Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cycling in Hong Kong - again

I went for another ride on Lantau, this time demonstrating the truth of Noel Coward's maxim about mad dogs and Englishmen. As a sign of how hot it was last week, the midday heat was more bearable than 8am had been last Sunday.
Chi Ma Wan at Garmin Connect

That said, I was sopping wet by half an hour into the ride, and although the pace was much quicker than last week, I was still very slow: after the roller-coaster of the trail to Chi Ma Wan, the next 9 kilometres seemed to be an eternity of shoving, like I'd been given the job of pushing Sisyphus' bicycle up a flight of stairs.

Still, we must imagine he was happy about that.1

Quite near the end, Paul rode off the side of the trail and got stuck in a bush. This was preferable to falling twenty feet onto a nice big slab of rock, but this didn't encourage me to be any less cautious about riding down stairs. So I continued plodding on, walking half, riding half.

The last mile or so was great: much less rocky, so I could get some speed up, and then a series of water bars to clatter down - some with hidden steps behind them to surprise you as you rode off them. It wasn't until I got to the very bottom that one of the others pointed out that neither my front nor my rear suspension did anything, apart from running through all the travel on the first impact, and then staying there while I got battered. So that's another trip to the bike shop/another round of playing around with shock pumps/some time spent swearing at mechanical devices in the near future.

We then had forty minutes to get back for the ferry, or else sit in Mui Wo for two hours. I figured that my girlfriend wouldn't be too happy with the latter outcome, even after she got that Tiffany ring yesterday. So I pedalled as hard as I could back to Mui Wo, panting and looking at my watch in abject defeat as the minutes ticked by. At 5 minutes to I was at the top of the steps at the start of the ride. At 3 minutes to I was sprinting towards the China Bear. At 1 minute to I was standing at the ticket office as the woman faffed about with my change, seemingly slower than anyone else has ever moved before.

And at 4 o'clock I was sat on the ferry. Never been so relieved all year.

I drank 3.5 litres of water, 1 litre of Pocari Sweat, 1 salt tablet and a cheese and mushroom toasted sandwich. I doubt that the sandwich constitutes a well-balanced diet, but then I did have a SoyJoy bar on the ferry on the way out, so perhaps that counts. We probably would have needed less time if we'd managed to catch the 12:15 ferry from Mui Wo to Chi Ma Wan (except it doesn't exist) or hired a van to drive us over (except they don't answer the phone on Sundays) or taken a taxi (except there seems to only be one taxi on Lantau, and he was driving Mrs Wong to the airport).

1 I'm not sure if Camus rode a bicycle or not. Perhaps he would have been too busy goalkeeping for Algeria. Then again, he was French, so it's quite likely that he would ride a velocipede while wearing a striped shirt and a string of onions round his neck. Sacre bleu!


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