Cycling is a good way to tour the great outdoors – and it’s also marvellous
Cycling has become one of the most popular recreational activities in the territory, but did you know how many different forms the sport takes? For serious bikers, road racing and mountain biking are generally seen as the main sports. But new variations, like cycle-ball and artistic cycling, also have their fans.
Riding a bike for the first time can be a daunting experience, but once you know how, it comes naturally.
Road racing is keenly contested in the territory, and Hong Kong riders have a fine record when they compete overseas. Road racing is one of the most popular of all cycling sports.
It is also the most difficult of them all to excel in, because a lot of training is required.
Cyclists like Hung Chung-yam and Wong Kam-po helped popularise the sport with their exploits at the Olympics and other international events.
Hung did the territory proud when he finished 12th in the road race at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, while Wong, now considered Hong Kong’s finest, has done tremendously well overseas, winning the Asian Junior title and the Tour de Taiwan last year, among his list of achievements.
Road racing is tough. Anyone who has taken up the sport will probably tell you that he or she could hardly make it up their first hill.
Only serious training can help you become a good rider, and that is always strenuous – especially for beginners.
‘To become a good cyclist one must work hard, because cycling can be very hard on the legs, heart and lungs,’ said Hong Kong’s national coach, Shen Jinkang.
‘When I train my squad, I expect them to work hard. A lot of work goes into making a good road racer. They have to put in something like two hours training daily if they want to represent Hong Kong overseas,’ he said.
Despite its limited space, Hong Kong is blessed by spacious country parks and good training routes.
Walter Yue, sports executive of the Hong Kong Cycling Association, thinks the pastime among the healthiest.
‘It’s an excellent cardio vascular and cardio respiratory exercise. Basically, that means it’s good for your heart and your lungs, because when you’re pedalling you’re working out hard.
‘Cycling is safe if you play by the rules. There are many cycling paths or trails built especially for cycling enthusiasts who want to cycle in safety.’ There are trails in Fanling, Tai Po and Sha Tin. It is also fairly cheap to rent a bicycle – about $30 to $50 a day, Yue said.
He does not suggest a youngster should go out and buy an expensive bike to start training in the country parks. He advises beginners to take basic courses (see below) to gain confidence before getting on the country roads.
But be warned, road racing for the serious enthusiast can be extremely expensive.
If a biker wants to train regularly, he would need his or her own bike, and that could cost anything from $1,000 upwards. The best bikes on the market can cost more than $10,000, and a good second-hand bike can set you back $2,000 to $4,000. A good Italian-made frame alone costs a few thousand dollars.
The lighter the bike, the more expensive it is likely to be because of the materials used to make it, which can include titanium.
Brand names like Raleigh and Viner are used by the professionals in Europe, but a lot of cyclists have their own bikes custom-made to suit them.