Thursday, March 29, 2012

Flying Ball Bike Shop and then some

When we were in Hong Kong, my friends and I made it a point to pass by Flying Ball Bicycle Co. Ltd., the authorized dealer of Brompton. The shop is located a few meters from Exit B1 of the Lai Chi Kok MTR Station
The bike shop is owned by Mr. Lee. Sayang kasi on the day we visited, Mr. Lee was not there. He was in Taiwan to attend the Taipei Cycle Show. Sayang, wanted to meet him. They say he's nice. Anyhow, one of his supervisors was there to assist us. For the life of me, I forgot his name. I think it's Peter.
Flying Ball doesn't only sell Bromptons. The bike shop sells all kinds of bikes including road bikes, mountain bikes, kiddie bikes and other folding bikes. Unfortunately, taking photos is prohibited while inside the shop so I couldn't show you the bikes and the accessories. I managed to snap this single photo when no one was looking.
So what did I do in Flying Ball? Well, aside from ogle at all the Bromptons and accessories, I did buy a few trinkets. First, I bought a Flying Ball Brompton Tool for HK$100 (or P550). It's really just a wrench with the 2 sizes of Brompton hex nuts. I don't think it's worth the money I paid. But it's okay, I bought it as a souvenir.

The next thing I got was this Minoura BH-100C Bottle Cage Holder. Price was HK$150 (or P825). I bought this because it mounts on the handlebar and it positions the water bottle right in the middle. I haven't installed it yet. So I'll blog more about it after I do.

I also purchased a Wipperman Connex Link for HK$65 (or P360). It's supposed be a chain connector that does not require any tool to remove or link the chain. Ang laki-laki ng box, pagbukas ko ang liit liit lang pala. To be honest, I don't touch my bike's chain, so I had no idea that there was an issue worth fixing. But Diane bought it, so I bought it. Pa-install ko kay Mang Nestor sa Tryon.

And then I bought some Brompton parts--like a replacement EZ wheel and a seat post rubber bung.
From Flying Ball, the group also paid a visit to Wing Fung Bike Shop, the authorized dealer of Moulton bicycles in Hong Kong. The 2 shops are 3 blocks away from each other.  
Moulton bikes are more expensive than Bromptons. Technically, they don't fold, so they're not "folding bikes." Moulton bikes are detachable. So why buy them? Well, friends swear that Moulton bikes handle roads really well.
Wing Fung is also the dealer of Tyrell bikes. These are high-end folding bikes. I didn't even dare ask how much they cost. I mean, why bother?
The Tyrell bikes may look fast, but they fold ugly.

No, thanks. I'll stick with my Brompton M6R.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

FCAAF Folding Bike Race 2012

Last Sunday, March 25, the Filipino-Chinese Amateur Athletic Federation (FCAAF) included a folding bike race for the first time in their 10th Springfest Bike Challenge. Naturally, my group, Folding Bike Pilipinas (FBP), participated in the activity.
The event was held along Macapagal Ave. in the ASEANA Complex, Pasay City, near S&R and the New Chinatown. We were the first race scheduled for the day and we should have started at 7:30. But because of some technical difficulties, we didn't start until an hour later.
Let's do this!
Considering our small community, I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of participants, including members of TSP and Polkit. Saw racers in Stridas, Peerless, Bromptons, Bike Fridays, Giants, Fujis, and Dahons.
We were instructed to fold and park our bikes at the starting line and move 100 meters back. The problem was participants parked their bikes so close to each other that I already foresaw the chaos that would follow when it came to the unfolding. The organizers should have told us to park our bikes on the sides and leave the center open. That way, when we run to our bikes, we can unfold our bikes without hitting other participants and leave the start without delay. (Hopefully they take note of this for next year)
Anyway, at the signal of the race manager we all ran to our bikes and unfolded them. As expected, bikers unintentionally hit each other.
We proceeded with the race.
That's me in the yellow shirt and white helmet
Now I'm not known for my speed. In fact, I'm known to be one of the slowest and weakest bikers, but my friends convinced me to join this race (special mention to Abel and Al) because they said we'd be biking in "parade mode" or about 20kph. I told myself, I could do 20kph. So I joined.

Sen. Miriam saying, "WAH!"
Lo and Behold, they all took the race seriously and pedaled as fast as they could. I should've known this, I mean, it is a race, right? But the problem was, thinking we were going to go slow, I wore pants and didn't bring any water bottles with me--in short, I was not prepared, and ultimately blame myself.
After 1 lap I was so thirsty
Glad the FBP tent had Funchum. My thirst was quenched.
The race consisted of biking for 30 minutes and then adding 2 laps. A complete lap stretched from Mcdonalds to the end of Macapagal Ave. in ASEANA and back, or about 5 kilometers per lap. The road was pretty flat but the wind was blowing.
I was biking so slow, that by the time I completed my 2nd lap, the lead bikers were already on their 4th! While I was going 20kph, they were probably going 40kph!
With Zian. His Brompton's crank got stuck so I stopped and helped him.
So on my 10th kilometer, I called it quits--no way I was going to catch up with them. Heck, at the speed I was going, I might have even lost to the winners of the roadbike race that followed!

I took refuge in the FBP tent. Had my FunChum juice and Cheese Roll (Thanks, Ruth and Dhine!).

A few moments later, the frontrunners crossed the finish line. I don't know the name of winner but he rode a Giant Halfway. Congratulations, sir!
This isn'tt the winner, but he could've been if he used his Vector. This is Al and he finished among the Top 10 I think.
Except for the crowded-folded-bikes-starting-line issue, I think the race went well. I was tired as a horse in a horse-drawn carriage on a hot summer afternoon after touring a truckload of tourists  in Intramuros, but I actually enjoyed folding bike race. I hope FCAAF organizes another one next year...

and THAT, I will surely prepare for! Spandex jersey, cleats and all!

PS: Thank you to Al Castillo, Ariel Arias II and Gerry Altamira for the photos in this post.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Video: FCAAF Folding Bike Race 2012

Some videos, I found on YouTube, from the recently concluded 10th FCAAF Springfest 1st Folding Bike Race held at Macapagal Ave., Pasay City, last 25 March 2012.
Here, we are unfolding our folding bikes. It was kind of crowded. We had a difficult time accessing our bikes and proceeding with the race. May be next time the organizers should designate both sides to park the bikes and leave the middle open (Just like the Brompton World Championships). That way, even if the bike is parked at the back, the rider can unfold and bike without bumping into other racers.

This is also at the start of the race, when all riders have unfolded their bikes and are now biking.

This is another video from the perspective of one of the racers. It's actually a cool video, if you just skip the "crotch" segment.

This last one I shot. It shows the winners of the race as they blaze past the finish line.

It was a fun activity! Will post some photos next time!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mini Bike Tour of Hong Kong 3 (Sha Tin-Tai Po-Fanling)

That's me, Eugene and Charlie
And that's Diane with her green Brompton
On our second day in Hong Kong, the five of us, Diane, Val, Charlie, Eugene and I, assembled at University Station in Sha Tin, north of Kowloon. The weather outside was 13 degrees Celcius and there was an overcast just like the day before, so it was a cold day to go biking, but there we were. I did not bring any gloves with me and my hands were freezing. It's a good thing Val had an extra pair with him and lent them to me.
We first biked to the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Campus. Easily got impressed with the bikelane infrastructure in the area.
We biked south of the station and stopped at a jogging/biking bridge overlooking Sha Tin Hoi river and Mount Ma On Shan.
From there, we retraced our steps and headed back north via the Sha Tin-Tai Po bike network.

Got to use a couple of bike tunnels. Wished they had these here in Manila.
So cool to be biking in a bike dedicated tunnel
We reached Pak Shek Kok Promenade and continued biking. Reminded me of the Roxas Blvd./Manila Bay Baywalk.
Passed the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park. We took a break in one of the buildings. Diane and Eugene had brunch.
Then we continued riding along the Tolo Harbor. It was just beautiful. I really enjoyed biking the miles and miles of bikeways. For the most part it was flat.
My mandatory "Day Off" Pose
We stopped at the Tai Po Lookout Tower. Took some photos of Yuen Chau Tsai Bay.
Then we continued riding until the end of the bike network. I computed 18 kilometers of uninterrupted bikelanes. Kung may ganito lang sa Manila, araw araw ako magba-bike commute. Ang swerte ng mga nagtatrabaho dito. May bikelane sila na maganda.
We biked along Ting Kok Road until we reached Tai Mei Tuk Water Sports Center. We stopped at the dam overlooking Plover Cove. Para siyang CCP/PICC noong araw--many bikes-for-rent. People there were also doing water-related activities like kayaking, sailing and swimming.
Plover Cove
After the break, we entered Pat Sin Leng Country Park via Bride's Pool Road. This section of the bike ride was very hilly. In fact, at some points, we were required (by a traffic sign no less) to get off our bikes and walk up the incline.
I really didn't cycle this. It was too steep for me. This was pure acting.
When there's an uphill, there is definitely a downhill. At one part of the road, from the peak to the bottom, I think I clocked in 40kmh!

We stopped at a roadside canteen in Luk Keng. We had spicy noodle soup for lunch. Enjoyed the view of Starling Inlet. Watched migratory birds float on the water. Val said that just across the bay where we were sitting was Shenzen, China!
After lunch, we pedaled a few meters to another roadside canteen, Chan Fung Kee, and had cold Taho with ginger.
Yummy Taho
We continued our bike tour of the Hong Kong countryside. Val took us through the sidestreets and we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere. Charlie and Eugene said the place looked like we were in UP Los Banos--just because of all the greenery surrounding us.
Doesn't that remind you of UPLB and Mount Makiling?
We headed towards Fanling but stopped at Lau Shui Heung Reservoir. Beautiful man-made lake. It looked like we were in Switzerland.
With our host and ride leader, Val Roque
From the reservoir we pedaled to Fanling, where we finally ended our bike tour.
We folded our bikes and boarded the train to go back to Mongkok. We biked a total of 45 scenic kilometers that day.
I truly, truly enjoyed this bike tour. It was awesome. Thanks, Val, for planning and leading the ride.

PS: Special mention again to Diane Flaviano and Charlie Gaw for some of the photos in this post.