body{background-attachment: fixed ! important; }

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Polishing NAHBS: Showcasing The Craft of Building Bikes

The North American Handmade Bike Show (NAHBS) will be getting underway this weekend in Sacramento, California. NAHBS is the world's number one craft bike show, featuring 171exhibitors who are leaders in both the craft and innovation of hand built bicycle manufacturing.

Crafting a tool by hand results in the innovation and attention to detail that is often cut from mass production. Each bike is unique to its build and the philosophies that each builder brings to their craft. Building a bike from the bottom up is part sculpture and part old-school workmanship. Some real beautiful and amazing machines.

This year will feature some of the usual suspects in Richard Sachs, Moots, Zanconato, Independent Fabrications, Chris King and a whole host of established builders.

Vibe Cycles will be showing off its innovative designs using bamboo tubing. We have seen some straight tubes used in Calfee bikes.

Some new faces will be bringing their own ideas to NAHBS this year. Bekes Wooden Bicycles, Moth Attack, Muse Cycles, Appleman Bicycles and many others.

From the press release:

According to NAHBS tradition, bicycle rides will take place on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Both are sponsored and fueled by Clif Bar and Company. Saturday's ride is organized by deVere's Irish Pub and starts from there at 8:30. This is a 14 miler to the US Bicycle Hall of Fame in Davis. Cyclists can ride back or catch Amtrak.
Sunday's ride is Sheila Moon's Mimosa ride, a leisurely 7-miler that stops at Revolution Wines for mimosas and other refreshments. This one departs from outside the NAHBS show hall, 9 a.m. Sunday morning.
Full information on the NAHBS rides will be available at

The show will run between March 2nd and March 4th. The awards will be announced at 1:00pm with the awarding party to follow.

*photos above are credited to*


Although many of the exhibitors are small, one-man operations or at least very small operations, it is easy to consider them to be merely niche players.

Then I am reminded of the Seven Odonata, which sparked the innovative use of mixed material frame manufacture by bonding carbon fiber to titanium.

By the mid-2000s, many of the largest manufacturers were selling bikes made of mixed materials.

At NAHBS you just never know what will show up.

Seven Odonata

Seven 622 SLX

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fixing the Tour de Taiwan: How To Make A World Class Event

Taiwan Cycle is back and that can only mean another Tour de Taiwan is upon us. David Reid has done us all a big favor by posting an English translation of each stage. Moreover, Michael Turton pretty much sums up the sentiments of everyone in Taiwan with a passing interest in cycling when he recently wrote:

This route is ridiculous in the extreme, as if someone deliberately set out to avoid all the pretty parts of the island and instead sought to send the cyclists through all the flat, polluted, crowded, dull parts of the island.

I couldn't agree more. Taiwan has some world class routes, but the Tour de Taiwan seems to never explore them. It is always a disappointment when the route is revealed and it is a bunch of boring crap that simply reinforces dumb ideas about Taiwan.

The Tour de Taiwan (Why the French "de"?) faces a lot of challenges. Promoters and their political cronies need to look out for their own interests and often steer these events into their pockets. After all, The Tour de France and Giro d'Italia were simply ways of bringing tourists to ski resorts in the off season.

But the Tour de Taiwan also suffers from bad timing.

The international race calendar starts in March with smaller, warm-up races, before the day races of the Ardenne and the Spring Classics with Flanders and Roubaix closing out the day races before the fireworks of the Giro d'Italia and finally capping the season with the Tour de France. Of course, the UCI World Championships and the Vuelta de Espana officially close the season in September. There are some small stage races in the United States that are attracting some top talent in the lead up to the Grand Tours, but these are still just high profile training races that offer sponsors greater exposure in a larger market.

In Taiwan we all know that between July and October the weather is unpredictable. Typhoons can wreck havoc an the best laid plans. The weather usually dries out between April and the first week of June, but by then all the top talent is concentrated on Europe. This leaves November to January as the nicest time to hold a cycling event, but that is considered the off season when riders rest their weary legs and try to recover for another grueling season. Moreover, Taiwan's highest passes are often still covered with slush or ice between December and April.

As it stands, the Tour of Taiwan is a preparation race on the lower end of UCI priorities. It is considered to be way off on the other side of the world from where the action happens and is best left for training in the off season.

Like many people, I feel Taiwan deserves to shine a little brighter in the lore of competitive cycling.

That is why I have designed my own Tour de Taiwan. If I were the race director and I could hold this race under optimal conditions, this is how it might look.

Stage 1: Team Time Trial

The first stage is a TTT from the opening ceremonies in the city center, out to the Highway 2, which hugs Taiwan's scenic North Coast. The route is short and relatively flat for high speeds. The route ends in Jinshan for a short hop over Yangming Shan back to Taipei.

By opening with a TTT, the riders could warm up for the coming stages without risking too much for the GC.

Crowds could form along the route at many locations to cheer for the teams and attract visitors to Danshui and other locations along the coast. Jiufen and Jinguashi are also close by.

Bike route 1432802 - powered by Bikemap

Stage 2: Miaoli Foothills

Stage 2 opens the race up with a little more distance over rolling hills and punchy climbs between the Highway 3 and the Highway 13. This route offers views of the Mingde and Longtan Reservoirs, as well as the rolling Sanyi hills.

The roads are wide and well paved. The mixed topography gives riders an excellent opportunity for a break away that could shake things up. There may be room in there on the Highway 13 for some sprint points.

Miaoli could attract visitors to both Mingde and Sanyi. Taichung could highlight Dongshih.

Bike route 1432804 - powered by Bikemap

Stage 3: Taichung and Central Taiwan

The third stage starts to shake up the riders before the Queen Stage.

It starts in Taichung City at the Municipal Office (Politicians need to wring something out of this) and heads up out of the city through Dakeng and up the Route 129. Stage 3 connects to the Highway 21 over Baimao Shan to Puli and then to Sun Moon Lake and out to Shuili. I would recommend the Route 63 out of Sun Moon Lake, but with so many riders in a competitive ride, it might be too dangerous.

This route contains lots of good climbing and technical descents. Riders can make time on both. There may be both opportunities for sprinting and climbing points to be awarded.

Local governments can use this route to draw crowds to Hsinshe, Puli, Sun Moon Lake and Shuili.

Bike route 1432806 - powered by Bikemap

Stage 4: Wuling Pass (The Queen Stage)

After a rest day, riders launch out of Puli to conquer Wuling at 3275m. The challenge is world class and offers some of the most spectacular views comparable to the Alps or the Pyrenees.

The climb to the top only precludes a dash over Taiping Shan to Yilan and the East Coast.

This stage might break the race open. It is long and tough. Several locations for climbing points.

Crowds could cheer along the route and visit Chingjing scenic areas.

Bike route 1432808 - powered by Bikemap

Stage 5: Hualien to Taidong

After a grueling Stage 4, riders can regroup and recover on the long, flat stretch of roadway between eastern Taiwan's two largest cities.

There is only one climb of any measure in which a brave rider might try to put some time into a rival. A day for the sprinters and TT technicians.

Both Hualien and Taidong governments could attract visitors for the race.

Bike route 1432811 - powered by Bikemap

Stage 6: Hengchun Peninsula

The Hengchun Peninsula is an ideal transition from a recovery day. Riders are faced with a few short climbs and soaring flats through the Manzhou Valley before cruising to a finish at the beaches in Kenting and another rest day. The roads are in pretty good shape with a few sections that may be a little rough, but no worse that some of the hardpack featured in the Giro d' Italia. Ths route might have sprinting points and one spot for climbing points to be awarded.

Kenting would surely find some favorable press. The local governments could also draw visitors to Manzhou's picturesque beauty.

Bike route 1432813 - powered by Bikemap

Stage 7: Alishan

To separate the men from the boys, a stage from Chiayi over Alishan and back might be just enough to determine a winner in a close race. This is a chance to crown the KOM.

Alishan is already on the tourist maps, but the 159甲 is a wonderful road to discover. It may be a little narrow, so traffic control would be a must.

Riders would then head back into Chiayi past the reservoir with a finish in the city.

Bike route 1432815 - powered by Bikemap

Stage 8: Tainan-Kaohsiung ITT

An Individual Time Trial between Tainan and Kaohsiung might be a real bonus. This allows riders to finish in Taiwan's southern metropolis and giving equal weight to Taiwan's northern and southern cities.

Here, some of the sprinters could make up some time against the climbers. If the race is close, the GC can be settled here.

Bike route 1432817 - powered by Bikemap

Kenting Claims Another Cyclist: Japanese Cyclist Killed In Kenting

More sad news is coming out of Kenting, where another foreign cyclist was struck and killed by a truck.

Next Media has the story complete with the gruesome video and tasteless animation.

Apparently, the Japanese cycling tourist was struck while cycling along the coast in Kenting after drifting into the roadway.

A few weeks ago an American cyclist was also struck and killed by a truck in the same area.

The two deaths come just weeks before Taipei Cycle, one of the world's largest cycling trade shows, at a time when Taiwan is trying to showcase the nation's prowess in developing a viable market in cycling tourism.

Blame for these deaths can be placed at the feet of several parties, but riders and drivers need to hit the roads with the knowledge that despite Taiwan's great investment in cycling infrastructure, it is meaningless without an equal investment in educating the public on how motor vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians can safely coexist on Taiwan's roadways.

Until that happens, Taiwan will continue to be an unnecessarily dangerous place to ride.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Lintrinsic Value of Jeremy

In 1986 Greg LeMond became the first American to win the Tour de France. Until that point cycling was still a European sport. It was where Italians, Belgians, Germans and of course the French could reign supreme. Americans did not have the pedigree to win the Tour... any Tour.


Taiwan's Jeremy Lin fixation has now washed over to taint cycling as well as every other aspect of daily Taiwanese life.

The Chinese language Liberty Times is reporting on a cycling club that rode from Bagua Shan in Changhua to Beidou where some of Lin's extended family resides. According to the report, the Taichung based Shanjiao Mao Bike Club rode 80km to Beidou Township to eat local delicacies and bother the Lin family, despite Jeremy Lin's explicit request to leave the family alone.

The bicycle club roused one of Lin's relatives into showing them the bicycle that had been ridden by the Knicks newest basketball sensation and darling of the Chinese language media.


I find the Jeremy Lin story to be interesting on a number of levels and the Taiwanese fixation on Lin's success speaks volumes on the state of Taiwanese athletics, nationalism and the future of Taiwanese cycling.

The most obvious issue is the degree in which the unfolding "Linsanity" has hinged on concepts of race.

In the American media, Jeremy Lin has provided just enough of a shockwave to remind all Americans that prejudice still lurks in the unexpected corners of our minds. The fact that Lin's numbers, though commendable on a middling team, are nothing near the dazzling bombardment of shock and awe laid down by the likes of Jordan, Johnson, Stockton-Malone, Payton-Kemp and numerously more dominating and dazzling players and combos. The fact that many Americans were surprised that an Asian-American could slip between the triangle offense and the playground to make an impact is enough to bring out feelings of associated guilt. Commentators in America have been as quick to draw attention to the issue of "race" as often as they are to exploit it. Americans are aware that ideas of race are a sensitive issue.

What may be more interesting and worthy of attention is the manner in which Jeremy Lin's portrayal in Taiwan has also skirted the uncomfortable lines of race and ethnic nationalism with much less caution.

Ever since the Lin story broke, Taiwanese and Chinese nationalists have been clamoring for a piece of Jeremy Lin as the star has been used to represent Chinese, Taiwanese, Asian-Americans and everything in between to fulfill a desire for international recognition and plaudits. In Taiwan we frequently see this phenomenon when anything related to Taiwan or Taiwanese is singled out for international commendation. Sadly, this type of "racial pride" still plays to prior and existing colonial relationships between the Orient and the Occident, in which an entity referred to as "the West" is often still looked to for recognition and authentication.

The competition for ownership and recognition may be more related to where it lacks. As Taiwan has struggled for international recognition as either the R.O.C. or as simply "Taiwan", the desire to fill the void with anything prized has driven people in Taiwan into an arms race of clout against the constant bullying by the neighboring People's Republic of China (PRC), which seeks every opportunity to deny international space for Taiwanese to showcase a separate, non-Chinese national pride.

By the same "token" (ouch!)... Chinese nationalists would like to hop on Lin's coattails to both exert territorial claims to Taiwan as a lesser part of a Greater China, and also to affirm the Chinese nationalist mythology of persistent victimhood at the hands of the west. Lin is often propped up by these Chinese nationalists as a defender (or in this case, Point Guard) of "the race".

As Americans, with their immense baggage of a history smeared by racial conflict, try to play down and pass censure on the issue of "race", modern Chinese nationalism is founded on a bedrock of racialism that hopes to exploit the west's own vehicle for colonialism to further their own goals of territory and wealth.

For these types Lin represents an odd paradox.

Chinese Nationalism has taken a strange, ambiguously bifurcated path, toggling between definitions of "Chineseness".

Sun Yat-sen, the nominal founder of the Republic of China (ROC), who is revered in both the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan (ROC), as an important figure in establishing a post-dynastic China, was also a great practitioner of racialism and keenly wove the 19th century beliefs of social darwinism and racialism into his modern Chinese republic.

“Considering the law of survival of ancient and modern races, if we want to save China and to preserve the Chinese race, we must certainly promote Nationalism. To make this principle luminous for China's salvation, we must first understand it clearly. The Chinese race totals four hundred million people; of mingled races there are only a few hundred million Mongols, a million or so Manchus, a few million Tibetans, and over a million Mohammedan Turks. These alien races do not number more than 10 million, so that, for the most part, the Chinese people are of the Han or Chinese race with common blood, common religion, and common customs-a single, pure race.”

Sun Yat-sen in San Min Zhu Yi (1927)

On the one hand, Sun adopts the belief in a modern, multiethnic nation, where Han is the dominant and transformative culture that will unite the people. On the other hand he views the divisions in the now dated terms of "race" and "blood".

Sun left his definition of "Chinese people" ambiguous to achieve the goals of fueling anti-Manchuism among the Han ethnic-nationalists, while incorporating the vast territory in the west that was appropriated by the Manchu Qing empire (Taiwan was not a consideration at this point as it had been a Japanese colony since 1895).

Chinese nationalisms in both the PRC and the ROC, continue to use the dated and logically incongruous Sunist construct for defining "Chinese" and "Chineseness", as a shared system of culture, customs, language, history and people. The need to create uniformity in this model that might incorporate vastly different cultures, languages, customs, histories across a wide geographical area under a single national Chinese nationalist umbrella, took the form of a fascist style of state culturalism, in which the state became the creator and promulgator of a centralized and monolithic state Chinese culture. China is not a homogenous place by any means and the fear of regional nationalisms was, and still is, a real threat to maintaining the old Qing borders.

This is where the problem of Jeremy Lin comes into play.

Lin, an American born, non-Chinese speaking Christian, must give Chinese nationalists fits. This is where ideas of lineal descent from the mythic Yellow Emperor come into play-- Chinese nationalism's own race card to extend power and influence beyond its borders and rise up in the face of western hegemony-- while playing to that same hegemony in a quest to be granted validity or authenticity.

Both of Lin's parents come from Taiwan, which was, itself, not "Chinese" enough for the Chinese nationalists and their centralized state culture.

Moreover, Lin grew up in the United States, which, as the leading consumer of professional sports, has an established system of recreational, prep and collegiate athletics.

Race is a colonial construct, and ethnicity is merely something shared, negotiated and renegotiated.

Lin is the only person who can, with good conscience, claim himself for any of these competing groups.

Lin's success is the result of a culmination of factors that are unique to Lin. He was raised where he was raised. He made choices based on his experiences. He studied and trained like many other successful Americans, with the resources he had available. Lin's experience is an American experience if, for the only reason, it happened in the community of the United States.

If others would like to seek inspiration from Lin, that is their choice. If Taiwanese would like to look at Lin and question the balance in Taiwan between academics and athletics, that is fantastic.

What the racial nationalism does with "Linsanity", is that it adroitly shifts the emphasis away from the systemic changes that are needed for Taiwanese to emulate Lin's own success, while oddly validating the existing systems (no matter how flawed) as having resulted in "our own" vicarious success through Lin.

It is easy to see why any shift in the status quo is unlikely, and the continued appropriation of Jeremy Lin and others like him will be inevitable.
  • The system of Taiwanese education is based on standardized evaluations, which not only supports a massive economy of peripheral education (cram schools, certification, publishing, alternative education...etc.) but it also appeases the Taiwanese cultural demand for the perception of fairness. The competition for higher placement on entrance examinations has led to greater and greater reductions in P.E. classes (90min/wk).
  • Finding parity between education and athletics might also threaten the racial/class based perceptions of athletics. Although early Chinese nationalists believed that a strong nation required strong citizens, the pre-existing association between physical athleticism and barbarism or racial degradation, has largely left athletics to be regarded as the vocation for the poor or the indigenous people. These divisions between the "civilized" and "uncivilized" have been negotiated and traversed for centuries on Taiwan and it seems unlikely, at least in the in the short to medium term, that Taiwanese society is ready to redraw these hard fought boundaries.


It would be easy to demonstrate how Taiwan's education and athletics systems would, more often than not, discourage the rise of a local Jeremy Lin. I recall a heated debate between departments last year in which the foreign teachers were reprimanded for rewarding students with a little basketball. The idea of a school basketball team was D.O.A. as it would interfere with valuable cramming time. Now the Education Bureau is calling for more basketball time in schools. Taiwanese students have little choice other than cramming for test scores, or, if they would like to pursue athletics, going to a vocational school specializing in physical education. No, pointing to the systemic hurdles in replicating Lin would be easy.

Instead, I think the focus on Lin is masking the real success of Taiwan's direction in athletics--cycling.

Taiwanese have embraced cycling for a variety of reasons and the sport has enjoyed nearly a decade of sustained growth. Taiwan's topography and infrastructure, with its well maintained road surfaces, provides an amazing training ground for the future of professional cycling.

The Taiwan-based RTS Racing Team just finished up competing in the Tours of Oman and Qatar. The team DS is Taiwanese and three of the team's riders are also from Taiwan.

Lee Rodgers from RTS reports in Velonews:

The pack splintered from there and I just dug in and pushed. The first 2km were 10%, the third 12% and then finally it leveled slightly at 6% for the next kilometer. Popovych (Radioshack) was chasing and up ahead my ‘nemesis’ from Champion Systems dangled. Then up again, the final 2km at 13%.


Again I dug in. I reminded myself that though this was hurting, it was nothing compared to the climb I did in Taiwan just 5 weeks ago. Zero meters to 3275m over 90km. The final 2km kick up at an average of 17%. Now,that is a climb. So, 6km? Nothing…

Taiwanese might really want to step out of the sycophantic game of racial ownership, and focus more on promoting and developing local athletes by giving them choices beyond the current binary of either academics or athletics.

Cycling may be able to provide a better source of national pride for Taiwanese and it seems inevitable that a Taiwanese will one day arrive at a grand tour.

With all this "Linsanity" it seems Taiwanese have lost focus on their real assets in competitive athletics.

The best I can hope for is that Lin will inspire Taiwanese into demanding more than just a few superficial changes in these systems to provide more opportunities for everyone interested in professional and amateur sports.

Moreover, I hope, for the sake of diversity, Taiwanese will one day reject Chinese nationalism with its racialist root, in favor of a system that can put every citizen equidistant from the center.

The problem of race is not just a western problem.


Maxxis, the Taiwan based maker of auto and bicycle tires, has signed Jeremy Lin as the company's newest spokesman.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tainan Century Ride

After a couple weeks with little to show for it, I was finally able to use my long weekend to lay some miles down on the bike. It was the perfect opportunity for a Century ride (160km). I was joined by Michael Turton and Chris Bolster, a cycling neophyte.

For Chris, a man who weighed over 300lbs last year, this would be his first Century ride... and his first ride over 100km.

We chose the easiest and best route for a Century between Taichung and Tainan by taking the Route 145 from Hsiluo to Beigang. Although there are several larger and better marked routes, the Route 145 is flat, beautifully paved, and is almost devoid of stop lights... or at least any stops you actually need to heed. It is easy to slip into a pace and maintain that pace for kilometer after flat kilometer.

With a strong wind at our backs, progress was easy.

With this being my first ride of any real length since November, I was cautious and steadfast in my goal to simply take it easy. I only needed to spend time in the saddle and acclimate to the feeling of spending hours on a bike seat.

The road just unfolds southward through fields and farms. Today, the smell of pigshit was not overbearing and we could take our time enjoying the scenery.

The route is marked by the periodic sight of a smoke stack or rusting hull of one of the hundreds of sugar refineries from the Japanese colonial era that made up such a major part of the prewar Taiwanese economy.

We tried a more creative route into Tainan which dumped us out onto the Highway 1. With 49km to Tainan City and 30km shy of a Century, I decided to go for broke and put the Century ride to bed in short order. I hopped the speed up to between 35kph and 40kph and reached the 160km mark just about where the road turned to the HSR station.

Michael, who had put in a little more distance earlier on in the trip, pulled up at the Shanhua Station. After a rest and a stretch, the mighty Chris came rolling along and we took the turn to find the HSR.

I kept expecting to see the station at any moment. The slight bow of the HSR line simply masked the distance to the station and made it seem frustratingly far. In fact, it was frustratingly far. We ended up riding an additional 24km. Just before the station, the road rises up into the highest hill of the ride (possibly the highest hill in Tainan City) to the station. We heaved over the hill before packing up our bikes and a celebratory beer. We headed home in Business Class style because the have more space to stow a bike and they offer coffee and dessert service.

The whole ride was 185km and Chris was just incredible on his first Century. I am looking forward to doing this again.

Moreover, I am happy to be feeling well enough to do these longer rides again.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tour de Product Placement

An interesting little tidbit came out of Bike Europe the other day involving Taiwan's second largest bicycle manufacture, Merida Bikes, and the company's interest in placing their equipment under the asses of some of the world's top cycling talent as a pro team sponsor.
More factories, more models, especially in 29-ers and racing bikes, as well as more marketing support. There was even talk about participating the Tour de France with a professional team. That will probably happen with the new Merida Scultura SL Team (photo) which, together with a new series of 29-ers, was launched at last weekend’s Merida Dealer & Press Camp in Mallorca.
Merida is better known as a major shareholder in Specialized and the manufacturer of Specialized equipment.

The company's expressed interest in supporting a pro cycling team shows that Merida is looking to jump into the limelight as a stand-alone brand rather than be complacent as simply a Taiwanese OEM/ODM.

As much as the Tour de France is a display of both team and individual cycling prowess, the Tour is also the world's largest vehicle for bicycle marketing. It is in the Tour de France that consumers ogle their favorite teams as the riders splash logos across the television screens for six hour stints.

Several of the bikes in the pro peloton were simple OEM frames a couple years ago or at least much less regarded... until they made their debut at the Tour de France and saw their stock, in the eyes of the consumer, shoot to the stars. Much of the "cred" carried by the Giant TCR Advanced SL revolves around their use by Team Rabobank. It is not that these bikes are any more advanced than many others. It is because the companies have made the expensive investment in branding an image.

It will be an interesting interesting case study as our "little" Taiwanese brand shows if the marketing coup of a Tour appearance can rocket a company into becoming one of the world's more coveted brands.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Taiwanese Cyclist Plods Around The World: 600 Days and Counting

For months I have been wondering what ever happened to Wu Shih-chang, the Taiwanese man who set out to travel the globe by bike on $10 a day.

Wu left Taiwan in June 2010 to begin his journey in Alaska, before heading southward to Argentina. Along his journey the young Taiwanese man miscalculated food supplies, negotiated wild bears in Alaska and finally arrived in Seattle where he was taken in by some of my friends from the Seattle Taiwan Center.

Now, after 20 months on the road, the 30 year-old resurfaces in Paris, where his bike was stolen and he was forced to wait for a replacement.

Here is an excerpt from Focus Taiwan:

He cycled across Alaska, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Belize and Central America before pedaling south to Peru, Chile and Argentina. He flew or traveled by boat when necessary.

He met a snowstorm on a mountain road in Argentina, experienced acute altitude sickness in Peru, and had diarrhea for a week.

Despite all this, he said that after witnessing the beauty of plateaus, experiencing desert weather, and feeling coastal breezes, all the discomfort went away.

Money was a big issue for him and visa fees accounted for the largest expenses on his trip. As Taiwan lacks formal diplomatic ties with many countries, entering other countries can be expensive.

He was due to fly from Argentina to South Africa but was unable to as the South Africa Embassy in Argentina denied him a visa.

He traveled to Europe instead and spent his 30th birthday at an airport in Madrid. His travel turned for the worse Feb 3 when his bicycle, donated by Taiwanese bike maker Giant, was stolen in Paris.

Wu was forced to contact his friends in Taiwan and ask them to send another bike for him so that he could continue his trip.

He said he did not know when he will finish traveling, but said the trip has made him realize the importance of family.
Taiwan's problematic diplomatic situation, combined with a weakening push for international space seems to be taking its toll on Taiwanese travelers who are often misidentified as Chinese.

I hope Wu keeps going, but 600 days is a long time to be on the road.


The Accell Group has fortified its Taiwan branch with some top talent to better get into the scrum of the growing Asian bicycle market.

In Other News:

The Rollers of Bagua Shan

Monday was a day off, so I decided to test the knee out with a ramble over Bagua Shan, the 50km hill that reaches from Changhua to Nantou.

I was joined by the indomitable Chris Bolster, who is becoming increasingly sucked into the addiction of cycling.

For me, it was a trial of fitness. The route consists of one stiff climb followed by dozens upon dozens of rollers. The entire route from Taichung and back is almost exactly 100k, so it would be a distance record for Chris, who is still only in his second month of cycling.

We rolled into Changhua and yucked it up with tales of ribaldry over cheap coffee before punching over the hill to the Changhua Route 139.

The morning was bright, but the haze in the air heralded a spot of bad weather for the afternoon.

We punched along the spine of Bagua Shan through the tunnels of treelined shade.

This route is a local favorite as there are few cars and around every corner there are reminders that the beauty of Taiwan is just a short bike ride away. Too often we get caught up in the ugliness of the city and forget how amazing the countryside really can be. Rows of tea and pineapple can really arouse the imagination into entertaining silly thoughts of retiring in a place like this.

We blasted the descent into Songboling at 68kph. and then turned onto the Route 137 with its seemingly endless pits and rises. That road is great torture on the legs as you try to maintain a constant speed over every bump.

We decided to cap off the ride by climbing the Highway 74 back over Bagua Shan. It makes a nice, torturous climb after a long day in the saddle. For the first time in a long time I was feeling flashes of my old self.

As Chris and I went our separate ways after 100 kilometers of fine riding, I had to remind him that he was only 60km from achieving a standard Century... and with a tailwind to Tainan with no hills... he he he...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Exploring Nantou

I had originally planned to head into Nantou city along along the Route 139, but the route is not marked upon entering downtown Nantou, so I wasted enough time that it just wasn't worth continuing with that plan.

Ordinarily, I would be a little upset without tasting the meat of the ride through the hills to Jiji, but since I rarely spend much time in Nantou, I had seen enough to explore a little.

I crossed the Lumei Bridge. The bridge in its current form was completed in 1997, but was actually a modern conversion of a much older bridge.

Just on the other side of the bridge I noticed the remains of a bamboo palisade with a stone wall inside. It may be the remains of a family compound, military outpost, or even a satellite village of the Hoanya speaking Sarva group of indigenes.

Just around the corner I found the traditional market and a park.

The park is home to a new croquet court.

It is also home to the only remaining segment of the snake kiln from Shuili. The original kiln was destroyed during the 921 earthquake, but one segment was recovered and moved to its current location in Nantou.

On my way home, I stopped to take pictures in a community built from traditional mud bricks. Unlike more famous structures that use fired red brick that arrived in Taiwan as ballast for ships, the majority of Taiwan's Qing era buildings were constructed using sun-baked bricks composed of mud, rice husks, and water buffalo dung. The husks and dung gave the bricks a type of waterproofing while holding the bricks together. The walls were then covered in a lime paste.

Last, I stopped by an old playground to get a picture with one of the antiquated concrete animals that used to be the highlight of Taiwanese playgrounds for earlier generations of children.