No Ironman Training in Beijing

This week I was vacationing in Beijing. I was appalled by the amount of pollution in the air, which made me wonder if anyone trained Ironman here. My conclusion is that going outside in that soup they call atmosphere is not a healthy thing. Couple that with the possibility of theft, the crazy drivers in China, and you don’t have much cycling going on in the city itself.
A friend I met here said there was a big mountain biking community here. That surprised me. I wandered around looking for a good bike shop to buy a local bike jersey and shorts, maybe with some local brand on it and not the usual Tour De France teams on it. No dice. I saw some bike shops but they were devoted to keeping the millions of what seems to be 20-50 year old bikes working as a main means of cheap transport for the population. No high end carbon fiber bikes there! But maybe you have really have to look to find that elusive bike shop.
Swimming isn’t so bad. There are definitely gyms around with decent pools. Swimming is more popular in China.
Running wasn’t a problem. There were parks where I saw joggers. Tons of local brands abound, mimicking Western brands in logo design. I saw tons of running shoes too, but have no idea if their cushioning is as good or as durable as Western brands. But definitely the problem was braving the pollution which turned the skies a white/grey every day I was there. At first I thought it was fog, but the pollution here is much worse than the pollution was many years ago in LA. Only God knows what your lungs will look like after a few years of living here.
Perhaps this will all change with the Beijing Olympics next year in 2008. Already they are selling logo wear and souvenirs a year in advance of the Olympics. Supposedly they will find a way to lower the pollution by next summer – who knows for sure. Somehow, I am not sure I would want to be training and racing under those hazy, polluted skies even if it is for a short while.

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