Racing Bikes In Tibet: Day 3

Waking up after sleeping at 3,500m elevation for the first time is tough. Everyone was experiencing varying degrees of altitude sickness and pretty extreme headaches. We all popped a few Asprin and started off Day 3 with a big group breakfast consisting of congee, bananas and trail mix. The plan for the day was to go an explore some of the mountain bike trails surrounding Pagsum Lake, about 5Km from where we were staying in Basong. Luck was on our side and the weather was pretty warm, hovering around 15 degrees Celcius for most of the day.

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The view from our homestay in Basong, Tibet

With day packs prepped, bikes double checked and sunscreen loaded on our faces we headed off into the mountains. Most of the public roads here are gravel tracked, just wide enough for two cars to pass each other very slowly. Incredible single track trails run all along the North side of Pagsum Lake for just over 10Km, with parts covered in loose shoal and others in compact soil. It had rained earlier that morning so mud and small puddles were everywhere.

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Tibetan prayer flags line the majority of the single track. At times you’ve got to duck your head and whisk right through them – it’s certainly special and likely one of the only places in the world you can experience such culture and natural beauty all in one place. At one point we even had to get off the track while a local Tibetan farmer herded his Yak up the mountain.

Some of the climbs are pretty steep reaching close to 20% gradient, but then you get to bomb down the other side and bask in the glory of Tibet.

After the single track trails we reached an open valley in the middle of two enormous mountain peaks, both hovering around 6,500m. Wild Yak, pigs, dogs and horses run wild throughout these lands all living off the natural spring water from Pagsum Lake.

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 We rode through the open planes for about 20Km until we reached the small village of Jieba. We definitely hadn’t packed enough snacks or water to compensate for the over bearing altitude sickness we were all experiencing. Our group ended up splitting up into pairs of two until we made it back towards Basong. The photo opportunities in this region are endless, and everyone was stopping as frequently as they could not for too long or the headaches became worse) to capture the majestic views.

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After a quick refuel in Jieba we headed back down a newly paved stretch of road into Basong. Our total round trip for the day was just under 50Km with about 1,500m of climbing, but it felt like we had been on our bikes for weeks on end.

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One of our favorite parts of the day were all the incredible dogs and other animals which were surprisingly comfortable with us taking photos and approaching them for a quick pat. Tibet is known for their Mastif dogs and oversized live stock, all of which are even bigger than we had imagined them to be.

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We hosed down our bikes, had a quick shower and a nap, and then enjoyed a big group meal with some of the Tibetan riders that were slowly making their way by truck into Basong.

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After dinner we took a stroll through part of the countryside and found ourselves at the mouth of the river that runs from Pagsum Lake. With a few beers in hand we sat on the edge of the water and watched the sun set over the mountains.

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Our night ended with a cup of yak butter tea in one of the small village shops, accompanied with some zamba – a local Tibetan snack made from barley flour. As we strolled back to our homesetay we were all feeling extremely exhausted and ready for another good night’s rest.

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Racing Bikes In Tibet: Day 2

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After meeting up in Chendgu with the rest of the crew, we got up early and caught our flight to Linzhi (or locally known as Nyingchi). The city is a stopping off point for us, as it was the closest airport to the starting point of the race. Our Tibetan crew, Jiaxi aka Ben, greeted us with white scarves knows as khatas. They symbolize the giver’s intentions for the receiver to have the best of wishes. In our case Jiaxi wished for us to be on the podium.

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We made a pit stop in Linzhi City for the police registration. Generally the area is restricted for foreigners due to the proximity to disputed borders of Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh, but ours was a unique case because we had been invited to attend the mountain bike race. Linzhi city is situated about 400km from Lhasa and at an altitude of 3500 meters we were already feeling the effects of the altitude. The airport is 50 kilometers south of the city because there aren’t many places to build a landing strip. You actually have to have a secondary license to land aircraft here because the runway is so short. With a newly finished highway, what would have been a an hour drive, turned into half the time.

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We had quite a bit of time to kill in the city as the registration process took a few hours, so our local guides dropped us off at the park. Feeling quite lethargic from the lack of oxygen, we took a stroll around the park and napped.

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Finally after getting the paperwork finished, we loaded up the bus and headed to Basong Co. The smooth highway abruptly ended and we had another 2.5 hour bus ride into the lake town.

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After dinner, we quickly assembly of our bicycles and went for a short ride to the start of the single track for the first stage of the race. We were all anxious to get on our bikes, but the quickly realized we would need more time to acclimatize. We retreated back to the hotel for aspirins/advils and had a few birthday beers for Jeff and went to bed.

Racing Bikes In Tibet: Day 1

Any trip to Tibet has to begin with a stop and a layover in Chengdu, the City Of Hibiscus. The main force behind our adventure into Tibet to race mountain bikes are the guys behind Natooke Chengdu. With invitation letters, logistics plans and everything ready in hand we spent Day 1 hanging out and catching up with the best bike shop in town.

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China friendly cyclists are likely already familiar with the original China Fixie Shop, Natooke Beijing. Old friends Larry and Jacob opened up the Natooke sister shop in September of 2012 with the hopes of offering a fully customized service shop building complete bikes and specializing in tune-ups and bike overhauls. Within the first few months of business they had already overstepped the Natooke fixie mentality and were building and servicing road bikes, cross bikes and touring bikes.

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Chengdu as a city attracts a lot of tourists travelling through Europe on their way to South East Asia. Touring cyclists are familiar with segments of the Silk Road that zig zag through the beautiful countryside. Natooke Chengdu is the last ‘real bike shop’ that is capable of prepping any ride for the treacherous road ahead. They handle bespoke setups with ease and are known for their super slick internally geared builds, which can be found all over the city.

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Their workshop is littered with tools, grease, grime and you can feel the heart and soul that goes into their builds. Things are weathered and worn in, unlike most of the ‘Giants and Treks’ of China. A friendly shift in attitude welcoming every type of cyclist and bike – no challenge is too tough.

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In house custom painting is done off-site not too far from the shop, and most of what’s for sale is their own branded Natooke frames and components. The second floor space is used as an office and hub for planning rides, events, parties and long distance trips (yes, they do long distance China bike trips).

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Customers dropping into the shop are greeted with a friendly smile and a warm welcome from behind the small reception desk. Lights and bells are the in-house favorite for accessories in Chengdu and take over most of the grab goods.

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If you’re in Chengdu and in need of a new ride, a tune-up, a service or just want to grab a beer from the beer fridge and have a chat then hit ’em up. Big thanks to Natooke Chengdu for organizing and prepping everything, here’s to racing bikes in Tibet!

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Racing In Tibet: Day 1

As with most adventures into Tibet, things start with a layover and a short trip to Chengdu; The City Of Hibiscus. Our longtime friends from Natooke Chengdu are the main force behind our team heading to Tibet to race mountain bikes. With invitation letters, logistic plans and everything in place, our day 1 journey was spent spending time catching up with the best bike shop in town.

[06/08] Industry Night

As part of the China Cycle Show in Shanghai, we’re hosting an Industry Night for anyone who’s going to be in town. This is open to manufacturers, shop owners, brand representatives and anyone else involved in the cycling industry. It’s a chance to meet outside of the show in a casual environment and have a good talk over a few beers.

Things kick off at 20h00 in our shop (667 Changhua Lu, Building S1) and will run late. We’re offering FREE beer to all industry heads, so be sure to bring your name card. See you on May 8th!

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[05/06] 上海 Cycle Show

This year marks the 26th China Cycle Show happening in Shanghai, running from May 6th to May 9th. If you’ve ever been to check this out in previous years then you’ll know it’s quite the sensory overload. Hundreds of thousands of bikes and components, ranging from MTB to road to fat to e-bikes: the China Cycle Show has it all.

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It’s a great opportunity to check out the latest designs from some of the world’s largest brands. A typical trip to the China Cycle Show can take more than an entire day, with over 1,000 vendors. A lot of the stands you can visit are factory reps, boasting hundreds of parts all similar in function and design.

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As one of China’s emerging top brands, we’ve been invited to give a talk on Saturday, May 7th about the history of Factory Five, the products we design, and our plans for the future. You can catch us from 11:30am to 12:00pm noon, between Hall 2 and Hall 3.

Mountain Bike Racing in Tibet – Here We Come!

While some of the guys will be off racing Red Hook Crit, both Jeff and Tyler will be in Tibet racing mountain bikes. That’s right, alongside longtime friends Natooke from Chengdu they will be part of an 8 person team competing in the Basong Co International Mountain Bike Race, between April 27 and May 5th.

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The race itself starts in Linzhi, located in the South East of Tibet somewhere around 3,200m. It travels around the Batsom Lake and continues up and through the mountains reaching peaks of 4,300m. We’ve been told there’s lots of climbing, some pretty serious single track and a whole lot of pain. Spanning over 2 days and finishing towards Lhasa the course looks pretty magical.

Expect daily posts about the Tibet Mountain Bike Adventure – the guys head off on April 27th. Wish them luck!

RHC – F5 Sponsored Teams and Riders

The Red Hook Crit has become one of the most exciting events on the track bike circuit for many reasons. It’s super fun to watch, has an incredible atmosphere, and is really really fast. This year’s first installment is Brooklyn No.9 on April 30th. Things kick off at 12:00pm and will run until at least 10:00pm with the Women’s Final Crit at 8:30pm and the Men’s Final Crit at 9:30pm.

In the past many riders have chosen to ride our lattice chainring, most commonly in the 49T version. This year we were quite overwhelmed with potential sponsorship e-mails, and tried to diversify as much as possible between young riders and experienced riders. We’re always on the lookout for new teams and riders to sponsor with frames and components, so if you’re feeling inclined just drop us an e-mail (shoutout@wearefactoryfive.com) – Don’t worry, we’re super nice.

For the 2016 season we have 16 confirmed riders who have been sponsored with our Factory Five components and/or frames that will compete in the Red Hook Crit series. The full men’s and women’s start lists can be found online HERE. Below is a list of all our sponsored riders, their race number and group number. If you see them on the day (or catch them whipping around the track via the live online feed) be sure to wish them luck. We’ll be cheering for all of you from our workshop in Shanghai, ride fast, ride hard!

The Pack – from Montreal, Canada

Group 3

139 – Anthony Desrosiers

140 – Antoine Fabry

Group 4

181 – Bruno Labelle

182 – Olivier Lavigueur

Group 5

226 – Owen Eastmond

227 – Richard Bergeron

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Inferist – from Shanghai, China

Group 6

263 – Wenguang Tang (known as Taco, our workshop manager)

264 – Zheng Li (known locally as Jero)

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Santa Catalina – from Gijon, Spain

Group 2

103 – Armando Vazquez

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Cykeln Divisione Corse – from Firenze, Italy

Group 1

36 – Gianluca Scafuro

70 – Gerardo Albano

Group 3

117 – Cristopher Martinez

118 – Giovanni Pntiggia

Group 4

160 – Claudio Di Santo

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State Bicycle Co. – from Devon, UK

Group 6

271 – Dave Noakes

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Bahumer Racing Team – from Venice, Italy

Group 1

51 – Marco Cecchinato

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F5 Pista Custom: Jeff

This custom F5 Pista build is now fresh on the streets of Minneapolis – and it is a killer build. Fully flamed Columbus tubes with custom cool grey and purple painting, Jeff paired this unique frame with some great components:

– Nitto S-65 Crystal Fellow seatpost with a custom order Kashimax Aero Saddle
– Nitto Pearl Quill Stem with Nitto B123-AA Drop Bar
– H + Son TB-14 rim laced to Paul Components High Flange Track Hubs
– Sugino 75 crank set with a Sugino 75 chainring 49T
Check out the photos below!
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