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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Vuelta Stage 9

I haven't been paying that much attention to the Vuelta, but it appears Frank Schleck is still in the running, sitting in 13th place overall. It would be nice to see him win a little something this year after pulling out of the TdF. More news here

Also: Jeannie Longo, the 51yo. French evergreen of the cycling world, took the opening stage of the Steamboat Springs stage race in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I always try to remember what this athlete is capable of in her 51st year whenever I chalk a disappointing ride up to "old age".

King of the Mountain

The view from Wuling

The Challenge the Ultimate- Puli to Wuling race was held this weekend and the title was claimed by Lin Huan-tze, the 21yo. cyclist who also won the event in 2009. Lin finished the 55km ascent to the 3275 meter summit in 2:56:07, taking 5 min. off his previous record for the event. The winner of the Women's category was Cheng Shih-hsuan, who finished in 3:46:03.

The event is known for its difficult climb and is known to attract thousands of participants of varying degrees.

The event is organized by the Taiwan Neverstop cycling group and has drawn wide criticism within the cycling community for the way the organizers manage safety for the riders. Critics complain that the number of cyclists who are registered by Neverstop to compete in the event is too great for the road and the conditions, making it a hazard for all cyclists in the event. This year nearly 6000 cyclists participated in the race while the road remained open to vehicular traffic. Many in the cycling community are discussing limiting the event to a fixed number of participants or delaying the start by category.

Neverstop has, so far, been unresponsive to these suggestions as they would like to get as many people put on bikes as possible.

This blogger can sympathize with the concerned cyclists as novice cyclists can easily be a danger to themselves and to others, especially on such a demanding route. My scariest cycling moment occurred coming down from Wuling when an impatient driver tried to pass three cars and a tour bus on a series of curves on a section with no shoulder, just a half-meter rain gutter on the side. Scary stuff.

Weekend Rides

This weekend saw some breaks in the foul weather that were just right for some riding. I managed to get a couple rides in as I attempt to claw my way back into form and fitness after my vacation. This has really been a nightmare for riding as I took nearly a month off while on vacation, and then upon my return the weather is just rainy enough at the wrong times to interfere with some good solid training. The promise of sunny skies in the morning is dashed by rainclouds in the afternoons.

My first and favorite ride was with my wife, Joyce, who is starting to really enjoy her new Colnago. We did a beautiful 33km. up and around Dadu Shan, which was her first attempt at a little hill climbing, and she did excellent. We then cut through some rice fields down below to the HSR station and then back through Wuer.

The temps were pretty high and it was humid, but at least it didn't rain on us. The rains came about an hour and a half after we got home.

Every evening now holds the promise of another great ride with my beautiful wife. I love watching her improve and enjoy herself on the bike. Watching someone go through that is the most enjoyable thing about cycling.

Sunday was supposed to be something a little harder to help get me back into fighting shape after nearly two months of fits rest, fits and starts. I put the call out to see if anyone would like to join and had a few people interested. I just love it when a plan comes together. Alas, last minute plans and other changes saw the potential for a small group ride disintegrate.

I ended up meeting with one of Taiwan's most capable riders and racers, Virginia Xing, for a route on the 137 over Bagua Shan, in Chang hua.

The great thing about Bagua Shan is that it has relatively little automobile traffic (lots of cyclists). After climbing up to the ridge, the road becomes an undulating ribbon of roadway; perfect for working the legs out for a variety of conditions. We are also in the midst of pineapple season and the smell is incredible.

Upon leaving the mountain and a taking a hydration and calorie break, my legs refused to start back up again. My strength from earlier in the day refused the show up for Act II. Maybe I hadn't eaten enough earlier and my glycogen was low, maybe I had sat too long, or maybe it was a case like a heroin junkie who goes back to the regular dose after a lengthy hiatus and takes too much than the body can handle. I hope to get out in the next few weeks to bring my fitness back to pre-vacation levels. I got home and didn't feel "bad". Huh!

Regardless, Virginia is an excellent rider with some great riding skills and some real spinning chops in the flats. It was a good training day.