Road cycling, as a very accessible sport, has long been popular around the world. In recent years, with the efforts to reduce carbon emission and the goal to become a greener city, Beijing has seen more bikes on its roads replacing private cars as an alternative means for public transport. Therefore, road cycling is becoming a more and more popular sports in Beijing with a rapid growth of bike clubs and communities.
Amerigo: Beijing is definitely great place for cycling.
Today, we're gonna hear the stories of Amerigo, a member from Beijing Bike Polo Club who are heavily involved in road cycling. His experiences can probably help us get a clearer idea about what it feels like to ride on Beijing's roads.
Amerigo developed a keen interest in cycling at a very young age. Owning a lot of bikes when he was a teenager, Amerigo started his cycling experiences with BMX, the bicycle motocross. While it is not until he came to Beijing, that he accidentally found the pleasure of road biking. Now he enjoys cycling on the road so much that he can even ride two or three kilometers around the city per day just for fun.
Amerigo: Road bikes I discovered in Beijing actually. It's kind accidentally, I been here for years I bought a road-bike, really cheap thing, maybe around 1400 RMB. I started riding around the city. I just like screaming from place to place because the thing was just so fast. And you'll get anywhere much faster than the taxi, faster than subway. It's really just like open up my eyes.
And another reason for his addiction to road cycling, he says, is the sense of safety while driving around the city.
Amerigo: Well, you know, get a road bike here in Beijing and cycling, you know, when you're cycling everything is in your control. You can go as fast as you want or as slow as you want, you can get around buses, get around cars. You'll do that as safe as possible.
Amerigo finds that the construction of infrastructure, as well as the social customs are the key factors that optimize the riding experiences in Beijing. For example, he discovers that most drivers in Beijing have the awareness of respecting people on bikes. They truly know what it's like to own a bike, and what space is needed while riding.
Amerigo: But I see the drivers here are, you know they have the awareness that's really incredibly uncommon. I'm an American, you know compare to back home, if I ride the same way here you know back home that I do here, the drivers, people just have the, a kind of indignation to them about the car ownership. Cause the car is the extension of yourself and your personality. And over here people don't have that. You know they, as they see cyclist, as they see you and recognize you as belonging on the road. And it's quite nice. The traffic you've mentioned you know the cars becom more numerous, but the bike lanes and infrastructure here is phenomenon. You knowthe bike lanes are huge.
Amerigo: Because I mean really, in the highways, you see through the highway throughout the city. But for the most part, you know, people are quite respectful. It allows you to really get anywhere around Beijing by bike.
It's been decades since Amerigo came to Beijing. Now, he has already gotten familiar with the city's road conditions and often introduces beginners about the tips of cycling in Beijing.
Amerigo: I'm from Denver Colorado, and so many people driving and such a few amount of people walk. People are just not really aware that you were there. And that's significant. It takes some people getting used to it. The Westerners, they realize that hey, it's quite crazy, it's chaos out there. But just have the awareness. Wear helmet and eye glass protection and you'll be safe.
Because of his passion for this sport, he always encourages people who are new to the city to try road cycling.
Amerigo: Join that, try that, it's quite fun. It's quite interesting. You'll meet new people and you'll discover some new opportunities and experiences.
Speaking about the most impressive experiences of riding in Beijing, Amerigo appreciates the cycling communities in China which is described by him as really welcoming, inclusive and friendly. Therefore, even if you are a beginner, or a foreigner, you don't need to be intimidated for joining a community.
Amerigo: There's good community here, foreign community and local Chinese community that's quite inclusive, quite warm and welcoming to the beginner.
For Amerigo, the cycling community is something that can provide him with a sense of being supported.
Amerigo: The local cycling communities in China have really been the best. It's really, quite refreshing, because even with the perceived language barrier, if you don’t speak Chinese. I've been out with friends before, and I have a friend who've got a flat tire before. We wouldn't have any resources when we have spare too. And cyclist in a cycling community is incredibly helpful. They are not just oh they are foreigners they might be tourists. But they really treat each other quite well. And a guy stopped and he had spare too and he fixed my friend's flat tire, my friend's puncture.
Now, after years of cycling practices in Beijing, Amerigo has founded a club, named Beijing Bike Polo Club, which created a brand new kind of sport. This special kind of sport combines cycling and polo, which is traditionally seen as something for the upper classes. Now, everyone could participate in polo as long as you have a bike.
Amerigo: Here's the matter your balance plus we ride one-handed because you need one hand to hold the mallet. It's a credibly change in the beginning. But you know you don't need to ride like a maniac or a profess. A lot of the games some of the best play we have is just, just done very slowly and a lot of finesse.
Highly recommended by Amerigo, bike polo is gaining an increasing popularity beyond cycling communities. And he sincerely hopes that it can be enjoyed by people from all walks of life.
Amerigo： It's challenging for sure. But it's interesting. People come from all walks of life with all kinds of different experience. You see people sail and improve it, bike polo it. It's just really unexpected. We have a number of players that are not really cyclist necessarily. Or people that are not so athletic, but they pick the bike polo. It's really impressive.
Like many cyclists in Beijing, Amerigo believes that in the future, there will be much more people participate in cycling because of the better riding environment, fantastic community culture and the strongly advocated environmental protection concept of green travel.