Squids in China!
Cyclocross season has started, and the Squid Bikes squad started off their 2017 World Tour campaign Down Under for the country’s first ever international events. From their podiums in Australia, they headed directly to Beijing, China, for the Qiansen Trophy Cup. Unique to the Qiansen Trophy events, athletes from all over globe stay and eat all their meals together in the same hotels, attend lavash opening and closing banquets with traditional Chinese performances and experience one of the seven wonders of the world. Enjoy the following photo essay of their adventure.
Words by Emily Kachorek and Chris Namba. Photos courtesy of Jason Perry Photo and Squid Bikes.
After a 24-hour travel day, the Squid Squad arrives in China.
The busy streets of Beijing.
Without a service course, the Squad builds bikes in the hotel lobbies and dimly lit hallways. Seeming to have thought of everything, the race organization provides towels for bike cleaning and maintenance.
Athletes ride out to the venue to preview the course and spin out their legs. Even in one of the world’s biggest cities, streets are clean and divided from faster moving traffic in a lane designated for bikes, tuk-tuks (small three-wheeled cabs), scooters, and food carts.
Race prep according to Anthony Clark.
Race prep according to Sammi Runnels.
Race prep according to Emily Kachorek.
Technical support can often make or break a cyclocross race. Depending on course conditions, racers will often switch bikes mid race, looking to alter tire pressure, opting for a clean bike, or to fix a mechanical issue caused by a crash. Here, Squid Co-owner and lead mechanic Chris Namba heads to the designated pit area with the riders’ spare bikes and extra wheels.
Cyclocross races are typically known for cold, wet conditions. With temperatures nearing 90 degrees Fahrenheit/32 degrees Celcius and high humidity, Emily and Sammi await their call-ups under the shade of nearby trees.
The start of a cross race is comparable to the last lap of a criterium. Emily finished second at this race last year and knew it was important to get a good position in the first few corners. She battled with the Australian, Belgian, and Dutch riders up and over the handmade wooden ramp, catching a little air in the process.
Hailing from Austin, Texas, Sammi Runnels is accustomed to riding in the heat and opts for a bottle on her bike in the hot, dusty conditions. Corners were loose and many riders struggled to keep traction.
Ready with the spare bike, Chris Namba shouts time gaps to the next rider as Anthony races by the pit.
Dirt still piled just outside the course tape, the Fengtai District track was purpose-built into the side of a wooded hill for last year’s inaugural cyclocross event. The Qiansen Group hopes to one day bring a World Cup race to this venue.
No detail is overlooked, the thoughtfully displayed UCI medals illustrate the care and pride that flow through every aspect of the event.
Emily took third step at both days of racing.
Making it difficult to get between the podium celebration and the press conference, nowhere in their world travels have the race fans been so enthusiastic to meet and take photos with the athletes.
Known for his exuberant nature, Anthony was a crowd favorite.
Post race press conference was translated from English to Mandarin and broadcasted live across China.
In a field of carbon factory painted bikes, curious fans inspect Anthony’s eye catching aluminum spray painted Squid bike. Squid bikes are sold raw as a blank canvas for customers to finish any way they see fit.
Teams were asked to bring a gift that represented their home country for a cultural gift exchange. The closing banquet brought many teams and nations together, sharing race experiences and toasting to the growth of the sport.
The last night’s rooftop explorations set the stage for a memorable evening.