Vince Gee

Tour of Quinhai Lake — Stage 1

Xining to Quinhai Lake

(See-ning to Ching-hi Lake)

Currency nickname: Yao Ming

Jeanick and I decide to split car/hotel duties. He would start the first two stages in the car and I would do hotel duties. Then switch for two days and back and forth for the 9 days/stages. For me, hotel guy for the first two days was a cool way to start the race off. Our hotel is called Quinhai Lake hotel. A very small city. Shizhe/Sharon gets our room keys instantly. Wow!!! Most hotels at races we do globally tell us to wait until at least noon or even 1:00 before we get keys. So, in that case I just put luggage in front of the rooms, park the truck and go have lunch until keys are ready. Shizhe said they were organized but this is cool. The race even posts signs on EACH door with the name of the team that is in that particular room. Super easy and super nice.

A few days ago Kurt was playing and had fun with his version of wheel of fortune. He spun a bottle to see who it would point to and that rider was to win Stage 1. It turned out that Alan Davis was the lucky (or unlucky) recipient of the pressure and win for the team.

Kurt, Shizhe and I walked the 600 meters to the finish. Kurt would do podium if we had it and I would do drinks for the thirsty finishers. Kurt flashed Alan’s room key to Shizhe (showing his name) and said to watch out for this guy to win and reminding her of our game a few days ago. Well, Alan got in the key break and indeed won the stage. And to top it off Fuyu Li was also in the break to earn the top Asian award/jersey. The wheel of fortune came true.

Challenge # 1:

The bike wash station is located directly in front of the hotel. One pipe coming from the back of the hotel and there are ONLY FOUR hoses connected to it. And I think ALL teams are staying here at this hotel. That’s 21 teams going for 4 hoses. So, I wash full gas to try and avoid as much as possible the inevitable congestion. Lucky some teams are not so quick to start washing. And then some teams have only one mechanic. And if he goes in the caravan car, that particular mechanic is delayed getting to the hotel. Delayed at least 10 or so minutes after the riders get there (and slow driving through the deviation to the hotel). I was able to wash more than half my bikes before it got crazy and crowded at the wash area.

Challenge # 2

The bike storage/work room is a full 250 to 300 m (or more) away from the bike wash area/hotel. And it is slightly uphill so not even easy to ride a bike there. So I wash and feed Jeanick clean bikes so he can take them to the storage/work room. There he will start controlling the bikes for tomorrow’s stage. The bike room is big and I got there early to get a prime spot.

After finishing the bikes it was time for a walk. We are at 3,200 meters so I am still out of breath just walking around. But time to kill before dinner. The city of Quinhai Lake is basically ONE small road that “Ts” off the main road that circles the lake. There is also a pier that extends about 200 meters out onto the water. From the tip of the pier to the main road is a (about) whopping 1,400 meters long. I take this time to do some shopping for souvenirs. Inexpensive but cool trinkets to take home.

The currency here is called the Yuan (You-ahn) or sometimes called RMB (Renmin B — can’t remember what the “B” is for in RMB). It’s about 7.8 RMB/Yuan to the US Dollar. This exchange rate will come into play when wheeling and dealing with the locals later on. John has nicknamed the currency Yao Mings. Named after the Chinese basket ball player for the Houston Rockets.