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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Miaoli #22 Century

Sometimes you eat the bike.... Sometimes the bike eats you.

Gone Fishin'

On Sunday as one plan after another fell by the wayside, I realized I would be going it alone and made plans accordingly. I am planning a Paris-Roubaix Tribute ride on April 24, which will be 260km of flats (just like the race) along Taiwan's western coast and figured a long hilly ride would start getting my legs ready for a long ride. One important thing to remember when doing these all day rides it the pacing. Sometimes it takes a little effort to know when to hold back. Complicating things was a massive sand storm from our selectively hostile neighbors to the west (Friendly Neighbors to the North sounds so much better).

Staged Shot

I headed out early and left Taichung on the Highway 3, which is one of the great biking corridors along Taiwan's hilly interior. The road is wide, smooth and pretty; especially compared to the scab known as the Highway 1.

Climbing the 22

I was riding solo, but wanted to record some of this ride for posting, and so I posed some of these photos like a Marty Stouffer documentary. I promise no lemmings were harmed in the completion of this ride. You'll notice in all these self shots by awkward body position.... The camera was set for the ten second timer and I could't figure out how to change it. I just had to push the button and run.

Taste The Baddassness!!!

There was a bike event going on and hundreds of cyclists were passing in the oncoming lane. I would nod at a few, but wasn't going to do that for 30km. A lot of the guys out were unfriendly jerks. I stopped to get some more water at a favorite convenience store and tried to ask a couple of other cyclists what their event was about. I got lots of grunts and posturing. Showing off, but not a lot of info. Too cool for school. I guess it was a loop from Guan Gong around the reservoir and back.
Fanliao Mountain

The Highway 3 covers rolling hills with a few early annoying climbs, the kind that don't look too intimidating, but you just don't have the right gear. Just annoying. I then took a turn on the Miaoli Local Road #22.

Looking Down at the 22

The Number 22 heads up a narrow valley over Fanliao Shan (Barbarian House Mountain) and leads to Towu. With all the haze from the dust storm I missed out on some spectacular views.

Half-way up the mountain the grades get a little steeper and I just wasn't feeling it. I have done longer centuries with harder hills, but on this day I didn't feel like I was at my best. I mashed my way up the mountain and then down into Towu.
The descent was a lot of fun... until I got behind an old man who was totally oblivious to my presence and was going just fast enough to keep me from passing him. He only noticed me when he almost lost control of the scooter while reaching for something in the front basket from over the handlebars. He finally heard me shout and got out of my way.
The Towu Side

I finally made it off the mountain and was feeling a half-step off from how I had done a similar ride earlier. I passed through Miaoli city and climbed another hill to the top of the Highway 13. Once you crest the Highway 13 there is a great hill to cruise down until you get to Sanyi.

On my way out to Sanyi I steadily kept my pace and made ground, then passed, a group of road-mountain bikers. I casually waved and moved on. Not twenty seconds later the lead guy took off and was sucking my rear wheel. I took my headphones off and positioned to chat with him about their ride, but instead he blew past at speed. Although passing within an arms length, he coldly looked off into the distance as if I wasn't there. A ha! His manhood had been questioned by getting passed. What would all the others in his gang think of him? He remained just up ahead and the rest of his group was left in the dust. I didn't give chase or anything stupid like that as I still had quite a long way to go and had to stick with my plan.

I stopped in Sanyi for a water and a final snack to push me on home. Sanyi is murder on weekends. Every other shop is a kitsch wood carving shop and everyone wants to go look at "Hakka Culture" (more on that in another post). A few minutes after the hill climb out of Sanyi I saw the mountain biker and another one of his group on the side of the road. The hot-head was puking in the grass and his friend was giving him water. (I wasn't going that fast either). Tortoise and the Hare. Lesson: On long rides don't get over emotional and piss yourself out 30km from home.

From that point there is a great wide hill grade that begs to be taken at full speed. Unfortunately a headwind kept me at 65kph. All day the wind was blowing around. I just continued into Feng Yuan and then took a Daya side route to make sure I could get a full century. I felt I could have ridden better, but not too bad. I felt terrible afterwards and I am pretty sore today. Actually, I didn't perform as well on my return; not as well as I have in the past. Eh!

It took me 7 hours. to complete. The worst part was a puncture that I changed on the way to Shi-tan. I used a CO2 inflation device, which is really convenient for carrying around in in my tool bag, but it inflates to the maximum tire pressure. For me my ideal pressure is about 100psi. That thing was way above that. I let a little air out, but I didn't want to risk going under. At first it felt great.. but I was pretty uncomfortable for the last 60km.

This route is ok, but I prefer the Miaoli Local #126 to the Mingde Reservoir better. A great option instead of the Highway 13 is the Miaoli Local # 119 to the Highway 1. That is a beautiful road out of the area.