OK, so I had to get up early to arrive on time and the weather sucked...but what a fun ride!
There is a regular ride route called the 'MAD100'. Not sure about the origins of the name, but it is 100km on the dot and it was certainly a bit mad!
The Chinese New Year edition of this ride always attracts a big group and a wide range of riders, so I thought I would try it out. The weather forecasts have been dire, but I knew I'd be kicking myself if I didn't go.
The ride takes in a huge loop around Kowloon and the New Territories. It gets pretty close to the border with mainland China. Start and finish was at Shatin, right beside the river I coach rowing on.
Cue alarm at 5am. Breakfast, kit, out the door. The start was a long way from home, so I hopped in a cab. The first two I flagged down were not so keen to go that far (end of long shift on a public holiday) but the third guy was cool. It was wet, but not raining when I arrived at the start point.
Here I am, ready to go. I brought a small friend along for the ride, but he was pretty lazy and let me do all the work.
I estimate 70-80 riders braved the rain. A few lads from the group I cycle with on Hong Kong Island, but it was mostly local Chinese riders. Few old guys, few young kids (12-15 years old? I saw one getting a push up the last climb by a teammate or older brother), a handful of girls (all cute!
) and plenty of the fit guys from the cycling and triathlon clubs. I was easily the only Clyde along for the ride. I probably had 25-30kg on most of the guys and at least 10kg on the biggest of them.
The ride started off ok, but things are bound to get strange with such a large pack on public roads. I've never broken so many road rules in such a big group before. I can't even guess at the number of red lights we breezed through - and even if I wasn't happy to go through a few of them, there wasn't much I could do about it in the middle of the group. Here we are turning left on a red.
The whole first section of the ride is on the highway (and yes, I did spot the 'no bikes' signs!) which was a bit crazy, but the drivers were pretty cool about it since they could see this huge pack of riders. We did have a motorbike cop ride past at one stage and get on his PA system to tell us to stay left, but no hassles. There were also quite a few "friends and family" cars that not only took plenty of photos and video, but escorted in certain areas.
I had one spot of bother early on. One rider had stopped on the side of the road to take photos of his teammates. The guy beside me took one hand off his bars to wave and slowly veered over towards me. I didn't notice until too late as I was looking forward. His bars hit mine, his leg hit mine (and pedal) and since I was at least 25kg bigger, down he went. He seemed ok and the other riders told me to keep riding when I tried to stop and give assistance. He was still with the pack at the end.
For most of the way it was two groups. I was happy enough in the second group and the pace was fine (final ave for 100km was about 28km/h/17.3mph, but mostly sitting on 30-35+ on the flats), but people were being careful on the descents because of the rain and a few of the peculiar habits of the road makers here (metal covers on apexes, inch wide gaps running parallel with road). I hit a max of over 60km/h at one stage so it can't have been all bad (probably on one of the nice highway bits).
A couple of re-groups saw the two packs back together, but the whole thing blew apart with about 25km to go where a long climb spread out the riders and then everyone made their way back to Shatin in small groups. Luckily I tagged along with a small group of guys that had at least one rider who knew where he was going.
All my kit is filthy. I rinsed it and the dirt and grime that came out was amazing. My socks were a nice uniform grey colour above my shoe, but still white where they were covered. Haven't braved the bike cleaning yet - that will take a while! There is a ton of large scale grit to get off.
The co-pilot is drying out nicely. If he is good for the rest of the day he might earn a piece of cut apple - every possum's favourite!
Here is the data from the Garmin...