One of my favourite films of all time is Back To The Future – Marty and Doc jumping into the Delorian. In homage to the film and not because I’ve been struggling to get on the internet and upload these blog entries here’s a jump back to the future of sorts.
I’ll jump back to Hong Kong – The first place I headed to on my travels this year, it’s like kicking around in the future for a guy who’s only used to the neon lights he sees in the Chinese take away.
Hong Kong then: what’s it like from a cyclists point of view.
I spent four days in the city and two of them were spent dodging a Monsoon trying its best to drench me.
As we all know Hong Kong is a crazy city, bright neon lights, rushing traffic and a buzz you can only get from a thriving city but you don’t realise how crazy it is until you get there. Then you understand why cyclists stick to spending their time in the new territories on the outskirts of the city.
The centre just isn’t bike friendly. This doesn’t dampen a few hard core cyclists and if your eagled eyed you’ll spot them and as with any city it’s got it’s fixie scene. Pair that with the bikes which caught my eye – folding and commuting, all spotted on the subway (or MRT as it’s called there, which I’ll add is bike friendly!) and these bikes were pretty individual. Definitely different from what I’ve seen back home in good old England. It seems to be the craze to “pimp” them up with tiny tri spokes and flash paint jobs. A world away from your black gloss Bromptons…
The city though could hold some awesome cycling events. Sure they had a Green Peace rally on while I was there, plenty of people cruising around the blocks, protesting about something which I didn’t pick up on as I was too busy looking at their velos!
Coming at it from a racing point of view though there could be no better city to hold a nocturne, what a spectacle that would be. A few streets shut down a couple of times a year and it could definitely be a criterium destination worth a visit of any top rider.
On top of that the city’s basically built on a hill and up at the peak looking over the city you again could hold one hell of a hill climb! The final kilometre would kill the legs, in-fact the whole hill would hurt. To get to the top without a car you have to take the tram. Now I’ve spent a lot of time in San Francisco, a city renowned for its tram system. The Hong Kong tram climbs at an angle that puts the San Frans to shame! If there’s anyone out there who has tackled it let us know, I’m desperate to know what it’s actually like. I was thinking of walking up it just to see what it’s like then I remembered walking is unnatural, really honestly it is. That’s why I stick to the old bike.
Talking to several people from the city here at the hostel I’m in it seems that the cycling culture has a problem attracting the average man. With questions such as “do you need a permit or a licence to ride” or “do you have to take a test to race” and clearly due to the traffic in the city, cycling or even picking up a bike doesn’t seem an idea worth having to the average Joe’s in Hong Kong.
The New Territories though, now here is a place which looks like a nice place to ride. Though the first cyclists which I spotted from the train window on my journey from the airport to the city were engaged in what looked like a deep and meaningful chat with officers of the law!! Loads of hills and beaches to stop for a coffee I’m sure. If I was to have more time there, I for one would have spent a lot of time out that way, yeah I would have tackled the city but not for too long, them taxi drivers look like they’re after blood!
Dave made it to Australia and we expect that he will be giving us some random reports of his travels in no particular order. Remember, if you see him, let us know!