Today was your typical pre race day. I woke up around 8 and punched out an Aeropress before going to breakfast. This turned out to be a real win because the ‘coffee’ machine in the dining hall spits out 1 part milk, 1 part coffee, 2 parts sugar. After breakfast, we gathered for a short ride. We were joined by a host of photographers from our Chinese sponsors who filmed and shot everything. It’s a strange feeling with a camera in your face whilst you lower your FTP on your Garmin to match the altitude for the race.
An hour ride later, I was back to the dining hall for lunch, a massage, and an intense afternoon of lounging in the room.
The race hotel is less hotel and more full blown compound, called Duoba. There are 4 ‘hotels’ amongst which the riders are spread. The dining hall is a smaller building beside them. It hides a small shop on one side where all the western food has been bought out. Duoba is an Olympic training facility for the Chinese and the race is sharing it with a group of race walkers. They swing their arms up and down the wide grid of boulevards all day long. I watched one of them stop, throw up in the gutter, wipe his mouth with the back of his hand and keep going. I suppose he and Mario have been swapping recipes.
The German is doing much better today. The race doctors gave him some medicine and he’s no longer bedridden. He even got rid of the 5L plastic bottles.
Speaking of doctors and health, we all underwent medical checks today. Between breakfast and riding, the team was sent to a conference room. Inside, was a table and on each end of the room, a bed. We filled out paperwork, took our shirts off, eyed up other teams. Assistants took our pulse and blood pressure at the ends of the table. Then each rider would lie on a bed, with clamps around both wrists and ankles. Odd suction cups attached to wires were placed up and down the chest. I lay there for about 30 seconds and was told to get up, put my shirt on, and leave. I guess that meant I passed?
Health and racing don’t particularly go hand in hand, especially at Qinghai. I suppose if you want to ruin your body during a two-week race, it’s best to be healthy enough to do it. The number 1 killer here is bad water. Rule #3: don’t drink it unless it’s come out of a sealed container or is boiling hot. Brush your teeth? Use bottled water. Wash your hands? Hit em with some hand sanitizer cause those puppies are even more toxic now. Keep your mouth closed while showering. The restaurants in Xining were kind enough to serve piping hot water with meals, which paired perfectly with the hot pepper that hides in every bite.
The highlight of the day? Discovering a thug life phone app. Lu put a ripper on the teams WhatsApp group. One perfectly lazy day down. One more to go. If only that day would be as relaxing.