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The urban cycle

China Daily| Updated: November 1, 2023 L M S


The Qiantangjiang Greenway in Hangzhou is a hub for fitness enthusiasts. [Photo by Wei Xiaohao/China Daily]

At the Hangzhou Asian Games that unfolded a month ago, my role as a reporter kept me perpetually on the move.

Each day was a whirlwind, shuttling between the media village, the bustling Main Media Centre and a myriad of competition venues.

My daily routine was a relentless cycle of watching the action, conducting interviews, crafting articles and grabbing whatever moments I could for rest.

The reliable media shuttle was my faithful companion, racing me between these key locations.

Back then, although being busy, I often felt ensconced within a bubble where everyone was amicable, and warm smiles and greetings from the dedicated volunteers were ubiquitous.

Individuals from a wide array of cultural backgrounds were brought together by a shared interest in sports.

The electric atmosphere at the arenas ensured that, as an ardent sports lover, I enjoyed a perpetual wave of excitement and a daily sense of fulfillment.


The Qiantangjiang Greenway in Hangzhou is a hub for fitness enthusiasts. [Photo by Wei Xiaohao/China Daily]

During the Asian Games, I rarely found the time, nor did the idea ever cross my mind, to venture outside of this immersive bubble and explore Hangzhou, the host city.

However, as the ongoing Hangzhou Asian Para Games progress, perhaps due to the relatively fewer events, which allows for a less hectic schedule, or due to the alluring combination of the gentle breeze, the delightful scent of osmanthus flowers and the warm autumn sunlight beckoning from outside, I felt a strong urge to truly explore this city.

What could be more enjoyable, then, than a leisurely, safe, and energy-efficient bike ride around West Lake? So, a colleague and I decided to rent two road bicycles and set off at around 5 pm from the vicinity of Leifeng Pagoda, embarking on a clockwise journey around West Lake. As we pedaled swiftly through the lush shadows of the tall sycamore trees lining the road, I noticed that the tree leaves, under the soft afternoon sun, had different shades of green as they swayed gracefully in the light autumn breeze.

My favorite stretch of the West Lake ride was the 3.4-kilometer causeway at Yanggongdi, a scenic spot nestled to the west of the main lake.

There, we ventured across undulating bridges and paths. Going uphill, of course, demanded a fair amount of effort, but when descending, my adrenaline soared abruptly.

The refreshing breeze lightly grazed my skin, while the invigorating scent of osmanthus and grass permeated my senses. A mere turn of the head revealed extensive groves of water fir trees.


The Qiantangjiang Greenway in Hangzhou is a hub for fitness enthusiasts. [Photo by Wei Xiaohao/China Daily]

Upon reaching the pinnacle of an arched bridge, I noticed many people pausing to take in the view. Their gaze led me to such a sight: in the distance, the contours of mountains are cloaked in a rosy-orange hue from the setting sun, a spectacle mirrored upon the lake's tranquil, glistening surface. Two boats serenely glided by in tandem on the lake, making their way through the bridge's arched passage where I was standing.

It is a moment that has left me grasping at the shortage of vocabulary to truly convey my feelings.

The cycling tour around West Lake covered approximately 13 kilometers, but we were both reluctant to draw our day's ride to a close. Consequently, we decided to explore the greenway along the banks of the Qiantangjiang River. In November 2022, the Qiantangjiang Greenway, spanning over 1,000 kilometers, opened, swiftly establishing itself as a must-visit for local cyclists.

Unlike the bustling crowds of tourists around West Lake, it was here along the river that I truly felt the city's fervor for sports.

On, and near, the greenway, we encountered groups of cyclists chiming their bells, individuals clad in T-shirts jogging, youngsters skateboarding and surfskating with finesse, and elderly couples gracefully partaking in ballroom dancing. Even children reveled in play, digging and scrabbling in the sandpits. Against the backdrop of the city's neon lights, these scenes came to life in an exceptionally vivid manner.

Our cycling odyssey ultimately concluded in the vicinity of Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, and the total distance covered was nearly 50 kilometers.

It was then I realized that the stadium where I had watched several Asian Games and Asian Para Games events was separated from the Qiantangjiang Greenway by only a single road. The diverse scenes of local residents participating in various sports activities along the greenway authentically echoed the spirit of both grand sporting galas, clearly embodying the legacy of the Games in Hangzhou.