First off, I’d like to say thank you to Teriyaki Experience for helping me attend this World Cup.
Secondly, I’d like to apologize for not updating my blog sooner, but I’d just like to point out that it wasn’t entirely my fault.
Apparently, blogs, along with youtube and facebook are all banned in China. Oh, and by the way, don’t waste your time googling ‘Chinese communism’ while in China, because it’s also banned.
Anyways, we arrived in China in the early hours of Tuesday morning without a hitch. I managed to sleep most of the plane ride, except for the meals, getting my first taste of Chinese food for the week. (Surprisingly, the airplane food ended up being the best Chinese food we were served all week).
We found the event representative and made our way to the velodrome on a bus, followed by a Chinese Post truck which carried all of our bikes. On the trip over to the velodrome, we managed to catch a glimpse of the Bird’s Nest, the track and field venue for the 2008 Beijing Games. I say it was just a glimpse, because it was pretty darn difficult to see 5m in front of our face, with all the smog blocking our views. After quickly dropping our bikes off at the velodrome, and taking our first look at the track used for the 2008 Olympics, we checked into our hotel/residence, which was only a 500m walk away. After loosening up the legs with a quick ride on the track (which by the way is the smoothest track I have ever ridden by far… it feels like riding on a cloud), we took a quick walk to a local supermarket to pick up some snacks. It was hard to tell exactly what we were buying, with one group almost buying a huge jug of vinegar instead of water, but thankfully some of the food had English labels. The other interesting thing about the supermarket was the assortment of whole fish available.
It took quite a while to get accustomed to the time difference in China, since it was essentially opposite from LA (16hrs+), where we were staying beforehand. This left us fighting sleep most of the day, and waking up at crazy hours during the night. It also made training a bit difficult, with foggy minds making focusing hard.
Just in time for race day I finally felt like I was on China time. Good thing, because there was going to be some steep competition here! The team decided to get to the track in the morning, for a quick warmup and effort on the track, since when we raced in the afternoon, we would just be able to warm-up on rollers. It seemed like race time came way quicker than expected, but we were ready to go. We managed to do alright, with a time of 45.6 seconds, leaving us in 9th place. While it wasn’t quite the same as the 4th place we got in Cali, there was a lot more competition here, closer to what we will see at the World Championships in March. I was also happy to set a new PB for my portion of the sprint. However, we can all see that we have a lot of work to do, and are all excited to be training together in LA leading into Worlds to hopefully shave a few tenths off of our time. Two days later and it was race day again. We went through the usual stuff: warmup, jumps, get on the race gear and booties, and then get on the track to do the flying 200m qualification. I ended up doing a mediocre time of 10.6, but looking back on it even though I wasn’t in the best form, I think I could have gone a bit faster with a bit more speed in the approach.
All of the sprinters spent the rest of the day in the press box, listening to T.Smith commentate the women’s team pursuit and the keirins. Good thing he wasn’t getting paid haha…Just kidding.
The next day was our final day in Beijing. Most of the crew decided to go to the Wall. I decided to go downtown with Travis, since I had an earlier flight than most people, and didn’t know if going to the wall would leave me enough time to get to the airport. We started out heading downtown on the subway, which just as I imagined, was PACKED, wall to wall. There was no need for poles or railings to hold onto for balance, because you couldn’t move even if you wanted to. Getting on and off the train was a mad rush, throwing elbows to get people out of the way before the doors closed. After about a 30min ride, we got off and spent the next half an hour searching for the infamous silk market. You might be thinking that this was an actual silk market, but in fact, it’s actually the center of the world for knock-off products. 5 floors of glorious fake Armani, Diesel, D&G, etc. You name it, they had it. And these shopkeepers weren’t ordinary shopkeepers. They were more aggressive than used car salesmen. If you don’t believe me, you can ask Travis, who was literally held in a shop, with one girl pulling him, and the other pushing him in. Oh, and did I mention that on average we paid 10% of the asking price!! Seems like some people actually believe this stuff is real. We then stopped at the food market, where delicacies were served for those with adventurous tastes: scorpions, centipedes, and lizards were served on sticks to go! The final stop of the day was at the gold shop across the street where we got a glimpse of the 2008 Olympics medals, and got to pick up a solid chunk of gold worth $35,000!
Anyways, I’m back home now, trying to catch up on too much missed school before I head back to LA for a month to prepare for worlds. The flight is booked, and today I just found a sweet apartment for the month so I won’t have to suffer in a hotel. Now I just have to get through one more week of school and frigged weather before I head back to the sun!
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