In early December I picked up my Flying Pigeon from the factory in Tianjin. I owe a huge amount of thanks to Mr Wang, the retired export manager of the company and his colleagues who helped prepare the bike. I am also very grateful to Antonio who runs www.flying-pigeon.es and brought Mr Wang and I together.
The day after, with no preparation, I cycled the Pigeon 140km home to Beijing. I managed the first 50 km in under four hours but the remaining 90km took a tortuous nine and a half hours. It was undoubtedly the hardest physical challenge I have endured since my final law exam, which had the grave misfortune of following the 2005 Champions League Final.
Still, at least I didn't end up as a lawyer.
The bike I am riding is a new Flying Pigeon PA-02, which was made for the African Market. Specifically it was manufactured for a Ugandan car parts business with the fantastically misleading name of The Nile Fishing Company. It has rod pull brakes; a single 46/20 gear; 28 inch wheels; and weighs 21.2kg, which is the same as 1500 weapons-grade vol au vents if you like your weights old school.
The PA-02 is the best selling bicycle of all time but, as I found out, is now almost impossible to buy in China. At its peak the waiting list for a PA-02 was over a year long and the leader of China, Deng Xiaoping, was citing ownership of a Flying Pigeon as a sign of prosperity.
You can still get one in China, if you really try, for the equivalent of £31.
Here comes the bicycle pornography.
This is where I update on my progress. Expect lots of fabricated statistics and dated music references.