Following is a love letter from Xinhua reporter Li Linhai to the 18-year-old Tour of Qinghai Lake cycling race, which is contested across Qinghai, Gansu and Ningxia from July 14 to 27 over 13 stages with a distance of 1,631 kilometers:
Dear Tour of Qinghai Lake:
As well as you, I am a native here. So I take it as a joy to communicate with you through this letter.
In the blink of an eye, you are already 18 years old, as a vigorous youth. I am a witness to your growth from an innocent "baby" to a responsible "boy". And this is what makes me happy from the bottom of my heart. The past has brought you no more burdens, and now you, young and fearless, believe in a dream and are ready to move ahead at a steady pace.
The appearance of your birth is still alive in my memory, as lovely as it is unforgettable. In 2002, you were born and become part of a magnificent plateau.
Before you came to the world, we all pinned high hopes on you. I wonder whether you know the fact: There was a time when Qinghai, your hometown, also a place where its people took competitive sports as the central part of its development, saw a lot of challenges along the way. And your arrival came when the government hoped to host an international sports event by making the best of naturally endowed beauty and resources on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
But your growth does not turn out to be smooth sailing, since my peers often conjure up the scenes of past several sports events, with simple and crude facilities employed in the process. For example, at the first tour game, you used a traditional tool to measure time rather than a watch, leading to a situation where the accuracy of the times was questioned. Yet, this is only half of the story. In some sections, reporters and local staff could merely live in simple tents or motels, where the former could even not afford to edit and issue a piece of news.
In retrospect, you were just one year old in 2003 and by the time of your second birthday, you had to deal with the pervasive epidemic known as SARS. In a difficult time, your organizers threw themselves into the task of winning support from those participants who stood by them. It was exactly in this year that you attracted 20 cycling teams from five continents around the world.
However, there is always a silver lining in every cloud. We have more solutions than difficulties. In the following years, you started to grow up and improve every year through the support of everyone on the tour.
In 2004, you elevated your grade to 2.3, emerging as the most important cycling event in Asia, followed by a top transcontinental sports competition in 2005. In 2007, you witnessed a change of game system from invitation to application, with the amount of prize totaling 300 thousand US dollars. In 2010, you initiated your ninth event, which successfully made your opening ceremony more appealing to commercial markets.
"O ever youthful, O ever weeping", Jack Kerouac wrote in The Dharm Bums. This is your motto. I have been recording moments of your growth. Your time is like a stream of water, ever-flowing through rapid winds on the plateau and rainstorms in the plain. With obstacles standing in your way, you still brave all of them to move forward.
The year 2012 was significant. You were experiencing a gradually full-fledged growth like a bird. You no longer just stopped in your hometown, and you would spread your wings of a dream to more distant places.
In that year, you succeeded in starting a tour spanning Qinghai province, Gansu province, and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
In 2014, your total prize amounted to one million US dollars, a great appeal to more global cycling teams. And as several years went by, the organizing committee honored its promise to seek improvement in each year's tour. With the concerted efforts of the organizing committee, sponsors, local government and volunteers, you then became an important window of showcasing China's cycling event.
After 18 years of hard work, you have now been in the list of top Asia cycling events, retaining the record as the road cycling race held at the highest elevation in the world.
Everyone will have doubts in his youthful days. Is there anyone able to make a game-changing decision in life at the beginning? Do you remember when you told me your goal was to create one-hundred-year history like the Tour de France?
In the coming years, I hope you can deliver a better job in the fields of making the event more international, the organization and reception more in line with the international Grand Tours, the management more scientific and the staff more professional.
Crossing the threshold of 18 means that you have grown to become mature like an adult, and gone are the days when the challenges you faced seemed insurmountable. May you be calmer and more dauntless in the future!
I owe a great deal to those old days which helped you through hardship on the road to your growth.
Here I want to use a poem from the Stray Birds written by the great poet Rabindranath Tagore to seek mutual encouragement: "Only through hellish hone can one have the power to create heaven; only through the blood fingers can one play the swan song of the world."
I wish sincerely you could still be a pure youth after twists and turns.
Your old friend Li
July 24, 2019