Bird Island to Xihaizhen
(Bird Island to Knee-yao-dao)
The local pool hall? Warped and weathered!
My first day in the team car. And what a treat to see the race happening. Nice to be car # 1. But who knows how long that will last with a sprinter in the leaders jersey and so much climbing in this race. But at least for now, I will enjoy the good view from the front of the caravan. I got a call from Vincent about the finish. He had information regarding the last part of the race. Information we could use to let Alan know about the last 2 or 3 K or so. How it plays out. If it will be windy or many turns or up hill or down hill finish etc. And I was also told that our hotel was about 1,800 to 2,000 m from the finish. As we got to the last 3 K or so I started to see the description Vincent was giving us before. The crowds were fairly solid the last 3 k. And just at the last second I see Jeanick waving to me as we passed our hotel.
We are here at this hotel with the OTC doors team from Italy and the DFL-Cyclingnews.com team from England. Three teams in this hotel is cool. Not crowded at all. Oddly there are NO room keys to be given. There is a hotel person who stays on each floor. And I think it is only 3 floors to this hotel. Each hotel person on each floor lets you into your room. Again NO keys at all. I wonder what happens when (IF) I stumble home at 2:30 AM drunk as hell. Can I still get the hotel person to open my door? Will he or she be up late if I get back late? I don’t think I will test this theory tonight.
Kurt and I have the bad ass room. It is huge. It was supposed to be Eki’s room but Kurt commandeered it for our room. One reason is Kurt and I are in the “food” room where athletes may come and snack/eat if they need something late at night after dinner. Nice to have space for that stuff. Second reason was, Shizhe often has a room at another hotel. And sometimes it is far from ours. And our room was sooooooo big she camped out in our room on the floor tonight. Easier than going back and forth to her hotel. Sometimes the hotels are big enough to house everyone including the interpreters. But often the interpreters get flicked and have to stay far away. In Quinhai Lake City, Shizhe had to stay sort of by the “T” intersection by the main road at a youth hostel. Not far. But not close either as that hotel was about a mile from ours. And she had no transportation there and back. That day I drove her to and from her hotel. Today, with her at our hotel, it made for much nicer logistics (especially for her).
We finished in Xihaizhen and a much bigger city than both Bird Island and Quinhai Lake City put together. Not a big city compared to say Beijing or Shanghai for example. But a fairly nice sized city.
The stages are a little shorter than usual but there is still some climbing to draw out the stage finish time. This race is 9 days for a total of 1,343 Ks. An average of 150 K per day roughly. Each stage starts at 10:00 AM. EVERY day! I like that. Later starts just means sitting around waiting. Early start means early finish. Typically we finish at about 1:00 or 1:30 PM. Occasionally we may finish some stages at 12:30 or 12:45. Today the race finished at 1:40.
Lunch is by the finish today, so the guys got showered and then were shuttled the 2 K or so to the lunch room. Save for Alan who had podium for the Stage win, leading the sprinters competition and best of all still the over all leader of the stage race. After, he got back to the hotel and showered and came out just as Jeanick and I were finished with the bikes. So, Kai from Trek China helped get Alan, Jeanick and I to lunch just as the rest of our guys were done and leaving lunch.
After lunch it was time for Jeanick and I to take out now ritual walk through the city. We walked through a market of various things. There were clothes shops, toy shops trinket shops and butcher shops. Interesting combination of shops. As we walked, we passed a pool hall where may were playing pool. There had to be 25 or so pool tables. And more than half were being used. The odd thing was the pool hall was in an open air area. So, I’m sure the tables were getting both weathered and warped from the elements while being out doors. The local pool hall? Warped and weathered. But the guys were having fun for sure.
You really take a risk walking the city. I’m not talking thugs roaming the streets preying on the weak. That actually does not really exist here. But the risk is the cars. They do not stop for pedestrians. Lucky they also do not drive fast though. They at most slow down and honk like hell. You hear honking constantly throughout the day and night. It can be midnight or even after and you hear honking. Is traffic that bad and are pedestrians that plentiful that you have to honk at people at 1:00 AM? And you know why they honk and almost run you over? It seems they have no rule regarding the pedestrian has the right of way. Or at least they do not abide by it. Although, I do think there is an age of the pedestrian that prohibits vehicles from hitting them. It’s about 70 years old or so. The elders. I say the elders and not the elderly. The elderly sound like the really old people that move slowly. The elders I refer to are those who are the elder statesmen of the city town and are more respected (because of past leadership? or something like that?) Those are the only people who seem unaffected by the honking. Or that they are exempt from being honked at and are allowed to cross the street first as the car waits. And most crazy of all? The elders do NOT look each way. I was taught to look both ways before crossing the road. But not the elders. Again they are exempt.
Back in 95, during the Tour of China, Dave Debus and I came up with a saying. It’s called the “Chinese no look” system. Basically we saw this all happening. The craziness of it all and some little lady (an Elder) crossing the street without looking at all. Thus the “Chinese no look”. We would try and cross the street all the while saying “Don’t look” but our success was seldom. Basically I have to say that I can’t do it. I have to look. I’m afraid. Very afraid. I do not have the Luke Skywalker/Jedi force protecting me. S, I fail at the “Chinese no look” and quickly twist my neck each and every time I cross the street. The “Chinese no look”? What’s up with that????? WUWT # 3