Granfondo Yunnan 2018...Part 1..

Ni Hao !

Ciao & Welcome to China in the beautiful & colourful Yunnan area.

 A view of Mangshi from the Temple.

A view of Mangshi from the Temple.

For me is the second time attending the lovely Granfondo Yunnan thanks to the great relationship with Niclas Hellqvist & Kris Van de Velde from Nordic Ways.

We(Tom & I) arrived from London on Friday in the local town of Manghsi where Kris picked us up from the airport to go to the hotel followed with a lovely catch up chat to inform me of all the new changes are in place this year edition since 3 years ago when i have last attended.

 The Start Line!!

The Start Line!!


The Saturday,which I was supposed to be home due to wife’s birthday, I was instead a prepping the bikes and get few bits & pieces(cit A.P) sorted before the 8.5KM Prologue (Individual Climb Time Trial) in the afternoon.

As expected knowing the great qualities of Kris to pick and choose for his events only the best routes, that in the afternoon we were going to have a go at something peculiar & stunning.

The start was by the side of a lake next to a dam,then we had to race around the perimeter of this lake with some “mangia e bevi” before hitting a nice 1.1 Km tree covered climb with 8% average incline finishing at the top by the entrance of a temple. Some of the serious boys here racing for the prizes made it in a stunning pace.

 Saturday night local dinner in Mangshi Square

Saturday night local dinner in Mangshi Square

Stage 1, on Sunday was the so called “ Border Ride” ,105km race to the town of Ruili coasting along the border with Myanmar(Burma) and finishing at the border check point. Due to the location & altitude the climate is tropical, where trees,plants & flower grow freely all year round to enable us to experience an enrich sceneries with plenty of colours & smells.

 Lunch Stop.

Lunch Stop.

After the stage some of us went together for lunch to an amazing restaurant.The groups of us was a mix of 14 riders from 4 continents and 13 nationalities.Taking part at Nordic ways events are always great experience,because thanks to our passion of cycling individuals from different origins comes together for the sport.

 Dinner time.

Dinner time.

Stage 2,on Monday we start & finished from the border check point routing us through the city of Ruili before hitting only after 9km from the start a nice 16Km climb with an average of 5% with peaks up to 10%. The ascent was pretty via little villages & nature before reaching the peak and throwing us descending into a false plain with a misty & foggy atmosphere. Followed by that we had at km 56 a climb for 10KM with an average of 6% before riveting in a serious of roller coasting hills taking us back to the finish line…

 Tom being chased.

Tom being chased.

Kris has been good to all of us participant giving us a rest day,so we could rest but also move from Ruili to Tengchong for the Queen’s stage(Stage 3) of the event with 185km with a total climb of 3000m.

 Teng Chong at Sunset.

Teng Chong at Sunset.

For now is Ciao & Arrivederci from Yunnan on Sunday the 11th of November part 2 will be published…

STAY TUNED TO BE CONTINUED……

SD

The World Famous Stage 4 of the Granfondo China.

Last week everyone in the world was admiring and talking about the crash that happened at the finish line in Dali right next to the Olympic Stadium.

Road.CC was the one advertising in the western world, unfortunately they have reported what they picked up from local medias in China & Riders that were not there,and even worst then ever made no contacts to the Organising Team.Quite unprofessional I would say. 

I was there,and this happened few hundreds yards before my crossing on the line.Therefore, it would be unfair for me to explain this and also because I feel a quite passionate about the accident.

Therefore an anonymous rider that was in the pack writes to us to understand.

There appears to be gross misinformation and interpretation going rampant on global social media about what happened at the Yunnan Gran Fondo Day four spectacular crash. This is a comment in the attempt to shed light on what actually happened in China and for the record, it could happen to any organiser in the world.  Something similar had happened in Texas racing in the past where the lead group and chase group go separate ways on the race course, although not on the same scale in Dali. First, lets correct some facts. There were allegations that the lead car went the wrong way and that the organiser, Nordic Ways, deny fault. Both are un-true and come from people interviewed that were not even at the race. It seems that most of the Western media, including road.cc just copies the story released by China Press Agency Xinhua without verifying any of the facts including misquoting the name of the event. The statement that 17 cyclists were hospitalised as a result of that crash is also incorrect. There were many crashes, as is normal in bike racing, during the high speed stage and those riders went to the hospital. It is quite common for riders in China to be taken to the hospital as a precaution.  

Where is the investigative journalism in the sport of cycling?  Are journalists in the sport just seeking sensationalism without checking facts?  It was unfortunate that the local Chinese media based their reports on testimonies provided by people who had not even witnessed the crash accident and never bothered to verify claims with the race director or relevant people in the organisation.  This has led to Western media picking this up and re-publishing; thus creating the social media storm we are witnessing now. 

There was no doubt that the local organisation made a mistake with the final corner that led the lead group riders to take the wrong side of the road.  It was also announced immediately after the crash that damages of any kind would be compensated. This shows that Nordic Ways was taking responsibility for the incident, so the claim that the organisers refused to take the blame is ludicrous. It should also be remembered that a number of riders from the lead group said afterwards “as a rider you also need to keep using your head”.

As it happens, I was part of the lead group contesting the stage and now will offer my view on what happened in those last few moments of the 125km stage around the ErHai Lake of Dali. 

Firstly, this type of crash with riders from opposing directions hitting each other like Spartacus on bikes is perhaps a one-of-a-kind. As far as I know this type of crash had never happened before in the history of cycling and, statistically speaking, it is highly unlikely it will never happen again. It also could happen to any organiser and not just because it is in China. There seems to be an undercurrent of borderline racist comments happening on social media channels without any basis. These are people who have never before raced in China, perhaps never even been to China on a visit.  China does actually put on fantastic events and they are run with a high safety record. If you have raced in other countries like Philippines or other South East Asian places, you will understand how chaotic it can be. 

Think about it for a second, a peloton sprinting in full flight in the wrong direction to the finish-line and colliding with a second group of racers sprinting in the correct direction, makes for potentially a nasty fatal crash. Fortunately, all riders made it through relatively unscathed despite nearly 20 riders hitting the deck crashing into riders head on.  The final corner in question should have been marked and marshalled by local police officials. It transpired that the two assigned workers for the left-hand corner that led to the finishing straight, approx 800m before the finish-line, bungled the corner. They did not follow instructions given to them and they closed off the corner on the outside with tape instead of the inside. The workers had also placed bright orange cones but spaced too far apart, thus in the heat of the action the lead group followed the first rider and thats how the large group went down the wrong side of the road. Further confusing riders was the red banner on the right side of the road next to the correct banner.

I truly don’t know what was going on in their minds when the decision was made to do the U-turn and sprint again when it was crystal clear that the riders went down the wrong finishing chute?

Perhaps it was desperation for a result and thus prize money that is on offer?  What happened was truly the worst possible way to crash. There was a small group of five riders contesting the sprint amongst themselves (they had been gapped off the front group due to the crash with 4km to go). The rider in red buried himself and did not look up during his final 150m sprint. When he did look up, it was too late; he had smashed into the first rider also sprinting to the finish-line. It was miraculous that all riders came out of the crash with minor injuries; the damage was restricted to one broken collar-bone and one broken finger plus plenty of bruises. 

If there was no prize money on offer, would the riders still be so desperate to sprint in the wrong direction to win a bike race?

Back to the final corner blunder. In hind-sight, which is always 20-20, if riders themselves took on responsibility by scouting out the last 1km of the course, it may have prevented the events that happened as all would know to take the left side of the road after the corner. But then again, the organisers need to make it water-tight so that it is impossible for riders to take the wrong turn.  

This whole incident shines light on how important it is for protecting rider safety by ensuring water-tight courses. This was an unfortunate incident that transpired but lets not get caught up on the idea that it could only happen in China; it could happen anywhere. 

Racing in China is a unique experience for foreigners and lets not let an event like this prevent you from exploring the racing scene yourself, should you ever have the opportunity.   Nordic Ways has been putting on events in China for more than 10 years and have a solid reputation for putting on iconic events. They are also responsible for popularising the Gran Fondo movement in China. Visit their website for more details - www.granfondochina.com

Thank you

Stage 4, Race Around the Lake

For the SD Team today was our last stage for the Granfondo China 2015. It was a quite emotional day for us. This was caused by the fact that we were going to say good bye to cyclists met during this event. It did not matter what was their nationality,but we all stack together like “Sticky Rice”. 

 Local costume along the 115Km

Local costume along the 115Km

We shared the same passion,we helped each other out 24hours a day on or off the bike. Those events around the world with plenty of barriers not just on the saddle but also off the saddle make those trips stunning and unable to describe. 

 At the start line

At the start line

We started as a group of 3,already with language barrier, 2 Italians & a Scottish(both nationalities could not speak a word of proper English). We finished with a group of 50 or more. Within the group there were 29 nationalities, 5 continents were covered. What else could you have more? This strange passion of 2 wheels stuck together with some tubing & cables, brings to me always joyful emotions.

 Along the route by the Lake

Along the route by the Lake

On this stage of 115km along the lake perimeter, with completely closed road, with towns on a stand still while our passage , with school kids screaming at us through theirs school fences and our speed of nearly 30 miles per hour average made it too short. Now I feel unhappy, because I could have spent more time admiring those little but big peculiarities that make us live our life to the full.

 Fresh refeshments

Fresh refeshments

We are always racing in our lives, on or off the 2 wheels, Why?  This is my question.

The answer could be quite easy. YOU NEED TO TAKE PART at the GRANFONDO CHINA.   

Please feel free to get in touch with us to get more info for the 2016 edition.

Our Team would like to say thank you to Kris, Niclas, Torben and the rest of the crew at Nordic Ways to have created an amazing event. We wish a successful finish and a Arrivederci for the 2016 edition.

 A Taxi Ride

A Taxi Ride

A Chinese friend of mine ,Jingyan, other day stated some amazing words:

 “WHERE MOUNTAINS TOUCH THE SKY AND WATER REACHES LAND,IS WHERE WE LIVE,CREATE AND DREAM”.

 The best Ride for the day

The best Ride for the day

After those emotional words we just want to say be safe on the road and love each other.

Ciao.

SD TEAM.