January 17, 2009
After a fairly uneventful flight on China Air, we exited the airplane to arrange a last minute transit to our Chinese home away from home, the Holiday Inn Chang an West. As the taxi drivers literally disassembled the back of their cars to take out the seats so the bike boxes would fit, I thought: Ah, it's nice to be back in China.
As team Hawk Relay Cycling (which consisted of only Travis Smith and me for this World Cup event) readied the taxi caravan in an image that looked like something that you would NOT want to be driving behind, my thoughts went to how everything would be okay once we got to the Holiday Inn. Now my riders and colleagues both take aim at my affection for this grand hotel in Southwest Beijing, but I'm quick to note that this is not your run of the mill Holiday Inn. In America Holiday Inns are known as being nice-enough hotels with indoor pools and normal amenities. In fact, I'm very well versed with the Western variety as my first job was working at a Holiday Inn when I was 16.
Move to the other side of the globe, however, and you get a Holiday Inn experience entirely different. In short, you get a majestic turbo-charged luxury version. Bellhops that go to Chinese college to learn to be a bellhop, employees who literally memorize your room number for the whole stay after hearing it once (maybe that is not good?), Audi A6 transports for hire, a spa, pool, weight room, bar, four restaurants, two gift shops and Christmas tunes in the lobby that still play on January 16th! This is what I call living, Holiday Inn Chang an West style!
In addition to staying at our grand palace, we are also here to do a little bicycle racing. I'm happy to report that minus a little bit of a bug that Travis caught a couple weeks ago, his lead-up training to this event has gone very well. His times since we have arrived have gotten faster and faster as the days progress and I think he is well capable of achieving a top-five in the keirin and riding around a 10.3 second 200 meter time trial. The work has been done at this point, so it just moves to the execution phase of being confident and prepared on race day. He lines up for the keirin tomorrow.
The first day of racing started today (not for Travis) and we saw some great cycling performances, especially by the New Zealand team. The Chinese organizers put on a great opening act with Martial artists and the famous Chinese Olympic Cheerleaders. Not such a great night for Chinese riders, but the hometown crowd was out in force and excited none the less.
Go time tomorrow, wish us luck! Follow the action at www.hawkrealycycling.com
Signing off from the Holiday Inn Chang an West,