Hong Kong is the head quarters of champion systems clothing, the major sponsor of the team I will be riding for this year. Consequently, it is only fitting that the team assemble here first to meet everyone and to collect all the equipment for the year before flying to Chiangmai in Thailand for the team's first training camp. (And to avoid import tax if all the equipment was sent directly to Thailand)
Each rider was told to bring only the bare essentials, as the team gear was close to the weight limits for the airline. Every rider received a back pack with a helmet, sunnies and water bottles in it, a small suitcase with casual clothes, a massive suitcase with 6 months worth of cycling gear for every condition you could imagine, a bike with spare race wheels and a bike bag for the bike.
This already sounds like a lot of stuff, but picture 20 people, each with the above luggage, trying to check in for the same flight at the same time.
Needless to say, we caused some scenes at the airport. 20 people all dressed in the same clothes pushing a trolley stacked with the same bags. We formed our own line at the check-in and used some sneaky tactics to ensure we were under the weight limit. Such as:
- Pack as much as you can into your carry on luggage including the heavy items.
- Don't take your carry on luggage with you to the check in counter. They can't weigh it if you don't have it.
- Each person takes the same bag up when they check in- the lightest bag - but present the heaviest bag to be tagged. The bags all look the same, they will never know.
- Swap heavier items into already checked in bags.
Despite these tactics, the team still managed to be 30kg overweight. Fretting the extra weight charges, we had no choice but to pay the fees. In Australia this would usually attract a fee of around AU$200, however, Asian airlines seem to be considerably cheaper, as the excess luggage fee was a measly AU$15!!!