This post was written by Laura Imkamp. You can follow her on Twitter, check her out pictures on Flickr, or watch her videos on Vimeo or Youtube. All photos in this review were taken by Laura. Big thanks!!
First off, I have to say Hangzhou is one of those places I like a little bit more each time I visit. If you’ve never been, you should go. And if you have been but didn’t make it to the Alleycat last Saturday, you missed out. It was by far one of the best times I’ve had yet in that city.
So here’s what happened!
Altogether six of us Shanghairen managed to make it to Hangzhou for the race. Jeff left on Friday afternoon and got there in time for the Friday night ride around Hangzhou, while Michael, Daniels, Przemek and I caught a Saturday morning train that got us into town about 3 hours before race begin. Robin eventually met up with us at the starting point just before the race.
So the four of us got into Hangzhou just before 10am, swung it straight over to the hostel, interrupted Jeff’s breakfast, ate half of Jeff’s breakfast, locked our stuff up in the room and headed right back out to do a ride-through of about three quarters of the route. Three quarters because that was all we had time for, but thank god we did it. I would have been hopelessly lost otherwise – not only because I get lost all the time anyway, but also because the checkpoints were pretty difficult to spot if you didn’t know exactly where they were. If not for that ride, I most definitely would have been the flustered white girl riding in circles for no apparent reason. … I might still have been… but only for a few minutes…
Either way, some flags or something outside would have helped; even some of the local guys said they had trouble finding all the spots. But all is good – we figured it out. And we also figured out that even though the route Jeff had mapped out was the most direct, it wasn’t necessarily the most convenient, and it definitely was not the safest. We were hitting all 7 checkpoints in a counter-clockwise direction, which meant lots of left turns, which in turn meant lots of riding on sidewalks and the wrong side of the street. (It makes for some decent entertainment though — watch the video, you’ll see what I mean. Sorry Daniels.) We just didn’t have time to drastically change the plan, though.
We finished our ride-through at the start and end point, Vineyard Coffee, registered (lucky number 13!), shoved some Subway sandwiches, cookies, and [free] Vitamin Water down our gullets and then regrouped and recapped the route. That was when Daniels came up with the genius plan of fastening his iPhone to the front of his bike and recording the whole race (zip ties have to be one of the greatest inventions – so simple, so efficient). And of course he, of all six of us, was the one who got into 3 accidents and fell off his bike twice. Seriously, watch the video.
Race time comes around 1:50. Everyone heads off in every which way. Naturally, I manage to get slightly lost within the first 6 minutes and have to double back a few times during the race, but all in all it went pretty smoothly for all of us – especially considering none of us had ever biked in Hangzhou before, and, apart from Jeff, we’d only become familiar with the route 3 hours beforehand. Plus, after 3 days of grey and rain, the weather was fantastic! And Hangzhou is gorgeous anyway.
That said, Hangzhou’s roads themselves aren’t great. There were lots of bumps and uneven surfaces, and Hangzhou traffic is a lot like Shanghai traffic but with fewer horns beeping from places you didn’t even know a vehicle could fit. Plus, I got the impression Hangzhou drivers weren’t as used to bikes riding in the car lanes as they are here in our fine megacity. So based on first impressions, not the greatest biking city. Although Kevin Sundeen – the guy who almost single-handedly organized this whole event [ double thumbs-up ] – would strongly disagree with that. I don’t know, maybe it just takes getting used to.
Still, all of the nearly 95 riders made it back alive, albeit some with a few cuts and bruises (and holes in their shoes…ahem…Daniels). And here are the top finishers!
Overall top 10
1. 蒋波 (Jiang Bo) – Hangzhou – Fixed
2. Jeff Liu – Non-Hangzhou – Fixed
3. 杭天成 (Hang Tian Cheng) – Hangzhou – Fixed
4. Lalo Lopez – Hangzhou – Non-fixed
5. 郭景峰 (Guo Jing Feng) – Non-Hangzhou – Fixed
6. 刘子文 (Liu Zi Wen) – Hanghzou – Fixed
7. 温唯吉 （Wen Wei Ji) – Non-Hangzhou – Fixed
8. 沈佩俊 (Shen Pei Jun) – Hangzhou – Fixed
9. 石雷 (Shi Lei) – Hangzhou – Fixed
10. Scylla – Hangzhou – Fixed
Top 5 Women’s
1. Laura Imkamp – Non-Hangzhou – Non-fixed (like I said, lucky number 13!!)
2. 李昊 (Li Hao) – Hangzhou – Fixed
3. Jackie Zhang – Non-Hangzhou – Non-fixed
4. Giovana Rojas – Hangzhou – Non-fixed
5. Rachel Steele – Hangzhou – Non-fixed
**One guy – Jakob Schmidt – did the whole race on a public bike. So great!! He’s in the video too, pedaling away like a chipmunk on a bright red rental bike **
The awesome race and raffle prizes included a white WHM frame (first place local finisher), a red Airwalk frame (first place non-local finisher, a.k.a. Jeff), a Bianchi-green Airwalk frame (first place girls – so excited!!) plus all kinds of biking and bike-related apparel, components, bags and whatnot. Lots and lots of goodies! And all day, with a purple registration bracelet, drinks were half-price — a prize in itself! Ten kuai bottles of Tsingtao? Yes please!
And so, for pretty much the rest of the evening, we drank beer and ate a ridiculous amount of food. It was too bad there weren’t more people, but apparently there was some sort of city-wide rearrangement of schedules (because of the paralympics), which meant a lof of people either had class or work. How lame.
It was still a really great event though, especially considering lots of stuff fell through at the last minute in terms of sponsors and such. But really, if I hadn’t talked about that with Kevin, I never would have known. So, proverbial hats-off to him, and everyone who helped out, for keeping everything together so well! I’d say it was a damn good way to spend a Saturday.
Check out the video on Vimeo below :
Or on Tudou :