Hong Kong wins gold as Asia’s top unicyclists take to Lamma’s downhill trails on final day of Asia Pacific Unicycle Championships
The third and final day of APUC was mountain unicycling, but the wildlife proved as much an obstacle as the downhill routes
Lamma Island recently played host to one of Hong Kong’s more obscure sports. One wheeled riders ventured to the island’s trails for mountain unicycling (muni).
The event was the third and final day of the Asia Pacific Unicycle Championships (APUC). The pedallers set off on a timed loop. Bridger Estell from Hong Kong took gold despite contending with the local wildlife as well as the course itself.
Estell accidentally angered a hornets’ nest and was stung as the riders walked the course before the race. He was then stung again later.
Once the nest was angered, the athletes had to approach the section of the trail slowly and then just as they came within range of the nest, they would pedal like mad as the hornets swarmed behind them.
Alternatively, they were given the option of getting off the unicycles and walking through the jungle.
“Make sure you push your wheel in front of you as you go through the bush,” Robert Rogers, event director said. “This is definitely snake territory.”
Most riders picked the hornet gauntlet in a sure case of ‘better the devil they know’.
Day one of APUC was for hockey. Hong Kong met Australia in the final. At the end of regular time there was nothing separating the two teams with a score of 2-2, but after extra time, the Australians were victorious 4-2.
Hong Kong’s second team won the B-league.
The second day of APUC was trials, which means riders enter obstacles courses such as stairs and jump over piles of wood. Trials was won by Gene Chiu from Taiwan. The athletes also competed in track and field events, like sprints and high jumps.
Adverse weather forced a change in schedule. So, many of the athletes had already returned to their home countries when the muni event took place. But it is the first time APUC has included muni, so the organisers consider it a relative success.
Unicycling has a large and committed community that has layers to it reflecting normal society. “Hockey is the most established sport, played by all the traditional unicyclists” said Martin Turner, one of the stalwarts of Hong Kong unicycling. “But there’s lots of different sports. The young kids hang out on the street and do tricks like skateboarders do, for example, they even use the same lingo as skateboarders. There’s freestyle, which is like figure skating.”
Turner has taken part in long distance unicycling, covering 80 kilometres a day through New Zealand and China.