On Monday I got a late invite for a long ride up to the Ming-de Reservoir and back. I would be joining Michael Turton and riding for the first time with Philip Brooks, a long time reader of this blog.
Things started to go awry from the get-go with Michael losing his new Canon S95 somewhere along Jun Gong Rd. (If anyone finds it please contact me ASAP). Not exactly the best thing to happen, but Michael didn't let that get in the way of a good ride.
The ride would also be Philip's longest.
Philip is a strong rider and phenomenal athlete. He rides a stealth bike devoid of logos. The thing weighs in at an anemic 5.9kg. I've had_____s that have weighed more than that.
With a few stops we kept an even speed up the Highway 3 into the foothills of Miaoli County. I love the scenery and the rolling hills with wide banking turns and long, speedy descents.
Michael was in fine form. He has lost a lot of weight and his endurance level has gotten to the point where he can just plug away all day at a nice, even cadence.
We decided to stop for a little fuel in the small town of Shitan, just before the turn up to the reservoir. We soon met another group of cyclists who were eagerly checking out our bikes, and especially Philip's black beauty. They were just friendly and curious about the bikes and our routes, so it didn't turn into the well rehearsed, "Welcome to Taiwan... where do you come from?" routine.
Just after Shitan, at the base of a high speed descent, we hit the Miaoli Route 26 to the Ming-de Reservoir. The road starts as an immediate climb and then quickly evens out to wind along the top of a river valley. The roads are excellent and there are a couple of opportunities to bomb down the hills. It can almost feel like a downhill ski slalom.
The water was looking a bit low, but the scenery was pleasant as we sped along the dry, clay banks of the reservoir. It was about at this point I started to feel an ache in my knee.
About a year ago after 5 centuries in two weeks, I felt a bit of pain in the same place. After some rest and a slow build-up the problem went away. Sometimes bending the leg could be slow after extending for long periods, but not bad.
The pain got worse as we chose the hills of Sanyi for our return on Highway 13. We bombed out of Sanyi down the big hill into the Houli valley.
By Houli I was in agony. With every pedal stroke a shot of pain reverberated through my leg from the soles of my feet to my hip. Not good at all.
Michael soon peeled off for home and Philip and I fought traffic back into Taichung city.
When I reached home I could barely carry the bike up the stairs.
Things are a little bit better today, but it looks like I will have an appointment with the doctor. I hope to get some good news, like it is just a muscle imbalance or something less serious.