Growing up in Ma On Shan with cycling tracks everywhere, bike riding has always been a hobby for Jason Pong Hiu-chung. The Form Five student started taking part in Hong Kong Cycling Association tournaments as soon as he began attending Tak Shun Secondary School. But after a number of injuries, his parents didn’t want him riding in tournaments.
Frustrated, Jason started thinking of other ways to get involved with cycling. “I thought, if I can’t be a rider, I can contribute by running a cycling team. So I started my own team, Muster, about two years ago,” he says.
The first step in starting his own cycling team was making the team’s gear. “I have a strong interest in fashion design, and making my own cycling gear was a great way for me to get practical experience in making clothes,” says Jason. “Now I’ve designed six bicycle jerseys and also a water bottle for Team Muster, and they will be sold in bike shops soon.”
The theme of Jason’s design is wind, which symbolises speed, so every jersey has the Chinese character for “wind” (風) on it. “I think it is really cool, especially for people in other cultures to see Chinese characters on our jerseys,” he says.
But even with such cool gear, it was hard to get Muster going. Jason tried to start the team in Hong Kong, the US, and in Spain but couldn’t get any riders to join the team. “I have friends in Chicago [in the US] and Spain. We talked about starting the team but it never materialised because there are so many cycling teams there,” he explains. “Same thing with Hong Kong, there are so many teams, so it is not easy to build a new one.”
But Jason didn’t give up. He continued to contact riders on worldwide cycling forums to look for team members. Finally he met a man who shared the same vision as him: Deepak Rai, an English teacher from Dharan, a mountainous region in eastern Nepal, was excited to form a team with Jason.
“It was a surprise for me,” he says. “I knew very little about the country; I have only been to Kathmandu once, on a study tour. It is a beautiful country but I never knew that they have such a rich cycling culture. I never thought that Muster gear would be worn by riders in Nepal.”
After talking to Rai, Jason discovered that bike riding is a popular sport among young people in Nepal. But unlike Hong Kong, where cyclists mostly ride on the roads, the Nepalese love the natural challenge of downhill racing.
“I am so happy that with Rai’s support, Muster is going to host its first ever downhill tournament this month. I won’t be able to attend the race, but I hope to support the people of Dharan with my gear. Part of the profits that I got from selling my designs will go to the people there,” says Jason. “And of course I will visit someday. I think I’ll ride my bike in Nepal once I start university.”
To find out more about Team Muster, please visit their Facebook page.