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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Feeling Like A Kid Again: Chris Enjoys First Adult Ride Through Gaomei Wetlands

Saving A Fallen Comrade

This Sunday I had the pleasure of taking a friend out for his first real ride since childhood.

What is really special with this ride, is that it marks a new stage of his commitment to himself, his family and his life.

When I first met Chris last year he was-- well-- shall we say... fat. He was 6'1" and 348lbs (158kg). The only numbers he was putting up were some pretty scary ones at the doctor's office.

What it all really boiled down to was that he had to make some radical changes in his life if we wanted to have any chance at enjoying a long, healthy future. Moreover, he felt the need to better educate his little boy on the lessons of leading a healthy lifestyle. Chris saw no other way than leading by example.

Chris has since become a strict vegetarian. He made the time in his schedule to start running and swimming.

Then, about 6 months ago, he approached me for advice on buying a bicycle for commuting, exercise and general transportation. He was looking for every possible way to get and keep fit.

After 6 long months the bicycle arrived, and it is a beauty. He bought a Surly Cross-Check (detailed in another post) to suit all his needs, and he has been gradually building up his strength.

With the bike as a carrot, he dropped to 242lbs. (110kg) and has strengthened his cardiovascular system to better support harder efforts.

By Sunday he seemed about ready for a group ride.


We met with Dom, Jeff, and the indomitable Michael Turton for a morning of pedaling through the flats around the Gaomei Wetlands and back to Taichung. It was steel bike day, so I brought out my La Cruz for a lazy spin to join the theme of the day.

Jeff and Michael

It is always great riding with these guys. The atmosphere is always friendly and the saddle talk is laddishly jovial, but also slyly intelligent.

The first part of the ride was "the hook", where we roll very fast down a hill to introduced Chris to the addictive sensation of velocity before an easy roll through the flats to the Taichung Harbor Port.

Chris and Dom
Wolfman Jack

We hit one of the local bike trails and rumbled up toward the Gaomei Wetlands.

Just as we coasted through the narrow lanes of Gaomei, we ran smack into the blue smoke and commotion of a religious procession.

The wetlands were filled with people wading out onto the mud flats and scouting wildlife through expensive optics. Some of the local ragamuffins showed up to flip a little sass our way before we cruised up the sea wall in search of food.

The trails back to the Highway 1 are quiet and, if you look closely, you can spot some rare vegetation, mud skippers and swarms of crabs.

Just at the Dajia end of the Dajia Bridge (by the Bridgestone Tire Center), there is a lane that goes wending off into the fields. If you have the time for a little adventure, the roads play out like a child's maze. Michael knows the route better than anyone, so we followed his guidance past the burning stalks of rice, up to Houli.

With only one minor hill, we all charged up above Taichung and happily spun into town.
Chris was full of energy and managed to keep up without any problems. It was awesome to see him out there with a smile on his face astride his first new bike since childhood.

There is just something about riding bikes with your friends that brings back the joys of childhood and makes a person wonder why they ever stopped.

I am looking forward to more rides with Chris and the rest of the guys. I will probably be taking a few weeks off, but I will be back... and in greater numbers.

Well done Chris, and thanks!


  1. What a great time! Excellent pics!

    Chris rode strong. Looking forward to some mountain rides with him soon.

  2. He is a strong rider! Drew, you so casually take amazing shots and work them up real nice. Well done. A pleasure as always.

  3. looks great! I'd love to come along sometime. I'll watch for future rides...

  4. Really good time.


    I will be taking time off the bike for a few weeks, but I will keep blogging and tracking rides.

    Michael Turton at:
    is always looking for riding partners. He is a lot of fun to ride with. Contact him and see what plans he is making.

    I hope to ride with you soon.


  5. Thanks Andrew! Great ride report. Next time we do 100 miles.