Hong Kong: Over the past two months I have planned, plotted, and procured for this ride so much so that I am tired of planning, plotting and procuring. I’ve had enough foreplay. I am ready to get on with it.
All the essential elements for this expedition have been in place for a couple of weeks. The past week has been mostly about fine tuning and stress tests, about family and catching up with some friends. At this juncture, there’s really no point of training hard. I am either physically ready — or I am not.
Last week I did manage two rigorous rides with a fully loaded bike. But this was more to test the equipment than to test me. I stayed on Hong Kong island and fought with the cars and double-decker buses for my share of the narrow roads.
On Friday I cycled 75 km and climbed 1300 meters up to the Peak and to the far eastern tip of Hong Kong island at Shek O from my home in the far western tip. Ironically, I think most drivers are more courteous (or is it sympathetic?) with my laden bike. While the passing of a Bentley or a Maserati in Hong Kong doesn’t get anyone’s attention, people sure seem to notice a fully loaded touring bike. Several people gave me the thumbs up as I cycled past. It was a hot, hard day, and the grinding effect of hauling a load up the mountain produced a tired, sore body.
To create more weight I randomly threw into the panniers some meaty books such as Dr Spock’s Baby and Child Care, which I think weighs about five pounds. Later that evening, it was “movie night” at home and I quickly bonked on the couch. My seven-year son outwitted and outlasted me.
After the stress test of these rides I made some last-minute upgrades to my kit, replacing some old panniers and cycling shorts, among other things, with new. I am now saturated with stuff, and my new task is to somehow find a way to squeeze my sprawling cycling kit into four panniers. Wish me luck.
On the social front, on Saturday I exchanged my black cycling shorts for black tie at a gala dinner on Saturday night in support of my son’s over-privileged school. After hanging in flip-flops and bike pants for much of the week, it felt awkward to get all decked out. I won’t be needing the cuff links and cummerbund for the next several months, that’s for sure. But it was fun to hang off the soccer pitch with some fellow parents.
One of my explorer friends in Hong Kong, Humphrey, who cycled from Buck Palace to Government House (ie London to Hong Kong) came over to check out my gear, give some tips, and talk adventure over some beers. We spread out my big map of Europe over the dining room table and Humphrey proclaimed, “This isn’t a map of Europe! This is your playground. You can go there, there, and there…”
Today Channel News Asia, whose footprint stretches across Asia, Australia and the Middle East, broadcast a feature entitled “Sony executive swaps suits for saddle to raise funds.” Here’s a link to that video:
It will soon be playtime in Europe. And at long last I’ll be able to get on with it.