I have been going to Beijing CCTMC Toastmasters meetings for a while now. They are so much fun! Toastmasters is a non-profit organization to help individuals build up their public speaking and communication skills as well as their leadership skills. I just finished the first levels and received the Competent Communicator award as well as the Competent Leader award. Now I am up for reaching the next level.
Archive for April, 2009
Tonight we had again our weekly tunnel Beijing fixed gear get together. I had never tried standing on the raiser handlebars of my pink Cinelli track bike, that seems just very scary. Tonight I put bullhorn handlebars onto my pink bike. These bullhorn ones that I have are huge and aluminum. I do not like them as the aluminum is very soft and does not give that stable impression as full steel handlebars do. But nevertheless, I did try standing on them and it was fine. They did not break. I think I should get beautiful steel ones.
I also worked on my one legged wheely which now seems much easier than I thought. But I still did not try the shoulder stand on my pink bike. Somehow it seems more slippery than the bike Clancy had put together for me in SF. Unfortunately I have no camera so I could not take any pictures.
Finally! The Beijing Juggling Group has a forum:
Tonight quite some people showed up to our juggling get together every Monday. And Fede has some Juggling stuff for sale.
My friend Dieter works at the Belgium Embassy. As it is Easter they have the Easter Monday off. So he suggested to take me out north for some nice road cycling in the mountains. It was good that it had rained last night so the air was clearer than the last 2 days, but it was still slightly hazy.
Once we started riding the air became clearer. We could see further and further. It was so gorgeous with the blossoming cherry and peach trees, the fresh green leaves on many trees, the mountains and mountains, the temples and pagodas on the mountain tops. When we entered the 10km long climb I saw 2 beautiful pheasants flying from one tree to the next. The looked like phoenixes. It was so quiet on these nicely paved roads. Only the 20km false flat that is quite steep in some sections was killing with the head wind. I was hiding behind Dieter who pulled me all the way over that almost never ending false flat. The whole loop we rode was 85km.
Just when we started cycling we passed a place „Sino-Belgium Museum Display Equipment“. We first thought it was a Sino-Belgium Museum. But it turned out to be a factory for display cabinets. I never knew Belgium was famous for museum display equipments…
After the ride we stopped by at a university with an extremely impressive building, especially as it is in the middle of nowhere. We tried to get onto the campus but were rejected. Maybe it is a military university.
Even in Beijing the sky was clear blue. I went to a restaurant for some after cycling food. When I came back out of the restaurant there was a huge wind, clouds and particles in the air. This was the first sand storm in 2009, at least to my memory. Good that I was wearing sunglasses and an anti pollution mask.
In the evening I gave back the long loaner camera Canon G9 to Simon as he is leaving for Afghanistan. Now I am again cameraless…
The Beijing Fixed gear guys met up at MESS shop in Dongsi to ride out towards the Olympic park. As it was a Sunday daytime the Olympic Green was filled with many tourists so we stayed outside – just slightly South.
While some were standing around
others were doing tricks like free handed skidding:
It is Easter (I almost forgot about that) and friends had the idea to do a picnic in one of Beijing’s parks. So we met at Ritan Park with fresh bread, cassoulet, salami (saucisson), cheese, Champagne (almost, it was Brut de blanc), red wine, fresh salad, Chinese marinated pork, liang mian, grapes, strawberries, chocolate and many other delicious things. The weather was nice and warm with a little bit of haze which made it really comfortable sitting outside. The cottonwood was flying making it really feel like spring.
Tonight I met with friends in a small beautifully renovated hutong building in a small alley going off Gulou Dongdajie #66 (near the public toilet). This new bar is called Amilal in Shoubi Hutong. A small Chinese minority band called EZ played some quiet music. They had a 4 stringed guitar, a 2 stringed instrument, a drum, a bell and other instruments. It was a really nice atmosphere.
It was the second time that I took the arranged bus out north of Beijing for cycling. This time we went to the Chang Ling Tomb parking lot. The cyclists split up in three groups, I joined the medium group (B riders) for a 85km ride. We cycled up Fen Shui Ling and then down through a little village where me and Vincent almost crashed into an ascending truck that cut the corner. Also my bike was sliding as I pulled the breaks because the street was all wet. Then we continued in a nice valley and passed the Huang Hua Cheng Great Wall before we went up to Si Hai. That was a really nice and long climb.
It was quite chilly at the top despite the weather forecast having said it should be 22 degrees Celsius. All weather forecasts had also said that it should be blue sky and sunshine the whole day with very good visibility. Somehow that was incorrect. This was the view that we had:
Then we went back on the same route. But by now most streets were dry so we had no issues with the long descent. But we were going at a quite fast pace in the valley and one of the guys had a bumble bee smack against his cheek.
Unfortuneately we had to wait a very long time for the group A riders to return to teh parking lot. They did a more challening route with 5 climbs (we only did 1 big one and 2 small ones) and had one guy fall on 2 descents.
By the time we were ready to drive back to Beijing many weekend tourists were also on their way back which resulted in massive traffic jams. At least I was able to take a picture of the nice blossoming trees out on the road back. Beijing went from brown color to green and white/pink/yellow within the week that I was gone. Sproing has finally come!
This week has passed much faster than expected. I did not even get to meet all the friends I wanted to. Or even the friends I did meet I hardly had much time. Like Ian that I could only meet for a short breakfast before going to the airport. But at least I did a fair amount of cycling which makes me happy. On the flight back home to China we flew over Alaska. This picture does not really show how beautiful the white mountain peaks looked like from above.
It is great to be back in China. I went right away to my neighborhood restaurant to have Xinjian food.
And it is amazing how much the mind can influence our abilities: I can track stand forever. But trying to track stand on a wooden beam with the ocean water below didn’t work till I moved further back to see enough of the beam in front of me. And still then I could only track stand for a short while. Just because I knew that there was a possibility of me falling into the water with Clancy’s bike.