Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tailor Made

Just a random muse on how it's nice to have things tailor made. Be that bikes, buildings, suits or shoes. Here's my Shanghai cobbler, who tells me postage to Hong Kong is only 6 million dollars. When he actually means 60HKD (about a fiver in real money).

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Action Asia V-Dub Fest

Sadly the days of MTB races every month or so are gone in HK. So when the now annual Action Asia MTB race came up as a 2 day VW sponsored event on the two main cross country courses in HK, I, along with at least 100 other riders, wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to race.

Saturday was 2 laps of the classic Chi Ma Wan peninsula, with a lot of testosterone and fresh legs ready to roll from the gun. The usual mad cap start had one guy on the deck before he'd even started, but heading into the single track I was comfortable enough just outside the top 5, mindful of the fact it was a long race and Chi Ma Wan is such a brutal course that there are always some who fall by the wayside for mechanical, strategy or luck reasons.

And so the margin for error proved to be rather small. I found myself leading a group of three down some wooded singletrack when my own little bout of bad luck kicked in- my bars got caught on a vine I hadn't seen and catapulted me sideways into the bushes! No harm done I brushed myself down and got back to the chase, even if my rhythm was gone somewhat. One of the local riders in my group I would never see again, as he powered his way to 4th on the day, whilst my friend Lewis, who'd clearly been riding too many road bikes and not enough trails, retired. Another casualty from the front of the race was Pierre (pictured above), who had been leading, but rolled his tire off the rim and also retired. My only real age category contender, Ed Cork, who'd flown in from Shanghai the night before, also retired with a mechanical, leaving the front end of the race a little lighter than usual.

At the real business end of the race Keung (pictured above leading) and Cosmo (just behind) fought it out for the win, quite literally, with Keung using all his elbows to make sure Cosmo couldn't pass. It would have been an interesting battle- Keung is the faster rider in a straight line, but Cosmo is so good technically and knows this course like the back of his hand. The above picture was taken about 50m before the finishing line.

Meanwhile, having still posted a 51 minute opening lap I was feeling good on lap 2, confident I would hold onto a solid Top 10 position for the day. Until about 2km to go when the dreaded leg cramp started to creep in! Whilst I was still lapping riders, I could hear someone quite fast starting to make some inroads onto my time. Pedalling with one leg I tried to relax and stretch out on the bike. Easier said than done, the last descent came just in time and I held on for what would turn out to be 5th position on the day, and 1st in my age group. Not bad for a day of crashes and cramps!

Sunday was a new day with a few pairs of fresh legs arriving from those who'd either retired or not ridden yesterday's event. Still, the turnout was even bigger, with around 150 riders estimated to have turned up in Tai Lam Chung for the day. Off the start line there wasn't too much evidence of tired legs though as we hit the initial few km's of tarmac climbs. Keung did his usual trick of attacking like a mountain biking Vinokourov, immediately splitting the field and making a selection. I just missed the cut in this elite group, but still hit the singletrack safely in the Top 10.

With no Cosmo today, Pierre (above) took up the mantle for chasing Keung. Again, Pierre is the better technical rider, but on a course where leg power counts more than most, Pierre was destined for a still admirable 2nd place on the day.

I managed to get my wheel in the air for the photographer on my way to what I thought was a smoking 41.47 first lap. And in years gone by that sort of lap time would possibly have won you the race. But as years go on, speeds go up and times come down. Luckily for me, I had no cramp or crashing issues like on Chi Ma Wan, and I rode a solid 2nd lap for what turned out to be another age category win (My Shanghai man really lost out on not knowing the course...) and 6th on the day. Slightly frustratingly, this put me in 4th overall for the two days, which I always think is the worst place to be- give me 3rd or 5th any day!!!

Leeps (above) rode his way to another 2nd place in Cat behind Lantau rut rider Aldo. The G force from those stairs must be pretty extreme Mark!!!

Meanwhile our track coach Christopher rode his mate's bike to a solid Top 10 position. Can I be 55kg for the hills also please?

And then of course we have the ever smiling Nora, who got a superb 2nd place behind the wonderfully named Philipino Ladies category winner, Baby Bit Bit. And that, I think, is the icing on the cake of  pretty fun weekend's mountain bike racing.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


I'm due a proper post on the who what where and why's of commuting in HK by bike, but mornings on the star ferry like this make it worth it.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

AFGC 2012

The annual Asian Fixed Gear Championship (AFGC) is now an annual event attracting more and more global attention, from the like of hipster heavyweights, such as Prolly and, of course, HK's own flwrider.  You can expect a lot of neon, leopard print, heavy rimmed glasses and hipster / gangnam style.

(My gwuilo in lycra style was a little out of place)

Luckily Sander was on hand to normalise my riding gear a little...

But, style pointers aside, you can also expect a whole lot of fun! I missed the tricks competition, but looking at the above photo it must have been a sight to behold.

I didn't miss Asia's first fixed gear cyclo-cross on a random construction site using a borrowed bike with 20" wheels and about a 20" gear!  Funnily enough, I was bobbin' at this, but it was a seriously fun event that brought the best out of everyone.

I was less useless at the event I'd pinpointed as the one I wanted to win- the fixed gear criterium. This sort of racing is right up my street- fast and hard with a bit of tactical nouse required, but hard enough that you can't just sit in and jump for the sprint at the end. I set out to make the race fast from the start, but found myself on the back foot over the first few laps as those with a better knowledge of the corners on this very short course hit them hard, gaining a few lengths on me and opening up gaps.

However, pretty soon we were down to a select group of riders- Sander, a couple of Chinese guys (one working, one happy to sit in) and myself. After a few digs the guy who'd been working got blown out the back and the race was on. After about 20 laps I started putting more attacks in on the straights from the front, trying to snap the elastic. Eventually this worked, and I was then off the front in solo TT mode, trying to stay upright with no pedal strikes in the corners- with about 20km to ride out for the win.

However, mid flight, I got called in at the pits to pull over- the race was finished. It turns out we had a few administrative difficulties with the boys in blue and that was that- race over. Still, a proper Shenzhen Sunday day out. Thanks to Jan, Sander, Eric & Brian- here's to AFGC 2013!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gold Fingers

'Skyfall' may be in cinemas now and entertaining us in the best of Bond fashion. But where are the new Bond villains based on evil Architects? Even if Erno was apparently rather peeved about Auric Goldfinger being based upon him, I'm sure there's no such thing as bad publicity in cases such as these. So, Mr Mendes, how about it for next time? But which baddie to base him on from today's Starchitects??? Anthony Hopkins could play a good role pulling down some listed buildings in a 3 piece suit with aplomb on his way to world domination, I'm quite sure. Or maybe it's time for a plump Iranian female dominatrix? No names now of course... Well, whatever, in case you don't know the Goldfinger history lesson, it's here: