body{background-attachment: fixed ! important; }

Monday, February 28, 2011

150km to Ming de and Back

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.

Short Sunday Ride to Feng Yuan

After a very busy Saturday in Taipei, it was nice to unwind with a short afternoon ride to Feng Yuan and back.

My wife had been asking to go for a ride with me all week, and when we finally had a chance it was tough to get out of the house. The motivation wasn't there. It happens to me a lot. It is the same pattern. I always feel a little trepidation before going for a ride and it could be so easy to blow it off. It could be....

I know this about myself and I also know, just like jumping into a swimming pool, it will quickly be the most enjoyable thing as soon as I get going.

Wouldn't you know it, as soon as we were on the bikes my wife was pedaling away with a big smile on her face. We simply cut through Taichung and out to Beitun for some lunch before going to Fengyuan.

It was a pretty hot afternoon and few people were on the roads despite the three day weekend.

Upon arriving in Feng Yuan we stopped for a refreshment before heading back to Taichung for a little bike business in the afternoon.

As we sat down to cool off, we noticed we were at a strange little intersection with lots of bike traffic. It was just a lot of fun to watch the bikes go by.

We came home on the Highway 3, and I stopped to take some pictures at the site of the old Ali Sai Village. Interesting area to say the least.

What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.