Saturday, 18 November 2017

ramping up the difficulty

Since returning to Hong Kong last month, I’ve spent a lot of time exploring the area to the east of Fanling. I hadn’t thought there was much scope for innovation in this area—most of my exploration of cycling possibilities had been to the west—but as I recounted in Reservoir Dodges, there is a path linking Hok Tau Road with the villages further east. All I needed to do was find a viable way back home and I had a complete circuit, albeit one that involved the slog up Lau Shui Heung Road on the outward leg of the ride.

I can’t believe how many new paths and alleyways I’ve discovered in the past four weeks, all of which will be documented in due course, but by far the most technically difficult is a path that links the aforementioned circuit with ‘the final frontier’. The alleyway that leads north from Sha Tau Kok Road, close to its junction with Lau Shui Heung Road, is straightforward—until it crosses the Ng Tung River. This is what then lies ahead:

Following a painful crash the previous weekend, I’d originally come across this on foot because I couldn’t grip the handlebar on my bike with my right hand but didn’t want to be stuck in the house. However, a couple of days ago, having cycled down the ramp the previous day, I decided to see whether the uphill version was possible. It is, although I did fail on my first attempt! Here is a closer view of the previous photo, which probably gives a better idea of the steepness:

In fact, using basic trigonometry, I calculated that the section alongside the steps has an angle of 38 degrees (the riser/tread ratio is approximately 0.8, which is the tangent of this angle). There is a kind of lip, indicated by the red arrow in the next photo, where the slope is briefly steeper than this, and on my first attempt I simply didn’t have enough momentum to get my front wheel over the lip, and I stalled.

Naturally, I went down to the bottom for another attempt, and I succeeded, although this ramp is always going to be difficult—the surface of the path being slightly rounded from side to side doesn’t help—and I don’t think I can guarantee to do it every time. I’ll just have to see. The slope does ease off slightly once you’re over the lip, and I wouldn’t expect to fail if I got that far.


  1. "FUN" to get into steepening slope...

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