26 Hours, three flight connections, four border crossings, 13-hour time change, and plenty of airplane food… this is what I have been doing just about every month for the past four years. Since moving to Pirelli tires, you need to add carrying three fronts and six rears along with a suitcase and laptop roller bag. US Customs threatens to pull my Nexus quick entrance pass each time I go through and I get a lecture. Japanese Customs is pretty laid back, Hong Kong customs as well. Then there is Chinese Customs… another deal altogether! What typically happens is 3-4 customs officers start walking towards me saying this is not going to happen via body language. An hour, four signed posters and a few copies of Inside Motorcycles later (and lots of communication between them in Mandarin), I am through – tires and all. I never really know the reasoning or the problem, all I know is I get through every time.
Welcome to racing in China.
Blogs have become personal platforms, a place to vent, and basically, the ultimate personal ego gratifier. I hope my occasional column will be none of that. Racing in China has been and continues to be a great experience; lots of fun, yet such an experience that the few words I will share really only scratch the surface. Of course, seeing is experiencing, but this will have to do until you hop on a plane and see for yourself.
Having no experience with blogging, let’s use this as an introductory blog and look at them more like chapters of a book that is still not finished. After all, China is a country full of change – monthly change. My first trip over was 22 years ago, and I have made over 100+ trips since. Lately I’m taking 12 trips a year and it never seems like I am there enough. Every single trip is different and I keep learning things all the time. China is referred to as “The Wild East” by foreigners that live in China or visit regularly. This is due to the lack of rules in place or, more importantly, the lack of rules enforced… specifically when dealing with foreigners! I have seen a lot of crazy things over the years and I have come to the conclusion that you need a certain element of self-control if you plan to survive in this place.
I will likely write something every now and again since some of the things that I experience both amazing and also strangely weird need to be shared. Keep in mind that these are merely my experiences in China and my perspectives. I will try to keep this more about the experience and less about me. Which is tough… I am a racer and we do tend to focus on ourselves!
I can’t wait to write about riding the streets of China on 150’s and taking our race bikes out into the main city… OK, I might not write about that one, but I will write about how we insist the motorbike taxi riders hop on behind us and we ride ourselves home at night.
Last week I flew from Montreal to Toronto for the Supershow event and saw many old friends that I haven’t seen for years. I am glad I went. I had a few meetings, got a few sponsors and then flew straight to Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show where I had to work for four days in that crazy city. From there I flew to Chicago and landed in Beijing last night. Slept 2 hours and flew to Hong Kong today. I landed and went to meet Kawasaki immediately. All is in place 100% with them for 2012 and also my race team. I need to finalize a few details with monster on Thursday but will be testing an Italian Moto2 GP bike on Wednesday in Zhuahi. Back to Montreal on Friday to be with the love of my life, Holly.
- Inside a Chinese hospital – Dealing with X-rays and radiation concerns;
- Taking over and driving a bus in the middle of nowhere – we are talking a full size coach;
- Convincing track officials in Shanghai that I am a pro car racer from Canada (which I’m not!) and letting me take a promo car around the track (This will be a good one!);
- How it feels to test a Superbike on a racetrack alone with no corner workers or ambulance on site, only CCTV;
- How David Sadowski (former Daytona 200 winner) helped me reclaim the Canadian Flag at Zhuhai;
- Working with Ruben Xaus on special event days and turning that into wakeboarding and partying in Spain;
- Crashing at 265 km/h in China and living to tell about it;
- My experience getting a podium at the FIM 8 Hour Endurance race at Phillip Island in November.
Thanks for reading! More to come in February!