Ride Route - Lantau
There are several ways to approach riding on Lantau Island, none of them easy, but it is well worth the effort. The route attached has most of the major climbs included, but you could easily break it into smaller pieces to suit your schedule.
The nicest way to start this ride is by taking the ferry from Central, Pier 6. Check the timetable here - note, you can only carry a bike on the slower of the ferry services, which takes 50 minutes. Depending on the time of day you arrive, stop for a coffee at China Bear before starting your ride or just load up on water at the 7-11 nearby. Alternatively, take the MTR to Tung Chung.
Straight out of the gates you’re climbing for the first two kilometres, with gradients into double figures at points. There are a couple of relief sections that allow a slight respite for cold legs. It is not a relaxed start, but easier than the alternative (more on that in a minute)
6km in, you’ll reach a roundabout. This is the bottom of the much feared Reverse Beast. If you were to start your ride from the Tung Chung side, this is where you would end up. A couple of hours from now, this road up may be your escape.
The road follows the coast, rolling past Cheung Sha Beach, before you start to climb again at around the 12km mark. One thing you will notice riding around Hong Kong - all the prisons are in really nice locations - so enjoy the view as you head over the Shek Pik Reservoir, it’s about to get steep.
The next 5km is basically just one ramp after another before you reach the turn off for Ngong Ping and the Buddha. You are faced with a choice here - continue straight ahead and drop down into Tai O or make the turn and head to Buddha ahead of schedule. There is a very nice coffee shop down there in Tai O to entice you - just bear in mind the climb back out is a little harder once you’ve sat around for a while. From the road’s end to the Buddha you have 7km of climbing ahead of you. The last 300m has trapped many people into giving up - it’s dead straight and just fools you into thinking the top you can see is false. Just keep pedalling….
Plenty of tourist traps await you at the Buddha - my advice would be to load up on water, maybe grab a bowl of ‘doufufa’ or a snack and keep rolling. It is not about to get any easier.
The descent off the Buddha, especially if it’s your first visit, should be approached with a little caution. The road is rough, off camber and there are numerous sections of broken concrete - so just take it easy.
There is a nice bonus section here for those who want to squeeze a few more vertical metres into their day. At the hairpin, turn right and follow the signs to Sham Wat. This will drop you 300m back to sea level, where you can turn around and come straight back up. It is a fun climb, with constant gradient changes to keep you honest. Once back at the hairpin, keep heading down.
When you reach the T junction, turn left and just keep descending back to the reservoir.
Around 500m after the end of the reservoir you’ll see an entrance to a park with a boom gate on the left - this is the road you want. For the next 7km you’ll ride along a water catchment along a false flat, parallel to South Lantau Rd you came in on. There are very rarely cars and only occasional hikers to negotiate, so it really is a much more pleasant way to return. You’ll get to another boom gate at the end of the road and are once again faced with choices:
Easiest: Take an immediate, hard right and follow the small road back down to South Lantau Rd and turn left. 2km later, this will bring you to the roundabout you went through earlier today. Carry on straight and return to Mui Wo and the ferry back to Central. There are a couple of pinch climbs on the return but it is only short so you can make it!
Moderate: At the roundabout, make a left and climb. Then climb more. The Reverse Beast is no cake walk. Once you reach the top you have a ripper descent back to Tung Chung, the MTR and a journey home.
Hard: We’re back at the boom gate now - keep going straight then follow the road up to the left. You’re now at the base of the Old Beast. If you look up as you ride along you’ll see the new road above you which replaced the road you’re on back in 2009. It is only 1.2km but this is one tough climb. The catchment you’ve followed to this point has done a fair bit of the climbing for you so what is left, is steep - 15% average and maxing out north of 20%. You’ll know when you get to the top - sneak around the boom gate and then hit that descent back to Tung Chung and the MTR back to Central.
Check the route file here - there are plenty of bailout opportunities or you can break this up into smaller chunks to do on different visits. Starting in Tung Chung and hitting the Beast up first certainly changes the make up of the day.