Lauren Kitchen: Shanghai

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The Tour of Chong Ming Island has been running on the highest level of the UCI women’s calendar since 2010 and this was my fourth visit to China for the race. My team and I travelled to Shanghai from Frankfurt a few days before the three day race was set to begin. We were greeted by a over friendly group of Chinese translators to assist us through to transfer to the hotel. Our team for the Chinese leg of the Women’s World Tour was excited to get stuck into some fast racing but also to experience a new culture and get a bit out of our comfort zones.

While the racing was very different to what we are accustom to in Europe, the culture of the Chinese people that we experienced, mainly from a distance was what I find most interesting about the trip to China. The fact that a VPN is necessary to access most social media outlets and to ‘google’ anything showed me just how reliant on these avenues I am, How different would our society be if we were all contained in what we could express or even search for? Our team support Chinese translator, ‘Dandy’ helped the team management with organisation and assistance throughout the tour, Dandy was a breath of fresh air and kept us entertained throughout the week. She even renamed our mechanic, Martijn to ‘Martchanic’, Im not sure if she did that on purpose of not but i think we can make it stick at WM3.

On our final evening in China, my team mate organised a bus to take us to the fake market in Shanghai and to the old town of Shanghai for a quick dinner, while it was a late night after racing and everyone was a bit tired, it was really interesting to see something so different to what we consider normal. At the fake market you have to barter for the price of the items, you have to be willing to walk away from the shop and not care before they agree to the price you want, even if your not into shopping so much, I must admit I do like this game. It was probably a good thing we didn’t have too long to spend there or I might have spent more of my teammates money, after leaving my Visa card in the hotel…. At the old town of Shanghai, it was a bit like stepping into a different world with the architecture and the lack of traffic, both road and foot traffic for the centre of Shanghai. The old and new met however gracefully with a Macdonalds restaurant where we decided to eat because it was fast and we knew what it contained… or more what it didn’t contain. Side note in China we aren’t allowed to eat any beef or products from beef as they could contain clenbuterol which would give a positive reading on a doping test. This Maccas however didn’t accept credit cards and I think this highlighted just how different China is from the rest of the world, I mean really no credit cards in Macdonalds?

We traveled back to Frankfurt and Europe after a not so successful week on the bike but a interesting and culturally fulfilling week off the bike, while I can’t say its one of my favourite races or somewhere I am wishing to return to, it definatly was a place that makes me think and also to be thankful for opportunities I have and the way I of life I experience.