Focus on Athlete:Sun Chengyi

Heilongjiang’s Sun Chengyi is one of the most enthusiastic followers of Genghis Khan Festival and other cycling events by Nordic Ways. He has participated in almost all our cycling events, and this year will be his sixth MTB Adventure in Xiwuqi. Plenty of merit for a Focus on Sun Chengyi.

Q1: Could you please first introduce yourself to us?

A: My name is Sun Chengyi, and I come from Mudanjiang. I’m 38 years old and I’m a physical education teacher. I became fond of bicycle when I was in college, but I didn’t take part in races until 2004. I especially love the mountain bike race for the feeling of challenging myself and overcoming every difficulty with me riding on the bike.

Q2: You have taken part in every year GKF MTB race except in 2010, and you’ve been getting a better ranking year after year. You were even placed 5 in the tough race last year. What is the most attractive feature in this event that has made you come all these years?

A: GKF is a unique MTB race in China. I wouldn’t want to miss any year of this since I participated for the first time in 2007. That boundless grassland, blue sky, white cloud, melodious morin khuur, the tough race course and great racing have always been attractive to me. I made a lot of friends in and out of this country as well as friends in Nordic Ways from this event. I also have enjoyed the traditional and natural local food. Every time this event for me has been an exciting trip consisting of a sporting challenge, of meeting friends and of delicious food.

Q3: This year marks the 7th edition of GKF. You can be regarded as a veteran who has witnessed the growth of the event. What did you get from it over the past 7 years? And what do you expect in the future of this event? In what aspects can we do better?

A: The competitive level of riders is growing. I could still recall my first race back in 2007, as it’s also one of my best memorized races. We riders in the second group got lost only 20 km after the start on the first day, and many others followed us and got lost too. When we finally made it to the finish, we were all exhausted as we actually rode 70 km with the official race track being only 40 km. What’s worse, we went in the wrong direction again for the last 5 km on the second day. So on the third day, I was totally relaxed about the result and fully enjoyed the race, as I knew I couldn’t make good in the overall ranking because of the mistakes of the previous two stages. I got the third place on the last day and finally stood on the podium, and got a jersey as a souvenir. It was my biggest comfort of that year’s event, and it can be seen as a lucky jersey, so I have been wearing this bike jersey in one stage every year since.

After the first year, the organizers have done a lot effort in setting signs and giving proper supply, which has made the participants more confident about the course and have time to enjoy the race.

Q4: The first stage of the MTB race of last year was very difficult because the track was very muddy after the heavy rainfall at the start. The skills and strength of riders were all tested, and it is hard to catch up with the first group without help from teammates. How did you cope with that?

A: Yes, the first group was too strong to keep up with. A French rider and I allied with each other temporarily, and we took turns from time to time. We were riding in places five and six, and extended the distance with people behind us. We passed the finish line at the same time in the end. It also made a good foundation for me to get into the top six in the overall ranking.

Q5: Apart from the event organized by Nordic Ways, you also take part in many other mountain bike races in China. Your enthusiasm to bike race has inspired many people. Do you race for the need of training? What are your favorite races and why do they attract you?

A: I myself am a physical education teacher, the coach of school’s track and field team and also the head teacher of the “specialty class”, so I’m very busy in my work, especially in summer when my students go to participate in many competitions, which leaves little time for myself. So the races in northern China I could take part in were few, let alone “for the need of training”. I take training in the morning and weekend four times a week, and 90 minutes every time. I’m keen on training of high strength even though I don’t train much, and it turns out to be effective. I make progress every year even with the age of 38, though.

My favorite races are  GKF and Huang Shan. There are now few amateur races with a real cross country track in China even though the number of participants has grown massively. Most races here have become “riding a mountain bike to race a road bike competition”, which lack the feeling of cross country.

Q6: You have less time at home with family if you go out to attend so many races. How does your family feel about it? How do you deal with the relationship with your hobby and family?

A: I have a good wife who supports me with biking. And I, too, try my best to arrange time with biking and accompanying my family. For example, I would put my training in the early morning so that it won’t affect me making breakfast and taking my kid to school. And on the weekend, I would drive my car with bike on top of it, so my wife and kid can play in the hills when I am training. They sometimes go on excursion, sometimes picked potherb or read book in the tent. We would have a picnic after that, which is such an enjoyment for me and my family.

Q7: Are you also enjoying the mixed feeling of strenous physical exercise combined with excitement? What is your competition plan? Do you have any result ambitions?

A: The competition consumes lots of strength, but at the same time, it made me forget everything temporarily, because I would put all my heart in the race. I would feel exhausted after the race, bus still happy. It also made me thrilled to recall the excitement in the race.

I’ve attended two road bike races and one mountain bike race this year, and the results were good. I fell in love with road bike since my first road bike race last year. I found that it needs more skills and tactics in the road bike race, and wit and gut at the same time. So I purchased a road bike this year for I planned to train on both road bike and mountain bike. I plan to ride this year’s Vatternrundan China.

Q8: You once took your friends to GKF. Are they coming this year?

A: Yes, I think so. It will be happier to see the grasslands, to do the challenge and to share food and victory with friends!