Red Bull Mini Drome turns sporting competition into a party

Red Bull Mini Drome turns sporting competition into a party

It was a Saturday night party, as fixed-gear bike riders came to Kwun Tong for the Red Bull Mini Drome circuit's only stop in Asia this year

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Wu Kin-san, who competed in the Beijing Olympics in 2008, said he just had to come for this.
Wu Kin-san, who competed in the Beijing Olympics in 2008, said he just had to come for this.
Photo: Edward Wong

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Cheng Kam-chuen says he loves the challenge of competing on the smaller track, and the atmosphere.
Cheng Kam-chuen says he loves the challenge of competing on the smaller track, and the atmosphere.
Photo: Edward Wong

The venue is called "Fly the Flyover": imagine a velodrome beneath a flyover in Kwun Tong, where music, multicoloured lights and more than 800 passionate spectators turned a sporting event into a party.

The Red Bull Mini Drome, which took place on Saturday for the first time in Hong Kong, is the world's smallest velodrome bike competition. For the past few years, a circuit has been built for it in places such as New York, London, Seoul and Tokyo.

Hong Kong is the only place to hold an event in Asia this year. Among the 100 or so fixed-gear bike riders taking part was Wu Kin-san, a Hong Kong athlete who competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics in road racing.

"The track is very different from what I am used to riding on. The competition is not easy for me, but I am happy to have taken the challenge and given it a try," says Wu, a former Hong Kong national team member.

"There are no brakes on the fixed-gear bike, and the tyres are generally wider, so there is more rubber touching the road surface. The competition requires a lot of skill. Even though I've taken part in many competitions before, I felt the pressure."

A standard velodrome track is 250 metres long, but the Red Bull minis measure only 14-by-7 metres with a 42-degree slope.

Wu finished 10 laps in 52.94 seconds in the preliminaries, placing 24th and failing to qualify for the knockout round. Even so, he hopes to promote cycling in Hong Kong. And he had a blast.

"You see, this competition is more like a party. The variety and range of cycling are indeed very wide. I hope my participation here and the presence of fellow riders can convey how fun this sport can be," he says.

It is really not the result that matters, but the spirit. Riders collapsed, but cycling lovers cheered for them and encouraged them to ride again.

Cheng, a Form Five student at MKMCF Ma Chan Duen Hey Memorial College, also took part. He enjoys the challenge of the world's smallest velodrome bike competition.

"The event is very well-known and established elsewhere, but this is the first time it's come to Hong Kong and the only time it'll be in Asia this year, so I enrolled at once. The atmosphere today makes it all worthwhile," says the 16-year-old.

"Honestly I was quite nervous before competing in the velodrome," he says. "There aren't many locations and occasions for us to practise in Hong Kong. We usually ride fixed-gear bikes in skateparks, but the street culture is what we enjoy. I definitely like events like this."

Lin Meng-shin, an 18-year-old rider from Taiwan, appreciates these street events. "In the past two years, there have been no official large-scale fixed-gear bikes competitions in Taiwan, so when we ride in unofficial events, police warn us," she says.

"This trip to Hong Kong is such a pleasant experience. We all gather together for the sport we love. Even if we speak different languages and don't know each other, whenever anyone needs help, there is always someone to offer help. That's how a sport pulls people together."

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
There's no place like 'drome

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