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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Shoot The Bike: Taipei Bicycle Film Festival Seeking Submissions

The Bicycle Film Festival in Taipei is looking for cyclists and filmmakers to submit their works for this year's festival for Bike To Work Day through the month of October.

The film festival is to help promote bicycle commuting in the hopes of encouraging 20,000 cyclists to bike to work instead of driving or riding a scooter.

The organizers encourage riders to use the Riverside Bike Lane, where they will provide feed stations along the way supplying bananas and water to desperate riders.

Organizers are also requesting submissions of photos and movie files revolving around the themes Bicycle.Memory/Bicycle.Traveling/Bicycle.Life. to present images that best portray cycling in the city and they are offering a NT$60,000 grand prize and several smaller prizes.

Gold medal*1 : NTD 60,000, a certificate of merit
Silver medal*1 : NTD 30,000, a certificate of merit
Bronze medal*1 : NTD 10,000, a certificate of merit
Excellent award *60 : each gets a voucher of NTD 2000 , a certificate of merit

10 winners: each gets NTD 5000, a certificate of merit

  • Bicycle.Memory hopes to find images or video depicting Taipei's old bicycle culture to create links to the past.
  • Bicycle.Travel is seeking submissions to depict traveling around Taipei by bicycle.
  • Bicycle Life is for submissions that show Taipei's modern bicycle culture.
  • Photo submissions may be in either color or black and white and be in 6 million pixels at either 2000-3000 dpi JPEG or TIFF formats. The submission should be the original image without a frame.Video files should be in submitted on disk with mpeg or AVI files no more that 15 minutes in length. Each submission should contain a brief description under 100 words.
All submissions should be sent to:

105臺北市內湖區港墘路117號【BFF自行車電影節 徵件】

BFF Bicycle Film Festival
No. 117 Gang-chien Rd. Neihu Dist. Taipei City, 105

You can download an application HERE: 活動詳細辦法與報名表下載

Be sure to follow the link at the top to see some of the great trailers for some of the movies that will be screened at this year's festival.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ride Reports and Other Links

A couple recent ride reports to post.

Last weekend I did Puli to Wuling. Nathan from Bicycle Sidewalk provides a report from his attack on the other side of the mountain from Hualien to the Taichung side. Personally, I find his route more rewarding in every way.


Michael Turton from The View from Taiwan provides a wonderful report on his recent ride to the Liu Family House in Changhua along the Route 137. This is a wonderfully accessible and interesting ride into Taiwan's history from a time the Liu Family House sat near the very edge of the Qing imperial frontier.


For anyone planning a Round-Island ride or for those people interested in riding Taiwan's East Coast, there is a Facebook page that provides regular traffic reports for the infamous SuHua Highway. The SuHua Highway is notoriously dangerous for automobiles and cyclists alike.
You can look for details HERE (Chinese).

Other News:
  • When I was in the first grade, all the kids in the neighborhood converged on the school to participate in the "Bicycle Rodeo", where children would learn about bike safety and then follow a course similar to Taiwan's scooter driving test to gain the right to bike to school. I loved biking to school. Sadly, in this era of "helicopter parents" and coddling overcompensation for children whose parents are too busy to raise them, children have increasingly lost the right to bike to school. In Taiwan we have a safety problem as well. I have actually been run off the road twice by parents rushing their children to school. Now, parents are being encouraged to send their children to school on bikes once more... in America.
  • According to a new report, the prospects for increased use of cycling for recreation and transportation looks rosy. Another great INFOGRAPHIC.
  • Competitive Cyclist has been purchased by Backcountry. I normally wouldn't care, but a few months back Competitive Cyclist acquired Merlin Metalworks, the storied titanium frame maker that was languishing under the American Bicycle Group, which also owns LITESPEED. Both these titanium brands seem to have been mistreated by ABG and have lost a ton of their cachet. I have been hoping Merlin could be revived... and I hope Backcountry will have the same dedication the the brand rather than holding it a simply a commodity to increase the company's value.
  • Welsh Cycling President encourages cyclists to "get aggressive" on the roadways. I am sorry Mr. Owens, but there is one thing I have learned about drivers... and that is that they are unpredictably crazy. They are bigger and more powerful than a cyclist, and may also be carrying a weapon in the car. No thank you.
  • Americans are assholes to cyclists. Persons unknown have attempted to sabotage the USA Pro Cycling Challenge by scattering dangerous materials along sections of the route.

The Politics of Cycling: Election Season Cycling and Other News

Election season is upon us once more, and Taiwan's president "Mayor" Ma Ying-jiu has announced he will be joining a round-island tour to promote his re-election bid.

Over the past four years we have seen Taiwan shirk from a place of prominence and pride... only to seek a position of marginalized ambiguity. This platform of mediocrity and ambiguity comes as a directive from Ma's office, which is seeking to rein in the two decades of Taiwan centered policies promoted by both the former Lee and Chen administrations; policies that resulted in giving recognition to the Taiwan centered outlook shared by most Taiwanese.

For Ma Ying-jiu, "Taiwan" has been a dirty word. He uses the word sparingly and through clenched teeth as if being forced to take some bad medicine.

Instead, Ma has tried to resuscitate the old term "ROC" or "Republic of China", which, although the official name of the state, is primarily disregarded outside the world of officialdom.

Now we see his hand again in his yearning to appeal to his glory days during the latter years of authoritarian rule in the 1970's.

This cycling event will be called: "ROCbike Taiwan Bravo."

The bicycle tour, “ROCbike Taiwan Bravo,” is a nationwide bicycle tour launched by Ma’s campaign office earlier this month. Ma’s team embarked on a similar tour during his presidential campaign in 2007.

The “long stay” bicycle tour, which saw Ma and his campaign team travel through 18 cities and counties through the country’s western plains and finished in then-Taipei County, was believed to have helped bolster Ma’s chances in the last election.

This year’s 15-day “ROCbike Taiwan Bravo” bicycle tour will cover 1,181km and finish in Hualien County.

King Pu-tsung (金溥聰), executive director of Ma’s campaign office, met the cyclists last week in Taitung County as part of a campaign activity, while Ma is expected to join more bicycle-related activities as the presidential election approaches.

I just hope he does not feel the need to inform the public on the state of his junk this time around.

In Other News:

After running into health and injury troubles, Taiwan's delegation for the Paris-Brest-Paris race in France have appealed to the Taiwan Representative Office in Paris for assistance, but have been denied.

The deputy representative determined the riders to be too far (5 hours) outside of paris to lend any help and referred them to their travel agent. Complicating issues was the fact that Taiwan's chief representatives have all been called back to Taipei (coinciding with election activities) and were unable to be on hand to make the call on how to handle the situation.

During the ultra-long bike tour, two members of the Taiwanese team were stricken by health problems, which included hallucinations and severe sickness.

In the end, they were forced to hitchhike back to Paris.


Like a lot of Taiwanese who take their dogs out in bags or strollers to join them at the mall... one man couldn't resist brining his pup along for a tour of Taiwan.

Last, but not least...

Please enjoy TIC reader and occasional Taiwan cyclist, Emmanuel Thiry's multimedia tribute to riding the dreaded Route 136. The musical score is also an original Thiry score. Awesome!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bike Stolen: Author Road Bike in Taichung


I was just made aware of a bike that was stolen from the back of a vehicle. Please keep your eyes and ears open and see that it can get back to its owner in once piece.

If there is one thing that I really hate... it is theft.

I wish the victim lots of luck in getting it back. I can attest to having had some luck in hunting down stolen property in the past, and with a little persistence it is possible to recover your things, but not always.

Here is the message from a friend of the victim:
For all of the Americans/British/Canadian friends: An Author bike was stolen from our friend's car while park outside of the office. The window was broken and bike was stolen. The crime has been reported to police and filed. This customed paint was one and only. So, please post this msg onto your Facebook and pass it to your friends as well. If you see this frameset, please notify me immediately (there is an reward-by the way). Thank you all!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fit For Cyclists: Buying A Car For Our Bikes

As many of my readers are well aware, I am often coming in with ride reports detailing lengthy one day rides to seemingly far off places.

I had never intended to be an endurance or distance rider. I really had never anticipated going much further beyond the greater Taichung area. The only problem being my own curiosity, my addiction to improvement, and my love for Taiwan's great diversity in geography, color and culture.

I also didn't own a car.

It was by sheer necessity that I had to ride from Taichung out to any far off place I wanted to visit. I had no other choice. I guess there are trains and busses, but really nothing as direct as an automobile. And I was fine with that.

Like a lot of cyclists, I harbor no deep love for cars. I sometimes even resent them.

My history with cars is as follows:

1988 VW Scirocco 16 v: The engine made it a thrill to drive and it spoiled my perception of how a car should drive. It was also a prime example of Volkswagon's ongoing evolution on how to fuck up a wiring harness. It was a maintenance nightmare. It was also partially eaten up by thieves what I was in college. WHAT A DISASTER! I sold it for $800 for my ticket to Taiwan.

1973 VW Beetle: I needed wheels and it cost $1000. I drove this while I waited for the insurance to go down on my Scirocco.

2005 Nissan X-Trail: After moving to Taiwan and getting married we bought this light SUV to haul bikes and things up to the mountains. Lots of space in the back. You could camp out in it is you needed to. It was hard to drive and to park in the city. We believe our Nissan salesman arranged to have it stolen so he could collect a kickback from the thieves and then make commission on the replacement vehicle once the insurance came through. There is some circumstantial evidence to suggest this was the case.

So I think it might be fair to say that I really hate owning a car.

Now that we have a little girl on the way, the time has come to rejoin the ranks of drivers clogging the streets. *sigh*

This time we were a little more prepared and decided we needed to find a small car for city driving, but with enough space to haul at least one bike and one baby... along with two adults.

Yes, the bicycle figured prominently into our purchase. It may have been the overriding factor. We found we were looking for a car to fit our bikes.

We looked at the Toyota Yaris, which was small and could fit one bike with the seats folded down, but it seemed like there wasn't much space for a stroller in the back once the seats were up.

We checked the Mitsubishi Colt Plus, which is roomy and cheap, but a little too "cheap".

There was the little Mazda M2, which means M 2 small... and the Nissan Tiida (but I hate Nissan).

Then we found the Honda Fit.

The Honda Fit wasn't even on my radar. We went in to the dealer and I was blown away by the car. I have never seen so much space hollowed out in such a small car. When I saw how the rear seats could not only fold down, but also lift up to open the middle... I was ecstatic. You could put a couple bikes in there. It feels quick and tight in the turns. Fun car.

The rear compartment can probably fit a bike with the wheels removed and still have some space. I guess the car has a total of 57 cubic feet of storage. The car is only 10cm longer than the Yaris, so it is easy to parallel park.

Then came the moment of truth. I had to see how many bikes could fit in the back of the FIT.

... and....

It appears you could get three or four bikes into the back of the car without removing the wheels. That is amazing. What a perfect little car for city dwelling cyclists.

After comparing the different Honda dealers around Taichung, we settled on the Honda of Beitun, near Tanzi. Our salesperson was no nonsense and gave us the lowest price up front with only a little dickering left for "extras". We were originally quoted NT680,000 from the first dealer, who declared he would not be making any money off the deal... after playing the Taiwan car dealer calculator game, where they produce a large calculator and punch numbers to arrive at the preferred price. Of course the lowest price has already been set by the sales manager, but the customer likes to feel that the price has some sort of mathematical basis and it gives the appearance that the salesperson has no control over the number that pops up on the calculator screen. We settled with out dealer at NT640,000 and some change including all the "extras" or "gifts" that are priced at an inflated rate and used to increase the sales price for the sales person.

If you think you might be looking for a small car to fit your bikes in, give the Honda Fit a look. I am totally impressed and I am looking forward to getting out to ride parts that were inaccessible for a one day ride.

Salesperson: Ms. Li
Dealer: Honda of Beitun Dist.
Address: No. 433號, 北屯路, Beitun District - 04-2241-7758
Ask for Ms. Li... she was really great....
and the only other car dealer I like is Mr. Greg Nelson of Doxon Toyota/Scion.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Road To Heaven and Hell: 2011 Neverstop Wuling Challenge (武嶺活動)

The Goal

For the past six weeks I have been quietly training for the Neverstop Wuling Challenge in an effort to get myself back into shape following four months of down time with injuries. It is always much easier to get out of shape that it is to get back into shape.

I chose the Wuling Challenge mainly because it is regarded as one of Taiwan's most difficult races... and moreover... it is an established race that didn't seem to be working for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) election committee in forwarding their cultural engineering project of colonizing Taiwan in the name of the fatherland through the use of the sickening "ROC 100" banner. I later found traces of this, but it was far from one of the themes of the race.

The Wuling Challenge is an open event that covers 2826 merters (9272ft.) over the course of about 50km (31miles). The event is open to any type of bicycle and simply requires a NT$6000 entry fee.

The race is a great opportunity to win bragging rights for the elite cyclists, and it also gives everyone else a chance to commiserate with fellow riders over the degree of physical pain and difficulty one must overcome to reach the peak of Taiwan's highest pass.

For me, the event was merely about going through the experience of participating in this legendary event with the hope of making it to the top. I must declare that I had my doubts.

Locked And Loaded

As I went to bed Saturday night I my mind was a black hole of doubt. While I was training I had inflamed the old injury that had kept me down for so long and I was well aware of how serious and persistent it could be. It might feel fine, but then 10 minutes in the saddle and the pain flares up with each mechanical pedal stroke... and then lingers for a nightcap. I was imagining a scenario where I carry the pain from just outside the starting gate and refuse to even take it to Wushe at the top of the first climb.

We had done some preliminary training the weekend before and I was both wrecked from a grueling day of climbing and feeling the knee pain. I really had nothing but concern on my mind and I was resigned to the possibility of resignation. My plan was simple-- "Take it easy and see how it goes."

Some teams rented the bike bus

I woke up at 2:00am to catch the bus T-Mosaic had hired to take the team to Puli. Despite my other physical ailments, my hydration and nutrition plans were on track, so I was feeling more confident that I wouldn't bonk or cramp up.

By the time we arrived in Puli, the whole town was crawling with cyclists and every shade of lycra imaginable as riders sat around convenience stores eating, laughing off the pre-race jitters, or slamming coffees to stimulate one last pre race poo (I can't believe I just wrote that...yuck!).
Bleary-eyed In Black

The members of the T-Mosaic squad I was riding with ambled over to the starting gate and tried to carefully wade into the river of carbon fiber and lycra that stretched into the morning blackness.

Sea of Lycra

I am not sure exactly when we got moving, but it was a staggered start as they metered out groups of riders to avoid dangerous congestion on the roadways.

Starting Gate
Easy Rollin'

As I eased through the starting gate I was fully aware that the chip inside my sticker had triggered the timer that would be calculating my progress up the mountain. For a moment I wanted to stomp on the pedals and leapfrog the slow moving riders easing along the 3% grade below Wushe. I wanted to... but I did not. I stuck with my plan to relax and just enjoy the ride. I was there to enjoy the event and have fun. I wasn't going to be first, or even in the top ten, so I thought I should just work on finishing the race without re-injuring my knee to the point of sitting on my ass for another four months.

And then it happened. A sort of sanguine smile spread across my face and I just enjoyed taking in the entire spectacle of the event.

The First Test

I wish I could say that everyone was as relaxed and content in their progress, but one guy, who had obviously seen too many Tour de France tantrums, actually hurled his malfunctioning mountain bike to the side of the road and started kicking at it.

See you at Wuling!

I made an easy pace along the base of the mountain in the hopes of warming up for the climbs. As I passed riders I was just enjoying looking at their bikes and I would occasionally make casual conversation with some of the riders from teams I recognized. I chatted up the guys from Primavera and Team Neko. I also took some time to chat with a fellow Seven owner and the owner of a beautiful titanium Crown Jewel from Independent Fabrications.

All Ages Show

It was really just a thrill to take in the scene with all those riders, regardless of ability, taking the day to attempt the impossible. Each rider was hoping to do their best and conquer a mountain.

Feeling Good

I was riding feeling very relaxed and found myself in Wushe with very little effort and just continued trying to document the race and mingle.

Double The Fun
Cresting Wushe
Passing Mountain Bikers

Rather than being a testosterone filled event with racers trying to intimidate each other and look "Pro", I was happy to see men and women of all ages making a day of it and using the event as an excuse to ride. Although I didn't get a picture of her, I remember passing several women in their 60's up beyond Wushe. It is just very inspiring and reassuring to see people take life by the gills.

Chicks Dig It!

As we pressed on up the hill I was amazed that I was not in worse shape. My knee was feeling a little "tight", but dull enough to imagine there was no sensation there at all.

Pressing On

The low clouds hanging in the valley below seemed to take my mind away from my knee problems and I just kept a steady pace upward.

Into The Light

On occasion I'd get caught in a "slow net", where you catch up with a group of riders and can't pass... then you find yourself going their pace instead of the one that had allowed you to catch them. It is easy to slip into this malaise, so you need to be on your toes and shake it off if you want to better your time.

Chinese Tourists Say Hello

For the most part the traffic an the ascent was relatively light. There were a few incidents of cars or busses making things a bit difficult, but nothing too unexpected.

Mountain Biking

We all just hugged the shoulder and tried to avoid thinking about our legs.
Burn Baby Burn


Passing A Rest Stop

A Hunk-a-hunk-a Burnin' Legs

Somewhere just below Ching-jing Farm my knee started to hurt and I had to stop and stretch. I popped a couple ibuprofen and a hand-full of skittles before setting off again.

Keep Keeping On

The pain disappeared and I was pushing smooth, easy strokes along the lower ridges of Ho Huan Shan through sparkling farming towns and the Ching-jing Disneyplexfoodextravaganza.

The Halfway Point

I made a quick refill and was off again. I was just having so much fun, I lost track of time. I had no idea when I started or how much time had elapsed. I had my Garmin, but forgot to really look at anything but distance and gradient.

Where's Jens Voigt when you need him

First Casualty 18km (Yes, he is lying in the road)

It was just after Ching-jing Farm that the first real casualties started showing up. Riders walking their bikes along the roadway started to become a more common sight.

Look Out Below

There were also several riders taking prolonged breaks and, even more dangerous, the weavers.

Another One Bite The Dust!

As many of the field started to tire and lose their legs, they would start swerving and weaving in an attempt to mitigate some of the gradient. I can't tell how many times a rider couldn't keep a line and came close to swerving into me or crossing wheels. At one point I had a rider lose his balance and lean his head on my shoulder as I passed on the left. That stuff is DANGER with a capital WILL ROBINSON.

Reeling In The Breakaway?

Getting High-er

Alpine Forests

Soon we started to edge into the alpine zone of the mountain where the amount of oxygen in the air drops below sustainable levels. It was at this point fitness really became apparent.

Nearing The End

Water For Cash

Along the upper reaches of the route, riders had support teams lining the roads handing out water and food to passing riders. Some riders stopped to refuel, others just snatched a drink and kept on riding.


There were also a few accidents on the way down. Apparently, two were serious enough to require a medical evacuation. I witnessed one crash in which a rider failed to negotiate a corner and lost his grip. Sometimes these high performance race bikes can quickly get away from a rider if he is not paying attention.

Still shootin' straight with 7km to go
My knee started hurting again right before the last stretch below Kunyang, so I finished my skittles, gave it a stretch, and the soreness was gone. I still had plenty of gas left in the tank and I was feeling totally relaxed.

Stairway To Heaven?

Maybe I was feeling too relaxed and mistook Kunyang for Wuling and turned on the gas... only to take the last corner before the nasty climb to the finish with legs demanding time to recover.

The Last Kilometer

As I tried to push on to the final kilometers before the finish line, we all came to a halt behind a van that was stuck passing another car. After maybe 5 min. we all got going again, but it was a momentum killer for sure.

Those Poor Bastards

With just a few hundred meters to go, I got out of the saddle and put it all in for the finish. The sun was glistening on the grassy hillsides and puffy white clouds filled the air. I had actually made it.

If You Show Me Yours I'll Show You Mine

I was even more amused that I had made the climb in only 4 hours and 14 minutes. If I had been really fighting for time I might have been a bit disappointed, but for my circumstances I was thrilled. I still had plenty of energy left and I had made it while pushing a standard 53/39 to 12-27 gear combination while just having a good time of it all.

But I'm Dressed Faster Than This!

I stayed at the top long enough to take a few pictures and chat with a couple guys about the ride, but I sensed I shouldn't linger and headed back down to the support car.
The Other Side

Enjoying The Sights

The Road To Hell

Traffic Jams

As I started down the mountain, I noticed a parade of bike walkers and then the beginnings of a traffic jam. It would take me 40 min. just to get down to Yuen Feng.
Cash For A Podium Girl

We all celebrated our finishes. Cash Huang from T-Mosaic finished in about 03:45 and was happy for it to be over.

Don't Worry... It's Chocolate Inside.

Play by Play With Rocky from T-Mosaic

We waited for the rest of the guys to finish and join us for some soup and refreshments.
Silly ROC 100 Bullshit

I even had some time to check out my hardware; a massive copper-colored medal with Taiwan firmly situated in the center... with a confusing 100 made of chain links, a cog and a wheel to add that awful ROC 100 bullshit insisted upon by the sponsors in Taipei.
Kenda Arrives

Kenda arrived on his LeMond Alpe d' Huez... just before his personal cut-off time, in which he promised to cut off his hair if he failed to summit within a certain time.
Parade Of The Weary

We all sat and ate, and watched a parade of carbon fiber march past single file in a portrait illustrating the fact that no amount of money spent on technology can be a substitute for fitness, preparation and training.

Mr. Wang Takes The Hill

Our last man on the squad was Mr. Wang, who may be older and heavier than a lot of the field, but he still managed to keep pedaling his way up to the top despite missing the cut-off time. He was determined to summit.


Some riders had completely exhausted themselves and threw in the towel at Yuan Feng.

The Kid Pushes To The Top

Many riders had invested too much energy and heart into the day and were not going to stop until they could see no more mountain above them. They courageously looked beyond us to the point on the horizon where the road dips over the mountain.

Will Survives And Wins Three Small Children

Will V. finally came rolling into base camp with a totally different tale from the mountain.

According to Will, the road had become jammed with cars and cyclists as traffic control broke down and summer holiday makers forced their way onto the narrow roadway. Riders were stuck for as long as 40 minutes before clearing the congestion. Some riders waited patiently for traffic to clear, others took off their shoes and hiked over road and dirt cyclocross style to get around the jam. The upper reaches of the mountain descended into a sort of traffic anarchy. And then the clouds moved in and it started to rain.

The trouble with traffic control was the result of Neverstop being pushed to hold the event in the summer time to better coincide with the silly ROC 100 crap that some politicians hoped to capitalize on and therefore there were far more cars on the road than Neverstop had anticipated. Furthermore, traffic enforcement stopped at 10:00am, leaving the remainder of the day a free-for-all.

The winner of the event was Lin Huan-ze, who finished 02:34:50. Lin is a medical student at Taipei Medical University and this is his fourth time winning the Wuling Challenge. Me... I was just out enjoying myself.

I think with 6300 participants this event is at risk of losing much of what makes it so great. Maybe organizers should consider chopping it up into different days with a series of qualifiers to gain eligibility for the elite competitive race, and then schedule the open amateur event for the following day or following weekend.

Tis race is great for Taiwan's best riders to test their mettle, and it is great for weekend warriors to challenge themselves... but putting that many people on Hohuan Shan is becoming more than the mountain can handle.

It took us four hours to get off the mountain with all the traffic. Although I had finished before 10:00am, I didn't get home until 7:00pm.

Would I do it again? Hell yeah!