The Tour de France’s starting line tours Europe, whereby the finishing line is always the same beautiful spot, Champs-Élysées. In 2014, it even started in the UK. Which since 2014 has taken a foothold in the annual cycling race competitive market, naming itself: “Tour de Yorkshire”. None the less, Tour de France in general is no easy feat, with the 2014 event holding a winning time of: 89h 59’ 06".
Now with “Tour de France” being a big brand in itself, in 2017, expansion was on the spokes. A SKODA sponsorship brought it to Shanghai, then theTour de France, ŠKODA SHANGHAI CRITERIUM was born! Something was different though…it had an open category. Where you can race alongside the world famous depending on your ability to win a raffle.
After igniting a love for making a fool out of ourselves at competitive events at the Spartan Race 6km, some friends and i decided to have a crack at Le Tour de France Shanghai Criterium. We found the tickets on Smart Shanghai’s event page and entered a raffle to win them, we won!
We got our tickets on the 28th of October, one week before my injury in Suzhou, China (open that one as a bookmark for later too lol)
As race day approached during mid-November time, my friends and I were not able to locate anywhere which would let us rent a bike at a reasonable price. We decided to embrace our inner fools and use Mobikes (one of the many small city bikes Shanghai has to offer through a mobile app interface), we assured ourselves there would be many other foreigners doing the same thing with small city bikes, we were wrong.
On race day, i woke up at 4:30 am and took to the streets of Fenghe road in search of a Mobike. I found an array of battered old things some had twisted wheels and others had baskets hanging off the hinges, it was’nt going well. Adrenaline was setting in, i needed to find something fast.
Pictured: the variety of choice in rental bikes in Shanghai.
I walked around the corner and found a suitable bike, it was one of the older heavier Mobike modules, propped up against a lamppost with a sign advertising the race looming overhead. It was fate.
Time was running out and I still needed to find my friends and the bag drop zone so I took my weapon of choice and whipped through the streets towards the starting line.
I found the starting point and eventually my friends, one of my friends managed to find the latest Mobike. It looked like Ferrari 599 GTO lined up next to Mr Beans 1969 3 wheeled Mini, this didn’t deter me from showing off my bike though.
On the starting line, a and an elder man was dressed up as a devil shouting Chinese at the competitors, a few encouraging words I presumed. After his final line the air fell dead silent amongst the competitors, the 6:59am sun had just began to reach over Shanghais Financial Center casting a beam of light across my camera lens (pictured below)
A horn went off and I began to pedal through the streets on my trusty old bike, the contestants around me were peddling with half as many rotations per minute whilst maintaining the same speed as me. I took the first corner and my hand slipped and twisted the handlebar causing my bell to ring. In response to ringing my bell the crowd turned their attention away from the cycling stallions and towards my little pony of a bike, they looked shocked but began to applaud and laugh.
At this point I was lagging behind as my friends Bike was much faster than mine, I cycled full speed looking for him but he was off like a bolt. I started to pedal faster but I could feel a slight twinge in my right arm from my tightening stitches, which were still pegged into my arm from Suzhou two weeks before. I knew that contestants received a medal if they finish in a certain time but I didn’t know when the cut-off point was, I assumed it was one hour, so i pushed that little bike as fast as it would go.
The remainder of the race saw me fighting to finish before the cut off point, from hill climbs to straight sprints I eventually crossed the line in 58 minutes on the clock and claimed my reward, 2 minutes away from non-medal worthy time. That for me, was VICTORY!
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