Racers relax in China. © Sarah Lukas

Racers relax in China. © Sarah Lukas

This article originally appeared in Issue 23 of Cyclocross Magazine and looks at the first-ever UCI cyclocross race held in China. To read the full story and see the photo spread, make sure you get an archived copy or an All-Access Digital Subscription by visiting our subscription site.

“This year, the first ever Cyclo-cross event in China will be organized and will take place on September 21 in Yanqing, Beijing. We, Dalian Qiansen Sports Facilities Engineering Co.,ltd. As the organizer,sincerely invite the qualified riders to attend this event. This is UCI C2 class event.”

Emails were sent. The ones that were recieved were largely ignored. The others were sent to spam. The offer—a free trip to China including airfare, room, board and race entry, plus the offer that each racer could bring a mechanic—seemed too good to be true.

But for the racers who decided to go for it, it led to the chance of a lifetime, the chance to be part of a historic first. To race in the first UCI-sanctioned cyclocross race that China has ever seen.

What measures the success of a race? Is it the number of racers, spectators, profit or expo- sure? Determining motivation, and then deter- mining levels of success, is sometimes difficult, especially when looking at a first-time event, with language barriers in full force. And so, the CXM crew headed to China in September to attempt to see where the internationalization of pro cyclocross is heading.

Honestly, the idea of cyclocross in China doesn’t seem so crazy. After all, we’ve heard about and seen cyclocross in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and plenty of whacky places in the U.S. as well (cyclocross in Alaska, anyone?). But still, for the first UCI ’cross race to happen in The Middle Kingdom, a lot had to fall into place perfectly.

The “historic event” took place in Yanq- ing, a small city two hours from Beijing. The town wasn’t a tourist destination, and while the racers were all housed in the Badaling Spa and Hotel, venturing outside of the hotel grounds meant that you were on your own, and finding another English speaker was going to be nearly impossible. With racers from 18 different countries represented, keeping tabs on them and making sure that all made it to the venue in time was no small task. But for organizer Song Yanxing, it was a dream come true.

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