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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Vote For Su Chia Chuan 蘇嘉全... He Rides A Salsa La Cruz CX Bike

Of course I am only joking for the reasoning, but I was pleased to see the DPP candidate pictured astride a Salsa La Cruz cyclocross bike. The bike appears to be a 2009 model of the disc only, steel, multi-surface machine, produced for Salsa Cycles by one of Taiwan's top steel frame makers.

I has some friends test one out a while back (and this may very well be the same one) and it was a great bike for a variety of riding in Taiwan.

Now, I don't know if that is really the candidate or a photoshopped head, but for a Taiwan-centered candidate, what better bike than a great Taiwan Bike.

What Is Taiwan's Biggest Bike Market?

You're right if you guessed the United Kingdom.

Europe is big on Taiwanese bikes. Here's the article.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

BREAKING!!! Contador Tests Positive

Three-time Tour de France champion, Alberto Contador has tested positive for clenbuterol


Travelist: Vote For Taiwan Cycling Route

The Travelist is conducting an online poll for the "Best Cycling Routes", and Taiwan has a couple spots on the list to compete against Arizona and the Paris-Roubaix route.

If you like cycling in Taiwan, vote on it. HERE

Training Notes:

I completed my training loop in record time last night. I usually do this route solo, every Wednesday between 6:00p.m. and 7:30pm. The roads are dark and there are lots of traffic lights and traffic to wait for... with all that in consideration, the effort is pretty good.

The best part was my feeling after I warmed up. I just forgot there was a bicycle under my ass and just was concentrating on my immediate goal in front of me. The tension in my legs melted away and I was just spinning away. Glorious!

Now this performance will be the monkey on my back until I can recreate it.

Caotun Loop:

Distance: 50km/31mi.
Max Speed: 50kph/31mph
Average Speed: 32kph/20mph

Bike route 716556 - powered by Bikemap

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Taiwan Tourism and Economic Cycles

Taiwan's central government has recently projected an estimated 5.2 million tourists this year, which would set a new record. The report also eyes bicycle tourism as one of the central targets of the government's tourism push.

The report states:

President Ma Ying-jeou said Saturday that the number of visitors in Taiwan is expected to reach a record 5.2 million this year, mainly because improved cross-strait relations have brought more Chinese tourists.

In the latest edition of his online video journal, Ma defended his administration's policy of allowing more Chinese tourists.

"I think I am doing the right thing, so I will continue to do it and not be afraid of criticism"
To take a more critical look at the government's claims, they have provided only partial and flattering data to support a program that smacks of ideology. I think it is plainly obvious that the Ma administration is hoping to draw speculative conclusions to draw support for its controversial policies that have degraded Taiwan's sovereignty and seek to integrate Taiwan into a political and economic Chinese state as a subordinate member.

It also appears tourism is being targeted to replace the industries in which Taiwan still retains its competitive edge; industries including high-end electronics, semiconductors, sports equipment, and high-end bicycles. It seems Taiwan is slated to become a vassal state of Chinese tourism.

In the report, government representatives also saw a rise in Malaysian visitors and seeks to attract cyclists with more independent modes of travel.
Lai attributed the steep rise to airlines increasing the number of flights between Taiwan and Malaysia. She also said many Malaysian tourists preferred to travel without tour groups, staying in guest houses or riding bicycles.

She said the Tourism Bureau planned to promote the Lantern Festival in the spring, local cuisine in the summer, cycling in the fall and hot springs in the winter.
One alternative source to the increase in tourism may be that the global economic recovery is allowing Asian tourists to seek vacations, but those vacations are less costly and closer to home.


Primavera Cycles has posted a wonderful ride report in its "Newsroom", with some more details regarding the upcoming festival in Hualien next month between October 16 and October 24.

The central government hopes to attract over 10,000 foreign visitors to participate in the event, and I have been hoping to provide a little more information on the activities, but in reading the Chinese language event page from the Tourism Bureau... I am really unsure which events are open to the general public or where exactly to register for the events. Sorry guys. This is really unfortunate as I am aware of several foreign visitors who are interested in attending, but do not have access to the information. Maybe when I have a little time (which I really don't) I can sift through the Chinese information and make an English translation. Maybe not.

I think the aspirations of the central government to be a cycling tourism destination must still overcome some massive hurdles to draw tourists from all over the world and not just from Chinese speaking (reading) countries. Here we can see another event where the vision is wide, but the execution is narrow.

News Cycles:
  • Virginia learns the cerebral joys of riding solo: here
  • Videos from the Cyclocross USGP: here
  • Allen Lim, the sports physiologist for Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis will testify (Oh please let me go to great lengths to give Taiwan ownership of him ala Michael Chang.... Lim's parents fled China at different times and met in the Philippines, then moved to Taiwan, before moving to L.A. where Allen is from. Pride of The Nation... LOL!!!): here
  • Just the good ole' boys... and they mean us some harm! Kentucky driver seeks to harm cyclists: here

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cycling's Ultra-Man DEAD: 5 Time RAAM Winner Jure Robic Killed In Tragic Accident

Jure Robic, the Slovenian ultra endurance racer and five-time Race Across America winner is dead following a collision with an automobile on a mountain road just 5km. from his home.

Ride Safe!

Jure Robic
April 10, 1965--September 24, 2010

UCI Road World Championships

The 2010 UCI Road World Championships kick off this Wednesday with a series of events that will lead to the Elite Men's Finale on Sunday, October 3, in and around the Australian city of Geelong.

Unlike the grand tours, the UCI World Championships are organized around teams of competing nationality, and not by riders working for their trade team (i.e. Saxo Bank, Rabobank, Liquigas... etc.). The winner earns a medal and the opportunity to wear the UCI WCC five-color jersey for a year. Often, companies that supply the winning bike will also include the WCC emblem into their paint schemes.

This year there is still an interesting field of competitors still hungry for some kind of victory after a season of disappointment and woe.

Who to watch:

1) Mark Cavendish, the polarizing sprinter from the Isle of Man, has been making some high talk around town about taking another prize to add to his 2005 and 2008 victories. Cav has had a spotty season with several stage wins, and several self-made implosions. He often comes across as a talented, albeit whiney brat, like Luke Skywalker from the 1977 Star Wars film.

2) The Aussie and current WCC defender, Cadel Evans, is looking to earn his stripes on home soil in full view of his countrymen, and to also atone for his failures in both the Giro and the Tour de France, which he rode with a fractured wrist. Evans looked promising early in the season, but the victories never materialized. This would be a good opportunity to make things happen.

3) Andy and Frank Schleck are back to try their luck on gaining the top spot. So far they have either fallen to injuries or been left holding the bouquet.

4) The Mighty Thor Hushovd will be eagerly awaiting a chance to make Cav eat his words. Thor is another top sprinter who revels in making Cav whine.

5) The Spanish Riders are looking for Milan-San Remo winner, Oscar Freire, to add a fourth WCC to his 1999, 2000, and 2004 titles.

6) The Italians will be fielding a team headlining the young 2010 Vuelta champion, Vincenzo Nibali, to bring Italy back into the ranks of 'World's Best". The Italian teams have taken a beating in recent years, which has raised questions of Italy's commitment to a sport they once owned.

7) The Americans are putting their hopes on Tyler Ferrar, who has had some excellent sprinting victories this season, but the big wins have been elusive.

In any sense it appears to be a sprinter's race this year and it should be worth following. Link

Saturday, September 25, 2010

明德水庫 Mingde Reservoir Century: 190km/119mi

Views Along The Highway 3

Today I really needed to test my legs with a long ride, so I decided to make a trip up to the Ming de Reservoir in northern Miaoli County to see where my legs are after so much down time. It was a sunny morning with patchy clouds later in the day and a northwesterly wind blowing in to take couple kph off my speed.

Dutchman's Pipe Cactus/Epiphillum Oxypetalum Cactaceae

I have done this route before, and it is one of my all-time favorites. The ride combines flats, climbing, descents and urban riding. There are beautiful mountains, rollers, lakes, streams, pastures and oceanscapes. More importantly, the roads are absolutely beautiful. It is really the "perfect century ride" if there ever is one.

Some Nice Rigs Out Today

I first did this ride as part of my project to do five centuries in four weeks, and I was blown away by the entire scope of the ride. Upon leaving Taichung and Fengyuan, I just stayed on the rolling hills of the Highway 3, all the way up to Shih Tan. This stretch is a lot of fun and you can really push the speeds up above 50kph for spurts from the Liyu Reservoir to Dahu and beyond.
I was making good time, but I have ridden the same stretch of road much stronger in the past.

Shih Tan 7-11

At Shih Tan, there is a great little spot outside the 7-11 to chill out, eat, and prepare for the next leg of the trip. While I was there a group from Taoyuan arrived coming off the Miaoli Local 124.
I had actually met one of the riders on a previous trip. We said our surprised greetings and I was off again toward the Ming de Reservoir on the Miaoli Local 126.

Climbing To Mingde Reservoir

I have to state here and now that the 126 is one of my favorite roads ever. Although the climb started at about the 80km mark in my trip, the grade is completely doable. It is a gentle rise up over a deep river valley. The views are amazing (the pictures just don't do justice), and moreover, the road looks as if they had cycling in mind when they built it. It is one of the widest and smoothest mountain roads I have ever ridden. There are rapid descents with banked curves, and clean, well manicured shoulders with decorative flowers. Most of all... there is almost no automobile traffic. I love it. Ride it!!!

Sparkling Waters

The 126 lets a rider cruise along the inlets and islets of the reservoir. The entire area has been transformed into a wetland full of egrets, cranes and other wildlife.


The Banks of the Mingde

I was happy to see the reservoir was so full. It was absolutely brimming with the tears this cyclist has shed over the September rains that have ruined most of his monthly riding schedule.
A Good Sign

The entire route through the reservoir is a designated cycling path and there are several alternatives for riders to explore the entire area.

By the time I left the reservoir I was feeling worse than usual. I couldn't understand where my energy had gone or if the wind was having any bearing on my performance. My butt was getting sore and I just couldn't keep a strong pace.

I stopped at a fruit stall for a banana, and then sat at the 7-11 for a while over a gel and some juice. That gave me just enough energy to climb the hill out of Miaoli and find enough energy to make it to the Miaoli Local 119, which appears just before Tongluo. The 119 is another one of my favorite roads. It rolls down out of the hills under a tunnel of shady trees and out to the Highway 1.

Xihu Government Housing

I took a few minutes to check out a strange, seemingly out of place little neighborhood of government dormitories for the nearby agricultural center. These lonely modernist houses just sort of sit there in the middle of nowhere. Just odd.

I finally took the Highway one back toward home. The Highway 1 is one of Taiwan's ugliest roads... except around this place. From Xihu to Tongxiao, the Highway 1 hugs the coast offering a wealth of seaside views. There are plenty of sections where a cyclist can make up some time on a poor showing earlier in the day.

After the big hill climb that awaits just after the 119 ends, I started to gain precious speed. I was keeping a solid pace around 40kph. This pace carried me to Dajia, where I stopped one last time for an ice cream bar, and then powered my way to Shalu, where I decided to make the hill climb over Dadu Shan to Taichung.

Residential Taiwan?

I made a respectable effort up the hill to Dadu Shan and then, in a burst of raw energy, I mounted a standing attack on the final third of the hill. I felt as though I had just started out. It was amazing.

I crested the hill and made my way down the other side. Just before the Tunghai market soem asshat decided he would try to recover a missed turn and cut across traffic right in my way. I did a little fishtail as I tried to avoid an accident. The simmering tension of a full day of riding and working my ass off in the saddle only to have that happen already had me on edge. Then I saw the guy smiling and laughing with his buddy about it... and I guess it made me go a little ape over things. Enough said. I'm sure he thought he was going to die as much as I had earlier.

I cut through the Industrial District and made it home bounding with energy. I felt much better. I hope to get a few more of these long rides in as I build back into form. I would like the whole ride to feel like the last third of this one.

Lastly, I would like to encourage all of you Taiwan cyclists to try these roads out. They are really that good.

Don't forget to check out Joe Friel's fourth installment in his series about cycling and aging. here

Friday, September 24, 2010

Crank Arm Length and Efficiency

I recently came upon this wonderfully wonky blog that focuses more on competitive cycling and how to record rides for posterity... but it also has a lot of useful information for any cyclist. This topic on crank arm length and efficiency is particularly interesting. One important note is to remember that efficiency and speed do not necessarily correspond. So when the study says 1:60 RPM is the most efficient cadence, that does not mean it is the fastest.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Temple Politics: The Lanterns of Lukang

Lukang's Tien Ho Temple

A huge part of the Taiwan cycling experience for me is not necessarily where I go, but what I see when I go there, or more accurately, how I see it. The landscape is full of meaning and it does not always come in the prepackaged bunting supplied by the Tourism Bureau. Not to brag, but I feel fortunate that I have spent significant time reading and researching Taiwan, to the point that seemingly ordinary things pop out of the landscape and the moments of saddle-top discovery are ceaseless.

Over the past two months I have made several trips to and through the coastal town of Lukang and I would like to spend a little time sharing some insights on the temple as a nexus for cultural, political, religious and economic life in Taiwan. In particular I would like to use Lukang's famous Tian Hou Temple as an example of the politics within the Taiwanese temple and the expression of identity politics within Taiwanese religious life.

Buddhist and Daoist temples in Taiwan are often high on the list of sites tourists would most like to visit. To many tourists and especially "Westerners", temples represent a sort of "authentic Chinese culture" that they seek to view in all its exotic glory, and it fulfills a certain desire for life's "secret mysteries". One recent poster to a bike forum attempted to define east Asian cultures as, "more spiritual and enlightened". Temples and the practices we often see conducted within them are often cited by "Westerners" as demonstrations that Taiwanese culture is undeniably "Chinese". I feel very strongly against this assumption as it neglects to look beyond the superficial and fails to consider the experiential and performative aspects of temple life in Taiwan. Beneath the superficial veneer of glazed tile are symbols and meanings unique to the Taiwanese experience, much in the same way Catholicism, once the domain of another religious based holy empire not unlike the Middle Kingdom, is interpreted by its adherents around the world to fit their own society and experience... making it more an expression of the local through the symbolism of the global.

The idea of a non-nationalist "Chinese" is a often exists in the same place we used to find God in the "Western" sciences; an unproven, undefined, untested, unquestioned truth... a given fact. People often regard the concept of a non-nationalist Chinese in a sort of Potter Stewart-esque construction... "I know it when I see it." But do we really know what we are looking at and how much construction does it require to fit the structures of vastly different governments with vastly different motivations, histories and tropes?

A closer look at Taiwanese temple life demonstrates the dialectic between the various identities that converge in the temple, like spokes to a hub, and how Taiwan's unique experience manifests itself in the displays of a living temple. It also shows how the symbols and meanings within the Taiwanese temple reflect a societal response to a unique Taiwanese experience, changing governing structures and a Taiwan centered historical trajectory.

Couplet From Ma Ying-jiu in a Prominent Place

Upon entering the temple, beyond the ornate sculptures and burning incense, the visitor can see two large, ornate wooden plaques prominently displayed to the left and right of the goddess Mazu, each with a four character phrase wishing luck and bounty on the the temple and the visitor. One of the plaques was presented to the temple by the Secretary General of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and ROC President Ma Ying-jiu. The other by the former KMT Secretary General, Former ROC Vice-President, two time KMT presidential candidate, and Lien family scion, Lien Chan.

It is not unusual for temples and businesses to display plaques like these as a demonstration of their relationship and access to real power. Due to Taiwan's particular historical trajectory, politicians have come to mirror their counterparts in the pantheon of Taiwanese gods as points of power. The display of these plaques serve several simultaneous purposes. The first is for the politician to demonstrate his close relationship with the temple and the gods to imply a type of heavenly mandate, as if it was fated he should be in power.

Moreover, the temple can demonstrate its importance and access to the real power to make things happen that can bring benefit and prosperity to the loyal and the faithful. While the gods are given the authority to bestow luck, change fates, interfere in daily life and secure fortunes in the abstract, the modern Taiwanese politician has the power to make these prayers a reality in exchange for electoral devotion. The politician can control zoning, attract investment, and resolve disputes. At the higher levels politicians also have the ability to influence the outcome of court cases. Politicians offer a real and imagined blanket of security in the mortal world and the Tian Ho Temple is keen to align itself with those who currently hold power. I am aware of several instances where a temple works in conjunction with a local politician for mutual gain. The politician patronizes the temple and brings adherents (who will buy incense, offerings, supernatural favors etc...) and in exchange the spirit medium at the temple will send troubled adherents to the politician for resolution and thus owing the politician his patronage.

Lien Chan's Couplet

In the case of the Tian Ho Temple, the ruling KMT party is clearly entrenched. Temples also serve as points to mobilize political support and many are said to serve as undeclared streams of revenue that flow into party coffers.

With such social and political forces at play within the temple walls, it is no surprise that organized crime syndicates are said to be heavily involved in the operation and mobilization of the temple's economic and political capital. Temples [may] serve as rallying points for organized crime bosses in which politicians can come into open contact with the figures who control several of Taiwan's most important industries.

Beyond the main hall of the temple lies a small court yard. At some point in recent history someone decided to paint a mural in dedication to the temple of origin in Fujian, China. At first glance this may appear to promote and symbolize a close relationship to the authenticity found in China; a major trope promoted by the KMT in over 60 years of ROC rule in Taiwan. The KMT has always sought to push China to the fore of the Taiwanese imagination as a much closer place than it actually is. Most Taiwanese have never been to China and, only after decades of ideological education, conceive of it as an abstract place of imagined ethnic origin, which may not be exactly the case as I argue here.

Over the course of Taiwan's experience between Dutch, Cheng, Qing, Japanese, KMT and democratic government structures and changing motivations of these structures, the Taiwanese temples have also changed-- if not in shape then in meaning. The importance of the temple and its function in society has not been fixed, but it has always been in a constant state of dynamic change and renegotiation to adapt to contemporary Taiwanese life and fulfill a multitude of purposes.

The Inner Sanctum

During the vast liberalization policies of the Lee Teng-hui administrations, Taiwanese were free to openly reinterpret the symbols and meanings of their land and the symbols presented to them by the authoritarian KMT regime. The economic boom of the 1990's, which coincided with vast democratic reforms, allowed new understandings of Taiwanese life and Taiwanese felt free to question their official historical narratives. Taiwanese sought new venues to reframe their world and adjust to the reality of how they viewed themselves and how they viewed Taiwan.

Home Temple

During this period the function of the temple also changed to meet the new social and political realities and religion played a leading role in the shift in the stated identity from Han, then "Chinese" to Taiwanese. Many local entrepreneurs transferred the temple to their own homes or built their own temples to give thanks for their new found fortunes and change in social status. When cross-strait travel was allowed and became less restricted, Taiwanese temples sent delegations to the "home temples", to not only worship at the home temple, but to symbolically transfer the god from the original site in China, to the newer Taiwanese temple; an act of declaring a permanent separation and a declaration of independence for the temple. These pilgrimages did not serve to unite, but rather to transfer authenticity away from the Chinese temple and bring it to the site in Taiwan.

History of Lukang

The role of the temple as a public center was also opened up to encompass local awareness, particularity and history. The sign above tells the story of Lukang, beginning with Plains Aborigines. This is especially important as it seems to intentionally deviate from the old Chinese nationalist trope that often begins with Han immigration to Taiwan and other Han-centric mythologies that frame Taiwan as a periphery of China.

For many decades research into plains aboriginal culture and history was discouraged in favor of a "greater China" view that sought to obscure the Austronesian contribution to Taiwan in favor of Taiwan as part of the Han-Chinese racial nation.

Lantern From The Shinto Shrine

Perhaps the most important, and telling, features within the Tian Ho temple are the two concrete lanterns at the rear of the inner courtyard. They seem to blend into the overall aesthetic of the building and largely go unnoticed.

These lanterns were formerly located at the site of the Lukang Shinto shrine, built by the Japanese during their 50 years of colonization in Taiwan, and later the name of the Showa Emperor was defaced by the KMT during the first several years of Chinese Nationalist (neo)colonization.

The fact that someone preserved and transported these lanterns into a major religious center is a poignant and revealing look into the complexity of Taiwanese cultural life. In both the KMT and the CCP, which both spent nearly a decade (presumably) fighting the Japanese, any symbol of the Japanese colonial period not only raises a deep seeded antipathy toward Japan from Chinese nationalists, but in Taiwan, it also serves to challenge the KMT's own authority as the state.

Defacement By Nationalists

From the earliest moments of contact between Taiwanese and the Chinese nationalists from the KMT, symbols of Japan and the Japanese colonial era have been deployed as a subtle means to challenge the power of the state and especially its implicit sinocentricism.

These are in no way symbols in support of Japan, but rather in support of an alter to the China centered ideology that has failed to reflect all but the views of a minority.

The preservation, and deployment of Japanese era symbolism is one way in which Taiwanese are forcing society and the state to recognize Taiwan's dynamic history from a Taiwan centered perspective and to resist ideological tropes of Chinese nationalism.

These temples are very much a demonstration of Taiwanese culture.

Man Wears His Japanese Military Hat

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Moon Cycles: Mid-Autumn Festival Ride (55mi./89km.)

Joyce and Michael Pose

Today was a national holiday, where the boundary between religion and the state is blurred in the name of ideology. But that is a discussion for a different post. The Mid-Autumn festival, or "Moon Festival" gave us all a chance to break up the week with a little saddle time. My wife, Joyce, and I were joined by Michael T. for 89 wonderful kilometers around Taichung and Changhua counties.

Michael Knows What I Want

The horrendous weather we have been having finally gave us a break for the better and we enjoyed a glorious morning of sunshine with a cooling breeze. My wife has been hurting to try out her new bike on some longer rides, but time and weather just hasn't allowed that to happen. She has only made it out a handful of times and each ride no more than 40km.

She really wanted to get out and take a tour of old Lukang, the former central Taiwanese port that sent deer pelts out and immigrants in during the 17th and 18th centuries when there were still herds of deer numbering in the thousands. Lukang was formerly an indigenous village and had once been promoted as a potential capital of Taiwan prefecture, but a pushy elite and a silty port quickly derailed those plans. Lukang currently enjoys the status of hosting a large number of buddhist and Taoist temples, giving the whole area an air of religious authenticity.

Temple Surfing In Lukang

Lukang was awfully quiet for a holiday, but that simply meant there were more locals to observe. What was so wonderful about today was that many of the locals still use the bicycle as a form of transportation to ferry goods or pick up groceries. The stigma of utility cycling (and class) that many affluent Taiwanese hope to avoid, was on full display in central Lukang.

Pedaling His Wares

We then zagged around the busy streets to the Lukang Folk Art Museum, which was formerly the center of political and family life for the Ku family, an established family of local elite who cooperated very well with every colonial power to establish itself on Taiwan since the Qing. The Ku family worked very closely with the Japanese and KMT governments to ensure their status as gentry remained unchanged. Needless to say the Ku family remains one of Taiwan's wealthiest family enterprises.

Ku Family Home

Upon leaving Lukang we took the old familiar roads that wend along the flats by the ocean. There was plenty of time for posing and messing around on the bikes. My wife was spinning a mean pace for a beginner and Michael and I wondered if she would have the steam to keep going for the rest of the ride.

Michael Puts The Heat On

We passed several groups of Taiwanese oyster farmers diving for their quarry in several of the oyster farms that line the coast. Michael showed his recent title, King of the Century, was well deserved as his energy level remained high throughout the morning heat. 1200km in a month will do that to a man.

The noontime heat started to bear down on us pretty hard and it was about time for lunch. We just took it easy and had a bit of lunch in Long Jing.

Strategy Meeting


Get Down!


Somewhere (and I am not telling where) along the Highway 17 on the coast, we stopped at a bike store to take a look. Parked outside were two identical Primavera Cessena bicycles, designed and produced by a small company out of Taichung, run by the fabulous Ms. Sabinna Den.

My wife got a first-hand look at the comraderie of cycling; a bond of recognition that can only be described as something akin to the Freemasons.

We chatted with the bike owners for a while and then the owners of the shop invited us in for water and a chat over their cycling photos. We were all surprised when the owners expressed their dismay that we were all on road bikes because, "they are so uncomfortable". Neither of them had actually ever ridden a road bike and Michael offered his up for a tester. It is really amazing that shop owners like that could have such misinformed ideas about bikes. They seemed to believe flatbars are inherently more comfortable. Anyway... they were really nice people... just misinformed and inexperienced in road cycling. We still enjoyed them and their hospitality very much.

Cycling Alloy Cesena

We made the turn back toward Dadu Shan toward home. Joyce was very good at concealing the hard work of a day in the saddle and bravely pushed onward. Nobody could have ever guessed she is still a novice.

Fields in Changhua

We finally made our return in the afternoon after logging over a half-century.

Michael is always a lot of fun to ride with and I am grateful for his time today. He really made things easier for Joyce as she takes her first steps into greater adventures of riding.

I can not fully express my happiness in seeing my wife enjoy herself on a bike. I haven't really told her how much joy I feel when I take a peek over my shoulder and see her seriously working away on the crank. Her drive and determination is nothing but heroic and I am truly awed by her early effort in cycling. We now have one more language in which we can communicate. Shhhhh! Right now she is exhausted and asleep on the couch... and I totally understand what she is going through. She's got a lot of heart to do what she did today and I am glad I have a piece of it. She is my cycling hero.

My Hero

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

World Car Free Day September 22

Remember... tomorrow is World Car Free Day. It is a good time to re-discover the freedom of being on a bicycle. Free yourself from your routine and your automobile... get out and ride!

From The Website:

Every September 22, people from around the world get together in the streets, intersections, and neighbourhood blocks to remind the world that we don't have to accept our car-dominated society.

But we do not want just one day of celebration and then a return to "normal" life. When people get out of their cars, they should stay out of their cars. It is up to us, it is up to our cities, and our governments to help create permanent change to benefit pedestrians, cyclists, and other people who do not drive cars.

Let World Carfree Day be a showcase for just how our cities might look like, feel like, and sound like without cars…365 days a year.

As the climate heats up, World Carfree Day is the perfect time to take the heat off the planet, and put it on city planners and politicians to give priority to cycling, walking and public transport, instead of to the automobile.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Back In Business: Night Riding and Training Notes.

The past two months have been pretty rough as far as training goes. I took almost a month off on vacation with only a couple meaningful rides during that time, and then the weather in Taiwan became too unstable upon my return to really build back into my regular training routine. It seemed every evening I could potentially get out on one of my routes, the rains would start immediately after work. Talk about depressing... I would see clear, blue skies all day--until 5:00pm when the rain would start up.

In the mean time I made some minor adjustments to my diet and lost 6lbs. in 4 weeks. I replaced my morning Cheerios and yogurt with broccoli based smoothies. Now going down in the drops feels so much better.

Lemme see.... We then had the typhoon eliminate another weekend. I was sick last week. It can all seem like it just starts piling on-- and it sucks.

Finally, FINALLY!!! Last night I went out for a real training ride. I did my 30 mile loop from Taichung to Caotun and back through Fen Yuan and Dapu on the Changhua side of the river.

Distance: 32mi./51km.
Max Speed: 32mph./51kph
Average Speed: 18.89mph./30kph

I felt loose and performed much better than I had presumed, but I can tell my ability to keep the heat on has taken a bit of a hit. I was also feeling some of chest congestion from the cold.

Regardless... getting out on the road like that couldn't feel any more right.


Other Cycling News:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Taiwan's Own Ironman: Cycling America On $8 A Day

I have been periodically following the exploits of the Taiwanese cyclist who is attempting to circumvent the earth within three years, while sticking to his budget of $8 per day. Full Story

Wu Shih-chang, the 28 year-old cyclist has already survived the wilds of Alaska and is currently on his way south to escape the wretched cold and rain of the Pacific Northwest.

I am happy to see that Wu received help from my good friends in the Seattle area, who supplied him with lodging, food, and a phone. The Seattle Taiwan Center and the Seattle Taiwanese American Foundation, like similar groups around the US, have become a valuable part of establishing and expressing a Taiwanese presence in the area. These groups also provide assistance to Taiwanese students and travelers who may need information, lodging or just company. It is a shame Wu will have to miss the Portland group as he has fallen behind schedule.

Wu demonstrates a feature of Taiwan I feel gets frequently overlooked--- personal independence. I know more Taiwanese who come up with all sorts of crazy ideas.... and then carry them out. Entrepreneurs, athletes, students and travelers... I have met so many people in Taiwan who march to the beat of their own drum-- despite the reputation for "group think". And I feel this quality should be recognized.


Typhoon Fanapi Blows Away Weekend Riding

The weather outside has been growing progressively worse all morning. By "progressively worse", I mean it has gone from stormy to downright scary at times.

Typhoon Fanapi has blown away any chance of a ride today, but that didn't stop me from putting together a long ride--- in my dreams.

I dreamt all night about riding a particular route and how each part would feel. I felt loose and strong on the bike. My descents were crisp and stable. My legs were feeling strong... and I finished the day with ease. That's how I knew it was a dream.

I think I am going back to bed.

Weather Updates: Here