[May 20, 2012 update - this is an update to a post from December - scroll to post 22 for update]
As you can tell by my post count, I used to hang out here a lot but have not been around much lately because there's been a lot of other stuff going on in my life.
Just wanted to pop in to let you know I'm moving to Beijing, China, early in 2012. I figured this might be of some interested to 50+ types because some of you are retired, some are switching careers, some are looking for the next big adventure. For my family, getting to this age means that we will finally be empty nesters after this school year (youngest child graduates from high school in May), so it suddenly opened up new horizons for us. And there's a little bit of cycling content below --
I was asked by my current employer to move to China 4 years ago; I decided not to because we'd moved our kids several times when they were younger and we wanted to stay put until they were out of school. I was asked again last summer to think about it, and since then I've been working to hire a replacement, transition out of my current role, and figure out how to make it happen. Basic situation is that I'll split my time between the US and China starting in January, and then relocate full time in early summer 2012.
It's a "big adventure;" maybe our "last big adventure" as a family. This will be the 3rd time I've lived outside the U.S. for an extended period of time; I consider the previous 5 years I spent living abroad as one of the highlights of my life. We're going to keep our house here, so once I'm settled in Beijing my wife will "commute;" between Seattle and Beijing; hopefully our kids will get over to study and travel as much as possible. This is likely to be a two- or three-year assignment; I know from my past experiences abroad that the time will fly by in a flash.
As for cycling -- it's kind of a challenge. I went over to check things out earlier this year and kept a sharp eye out on the cycling scene. There is a lot of death-defying cycling that goes on in Beijing on a daily basis (crazy traffic), but also there appear to be a number of clubs that do more "enthusiast" type cycling out in the countryside on weekends. I've found at least one expat club that hires a van/driver each Saturday to haul club members and their bikes out to the countryside; apparently the riding is great.
Still not sure what to do: I have a "beater" bike I could take for bombing around town; I'm told that you only ride beaters around town because anything nice gets stolen. Am considering getting S&S couplers on one of my "good" bikes to use for weekend jaunts in the boonies; I could keep it in my apartment during the week (I've read, but can't confirm, that buying a "nice" bike in China is expensive -- there are a lot of cheap bikes around, of course, but for something up to "international" standards it's expensive to buy an export-quality bike. I stopped in one Dahon folding bicycle store in September, and saw that they had two "tiers" of bikes -- cheaper models with unrecognizable components for the local market, and then export-quality bikes with Shimano and SRAM components that were sold at about 5% to 10% above the prices I've seen in the USA).
On the other hand, not sure how much I would have time to cycle in any case. My own past experience as an expat is that you work super hard doing your job, and then when you are off it's a great time to aggressively explore everything your "new" host country has to offer. So as opposed to long weekends on a bike I can definitely see doing a lot of sightseeing and exploring. Not to mention the smog; I think the pollution in Beijing leads a lot of people to favor indoor vs. outdoor exercise.
I've enjoyed hanging out here in the past and will continue to try to stop by as time permits.
Best wishes to all for a great 2012.