Not all of my rides need to be of epic length to be fun and fulfilling. Today I took my wife on a great little training ride that was short, but no less fun. We rode out to the back roads of the Dakeng Scenic Area for a little climbing practice and a little bike time.
From the edge of Taichung city we took Tai Yuan Rd. out toward the mountains. The local elections are a week away and the roads were filled with posters and those slow moving campaign cars that yell at you as you pass and then bombard you with "nostalgic" tunes of yore. Several candidates have been featured astride their bikes pitching green initiatives and bicycle culture.
Although Tai Yuan Rd. is labeled a "bike path", and is a favorite for local cyclists with its wide shoulders and shady trees, the path leaves much to be desired. The bike path actually navigates some very dangerous areas, and at one point suddenly jumps the curb onto the sidewalk. These design problems plague Taiwan's bicycle routes.
As we approached the local golf course, we hung a left to start our ascent into the Dakeng Scenic Area.
The whole area is a labyrinth of narrow farm roads, which are ideal for cycling. We saw dozens of riders out to enjoy the sunshine.
The climb is a moderate grade and we just enjoyed the greater degree of difficulty. Joyce handled it with aplomb. I have never seen her "enjoy" hills. This is where cycling love really takes off... on the hills. You hate them until you love them to the point where you can't live without them.
The whole area is just one quiet corner after another.
We continued toward the Chiang-kai Sheck campground as we neared out 1300ft. ceiling.
The area is especially important to me and evokes a whole range of feelings. When I first arrived in 1998, the Dakeng area was my first major "discovery" as I took my motorcycle out of town to get lost. I was so surprised to find "nature" in a country I had written off as being an industrial wasteland, even before I set foot on Formosa.
Several months later I toured the area in shock as I inspected the damage from the great 921 earthquake. This is where I saw real damage, naked cliffs and my first real human body. It was frightening and has continued to resonate with me. It is always nice to return to see the area recovered and naturally tranquil.
From the top we could look out over the rippled hills in the glowing haze of late afternoon.
The whole area has grown into a haven for cyclists, and thus it is only expected that cycling infrastructure should follow. A rest stop (club house) and adjacent cycling swag stand were located right at the peak to be of service as riders arrived and departed.
As we were about to leave, we were spotted by one of my readers. She is a 58 year-old rider who bought herself a Colnago C-50 for her 50th birthday as a treat and commitment to her health. She is a fantastic climber and adventurous rider. One of my cycling heroes.
I highly recommend this route for beginners or riders who want to get a quick ride in without having to go too far outside the city.
Furthermore, I was very pleased with my wife's progress. You know you're with the right person when, despite being together for many years, they continue to grow, change and surprise you... and all you can do is hope to reciprocate. I am simply thrilled to hear my wife talk about her cycling. It is just one more dimension that adds depth and nuance to this wonderful woman.
What a great afternoon ride!
Ernesto Colnago, the father of the brand that bears his name, was in Taiwan for two days and paid the folks at T-Mosaic (my LBS) a little visit.