This is the second day of the three day Inner Mongolia Mountain Bike event and today’s 48km stage for me was a lot better than yesterday when I had basically hit the wall! The experience of being in the clean air and expanse open rolling grasslands of Inner Mongolia has been a pleasant one. After the first stage yesterday, a lot of the riders had the opportunity to witness Mongol wrestling, horse racing followed by a big banquet of delicious food including a whole roasted goat that went through a traditional Mongolian ceremony. A big bonfire party was then put on that kept party-goers warm out in the chilly Mongolian air (its just over 1000m above sea-level). The first night was spent in Yurts (Mongolian Tents).
About the racing: Today I finished in the lead group of 12 – and finished 6th in the sprint, however the gearing on the rental bike from Nordic Ways is way too small: the biggest gear I have is 42-14 – try sprinting in that gear and you will see what I mean. I also spent most of the race spinning out in the biggest gear. It was difficult at times but I survived it. I really need to get my own mountain bike for the future MTB races here in China. It needs to be fitted properly and perform well. The bikes provided by Nordic Ways are solid, but heavy (14kgs) and serve well if your intention is just to complete the distance. It is definitely not a race bike level. Had I had a few more teeth on the rental bike, I may have faired a lot better in the sprint! Today’s performance was a dramatic turnaround to my dismal performance yesterday when I finished 18th, and 20 minutes behind Feng Kuanjie (Holy Brother). I started the day with a splitting headache, after a rough 18 hour journey to get to the middle of no-where in Inner Mongolia the previous night. I also had an elevated heart rate, 15 beats higher than normal so I knew that the day may not be a good one for me.
The scenery here is fantastic. I would love to come back at some point to do a multi-day mountain bike trek across the plains and camp along the way. Stay tuned for more photographs and also my account of the third stage tomorrow (83kms). I have complete race reports going up on Cycling News Asia.