People shouted and cheered as cars and motorcycles, ranging from professional cross-country motorcycles to retro Scramblers and Flat Trackers, raced past them in the dirt track at Beijing’s first Dirt Track Party of Ramp which was held from July 23 to 24 in Chaoyang district.
Inspired by the popularity of professional mud runs in Western countries, the event aims to offer an opportunity for automobile lovers and spectators to take part in motocross.
On such a hot summer day, the sweat brought on by the sweltering heat soaked through more than 60 riders’ T-shirts. As the thick tires trenched through the track and splattered mud, riders were covered from head to toe, but there is still joy and satisfaction on their faces as they participated in round after round of the event.
It was a spectacle for patrons of all ages. Kids were filled with excitement and shared the same enthusiasm as adults.
“My son liked it so much that he shouted ‘one more round’ after each time around the track,” said Bruce Wang, a manager in a trading company based in Beijing. “It is a great opportunity for him to get in touch with nature and build courage.”
Perfect weekend outing
Wang, 50, driving a vehicle provided by the sponsor, said it felt amazing to be out there doing something he loved.
“Normally, we have to go very far to find a resort where we can experience the speed, excitement and passion brought by off-roading in nature, but because this resort is so close to the city, it is the perfect place for a weekend getaway,” Wang said. “There are very few places like this in Beijing.”
According to Wang, he is passionate about the sport since it offers an ideal platform to display his skills and techniques. “Correct and careful judgment is very crucial. The observation of the road and sensitivity concerning speed make all the difference.”
The event is also a great opportunity for friends to gather together to have fun on the weekend. Zhang Nan, a 29-year-old architect, was delighted in the event.
Moreover, it can be a great platform for people to make new friends with the same interests.
“Today, I made some new friends who also enjoy off-road racing,” Zhang said. “In Beijing, people from different districts normally hold events in their own districts. This arena makes it possible for people all over to get together.”
Although heat soaked through riders’ T-shirts, they were fully immersed in round after round of riding. Photo: Li Hao/GT
A boy is enjoying driving his customized car. Photo: Li Hao/GT
Good for body and spirit
The event provides more than entertainment for kids, physically and mentally. Sandy Yang, Wang’s wife, said that the activity is a great opportunity for her son to learn how to be “a real man.”
She said many post-80s, post-90s, and post-00s are only children being raised by their grandparents or by nannies, resulting in some boys [who are oversheltered] being feminine and lacking the spirit of manhood.
“Nowadays, a lot of boys are spoiled and cry from simply falling down. They are kept from crawling around when they are babies because the parents are so afraid they will be hurt,” Yang said. “I would not want to see that happen to my two sons.”
Concerning safety, Yang is not worried. She believes that professional motorcyclists, including her husband, have taken risk factors into account and have honed their skills to gain control in the situation.
Seeing her son happily hosing mud off himself, Yang smiled. She said that academic performance is not the most important for her sons. Rather, a healthy body, a strong will, and the ability to be fearless and endure hardships that can be gained by participating in outdoor activities, are what really matter.
“Besides, I would love to see my son happy, since being covered in mud and being outdoors are in a boy’s nature,” she said. “The activity is also beneficial for girls. Girls who develop in an all-round way are more competitive in the future.”
According to Yang, motorcycle culture is misunderstood by many Chinese people.
“Motorcycle culture embodies tenacity in many Western countries. But in China, motorcycles are often associated with street hooligans, although that is not the case,” Yang said.
Last year, her husband spent two months traveling from Beijing to Lisbon, capital of Portugal, by motorcycle. According to him, riding a motorcycle is a lifestyle full of passion and embodies the romanticism some men hold for machinery.
For Yang, motorcycle culture embodies an attitude of challenging, defeating and accepting oneself for being who you are. “Chinese motorcyclists should stop caring about what others think of them and begin to ask themselves what they want and what they ride for.”
Wang considers many local governments banning motorcycles in cities a big challenge for the development of Chinese motorcycle culture.
“Riding motorcycles is strictly restricted in downtown areas of many cities like Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, and Tianjin,” Wang said.
“In China, motorcycles, for the most part, are only seen as means of transport. There is a long way to go for motorcycles to become a mature culture.”
Su Zhen, an editor for the motorcycle publication, ramp magazine, one of the organizers of the event, said that the development of motorcycle culture in China not only needs motorcycle enthusiasts like Wang, but also requires suitable venues.
According to Su, Wangjing Urban Enduro Park will be constructed at the venue where the event took place. The park is built for the purpose of off-road racing.
“The venue can play a bigger part in promoting the development of motorcycle culture with a more standardized field that would attract more people to give motocross a try,” said Su, who was happy to see the success of the event and watch everyone having a blast, despite being covered in mud.