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Ally’s Blog – Chopsticks in China

By Ally Stacher

When I got on the plane to China I was excited and nervous at the same time. I had no idea what to expect. Everything about China is totally foreign to me. The food, currency, smells, language and energy are all something I’ve never experienced. I met Katie, Ronny, Oli and Charlotte all on the 11hr 30minute flight to Shanghai. We would meet the others at the hotel. Getting in at 7:00am was a bit rough to say the least. We were all so rocked that we took a “short nap” before lunch. Katie and I both slept through my alarm and woke to Ronny giggling outside our door ringing the door bell non-stop. Katie and I were in a bit of a panic waking up to such noise from our deep jet lag sleep.
We had the greatest translator. I’m going to slaughter his name, but how you’d pronounce it would be chew-waaay. There were times we might have given him a small heart attack. We didn’t want to wait for 30 minutes for the start of the of the world cup presentation. So we decided to use the restrooms, put our radios in and put the last little things in our bags before they went to the start. I think he felt like he was herding cats. He was so great, he gave us little gifts, translated for us (obviously), played tour guide, educated us on why China doesn’t have Facebook, twitter, or youtube and the list goes on. He’s also fluent in German. Lotte and Lisa seemed very impressed with his German skills. He seemed impressed with a few of our chop stick skills.
The food was interesting. I enjoyed trying things that I’ve never tried before. Lotte impressed me the most. She branched out more than any of us. She also had excellent chop-stick skills. I loved eating with chop-sticks for the week. I even continued on the legacy of eating with chop-sticks to the plane ride home. With the less elbow room on the plane; I kept bumping elbows with my neighbor.
The race Tour of Chongming Island is a little ecological city outside of Shanghai. Its funny everyone that I spoke with at the Specialized event made the comment that Chongming Island was out in the burbs, a small little town with  nothing to do. I guess when you live in the largest city in China of 23+ million people, anything less than that would seem small and boring. When really Chongming Island is a thriving city with a good bit of action.

We saw the last years race hotel on fire. It sounds worse than it really was. Katie, Chloe and Lisa all went shopping one day, and purchased a large amount of DVD’s and hair pieces. I’ve recently learned that Chloe might have a small obsession with buying DVD’s. Also please notice the new decor that she is putting in her hair. She looks so lovely.
We raced the three stages of Tour of Chongming Island. I felt the race was well organized. Things were always on time. There was a good crowd of people present, and the race promotors seemed to be really good at hosting such a great event. I love being at a race where there is good support. The courses were flat and fast. Breaks never happened and there wasn’t enough wind to break it up.
Friday after the third and final stage of the tour, we loaded up onto a bus and headed for a Specialized bike shop in Shanghai. We had a great tour guide. Her name was Jackie. She does media work for Specialized, she was pretty excited we were in town. We drove into Shanghai, ate some really great food and then headed over to the Specialized shop where we were greeted by a crowd of people. There were posters with our entire team on it. A video was played that was made at our team camp. Food, drinks, a stage with stools and microphones for us. We all sat in front of a diverse crowd of people. Eager to ask us questions and listen to what we had to say. After our showing at the Specialized bike shop we took a quick detour into the city of Shanghai. It was well worth it.

We saw the second tallest building in the world. It reached up beyond the clouds. Shanghai a very busy city is a major finical center. With heavy western influence. We could see the influence of European and American business, even in some of the architecture. The city is also divided east and west by the Yangtze River. A small fact, the Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia and the third largest in the world. I know we aren’t here for a geography lesson. So on to the next topic of conversation.
World cup day. I don’t know where to begin. Do I start with all the boys dressed in blue collared shirts and track pants some holding gold pom poms pumping them to the beat of the music and others waving huge UCI flags. Or the female and male cheerleading squad that did a dance. What about the small rollerskating performance that took place in the middle of the boys with the blue collard shirts on. We lined up single file on our bikes and had to roll out in front of the stage of what looked like some pretty official people along with the crowd of pom poms, roller skaters,¬† flag holds, cycling enthusiasts and whom ever else was there to support the race. It was a bit of an ordeal.

On the start line, we had a few minutes to spare. Emilio, Katie and I all lined up on the front line. For some reason a group of men on the stage fired off a few guns at the same time. Yep we were the ones that clipped in an thought that was the start of the race. It wasn’t. Our eager beaver race start didn’t go unnoticed. Throughout the race I heard multiple comments about our early start. At least we were prepared and ready to go.

The race started off slow and dry. It didn’t stay dry for very long. The majority of the race we were heavily misted, I wouldn’t really call it rain. Which thank goodness that it let up for the finish. There were corners to watch out for and certain moments that things got a little crazy towards the finish. I was so happy the roads were somewhat dry. We threw multiple attacks towards the end of the race to mess up other teams and their organization. Lisa, Lotte and Chloe did what sprinters do and took it from there. Chloe came out 4th and Lotte 6th. We wanted the win, but two riders in the top 10 is still a great result.

It was a great 4 days of racing. Our quick trip to China is one to remember. Thanks for reading!