With our race numbers attached in the right places we were counted into the holding pen by a guy with a megaphone and an inferiority complex. I think it was then that I realized we were the only fixed-gear riders. In fact, we were the only riders not part of a bike team who were all adjusting the gears on their carbon road frames.
Alex was herded off to the side -there's no equality in road cycling. I found a space in the middle of the pack at the start line. All eyes on me I turned on the ipod and tried to ignore a furious "team bauhaus' coach who did not like Ocean-san being a track bike and had already got Jeff disqualified for not having a break.
A couple false starts later and with the pistol 75 riders burst forward along the Shanghai F1 home straight. The pit exit zipped by on the right and we curved on mass up to the right around the first bend.
I was already up at 40km/h and as we hit the second straight I was around my top speed. In the baking sun I was already panting and I didn't let up for the whole lap, pushing hard as I could to keep at the thick end of the field. This was going to be a challenge.
As the bikes thinned out and we came onto the huge back straight for the second time the notion of challenge turned to ordeal. With the wind in my face I was struggling to keep up with the bike in front and couldn't quite hook into his slipstream. Looking over my should I had a chain of bikes drafting behind me.
What followed was 10 laps of non stop pedalling. I gradually slipped backwards through the pack as riders hooked up behind on the straights and then with the chance for a break sprinted away in the corners. I managed to catch a couple packs but they weren't open for members and I pushed on alone.
In the end I got lapped twice by the pretty formidable front runners, kept the back markers behind me and gradually picked off people in front. I crossed the 55km finish line in around 1h40 and came somewhere around 45th overall ... and first in my category of one.