not use a tow line. The race director just said “there is no towing, the rules are clear”… we were still confused. But yip, it sounded like we would be supporting, but not towing Simone through this one?
Race day dawned and after another awesome over hyped, fireworks, dancing, jamming music festival of an opening ceremony we were on the line and ready to race.
A 5k run leg was first and as soon as the gun went off teams began to work together pulling shirts and pushing each other – towing!!?
We were pretty frustrated! Our main rival employed the same method, as we tried to keep to what we thought were the “rules” and not pull Simone… it was madness! As the lead team pulled away we began discussing what to do… should we tow and risk a penalty? Or just stick to what we understood were the rules… it got to a point when we thought “stuff this” might as well be competitive and maybe we’ve got it wrong! Maybe our translation of towing is different to that of the race directors? Maybe grabbing the shirt of the person in front and being dragged isn’t being towed in his mind? I’m still a bit perplexed on this one. But hey, it is what it is and interpretation of the rules can be very frustrating in China.
So we towed (we pushed, or Simone pulled) but no “tow lines” were used – and no penalties were issued.
The first run was followed by an uphill mountain bike on a lovely bush clad hillside, then it was straight into the kayaks (barges) for a short 3.5km along a narrow damned river. We were roughly 200m behind the leaders and during the first half of the paddle this dropped to about 100m. This gap seemed to hold until we exited the boat.
A short run followed and then it was onto the SUP paddle stage. This was a new one for China racing and it was actually quite fun! It was 2 people per board, so balance was a challenge and we opted for a kneeling stance. The gap seemed to hold steady on the paddle, now about 300m after the run leg.
Exiting the SUP we had a fast and furious down hill run to the finish. This was only 5k and we knew our chances of catching the team ahead were very slim. None the less we pushed on and finished strong, 1 min 20 sec behind first place and a race time of about 1hr 20min.
A fun few hours were spent soaking up the atmosphere and chatting with friends, before the prize giving commenced. The backdrop was spectacular, with a massive waterfall dominating the scene.
After prize giving we were straight into pack up mode. Sam and Marcel volunteered to board the “ice train” and collect the teams transition gear. The poor boys were out much longer than expected and came beck ready for a well deserved feed. Packing all finished we boarded a bus and headed straight to Chongqing airport. We arrived around 9pm, deposited our bikes in luggage storage and then taxied back into the city, pausing shortly only for a subway sandwich and to book a hotel near the stair challenge building.
Waking up the next morning we were stoked to find our hotel was within 5min of the stair race. We registered and then milled around, warmed up and then gave it death for 13min as we powered our way to the top of the building. I wish I had my HR monitor on for this one as the stats would have been great. hR max for the whole time I’d say! Man that hurt. We thought we had done really well and we’re confident of being first or second… it turns out that there were some speed merchants there however and we had to settle for 5th. A fun hit out and a great way to spend the morning.
From there we kicked around in Chongqing, enjoying cafe stops, and being tourists for a bit. Soon it was time to head to the airport, with our departure just after midnight.
Job done! An awesome whirlwind trip, with two races packed into two days and a total of 3 days on the ground in china. Epic!
A big thank you to my sponsors who allow me to keep chasing these races, particularly Around The Basin for the time off work. Cheers!