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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cruising The Gaomei Wetlands

Shouldering Over Obstacles

This weekend I had the pleasure to ride with a very fit and capable rider from Calgary, Canada. Chris, who is a regular reader here at TiC, will be out in Caotun for three weeks and is looking to fill many of those days riding. He is a compact and fit athlete with a power to weight ratio that is ideal for climbing the hills of central Taiwan.

Sadly, I am still miles from getting back into the type of form that would allow me to show him around the better climbs in the area, so this Sunday's ride was just about getting on the bike and introducing Chris to another one of central Taiwan's more infamous features-- the traffic.

Dom Relaxes

We put a small group together with Michael from The View From Taiwan, Dominic from Hold These Green Balloons, Chris L, and myself, for an easy ride to the Gaomei Wetlands and along the coastal mudflats between Gaomei and Da-jia.

Michael and Chris

The weather had been a gauzine haze all morning with the threat of rain. After a few short kilometers the scenery would disappear behind a veil of mist. Not an ideal day for photos, but marvelous for a few hours on the bike.

I was nervous about my injury and even more disappointed when I started feeling a familiar tightness under my knee. My plan was to stop if the knee pain flared up.

Fortunately, I was able to keep the sensation to a discernible discomfort for the entire ride as it would threaten to end my ride and then mysteriously subside. Not good, but not too bad.

Looking for Fish

Our first stop would be the fishing port in Taichung Harbor, where there are dozens of booths set up selling the same seafood dishes. Each stall was staffed by ladies with either poor eyesight or simply bad taste as they kept calling out for our patronage by peppering us in a staccato greeting, "Shuai Ge! Shuai Ge! Lai!" meaning, "Handsome dude, handsome dude, come over!"

Chris and his Kestrel

It was nice to get a little food before taking off along a nearby bike trail, one of the few that isn't too bad, just narrow.
Bike Trail

We made our way to the Gaomei Wetlands, a natural preserve in the mudflats that is adorned with ornamental wind turbines (I have never seen them actually producing electricity).

It is common for visitors to roll up their pants and wade out onto the flats to chase mudskippers and collect clams.


We took a nearby path along the water and eventually wrapped our way back to the Highway 1 to Da-jia.


Cutting Through Rice Fields

Just over the bridge before Da-jia, there is a road that will lead back to Houli and Taichung. If you ever choose to explore this route, be sure to give yourself lots of time. It is a labyrinth of farm roads and dead ends.
Chris Soaks In The Scenery

Luckily, Michael is an expert in this part of Taichung, and he helped us successfully navigate our way through to Houli.

Working Up A Storm

Leisure Cycling
Michael tells Chris about his plans to join the Rebellion against the evil Galactic Empire.

From the traffic blitz in Fengyuan we all decided to go to the 185 Warehouse near DaKeng for some food, refreshments and a few bicycle tweaks and maintenance.


I had a great chicken and cheese sandwich with a coffee while James from 185 helped Chris work on his rear wheel.

It was an excellent ride.

Moreover, the last hour of the ride my leg felt perfect. I feel out of shape and slow, but I was not in pain. Things are looking up.

It was also great to meet up with Chris for some riding. He loves Taiwan traffic.

If anyone in central Taiwan would like to ride mid-week, Chris is looking for company. Contact me if you are interested.
A Quick Fix