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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Team Neko To The Rescue: Thanks Again!


Last Saturday I went on another longish ride out toward Nantou as I claw my way back into shape after a 2 month hiatus. There are days when one or two things conspire against you... and there are days when it seems everything does. 

On Saturday, it seemed lots was going wrong. 


I had intended to ride down past Mingian, and then loop back to Nantou via the Route 139, which, if ridden in its entirety would be an amazing ride. This is the second time I had tried to find the Route 139, and often, the view from the map is vastly different from that of the roadside. In my mind's eye, I thought I knew where to go... and I did. The problem was that there is a jumble of roads in the area and I managed to find myself on the wrong one. By the time I realized I would be missing the Route 139, it was too late and I had already wasted too much energy to go back. 


Instead of chewing up grit on a mouthful of nasty hills in the hot sun, I was looping through the shady avenues of the leisurely Route 152, which has become something of a novice route for city slickers visiting the town of Ji Ji and rent bikes on a lark. 


The Route 152 is pretty and pleasant. 


It follows the old banana rail lines around JiJi and within 30 minutes I was plopped back on the Highway 3 headed home.


I rode up the Highway 3 looking for any roads that might show the promise of adventure and as I was passing a 7-11, I felt my rear tire deflate. 

"Damn!", I thought to myself, "Well, at least I am in front of a 7-11. It could be worse." 

I parked my bike and went in for a popsicle and a little A/C before getting down and dirty with changing a flat. 

Once I got everything changed, I hit the road back. After riding less than a kilometer, I felt the road getting soft under my rear tire again. I got off the bike and located a tear in the rubber of my tire. It seemed the high pressure was forcing the tube through the hole causing it to explode. 

Just as I started walking to the Circle K that was just on the other side of the bridge to repeat the flat ritual I had just completed minutes earlier, a number of riders from Taichung's Team Neko stopped by to lend a hand. I explained the problem and it was as if a team of race mechanics had descended on my bike. I gave them space and I was back up and riding-- albeit a little soft in the rear to avoid another blow-out. 

I recognized several of the riders from Caffe Terry, and I decided to hang with Neko for the remainder of the ride. I figured it would be like riding with a mobile bicycle shop. Lots of people with pumps and tubes if anything went wrong.

The group had well over twenty riders, so it was nice to take advantage of the draft. The pace was quick at the front, but not too fast, about 35-38kph. Occasionally the studs of the group would launch off the front in a bit of fun. For me, I was just happy to get a tow home. It was also nice to have one of the only metal bikes in the middle of a bunch of beautiful carbon bikes.

Neko is Taichung's default group ride. They are well organized and always doing something different on both Saturday and Sunday. They also do weekly Wednesday night rides. You can't miss them with their jailbird stripes and cat logo. I see them all the time, but have never had a chance to ride with them before Saturday. Anyone is welcome to join Neko, so they attract both the hardcore racer and the cycling novice. A beginner could learn a lot from these guys. 

There schedule can be found HERE. Sadly there is no English option. 

I bumped along with the group all the way back to Taichung with 20psi in my rear tire. When the group split up and several members finally landed at a cafe, I thanked them for the help and in allowing me to crash the party. 

This is very much the spirit of cycling in Taiwan. People are very supportive and always ready to lend a hand. 

Thanks again Neko. 



  1. Split in the tire? Fold up a banknote and cover the split till you get home.

    Works with Australia's plastic notes, not sure how the paper notes would go here but should be enough to get you home at more than 20 PSI!

  2. Probably a good idea. Though the 20psi was more the result of a hasty fill with a mini pump. Lol!!!

  3. Ah yeah the good old mini pumps. I'm a stickler so I refuse to get on until my tires reasonably firm.

    That unfortunately means sitting there on the side of the road looking like you're in the middle of a furious masturbation session for a good fifteen minutes or so.

    Always fun!

  4. Yes - agree with you - cyclists in Taiwan are awesome - always willing to lend a helping hand - glad to see you had a good ride - I need to get out on the road again soon. Nice post. Nice Pics.