Hangzhou offers several ideal locations for the increasing popularity for extreme sports

The increase in popularity of extreme sports has led to a call for more facilities to meet the demand. Here are three options for you to enjoy extreme sports around Hangzhou.

A new report suggests extreme sports are on the up in China. The Economist announced that an estimated 434 million Chinese exercise frequently. The dominating sports are still ping-pong, badminton, swimming and basketball, partly for their low cost and easy access in cities. But the report stated that interests in adventure sports are growing. Furthermore, there has been an increase in participation by the middle-class and those over 40.

An alliance of business schools in China hosts an annual Gobi-crossing ultra marathon event in Gansu Province and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Most participants are entrepreneurs and company executives aged over 40.

The number of runners signing up for last year’s Hangzhou International Marathon was a record high of 32,000, while in 2006 only 5,000 attended the race. At Zhejiang University, in Hangzhou, more than 600 students applied for 90 places on its canoeing course. 

The increase in popularity of these sports has led to a call for more facilities and accessibility to meet the demand. 

Shanghai Daily lists three options for you to enjoy extreme sports around Hangzhou during the National Day holiday.

Hangzhou offers several ideal locations for the increasing popularity for extreme sports

Parasailing at Qingshan Lake Water Sports Center

Brave Peak Bike Park

There is a song by Katie Melua where she sings: “There are 9 million bicycles in Beijing.” This may not be the case anymore as more families are opting for automobiles, and the market for bicycles is shrinking. But cycling and mountain biking has emerged as a new leisure sport for bicycle lovers.

Mountain biking can be broken down into many types, with downhill the most dangerous and adrenaline pumping. Bikers usually practice on steep, rough terrain, featuring obstacles of ramps, rocks and sudden drops.

The largest bike park in Zhejiang, Brave Peak Bike Park (BPBP), will open on October 1 after two years of construction. Bikers who have tested the trails during a trial operation have christened it the “Mini Whistler.”

Located in Xiabao Village of Jiande City, the park spans the size of 93 football pitches (an average pitch is 105 meters by 68 meters). The first three bike trails are designed by Canadian track designer Keith Williams and built by experienced trail builders.

The trails have several different levels of difficulty to accommodate people of all ages and experience. Each trail has about 20 to 30 turns with the longest stretching a height of 500 meters from top to foot of the mountain.

The park is inside the Xiabao Cycling Resort, where restaurants and lodgings can be easily found. A BPBP themed hotel offers lodgings ranging from 100 yuan (US$15.17) to 400 yuan per night.

How to get there from Shanghai:

Downtown – G60 – S2 – G2501 – G25 – G60N – Qiantan Interchange – Xiabao Village

Hangzhou offers several ideal locations for the increasing popularity for extreme sports

Paragliding at Yong'an Mountain Paragliding Base

Yong’an Mountain Paragliding Base

Paragliding is another breath-taking sport that tests your courage and discretion. But if you want to enjoy flying by yourself, you’ll have to get a licence first. The basic level requires theoretical learning and more than 20 sessions of flight practice. The good news is that most paragliding bases offer tandem flies for people who have no experience at all. 

Paragliding is highly dependent on the weather and especially on wind conditions. The Yong’an Mountain range forms a natural basin where westerly winds blow most of the year. Therefore the base operates daily except for airspace control and rainy days.

In 2009, the base was expanded 10 times its original size, with an area of 12,000 square meters, and it is the biggest in Asia. It is also a national training base for competitive paragliding.

A single tandem flight costs 680 yuan per person. You must book with the base at least one day before flying. Discount is offered through phone and online booking.

If you are staying overnight, visiting Longmen ancient town nearby is a good way to get a feel of local life. 

Around 90 percent of the residents in town are surnamed Sun. They are believed to be the descendants of Emperor Sun Quan (AD 82-252) during the Three Kingdoms period (AD 220-280). 

The bridges, ancestral halls, pailou (ceremonial archways) and residence houses have been well preserved since the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Wandering off the main street, you can easily get lost in the crisscrossing pebble lanes. 

How to get there from Shanghai:

Downtown – S32 – G2501 – G60N – S307 – Huanjin Line – Dayong Line – Yong’an Mountain Paragliding Base

Hangzhou offers several ideal locations for the increasing popularity for extreme sports

Mountain biking at Brave Peak Bike Park

Qingshan Lake Water Sports Center

Qingshan Lake is a national forest park, which sits 38 kilometers west of Hangzhou. It was originally a natural lake called “Hui Jin Tan” and was incorporated into a reservoir in 1964.

The lake is surrounded by the Tianmu Mountain range and spans an area of 10 square meters, almost the size of two West Lakes. 

The northern part of the lake is planted with pond cypress, imported from the United States in the 1960s. The well-protected ecological environment has attracted over 240 species of wild animals, including white stork, black stork, Elliot’s pheasant and mallard duck.

The rare scenery has attracted many canoeing lovers. Paddling through the cypress forest, while listening to the birds singing is quite a refreshing experience.

The water sports center also offers other outdoor leisure activities, including parasailing and power boating.

While paragliding is usually unpowered, a para-sailor is towed behind a powerboat. The sport is thus more stable and efficient during the ascent. The powerboat controls the direction and height of the sail. 

If you prefer something speedier, driving a small powerboat is another choice. A professional coach accompanies each rider. 

There is also a recreational center built in the cypress forest that will be ideal for corporate team building activities.

How to get there from Shanghai:

Downtown – G60 – S2 – G2501 – Sandun Interchange – G25 – G56 – Lin’an Interchange – Qingshan Lake National Forest Park

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