Racing Bikes In Tibet: Day 2
Posted on April 30 2016
After meeting up in Chendgu with the rest of the crew, we got up early and caught our flight to Linzhi (or locally known as Nyingchi). The city is a stopping off point for us, as it was the closest airport to the starting point of the race. Our Tibetan crew, Jiaxi aka Ben, greeted us with white scarves knows as khatas. They symbolize the giver’s intentions for the receiver to have the best of wishes. In our case Jiaxi wished for us to be on the podium.
We made a pit stop in Linzhi City for the police registration. Generally the area is restricted for foreigners due to the proximity to disputed borders of Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh, but ours was a unique case because we had been invited to attend the mountain bike race. Linzhi city is situated about 400km from Lhasa and at an altitude of 3500 meters we were already feeling the effects of the altitude. The airport is 50 kilometers south of the city because there aren’t many places to build a landing strip. You actually have to have a secondary license to land aircraft here because the runway is so short. With a newly finished highway, what would have been a an hour drive, turned into half the time.
We had quite a bit of time to kill in the city as the registration process took a few hours, so our local guides dropped us off at the park. Feeling quite lethargic from the lack of oxygen, we took a stroll around the park and napped.
Finally after getting the paperwork finished, we loaded up the bus and headed to Basong Co. The smooth highway abruptly ended and we had another 2.5 hour bus ride into the lake town.
After dinner, we quickly assembly of our bicycles and went for a short ride to the start of the single track for the first stage of the race. We were all anxious to get on our bikes, but the quickly realized we would need more time to acclimatize. We retreated back to the hotel for aspirins/advils and had a few birthday beers for Jeff and went to bed.