They see Wei Li rollin' - they hatin' - that's for sure. This double top tube China classic has been stripped, rebuilt and is the perfect Shanghai cruising bike. Set up with big wing bat bars, BROOKS leather saddle, a front brake, and red anodized hubs for that extra accent, this bike really nails the definition of a 'rebuild'. Original mud guards on top of all of that and this bike kills it!
After taking on Tianshan and then charging across the Xinjiang backcountry, we awoke early on day three with plenty to think about. It was time for a change of clothes and a huge breakfast and to rationalize why we had just ridden 240 kilometres in 36hrs to get here.
Here was Turpan, an ancient city along the silk road, one of the world's most badass and humbling routes. Sandwiched between a towering mountain range and the Taklamakan desert, Turpan has thrived since the 1st millennium BC mostly thanks to a monumental water irrigation system. The Kariz is a series of huge underground wells and channels collecting the mountain's moisture and forming a rather significant oasis.
The result is a rich history of several developing and overlapping cultures. For day three, we had planned a comparatively relaxed route which would take us on a 100km loop through some of the highlights. It would be mostly flat too, those mountains to the north could be tomorrow's problem.
Waving goodbye to our too-comfortable lodge we rolled south, down into the depression of the desert. The rough houses thinned, the dry cool air became warm and arid and the landscape turned into a tapestry of vineyard greenhouses.
These long, unique, earthen structures tessellated into the horizon, allowing for an extended season of grape-growing. We paused at an abandoned, 10 acre plot and wondered where we had come to. Even in the mid-morning sun the heat was building and we were already peeling off layers.
An early lunch seemed the only option and as we basked outside a small village's only fridge, the locals came out to check out our bikes. They gave us a good eyeballing too, so we let them go for a spin whilst munching down on one of Turpan's most famous snacks; huge 24inch wheels of Nang bread. Freshly baked they are warm, stiff, substantial and slightly salty. We felt a big personal connection with the Nang.
Back on the road we looped around one of Turpan's most famous historical treasures, Gaochang... and managed to find the entrance. Then, for the first time in three days, we actually walked somewhere. It felt damn strange, waddling through the humbling ruins of an ancient civilization wearing cycling bibs. Before the bipedal transformation was complete we were back to the safety of wheels.
North of Turpan lies a sub-branch of the Tianshan Mountain range and as it grew on the horizon, the butterflies in our stomachs harked back to that first morning. Instead of a snow-covered, wintery range, what loomed ahead this time was glowing red and orange. Turpan's Flaming Mountains are full of legend. Depending who you ask they are fallen embers of a kiln knocked over by the Monkey King in heaven... or the blood of a slayed dragon living within the hills. Either way, these eroded sandstone cliffs were beckoning us towards and we almost burst straight up them.
As the sun was beginning to drop over the desert, we managed to resist it's pull and turned back towards Turpan. 40km of highway led us back and we took the chance to form a couple of pace lines and let the Xinjiang Express power us home.
The conditions are perfect for a sunday training ride around this magnificent city.
We're going to cruise over to the far side of Shanghai and ride a new route, probably spurting up a couple of rather large bridges along the way.
The ride starts at 10h00 and the route will take us 3 or so hours. We'll be back at F5 around lunchtime.
The pace is fixed-gear fast and open to fixies, single-speeds and road bikes. Please wear a helmet. When clear of the traffic we'll be cruising around 30km/h so this is labelled as an intermediate ride. It's unsupported too, so you'll need to bring tools and spare if you're planning to have a puncture.
So, let the good time roll. Coming with? Great! Sign up by RSVP here or shoot us a email@example.com
Want to join us on our mission to be the world's best bicycle company? We're looking for a talented individual to manage Factory Five's workshop.
Here at F5 HQ we have up to 50 orders in-progress at any one time and the workshop manager's key responsibility is to ensure each happens correctly and at the right time. Essentially this means treating every bicycle as a project and making it happen.
The role involves working in a number of areas:
stock planning and control to have every component ready on time
keeping smart and effective order in the workshop
maintaining praiseworthy service and informing customers of service
selling bikes, components and accessories to people in-store
Training and overseeing workshop assistants
working on bikes, talking about bikes, riding bikes
This is a very hands-on role dealing with our suppliers, our customers and our best products. The person we have in mind has experience in retail or project management and has a track record in making things better than they already are.
You don't need to know how to build a bike, we can teach you that. You do need to speak some Chinese though... and it would help if you like bikes!
This is a great opportunity to join a young, exciting company that prides itself in doing good things. Only those with an intuitive and self-starting attitude who are prepared to push for success need apply.
Interested? send a cover letter and your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to work for one of the world's coolest bike companies? Factory Five is a young, vibrant start-up which is driven by a team of talented people who are passionate about what we do. If that sounds like your kind of thing, then read on.
We're currently hiring into Customer Services and order fulfillment for the China-facing side of our business. Essentially this involves looking after all the amazing people who like Factory Five enough to buy something from us.
The role includes helping people make decisions, walking them through the process, answering their queries and following up with after-sales service. Over time, you'll know our product portfolio backwards and will be able to decide on the best course of action to keep customers happy and coming back.
Answering email and online queries from China
Advising and suggesting on purchase options
Processing, dispatching and tracking orders
Following up with orders to receive feedback
Monitoring the market - finding trends and improving our business
Previous retail or customer service experience and Chinese fluency is essential. You'll need to be able to communicate effectively to people from all over the country. It would help if you're into bikes too - we talk about them all day long!
This is a core role in our team. The right person has an engaging manner, is able to work intuitively in an open environment and will not rest until the job is done properly. They'll be exposed to many aspects of managing a growing, high potential business.
Interested? send a cover letter and your CV to email@example.com
Friday night we hosted Studio 191 for their monthly photo exhibition, this time revolving around the theme 'cycling'. With over 30 submissions and a selection of photos from our Xinjiang trip on display, there was quite the turnout. Lots of eye candy, beer and sausages - we partied late into the night. Big thanks to everyone who rolled through and to 老外张飞 for putting together this little video!
This upcoming Saturday, April 25th is the 2015 Red Hook Criterium in Brooklyn, NY. The Pack has been training hard and stands a good chance at an impressive finish this year. Photographer Gophrette Power went out with the team to snap some shots during this past weekends training session. Rocking their custom F550s framesets and Omnilattice cranksets, the Pack is looking good! They will start out in qualifying group number 4, so if you're out at the race this weekend be sure to cheer them on!
Rolling back to our very first F5 Pista build, John's throwback trackbike is nothing short of beautiful. Classic components paired with our lugged frame - absolutely stunning. Gran Compe, H Plus Son, MKS, BROOKS and even the gumwall tyres really bring this bike together. Catch it on the streets of LA!
Only in the bright morning light did we see where we were and what we had slept in. At the end of day one, seven exhausted bodies had dropped like stones into Yu Er Gou's second best hotel. The first best was under renovation. We thanked the spiders and the bed bugs and checked out... after buying the owner a few new towels to replace the ones now covered in Tianshan's finest thawed soil. Our bikes were definitely now cleaner than we were.
Yu Er Gou is a tiny industrial town at the southern foot of the mountains. It is famous in the region for having a high-speed rail train station direct to Beijing. For a moment, as we stepped out into the bracing 3ºC air with that mountain range on the horizon, we considered escape. Of course not. Today was going to be different.
And different it was. Our route took us 125km in an almost straight line East on a constant downhill. We dropped from 1600m to minus 100m, an average of 13 meters of descent for every kilometer travelled. It's not much, but with the wind on our backs and a smooth road it felt like we were the Xinjiang Express.
The Xinjiang Express chugged through mile after mile of heavy industry. These were some of the the most gargantuan oil refineries and power stations we had ever seen, like great big mechanical monsters endlessly placated by lines of comparatively ant-like trucks. It felt like we were sliding alongside a post apocalyptic world of evil production.
We took the absence of eye-candy as a chance to get our heads down and consume some miles. The group split into two, the fastest forming a pace line and slipping into the distance, visible only as a hazy blur on the horizon. We re-grouped after 40km, only 90 minutes down the road. The landscape had slowly shifted around us from mountain run-off to arid stillness. We were entering the Taklamakan Desert.
At some point the transition was complete. Maybe it was after the last factory, or when the wind started to come warm from the North... or as we passed the first sandy settlements. After 50km, we turned off the desolate main road and hit a zone alive with stores and traffic and people. It felt like re-emerging into society.
From there, we traversed across the bowl of the desert, through tree-line neighborhoods of Turkic homes, cemeteries and farmland. As we hit sea-level we stopped to celebrate and were joined by curious passers by, all wearing taqiyahs and definitely not speaking any version of Chinese we recognized. It felt like we were a couple of countries away. Had we ridden west instead of east?
Back on the road and confirmed eastwards, the villages faded behind and the desert loomed ahead. Today we were only crossing a northern section, across 40km of dunes and tundra, but it gave a vivid taste of what was to come. After the blistering cold breeze of the mountains, here we were only 24 hours later facing into the arid, lip-drying suck of the desert.
The only climb of the day came 15km before the end. The gates to Turpan stand atop a steep 200m hill and we blasted up it with a sense of the oasis to come. Riding through this ancient, silk-road outpost we truly experienced for the first time the curious mix of cultural influences in Xinjiang. We rolled past mosques, markets, manufacturers, wafts of grilled meat and vineyards. Then we looped slightly lost through the same vineyard a few times before finally landing on our lodge.
After 125km and another 8 hours of riding, it felt like a bejeweled oasis inside an oasis town. Our frostbitten ears and sunburnt noses were eclipsed by beaming smiles. Now the fun could really begin.