Finally – an Alleycat poster that doesn’t involve a graphic of a badass/angry cat. +79HP Ningbo. Nothing against feline inspiration for race graphics, but a crab sparing with a chainring, in a ring of chain–brilliant work. Also +2 charisma for darkish text, especially the Chinese.
Upon learning of the race from our friends over at PPLS BIKE, my girlfriend and I embarked upon this adventure, aided only by maps from the Ningbo Guide Magazine, who rather brilliantly ran an article on the race. After a train-ride in on Saturday morning and then an afternoon nap (it’s how I get psyched for this stuff) we rolled our way over to Laowaitan, which seems to be, ironically enough, where everything laowai/foreign in Ningbo lives. It’s a neat little set of walking streets with some expat-y bars and restaurants, among which was Office Bar, the start and finish point for the race. Once there, we registered and met the organizers Nick and Nolan, both high-charisma rogues, who informed us that there were no other Hangzhouvians. WTF Hangzhou. -50HP. Across the street from Office bar Was Tasty’s, serving BBQ, which to be honest was a little rubbery. -1Strength.
As we waited and exchanged items and tales of adventure with other racers, more and more people kept coming to register for the race. Bikes of every stable–fixed, cruiser, mountain, road, hybrid–with an even more diverse collection of riders. By 8:30, when the race started, nearly 100 bikes and riders hit the road.
Since we had only spent about 6 hours in Ningbo, we opted spend the race following a local fighter-class cyclist, who henceforth shall be referred to as the Hero. Let me sketch for you a Chinese man, about 30 years of age, slightly portly but strong with a round face and lively eyes, riding a bright red, geared, high-quality folding bike, brand: Alligator. Stats: high strength and charisma, average intelligence, above average agility. His armor-set was probably the most memorable part: white/championship-color helmet, beige collared shirt, black fanny-pack, and 5-inch inseam bike shorts, such that when standing, or cycling, really, he appeared to be pantless–for the win.
So we followed the Hero for the entire race, which included him
- taking us through what appeared to be an abandoned warehouse complex as a “shortcut” in which he could have easily taken our kidneys,
- following bad directions from a friend and refusing to ask for help,
- smoking 5+ times in the back half of the race,
- heading straight for the free beer after finishing,
- continuing not to wear pants
Sadly, I failed to get a picture of him, but I’m afraid my camera would have just exploded due to his sheer awesomeness. +50 charisma.
So we finished the race, but apparently since we seemed to do an opposite circuit of what most people did, by the time we got to the final checkpoints, closest to the finish, the checkpoint-sitters had already scrammed for the finish, which was kind of lame: we weren’t like rolling up at midnight or anything. So anyhow we bagged the final two checkpoints, or rather, we were forced to bag them, which was upsetting mostly because at every checkpoint you got a little Livestrong-style bracelet as proof you were there, which was actually a brilliant idea, as were free glowsticks, although the glowsticks turned out to be nearly invisible on the road and not actually much use for safety, but a good idea nonetheless. +10 intelligence.
Back at Office Bar, we partied and drank (have I mentioned it was free?) beer available to anyone with aforementioned power-bracelets. The prize ceremony was mercifully short (+15HP), and the overall winner and fastest fixed/non-local was none other than Tyler Bowa from Shanghai. Congrats to you dude, +45HP. And congrats tot he race organizers, for bringing in twice as many people as expected!
In summary, the bikes biked, the beer flowed, a contingent from Shanghai swam in a fountain (+15 Cholera (-80HP)), and one man didn’t wear pants.