September 27, 2016
Written By Derek Wiback
One of the beautiful things about sport is that it translates across cultures and locations. Riding a bike in circles over mixed terrain is exactly the same in China as it is in US. You line up according to UCI ranking, your heart races, the gun goes off. There is the race for the hole-shot, you turn, skid, dismount, remount, pedal, suffer and cross the line sweaty and exhausted. The feeling is just the same as it would be in the US, Europe or Australia. That said, when presented with the opportunity to race two C1 UCI cyclocross races in Beijing, I jumped at the opportunity. I was excited to show off my Rattlecanned Squid bike, and get in some high-quality, early season racing.
Last year when I decided to compete at the Qiansen Trophy Cyclocross races I had little idea what to expect. I found the races artfully organized, and the course fun and technical. The competition was solid with racers from over 26 countries, and the overall experience exceeded my expectations.
In general, our days started with of huge buffet style meals and, riding out to the race courses with a bit of cultural exploration on the way. Despite the real danger battling busy streets and unfamiliar ‘rules’ of the road, exploring by bike proved to be some of the most memorable experiences of the trip.
Even though I have been racing at a high level for many years, I still get nervous on race day. The event goes crazy with cameras at every turn and big screens streaming the race live.
Having raced on the course the year before, I was confident in my lines and felt like I had some idea of how the race would play out. I had a good start and found myself in the lead on the first lap.
Without getting into the dirty details, I ended up having a great battle for the win with a young Dutch rider, Ceylina Alvarado. After leading most of the race she made three passes on the last lap and I was able to secure the win 400 meter from the finish line. Elated on my first big UCI win, my mechanic and Squid co-owner, ran over from the pits and gave me a huge hug.
China is a long way to travel for two 45 min bikes races, but for two years in a row the experience far out weights the 20 plus hour travel time and jet lag. I always feel welcomed, appreciate the novelty of the surroundings, and the beauty of getting lost on small village roads. The win was just the icing on the cake.