Chris Clinton

Beijing Day 5

I have never been this wet before. Okay, maybe at the beach, in the pool or in the shower. No, I think there is less water in a shower. It’s like my whole body just decided to perspire from every pore at the same time and it forgot to stop. Small rivers are forming on my arms and legs and I am having trouble seeing past the waterfalls over my eyes.

Yes, today was hot and muggy. I knew it was going to be bad when I looked out the window at breakfast and noticed our semi-blue sky had disappeared again. Maybe today will be like the day at Tienaman Square where you could look directly at the sun and not damage your eyes. I told the riders to treat it like elevation training, less oxygen…

Today was practice day at the track. The first set of guys, those ranked in the top 90 in the world, got to ride at 11am. The rest of the guys rode at noon-thirty with the ladies following at around 2pm. Mike and I got an early start leaving the hotel around 8am so that we could set up our spot. Ah you should have seen the sensor folks trying to lift my tool box onto the belt and then the giant golf bag filed with the work stand, pump and spare parts. Their punny arms could not handle the things I carry all the time. Comical.

Due to our ranking in the world and the number of riders we were given two rooms. Some countries received one while others had to share. We set ours up with the funded team in one room and the remainder in the other.

I then left with our interpreter, this cool guy “Kai” from Trek China, to do some quick shopping. The first stop was Gome (say go-may). Kai likened this to Best Buy, I thought it was a cross between Circuit City and the Sears of olden days. We stopped here to pick up a couple fans and some splitters. They were out of splitters but had a large selection of fans. Kai chatted with the ladies working the showroom floor and we picked out a couple. They were super expensive…one cost around $20 US and the other was maybe $25US. Then we got to watch two groups of women race each other to see who could build theirs faster.

This took a while and we still needed to pick up some gear and bodies from the hotel. As luck would have it we got stuck in Sunday traffic and ended up fifteen minutes late to the hotel. Kai jumped out of our bus and ran to his minivan so he could finish the shopping. I ran upstairs and picked up our lunches, water and fruit from the restaurant. Having ordered it yesterday it was ready to roll.

Back at the track I gave the folks with the sensor another experience as I kept jumping out of the bus with more bags to put on the sensor belt. After the two fans I dropped my radio, phone and watch on the tray, walked through the scanner and then everything stopped. One of the guys freaked out because my radio did not have a certain sticker on the side. He showed his sticker, which was written in Chinese, like I knew what it said. He called over a military person and then tried to explain something else. I informed him that I had already gone into the facility numerous times with the radio and no one else stopped me. He told me I could bring it back as long as I turned it off. So, I turned it off, shoved it deep into my pocket and began carrying items the football length walk to the elevator.

Kai wasn’t so lucky as the confiscated his. Turns out you have to register your band with the local military. Later in the day Kai said this allows them to monitor what you are saying. We laughed and then he proved it. While we were standing near the track, some local staff were having with their radios. Kai stated that one of them was complaining that the radios didn’t work. you could tell these guys were frustrated. Then a gruff voice came over their radio and they had a look of embarrasment ontheir faces. Kai said that a military person responded on their channel telling them to hold the button down longer. Freaky…

So, back to my adventure…

More confusion as the people operating the elevator watched the pile stack up outside the door. When it was finally my turn I shoved a box of water into the opening, jammed everything in and then pulled in the last box. Two locals jumped in as well and were talking to each other about all the bags of food. I made gestures that I was a very hungry large man and needed all that food. They laughed.

Once at the top I did the same making a huge pile outside the elevator. My first trip to the room ended at an entrance that I had used before. They had changed it to an exit. The ladies monitoring the gate wanted me to take a long walk around. Luckily Mike was there and I was able to hand him stuff over the barrier. The ladies didn’t mind that, as long as I did not walk through their passage. They were doing exactly what they were told to do. After three trips one of the local workers figured out I needed help and lent a hand.

Once that was done I set about fixing a flat tire one of the riders had earned on his ride to the track. Upon pulling the tire off I noticed his rim strip wasn’t covering half of the spoke holes. Duh! That should have flatted earlier. Once that was done and our bag of bottles prepared we heard a pop and then the hiss of another flat. We checked the bikes in the room and discovered Amanda’s front had given up the ghost. I pulled that one out and the valve stayed in. Turns out her rim was too sharp and it cut her valve causing the mishap. I fixed that one, shoved some tools into my pockets and walked over to the track. Yes, I said my pockets. I know I preach the value of a chest pack but there was no way I was going to wear that in this weather.

The guys were fast and spent a lot of time in the air. You could tell these guys were pros. The next set of guys included two of ours and many Asian riders. Our guys flew like birds. The Asian guys spent a lot of time dragging their brakes and riding the women’s course. They could jump but not very smoothly. I couldn’t watch much of the second group. I hurt as they continually cased jumps and landed poorly. The ladies took off right away and rode the course for a while. Amanda, Kim and Arielle were itching to ride the ramp so the walked the stairs and posed on top. The officials saw them, decided to close the side gate and let them down. During this time Jill had made her way up there as well.

Just as our riders were about to take off one of the Aussies appeared out of nowhere and spun down the ramp. So much for being the first women to ride down a Supercross ramp. Yes, this is the first time that women have had a Supercross course. Our ladies, ‘cept one, were doing great. They cleared the first jump with no problem, cleared the second and either cleared the third or jumped to the top and manualled the back side.

Once of our riders sat at the top for a while, a long while. Once they started running the gate she decided it was time and took her first run. She made it over the over the first jump and around the bend. Her second run, sometime later, did not go so well. She tapped her backwheel on the landing and wadded. When she got up you could see she was hurting. She spent some time back in the room before giving it another run.

There were few mishaps today though a couple were quite big. One male rider cased a landing so hard his rear wheel exploded. His tire blew, his spokes were hanging all over and he lost a portion of a flange. Another male rider broker his handlebars on the step up before turn one and shot over the top of the turn, taking a flag with him. On the women’s side there was nothing quite spectacular but some nasty looking wads. One gal from Australia lost it in the air and came down on her bike. She was able to get up and walk away but her team said she had to be taken to the hospital. There was our rider and then there was this one Chinese gal. She dragged her brakes all the way down the amp and began manualling over the first jump. She made it over the first hump. It was the second hump that got her.

You could see she was loosing her rear end from underneath her. It appeared as though she were going to fall backward, like young kids do when they are learning to pop wheelies. For a moment it looked like she might recover or just fall over. Then she did totally looped out (back flip) and landed on her head. It hurt to watch. At the time I was running Jill’s video camera. Maybe she will put it on the internet. It’s definitely You Tube worthy.

By the way, Kai is a retired professional high jumper. While competing for the team in Shanghai he met a woman in Beijing. He quit the team and moved to Beijing. His team made him sign an agreement that he would not compete for the Beijing team for four years. He decided to retire instead.

I didn’t get much as far as photos today as I was working on bikes and making sure the riders got their water between runs.

the Gome race air time view from room workspace our room pre-ride still waiting


Owner of and long time professional race mechanic.