2013 Hong Kong Track Cycling National Championships

A one-day stopover in Hong Kong during a recent trip to Asia turned out to be serendipitous; the territory s track cycling championships were certainly not on the Cycling iQ radar prior to arrival but, thanks to a hunch to check the Hong Kong Cycling Association s home page that same morning and aided by the excellent public transport system a diversion trackside was called for.

Ease of access and stunning surroundings don t guarantee a velodrome (in the background of this photo) will be frequented by the public. It also takes marketing.

I had never visited the steeply-banked uncovered velodrome at Whitehead Golf Course in Hong Kong s New Territories but, even if it was literally at the end of the (Ma On Shan) line, Hong Kong s compact landscape meant there was no excuse not to take the 45 minute journey from my base near Tsim Sha Tsui.

The 250 meter velodrome, made available to the Hong Kong Cycling Association (HKCA) and its members by the Hong Kong Sports Institute, lies rather solemnly, in otherwise sublime surroundings, beside a busy driving range and upmarket golf club. To the north lies Tolo Harbour and Plover Cove Country Park; prettier surroundings for a velodrome would be hard to find though, on the day of the championships, less than 20 of Hong Kong s 7,000,000 residents (equivalent to 0.000002%) had made the journey to spectate.

So, what did they miss? Well, apart from the opportunity to watch a fast-paced mix of short-format races under perfect weather, they missed seeing two World Champions 2011 World Scratch Race Champion Kwok Ho Ting and 2013 Women s 500m ITT World Champion, Lee Wai Sze in action at a national-level event; and all for free.

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Though I stayed for less than two hours, with only a phone camera for company, I hope other travellers to Hong Kong might check the HKCA s race calendar in advance of their trip, just in case they also have the opportunity to experience the easy-going camaraderie of the local track cycling community in a wonderfully unique environment. Full results from the day s racing here (PDF)

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