Midnight maniacs on wheels

Jackie Chan - Editorial Member, The Journalist

[Mar 2012 - The Journalist] Photo-journalists travel and walk a lot every day. In spite of that many love the extra exercise after office hours - cycling furiously along the highways at midnight.

These biking maniacs are almost all males. Chan Ching-yee is probably the only female photojournalist who is crazy for this nocturnal sport.

Chan has lived in the New Territories for a long time. After moving into a rural house, daily biking to the MTR station and shopping became necessary and convenient for her.

Two years ago Chan bought a folding bicycle for a few thousand dollars. Her great biking adventure had begun.

Every weekend she and her photojournalist boy-friend explored different parts of the New Territories by bicycle. This has since become their routine holiday and off-duty activity.

Chan realized that quite a lot of photojournalists, TV cameramen and former reporters also enjoyed cycling. An informal cycling club was formed and now they get together on wheels every week.

“‘If we don’t get to sleep after cycling at midnight, we will have a late night meal together. It is not an expensive activity,” Chan says.

Chan and her partner have since bought professional racing bikes, each costing more than $20,000, not including accessories.

“It was really expensive as a second-hand racing bike just costs $11,000 or $12,000,” Chan said.

But cycling is not just a hobby. It also makes her life more colorful and exciting as life should be more than working every day.

Why cycle at midnight? Chan explained that because they worked until very late and there were few cars on the roads in the midnight hours. She said that they could cycle from Tai Po to Yuen Long and then to Tin Ha Shui overnight and then return home by the first MTR. If they did not cycle enough for the night they would continue to cycle home.

They have also begun to cycle in China and Taiwan. Chan and her partner joined a Taiwan Cycling tour in February to cycle round the island.

Chan joined an amateur cycling club and trains with them every Wednesday except when it rains heavy day. Injury is unavoidable for cyclists. She recalls when she started riding a racing bike, she crashed into her boy-friend. They fell and she hurt her face, hands and legs. It was a scary experience which taught her never to ride too close to other bikes.

Other than not getting too close to other bikes, equipment is also important to protect cyclists from injury. Dr. Patrick Yung, who is in charge of the Hong Kong Jockey Club Sports Medicine and Health Sciences Centre said wearing a helmet is a must and one should make certain that the helmet is not cracked.

Dr. Yung said, UV protection sunglasses are also useful to protect eyes from sand, dust and reduce the glare of headlights from oncoming cars to maintain clear vision at night.

For clothes, Dr. Yung suggested dri-fit tees and cycling pants with additional cushion to prevent parts of pants getting stuck in accessories. He also recommended cushioned hand gloves in order to prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndromes.

For bicycle, the most part is the position seat. For beginners the seat should be placed lower until both feet touch the ground in order to prevent loss of balance. For the professional biker, the seat must be adjusted to a higher level, until the feet nearly not touch the ground in order to maximize the pedalling efforts.

Dr. Yung said cycling is a half weight bearing exercise for training of upper limbs, abdomen and legs, it was also an aerobic exercise which can improve cardio-pulmonary function.

But he added that the most important reminder is to ride with cyclists of similar speed, not to over-exercise, not to challenge over too difficult routes as the the risks of collision will increase.