Our man is hard at work. He doesn’t know any other way.
Hong Kong is the 3rd most densely populated place on Earth. Double decker busses and taxi cabs make up a big portion of the traffic. There are very few scooters and motorcycle and almost no cyclists.
On a hot humid afternoon, I threw a leg over my smallish borrowed bicycle and headed into the fray. The drive on the left hand side deal immediately tossed my “car radar” into ALERT.
Sweat dripped down my back as I navigated from the smaller residential streets into the bumper to bumper melee that was the only artery to my destination some 6 miles away.
There are a billion street lights and much like any other place, the drivers tend to drag race from one to the next. I threw down a mean sprint and was able to keep up with traffic. The road is 4 and 6 lanes wide. On the bigger streets there¢s a jersey wall down the middle separating opposing traffic. I was working the (left) curb side for a while, but the HORDES of bus and cab drivers move with a mechanical efficiency, stopping too frequently while picking up and dropping off passengers. These driving professionals hold tolerances of less than a few feet between their bumpers. Try cutting off a dozen double decker busses some time! I found myself fading to the right into fast traffic to avoid being smashed into the curb on my left. Just then I saw another cyclist (a sort of rare sight). A kid in a pink polo shirt and black rubber boots riding a 40 yard old straight bar that was freshly spray painted silver tires and all. I fell in behind polo boy who was smoothly working the right edge of the fast lane!! He wasn¢t going fast, but he was holding his ground, traffic sweverd around him when speed permitted. When traffic would slow, he would split lanes and pass traffic all the way to the traffic lights. I tailed him for a few minutes, gaining confidence, until he split between two moving double deck busses that were dangerously close together. Though his handle bars were wider than mine, he charged damnation alley with inches to spare on either side and dropped me. I could have followed, however, I was not over confident with my borrowed suspension piley to try and shoot that gap. Not only that, the double deckers are fucking HUGE, you don¢t even have to look over your shoulder to know that they are there. They block out the sun like an eclipse and their hot exhausts are like as blast furnace as you pass them.
I got the hang of things and was soon enjoying splitting lanes, even passing a motorcycle cop! I was working the fast lane and grinning at the thousands of walking gawkers on the sidewalks. Seeing a white guy cyclist blasting along is an unusual sight for folks in HK. I fell into a rhythm and began to take in the scenery increasing my pedaling enjoyment.. The sun was setting; I turned on my lights and continued. Before to long I was lost and loving it. Little parks, wet markets, neon signs and tall buildings kept my mind busy. A little too busy, as I had a pedal strike on the fast lane curb that nearly ended my fun but it certainly FOCUSED my attention.
I stopped and asked for directions twice. Once from a couple of helpful young women who seemed to be willing to cancel whatever it was they were doing in order to get me back on track. Still lost, I hit up a kid on a scooter at a stop light. The kid seemed to find it humorous to be helping a lost “Gweilo” on a bicycle. His directions were good, and soon I found myself on familiar ground. I was satisfied. I had figured out how to work the roads, how to look at the arrows on the ground to know the traffic flow, how to ignore my right hand drive instincts, how to use the sidewalks and to run stop lights to give myself a kinetic advantage (outlaw). Most importantly.
I WAS RIDING.