Archive for August, 2009

First Fixed Gear Bike Shop in China

Dienstag, August 18th, 2009

Yes, here it is: The first bicycle shop in China focused on fixed gear bikes! The logo is a green banana and the name is NATOOKE

NATOOKE Fixed Gear Bicycles and Juggling Equipment Store

This store is dedicated to urban cycling. You will not find a bike with gears in this shop, so no road bikes nor any mountain bikes. All bicycles are single speed and mainly have a fixed back wheel, meaning no ability to coast. Like the bikes used in the velodrome these are track bikes with horizontal dropouts in the back end of the frame to be able to adjust the chain tension. This is extremely suitable for cycling in the flat and nicely paved Beijing urban city. The shop has all the different parts required to build up a fixed gear bike like the fixed gear hubs, flipflop hubs, cogs, lock rings, rims, tires, seat posts, saddles, stems, handle bars, handle bar grips, chains, cranks, chain rings, pedals, cages, toe clips, straps… Each customer can chose what brand, what style and which color he prefers so that we can put together that one-of-a-kind unique bike.

Beijing Natooke Bicycle and Juggling Shop

This shop also has a huge selection on urban cycling accessories, like T-shirts, lights, bags, reflective bag covers, anti-pollution masks and other things related to cycling in the metropolitan areas.

Natooke Bike Shop with Urban Cycling Accessories

The NATOOKE store is even more unique: It is the world’s first shop dedicated to fixed gear bikes and juggling equipment! You can find anything here around the topic of juggling: Different sizes, weights and colors of juggling balls, glow balls, contact balls, acrylics, juggling rings, juggling clubs, devil sticks, diabolos, poi, fire juggling equipment, staff, yo-yos, frisbees, rola bolas (also known as balancing boards) and many more fun toys to play with. This is the best juggling equipment that you can get in all of China. It is mainly imported from Europe.

Natooke Fixed Gear Bike and Juggling Equipment Store

This fixed gear bike and juggling store is located in the center of Beijing city in the trendy new hutong called Wudaoying. That is right next to the North Second Ring Road just West of the famous Lama Temple. There are 2 subway lines that have a station here as well as many bus lines. So if you do not yet have a bike you can easily come by using public transport. Here is a map of the location of the NATOOKE shop indicated by the small green banana:

Map of NATOOKE Fixed Gear Bike and Juggling Equipment Shop

British Road Bike Conversion

Sonntag, August 16th, 2009

Wow – my friend has this really nice very old road bike frame. It is probably from around 1970 and from the UK as it had Reynolds tubing decals. It has a really nice geometry. He had grinded off the original paint and repainted it himself with white and various grey tones and splatters. We converted it to fixed gear with nice components like Velocity 700c Deep-V rims. This is how his fixie now looks like:

Road Bike Frame Conversion to Fixed Gear

It had taken us about 5 hours to put all the parts together and install them on the painted frame. Here is a picture of the virgin ride (unfortunately it was already getting dark outside). Now he can finally join our Beijing Fixed Gear Bicycle group on one of our rides around the capitol city of China.

Riding a Beautiful Fixed Gear Bike

Queenstown – Huairou Peloton Loop

Samstag, August 15th, 2009

The road bike ride today started at Huairou at about 50m elevation. The ten „A“ riders cycled along the small valley northwards to the Jiao Je He Pass at 550m.

Cycling Huairou to Jiaojehe Pass

After that pass we continued on to the Queenstown pass at 900m altitude. It is a intriguing climb because in between it gives the impression you are already at the top, but you are not and it is still quite far. Here are the guys at the summit – all sweaty and wet due to the humid weather.

Cyclists Arrived at the Queenstown Pass

On the way down we stopped in a village with yard marked with a huge „商店“ (shang dian = store)  sign to refill our water bottles. A Chinese cyclist on a touring bike stopped and said hi. It is still rather unusual to see real Chinese cyclists with cycling clothes and helmet. He said he is from Huairou and he rides every weekend. Very nice guy and packed as if he was on the road for one week.

Chinese Cyclist on a Day Tour

The next climb was along the national road up to the Yun Gu Shan with the pass at about 700m. The total uphill riding that we did today was 1466 meters with an average gradient of 2% and a maximum of 9%. Here two pictures just after that last summit. Yun Gu Shan Decent

Cyclists after reaching the Yun Gu Shan Summit

The average velocity of the A riders I was riding with was 28.5km/h. My average pedal revolution was only 69/minute. There are nice graphs of the elevation of this loop on the Cyclo Sports China website.

Fresh Bread

Freitag, August 14th, 2009

Bread making machines are a great invention. You just put in the ingredients and input at what time you want to have the bread ready. So for example in the morning you can wake up to the smell of fresh baked bread.

Fresh Bread

For dinner we had invited friends who are soon getting married. It was a nice Friday evening.

Fixed Gear Bike and Music

Donnerstag, August 13th, 2009

My friend Xiao Lu dropped by the shop today. He had the typical fixed gear injury a few weeks ago: Two of his fingers got squished between the chain and the cog while he was helping a friend fix his flat rear tire. But he was lucky none got really chopped off. He showed me his new fixed gear bike. Unfortunately he cannot really ride it as his fingers need to heal first.

Xiao Lu’s Fixed Gear Bike

In the evening Jess and her 3 band members had again a concert in Yugong Yishan. Jess was playing some of her new songs that her and the band are currently recording for her new upcoming songwriter CD. Fede did some glowball juggling during one of the songs. My small camera is not good enough to take pictures in such low light environments.

Fede Moro Glowball Juggling

Jess Meider and Band at Yugong Yishan

Finger Fitness and Juggling

Mittwoch, August 12th, 2009

The juggling workshop in the big space called „The Orange“ in the Village is great. The ceiling is so high and whatever you are practicing – like my friend Jib spinning staff – you always have enough space.

Beijing Jugglers Group - Spinning Staff

Today the finger fitness pro Greg Irwin showed up. He does special finger isolation training for musicians and magicians. It is amazing how he can coordinate each finger muscle. There are some great videos online.

Finger Fitness Greg Irwin

Hand Health

Finger Faces by Greg Irwin

Bike Race on Fixed Gear

Mittwoch, August 12th, 2009

This morning Fede and me again went for a workout session. This picture gives and impression of what our training is all about: The fixed gear bike and the whip…

Whipping the Fixed Gear Bicycle in the Morning Workout Session

In the early evening there was the 3rd Summer Criterium Bike Race at the Beijing Golden Port race track. This time again (like in the first 2 races) I was riding on my fixed gear bicycle while everybody else was riding on road race bikes. Today a girl called Hu Chen was riding fast and challenging me. During the race the 6th lap was counted as a sprint lap. I won that lap. We both were riding together with the fastest male B riders throughout the whole race drafting behind each other. On the last lap of the race she was still behind me but then overtook on the last 100 meters with an extreme sprint. Our average velocity throughout the race was 38km/h. I finished the bike race on second place. The girl that came in on third place had been lapped by us as well as all the other female riders. It was fun to have a real competitor in this race.

Beijing Skyline

Dienstag, August 11th, 2009

What a beautiful day to have a barbecue dinner with good wine and friends on a roof terrace.We just started around sunset. This was teh view to the North West of the town:

Beijing Sunset View

The view of the Beijing skyline with the new skyscrapers was amazing. The central business district (CBD) of Beijing with the strange shaped CCTV headquarter building and the World Trade Tower 3 reminds me of the skyline in Hongkong.

Beijing CBD Skyline at Sunset

Morning Bike Tricks and Juggling

Dienstag, August 11th, 2009

I am fed up with the rain in the evenings and therefore the missing bike trick training. So I asked Fede to come out with me at 8:30am for joint training. What a beautiful morning: Blue skies, clean air and sunshine. The place we went to is quite nice. All the Chinese that come for a workout leave at around 8:30am so we have the complete space for ourselves.

Fede Juggling Training

Fede Moro Juggling Clubs

I brought my pink Cinelli track bike with my new pink Oury grips. They are so comfortable. This place is not perfect for doing tricks on fixed gear bikes, but it is fine for what I wanted to practice.

Ines Track Bike Wheely

Free Handed Wheely

In the evenings there are some Chinese guys that have whips for exercise. Fede has bought one and is now learning the art of whipping. Whenhe does it right it makes a really loud noise.

Fede Whipping

Fede Whipping

One Year Since China Olympics

Montag, August 10th, 2009

I found this article on the Straits Times and wanted to share it here. Written by Sim Chi Yin, China Correspondent:

More than three million people bought tickets to visit the Bird’s Nest stadium between last October and January this year. Pulling in tourists and revenue: Between last October, when they were first opened to tourists, and the end of May this year, the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube saw total business revenue of 364 million yuan (S$76.5 million). This amounted to an average daily revenue of more than 1.5 million yuan. Ask any Beijinger what has changed since the city hosted the Olympics a year ago, and he is likely to tell you ’something in the air‘ – quite literally so. The capital’s notoriously bad air has cleared slightly since the government desperately instituted anti-pollution measures last year.

Beijing has adapted traffic control measures introduced during the Games and made them permanent, easing congestion and giving the smog-covered city some ‚blue sky days‘. Beijing’s air quality during the first half of this year was the best it had been since 2000, the city’s Communist Party boss, Mr Liu Qi, noted at a forum yesterday. Data logged by the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau shows 146 days with clear skies in the first half of this year – 23 more than in the same period last year and a whopping 46 more than in 1998. Beijing did, after all, spend 120 billion yuan (S$25 billion) on pollution control in the seven years leading up to the Games.

Still, China’s official data on air quality – posted on – has long been questioned, in part because it measures pollutants different from those included in indices used by other countries. The skies are usually grey even when the air is officially ‚good‘, so some Beijing-based foreigners have been taking their own readings. The American Embassy in Beijing runs a monitoring station to check pollutant levels and posts its findings. The station’s readings often indicate that the air is ‚unhealthy‘ or ‚hazardous‘ even when the official reading is ‚good‘ or ‚moderate‘.

Ultimately, the numbers can only show whether the pollution is very bad or just bad, said Mr Julien Chol, a French entrepreneur who sells anti-pollution masks for bikers. At his site – – you can take the day’s official air quality reading and see how other countries would ratethe air based on their own indices. Often, the comparison is all tootelling.

Nevertheless, since the Olympics, Beijing’s air has indeed improved, by some 5 per cent to 20 per cent, estimated Mr Chol, who has been living in China’s capital for four years. However, he added: ‚This improvement is attributable partly to themeasures taken during and before the Olympics and partly to the economic slowdown. So we have to wait for the economy to regain its former dynamism before we can draw definitive conclusions on the real impact of the Olympic measures.‘

While the fresher air might top the list of memorable Olympic legacies for countless Beijingers, the Games have wrought other, less tangible, changes in their daily lives. Sales manager He Zhijie, 40, spoke for many when he said: ‚Just based on gut feelings, I’d say Beijingers have become more civilised in their behaviour. I can’t put my finger on it precisely. It’s just a feeling that we’ve become more worldly.‘ His conclusion has been corroborated somewhat by the ‚good behaviour‘ index charted over the past four years by the Social Psychology Institute of Renmin University in Beijing. The index has seen a steady climb, rising from 65.21 in 2005 to 82.68 last year. Data for this year is not available yet.

Researchers polled 12,000 randomly selected Beijing residents – Chinese and foreigners – regarding public hygiene and orderliness, among other things. Fewer people now spit or throw rubbish on the streets – among the most evident changes – noted Professor Sha Lianxiang, who headed the officially backed study. Still, the reality is far from ideal, noted Professor Jin Shan, a researcher at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences. ‚There is some change in people’s behaviour, but China is so large andvaried, it can’t be transformed by a single Olympic Games,‘ he said. The authorities have been running mass campaigns – with varying success – to get more Chinese into the habit of queueing up and to persuade couch potatoes to exercise by designating today as National Fitness Day.

What the Chinese have indeed shed – thanks to the Games – is their long-lingering sense of inferiority, argued historian Xu Guoqi, who is based at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Hosting the Olympics – which represented the fulfilment of a collective, century-old dream or bai nian meng – has had a beneficial effect on the national psyche. It has finally rid the Chinese of their obsession with being labelled the ’sick man of the East‘ and imbued them with a new self-confidence, said Professor Xu, author of Olympic Dreams: China And Sports, 1895-2008. ‚They saw that their sportsmen could swim with the big boys like the Aussies, and win,‘ he said. All the pre-Olympics buzz promising that China would finally come of age and claim its place on the international stage did bear some fruit, he added.