Archive for Dezember, 2009

New Year’s Eve Meditation

Donnerstag, Dezember 31st, 2009

This year we decided to do something different for New Year’s Eve. Fede had invited friends over for dinner and then a meditation from 11:30 to 12:30. We had a huge long dinner with different Italian and Chinese vegetarian dishes until I almost could not move anymore. Around 11 we made space for everyone to sit for the meditation.

Preparation for Meditation

Ready for New Year’s Eve Meditation

And then at 11:30pm we set our mobile phones to silent, switched off the lights and got all quiet.

Starting of Meditation

We had 1 hour of silence, everybody focussed on themselves. It was a nice a very nice way to start the new year. And as we are in Beijing there were anyway no fire crackers or fireworks so we also did not get disturbed by any outside noise. We are looking forward to 2010. I wish all of you all the best!

Happy New Year 2010

Happy People

Cold Snowboarding

Sonntag, Dezember 27th, 2009

If you are thinking that we are on a long skiing weekend and staying in a nice hotel or mountain hut then you are wrong. As the ski resort is artificial it is just somewhere.  So the place where were staying was just like a guest house across from factory buildings.

Factory Buildings across from Hotel

Today I decided to wear another layer. But it still felt cold. It was -21 degrees C. And it was slightly moist as it had actually snowed a little tiny bit last night. And the clouds were still hanging around the top peak of the Wanlong skiing resort. So the cold was just freezing any part of the face that was exposed.

Wanlong Ski Resort in Clouds

Today we rented snowboards. Our rock climbing friends were also snowboarding so we did some routes together with them. Sam had to take breaks to teach his daughter how to ski. Actually almost after every second or third slope we had to come inside to warm up.

Santa Sam Ski Teacher

I also met cycling friends that usually ride mountain bikes tha also came here for a Christmas ski weekend. It amazes me again and again how small Beijing is. When the sun came out we saw how beautiful everything looked with the slight snow coating.

Wanlong snowy Landscape

But it was the same icy cold feeling despite the sun. All pictures are in this webalbum. And we were lucky: Today our favorite chair lift broke down and we were not on the lift when that happened. It must have been so freezing for the people stuck on the lift. We only had 2 options for lifts and we could not do our favorite run. But it was still a very nice day.

Wanlong Ski Lift

Skiing in Wanlong

Samstag, Dezember 26th, 2009

Yeah! Skiing! Our bus was the first one to arrive at the Wanlong skiing resort. We rented skiing shoes and Salomon carving skis. And then went up with the first lift. The weather was nice with blue skies – just really icy cold. The Wanlong resort is the biggest and most difficult skiing resort around Beijing. So here you see the Chinese that can ski. The slopes are really nice. But it is artificial snow as the Beijing area is too dry in winter with almost no snow fall. So it looks like this with brown mountains around:

Wanlong Skiing Resort

They had made some artificial muggles (bumps). We tried skiing them but I think they still need to work on them as they were just some spiky piles of hard snow.

Skiing Muggles in Wanlong Resort

As it is very dry and there had been huge wind on the night of December 24th the snow outside of the actual ski slopes was covered with dust, sand and earth. In some cases it gave a dessert or beach like feeling.

Dessert sand on the Beijing ski resort artificial snow

We skied an off-piste route. At the top it was completely icy and then it was just so weird to ski through the brown covered snow.

Off-Piste skiing in Wanlong

It was funny to find a sign in the middle of all the trees indicating that we could continue to ski straight down or go more left. I have never seen such a sign in Europe. And some off-piste routes are many kilometers long and you might actually get lost.

Where to ski in the forest

At the main building of the resort a fat Chinese guy got upset that Julien can ski well. I have never seen a Chinese guy get mad like this because of nothing. It was very surreal but it seems he has a huge inferiority complex. Oh well, next time we better pretend that we cannot ski well. More pictures of today are in this webalbum.

After the full day of being out in the freezing cold air we took a long hot shower to de-frost our fingers and toes. Then there was a huge hotpot dinner together with the Chinese outdoor group.

Christmas Day

Freitag, Dezember 25th, 2009

Actually I wanted to join a fun Christmas bike ride this morning. But due to me eating too much last night I decided it might be better to sleep and digest. Then of course I went to the shop. It was a nice sunny day. In the evening we went on a bus out to the North-West of Beijing to the skiing resort. We went with a Chinese outdoor travel group. It was so cold outside that the humidity of the 60 people on the bus froze on the inside of the bus windows and made very interesting pattens. Some like pearl chains, some like flowers.

Ice on inside of bus window

Pearl chain patterns on bus window

Flower patterns on bus window

The skiing resort is not so far away, but with the strong traffic and a huge traffic jam on the Badaling highway just because of the toll gate it actually took us 5 hours to get there. They showed 2 full movies as well as the Fischer „Holy Carving Bible“ movie filmed in China showing us how to ski. Now we know and should be ready for tomorrow.

Christmas Eve Dinner

Donnerstag, Dezember 24th, 2009

It just does not feel like Christmas in Beijing to me. Maybe because I do not go to the malls, nor the Western shops or restaurants, nor cafes. Inside the former Beijing city walls it seems like any other day to me. Of course I was in the shop working and and my employee Samantha contacted many companies and factories for buying their bike products. They were all working too. The weather was very overcast and hazy until in the early evening a huge wind started. Such wind is always good to blow the clouds and pollution away but it did not make it so easy cycling with the raclette machine in a box. We were going to Fede’s new place – an old Beijing hutong that he just re-arranged. And how nice it turned out!

Fede’s new living and dining room

After a starter of delicious madoufu (fermeted tofu) and mushrooms we had a huge pile of cheese that was melted with the raclette machine and ate together with potatoes.

Ines and Julien on Christmas Eve

Suddenly, after a lot of cheese I felt how full I was! Then I could only lie down and rest. I was so full that I could not move.

Completely full Ines

I could not even move to get some of the desert. Not even a cookie.I cannot remember when I had last felt this full.

After a nice Christmas Eve Dinner

After a while I managed to get up for going home. Cycling home we past by a fire next to a garbage bin. We stopped and had a look what was burning. It was an old blanket that probably caught fire from a cigarette stub and the very strong wind that was still blowing. Julien tried to stomp out the fire with a Chinese elderly couple watching us. The wind was so strog it would always relight any glimming parts we decided to through the blanket in the empty garbage bin and close the lid. There was still wind getting inside the bin and therefore there was still smoke coming out so we asked the couple that was still watching us very closely to go and bring us some water. They came back with water when we had just convinced a different neighbor to bring us water too. The fire stopped and all were happy.

Nico’s Fixed Gear Bicycle

Mittwoch, Dezember 23rd, 2009

Nico had been waiting for this Chinese chromoly track frame for many months. Finally it arrived. So he came to my shop to put the bike together with the parts he had chosen from my Natooke bike shop. Here it is:

Nico’s Fixed Gear Bike

It has golden Luma headset matching to the golden Formula Luma track flip flop hub, Lasco track cranks and chainring matching the front silver hub and white rim, Brooks B17 special saddle, white Oury MTB grips and a yellow PYC chain.

Fixed Gear Bicycle by Natooke

And here is the happy new member of our Beijing fixed gear group with his bike.

Nico and his fixed gear bicycle

When we finally finished at 11pm I was slightly late for the party that had started at 8pm. And unfortunately there was no more food so I had to eat on the way as I was starving as hell. But the small Christmas party was still going on when I arrived.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon in Beijing

Dienstag, Dezember 22nd, 2009

The French Prime Minister Francois Fillon is in China right now. Fillon is on a three-day official visit to China aimed at improving the Sino – French bilateral relationship. Fillon is accompanied on the trip by finance minister Christine Lagarde and a number chief executives from within French industry as the two nations seek to develop trade co-operation through various projects. I went to the huge official dinner reception to hear his speech.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon in China December 2009

Fillon, finance minister Christine Lagarde and chief executives from French industry

Afterwards people could come and talk to the prime minister or ask him questions.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon in Beijing

Julien had a chance to talk to the French Prime Minister as well.

Julien talking to French Prime Minister Francois Fillon

The dinner was amazing with loads of cheese and salmon and meat and other delicacies. We rode to a friends house to pick up a raclette machine and also his plant which needs water during the time he is back in Europe for holidays. It looks quite funny transporting a plant on your back wearing a suit and riding a fixed gear bike.

Julien in suit with plant on back riding fixed gear bike

Julien on fixie riding on Beijing streets at night with plant on his back

Upcoming UCCA Talk

Montag, Dezember 21st, 2009

On January 9th 2010 the UCCA Lecture Series “China Story” 6 will be: Unstoppable: The Birth of Fixed Gear Culture in Beijing

Ines Brunn (German fixed gear champion and artistic cycling champion) has launched the first fixed gear bike races, performances and store for fixed gear bicycles in Beijing. Recently she has been featured in TED conferences in Beijing.

Track bikes are single speed bikes without the ability to coast. Therefore they are called fixed-gear bikes. This type of bike is quite unusual: You can ride it backwards, it often has no brakes and the simplicity makes it attractive. Fixed-gear zealots are a growing presence on the streets of Beijing and are defining a new urban lifestyle trend to the city. World famous fixed gear bike rider, Ines Brunn will lead you into the fixed-gear bike culture.

Art District Fixie Ride to UCCA

Sonntag, Dezember 20th, 2009

Today not many people showed up for the fixed gear ride. That was probably due to the temperature. But at least the sun was shining and the sky was blue.

Fixed Gear Bike Riders in cold Beijing

We had people on different kinds of bikes and from different countries like China, Hong Kong, Korea, England, Germany and the USA.

People from different countries riding along our fixie ride

The great thing about cold temperatures is that there are hardly any people on the streets or in the bike lanes. We had the wide bicycle paths all for ourselves most of the ride.

Empty Beijing Bicycle Lane

We cycled to Beijing’s 798 contemporary art district in old bauhaus brick factory buildings. The whole area is now developed with art galleries everywhere and commercialized with products for sale and restaurants, cafes and bars.

Cycling past the graffiti wall of the 798 art district

We first met other Beijing fixed gear cyclists (like from Singapore) that rode there themselves and had lunch all together. All my pictures of this ride are in a webalbum.

Fixed Gear Bikes and Photographer Nie Zheng

Then we went to the UCCA for a talk in the education series “Breaking News” called „Beijing a world creative city : How foreign artists come to Beijing to create“. Guest speakers were Dan Levin (Freelance reporter for New York Times) and Niko&Katiushka (Artists). On top of being the benchmark of Chinese contemporary creativity, Beijing has also become a place of creation for artists all around the world. This talk showed concrete examples about how foreign artists find inspiration in Beijing and how they can pursue a worldwide career from China. Niko&Katiushka gave us some introduction to their works. It was all translated into Chinese, at least the translator tried to.

Niko&Katiushka and Dan Levin at UCCA talk

The discussion at the end of the talk was quite interesting. The most unrelated question was from a Chinese asking why not all the old hutong is torn down as those old buildings are standing on valuable ground which could be used for malls.

I had to ride back to Beijing city quickly as I had the year end dinner with cycling friends at a great Beijing Roast Duck restaurant. The food and the warmth were good after an afternoon out. And for sure it was fun to chat about bikes and cycling.

Writing my Blog

Samstag, Dezember 19th, 2009

This is how it looks when I am writing my blog

Ines writing blog entries

I just found a link to somebody’s blog that made a blog entry about me over 1 year ago. I found it funny. Read it here.