Read and scroll your way through all the pictures in Gosse`s newest blog about his experiences in China!
To make things clear straight away, I didn’t get the amount of UCI points I had in mind when I boarded a plane to the other side of the world. Still China never disappoints if you look back at the memories I’ve made again this year. The bus transfers were brutal and the racing was really hard, because of the heat and the smog. The fact that I’ve took my first UCI-victory there last year is something I will remember for a very long time, but I could not even remember the results I got in the other four races I did in China the years before. As I am starting this story with a plan to write a story about the trip I am scrolling through the photos on my phone and use them as a timeline for this story.
As I scroll down the gallery on my phone I see that I took a lot of photos from when I packed my bikes in my travel bag. I got a lot of questions about that so I think that story has to come out soon too! As you can see on the first photo I have my bags parked at the train station close to my house, I drove over there with the Kangoo and left my car there the entire trip. Then I took some photos of the food you get at the airplane and which I am always regretting again eating after I swallowed the last bite. I can taste it again when I see these pictures..
The few people with which I have quite close contact know that I take a lot of selfies and of course the first thing you do outside of Beijing Airport is to find something to take a selfie with. So I also took a few just on a spot somewhere on a parking at Beijing airport.
During the 8 hour bus drive to the first hotel I took a a few more selfies:
Then I took some photos of the strange food at the dinner the first night:
After two days in China it was already race day on day three. I ate my own food again and it wasn’t very fancy (rice, tuna, ketchup, bean mix). Then on the day of the race I had to do a presentation for a group of kids in the morning and the race was in the afternoon. Of course selfies had been taken that day, but the photo of me sliding out of a corner with a Pickachu in the back made my day. Despite a descent fifth place.
After that race the bikes had to be packed again, because there was a three day travel scheduled to come from Aohan County to Feng Feng. That were some long hours in the bus and of course some selfies were taken during the ride.
During this three day travel we also visited some old palace, so I took some selfies there:
I think the coach of the Dutch National Team will be stoked about the next ones:
We sneaked out of the palace tour and went down town to explore and took some more photos of things that I felt where worth it.
Then we started driving again for another day, so I took some photos during another day in the bus:
As the temperature went up, the energy level went down! Coffee needed to be bought in cans during the toilet stops:
After travelling for three days we stayed the night in a five-star hotel with a little tourist town next to it. This should be the longest market in China (around 2 km long) and this would be the perfect place to buy a souvenir. If I remember it correct, back in the days I had less issues dealing with the discovery that Santa Claus was fake then to accept the fact that this market hardly sold any souvenirs. Not sure if it also was because of the walk all the way over there. Despite the disappointment, selfies had been made:
From the five star hotel there it was only half a day of driving left before we got to FengFeng. Every morning it was a surprise if you got to see the mountains or that they had disappeared from the smog.
When we arrived I took some time for a nap and then did a small spin with some photo sessions during the ride.
The next day I did a nice 3 hour spin and got a haircut in the afternoon (also one of those Chinese memories I (and everybody around there) will never forget again).
The day before the second race I went for a course check. I knew this would be the same course as the one I won the race on last year. The course was pretty cool:
The on the day of the race I had to do a small presentation to a group of Chinese kids. I took some selfies with this crowd of kids who where all ready to bombard me with all their questions. In my entire career I had never signed more t shorts or notebooks before on one day. But it was just super cool to make this kids happy and trying to give them also a memory that will last a very long time.
Then it was about to get ready for the race and the Chinese S.W.A.T. teams that where down at the race had the security completely under control.
After all the travels it was finally time for the big thing we all came for this long way and that was to race again! I got some cool racing shots from be trying to go super fast. Unfortunately I got a technical issue quite far from the tech zone so I dropped out of the front group. After a bike change and some easier laps because of heavy pain in my left hand the crowd cheered me on to keep fighting. I just had told the kids that morning to never give up, so I had to keep my word to them also. I went full gas for the second part of the race and still got to a 7th place!
Straight after the second race I went back to the hotel to start packing my bags. After coming to China for four years I know that the after parties can easy to be remembered later, so I wanted to have all my bags ready because the bus would leave at 8:00 the next morning.
The afterparty turned out to be as cool as always and the chairman of the Qiansen Group made sure our glasses were never empty. My proudest moment came when I felt like a Rockstar in Asia for a minute or so. There was a band playing on stage that night and I got asked to draw a number for the prize drawing when the band had a quick rest. I told the speaker Max that someone else could draw the numbers for me if I could play the background music. I play the guitar for around 12 years now, so even after some beers and a lot less practice then as I did when I was younger I kind of still know my way around.
As I started this story China is a crazy place and race results are easy to forget, but playing guitar on a big stage in China is an experience that will last. And the best thing about all was that all the cyclocross riders where looking at me like: ‘’does anybody know if this guy can actually play’’. The guitar I got was tuned down so the first song I tried to play was a little bit out of tune. Then I made a quick change and all of a sudden I see everybody cheer up when they realize I could actually play! That was one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced in China!
The 7:00 breakfast the morning after a night like that is never easy. The 12 hour bus drive to the airport is also not a party. The 7 hour wait at Beijing Airport Terminal can feel like only 2 hours if you sleep the other five and the 9.5 hour flight back to Amsterdam can be very packed with elderly Chinese people who go on a holiday to Europe and they are all extremely stoked (then they never stop talking).
After waiting for my luggage at Amsterdam Airport it was time for my train ride back to the Dutch German border. So I sat in the train from Amsterdam to Nijmegen. I parked my bags at a secret spot and when the train stopped I got off. Now it was time for the last way of transportation before coming home to my own little place in Kranenburg. I turned the key of my little French car and as always the car was running as smooth as it could!
Only 10 minutes later I got home, pressed the button of my coffee machine to start warming up and sat down at my own toilet at home. Yes ladies and gentleman, I was home again!
Just as I said in the introduction, I got home with less UCI points then I was hoping for, but I made great memories again and China is a country with many surprises waiting for you to unpack. See you next year at the Qiansen Trophy!