We have our own BEAT reporter during the world championships in Hong Kong this week. Cosmas is a BEAT pioneer who lives in Hong Kong. He will be following Theo Bos during the event and will share special behind-the-scenes content on our social media channels, so you won’t miss any of the action during our clubmate’s battle for gold.
Who is our reporter? Cosmas introduces himself
I was born and raised in Hong Kong, and I started cycling as a kid. I started off on a BMX bike like most kids, and then moved on to MTB. And eventually I moved to road cycling, when I was in high school, back in the mid to late 1990s. Back in the old days, cycling was not a popular sport in Hong Kong. I went to Melbourne, Australia, where there was a small outdoor track nearby, and I rode a track bike for the first time.
While I was working toward my engineering degree, I gave up cycling due to the study requirements and part-time jobs. By the time I finished university, I had gained around 50kg, and my weight topped out at 130kg. At that time I thought I would never be able to ride a bike again.
After completing my studies, I went back to Hong Kong and worked for a few years. Then, once my engineering career was established, I started to ride a bicycle again. I started off on a city bike, as at that time I only wanted to lose some weight.
I become a pioneer of BEAT Cycling Club because:
The velodrome in Hong Kong
In 2012, a group of Westerners started to organize a local meet every three months at the Whitehead Velodrome. The velodrome was managed by Hong Kong Sports Institute. It took some effort to find the right channel to get access to the velodrome. I was lucky enough to get involved, and I also started riding on the track again. The new velodrome for the world championships was built in 2013. The difference between the new velodrome and the old velodrome is not only indoors versus outdoors. This time it is run by the government and is more accessible to the general public. I was among the first group of non-elite riders to test the new velodrome.
The indoor velodrome was first proposed after the well-respected Wong Kam-po won the scratch race at the world championships. The government confirmed the funding after Hong Kong had developed a few more world champions in different track disciplines.
The local cycling culture
In Hong Kong we have a fairly strong cycling culture, and you can find almost all types of cycling groups, from the most common road and mountain bike groups to the fairly unusual bike polo and unicycle groups. There are a reasonable number of cycling facilities in Hong Kong. We have two velodromes (the outdoor 250m track at Whitehead and the new indoor velodrome), a BMX racetrack, a few free-style BMX/skate parks, and the world-famous not-continuous cycling paths.
Back in the 1990s, the majority of cyclists rode either a road bike or a mountain bike, but today the cycling population is more diverse. The fixed-gear group has grown a lot, as has the bike-touring group. However, track cycling has yet to become very popular in Hong Kong, though the number of participants has been increasing thanks to the school promotion program.