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Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Central Cross Island Highway Gets Paved: Magazine Features Taiwan's Toughest Climb

After a reader notified me that the Fall 2012 issue of Paved Magazine features an article about cycling in Taiwan. I was curious and downloaded the issue from the iTunes News Stand.

I have to admit, as a long-time resident of Taiwan and a frequent rider on its roads, I was skeptical and opened my new digitized magazine with a mixture of jaded "What did they fuck up this time?", and "I can't wait to take out my long knives and serve this up well-done for my readers."

I was absolutely wrong. This article is the best piece of cycling writing to cover Taiwan that this blogger has ever seen in print and it should serve as the gold standard for other writers and editors who hope to detail Taiwan cycling in pictures and words.

The Paved article is not the usual Taiwan Tourism Bureau talking points other writers are bound to adhere to in appreciation of a free trip on the TTB's dime or to please a big corporate sponsor.

This article by Bruce Minnigh and photographed by Stephen Wilde provides a vivid expose on what makes cycling Taiwan such an amazing and addictive way of life.

I can not recommend this article highly enough. There are a few minor quibbles here and there, but nothing I would care to nag about. This is really a solid piece of writing. It is honest and highly entertaining.

It is certainly worth the price of admission. The article can be purchased HERE.


The dull pain of lactic acid burned deep in my quads, and my head ached from altitude and dehydration. My will power was in danger of being trumped by a mounting list of physical impediments. I lowered my head and attacked another lung busting climb, gasping to extract as much oxygen as possible from the increasingly thin air. 
Suddenly the road began to level out, its steepness supplanted by a stiff wind sweeping across what appeared to be a giant alpine meadow. Though I couldn't see Hehuan Shan or Cilai Ridge, it was clear from the clouds racing by that I had crested the pass. I had done it. I had ridden my bike up one of the world's toughest paved roads.
For the next few hours we were treated to a deceptively swift descent through the mind blowing Taroko Gorge-- the namesake and main attraction of Taiwan's most diverse national park. The strikingly narrow heart of the gorge stretched for about 13 miles, hemmed in by marble walls that soar for over a thousand feet above the riverbed, often blocking out the sky.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tour of Sanyi


Sunday was a beautiful day to get out on a bike, so I did my best to wake up early and get out the door to enjoy the sunny weather. I had a few plans on the table, but settled on a ride through Sanyi on the southern edge of Miaoli County. 


On my way out to Houli and the Highway 13, I couldn't help but stop to take a few pictured of my favorite example of Taiwan's rigid zoning regulations. 


Pictured is the No. 74 Expressway that is being built to wrap around Taichung City. 


This particular section has been built to thread the needle between the brand new Tzu Chi Hospital and its even newer annex. The expressway also passes within an eyelash of the Ivy Bilingual Academy dormitories. 

It is really something to see. 


I plodded along through Houli, fighting the wind with every turn of the crank.


The Highway 13 to Sanyi offers some great shots of various transportation schemes. Sometimes the built environment is just as wildly interesting as the natural environment. 


The climb up to Sanyi was much easier than I remembered. It is good to pass through in the morning before the weekend tourists arrive to pick the place clean of "traditional Hakka" woodcarvings and handicrafts. 


Sanyi is a town that saw most of its early growth as a train stop for forestry products. Now, the area is recognized for its woodcarving festival. Many Hakka people who came to Taiwan were skilled carvers and they moved to Miaoli as it resembled the geography of their former homes in the hills between Fujian and Guangdong in China. 

Many of Sanyi's Hakka families also come from families of ex-aborigines who simply became "Hakka" between the 18th and 20th Centuries. 


The rail lines built by the Japanese colonial administration on Taiwan at the beginning of the 20th century really defined Sanyi as a town that mushroomed out, bisected by rails. 


I passed numerous cyclists out to enjoy the weather. Groups large and small rolled along through Sanyi Township in a rolling demonstration of Taiwan's cycling culture. 




I made my way through Tong-luo village on my way to hook up with the Highway 6; an easy viaduct to the Highway 3 for my return. 


I guess it had been a while since I passed through the area and I misremembered the route back. In trying to cross another one of Taiwan's fabulous bridges, I had to sneak under the expressway along some creative solution for the area's non-motorized traffic. 

IMG_9455 IMG_9458

I think Taiwan is home to more interesting bridges per than just about any other country on the planet. I am always amazed by what a construction budget and a willing architect can come up with. Someone should really do a photo essay on Taiwan's bridges. Seriously.


I found myself on the Miaoli Route 119 heading back to Sanyi. I knew the road, but had never taken it to Sanyi. It was a drunken path of smooth tarmac in, on, over and around every bump and contour back to Sanyi. 

I could see the fields getting prepped for this winter's strawberry crop. 

I logged about 140km on the day and seemed to be doing well. Just not well enough. Too tired still. 

The day was really a nice time on the bike.  


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Warning: Sima Xian Shan Road Closed

Blocked road

This past weekend I was toying with the idea of a Sima Xian Shan ride to toughen my legs up a bit now that I can climb again. I saw Michael Turton's wonderful set of pictures and (a) wondered why I hadn't joined them, and (b) why I hadn't taken a beautiful day to hit one of my favorite climbs. 

Today I received word from Steen, a regular reader, that the road on the back side of the mountain has been cut off by a nasty avalanche. 

Unfortunately, Steen had to find out the hard way by slugging his way up the quad-bursting ramps on the southern side of the hill, only to charge headlong down the other side into a debris field that would not let up. 

In cases like this there is no real great option to salvage a ride. 

Steen had to get a lift home. 

You just never can tell what some of these roads are going to be like week to week and month to month. 

So, for anyone thinking about this route, look at the alternate at the top of the mountain (left and across the ridge not down). It looks like it may be some time before they clear the mess.  

Many thanks to Steen for getting the word out. 

 mm Blocked section

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Team Lampre-Merida-- Press Release

"Now its official."-- Michael Jackson (Thriller, 1984)

MERIDA enters the UCI World Tour

Merida Europe GmbH is pleased to announce its commitment to the UCI WorldTour as per January 1st 2013. With the UCI ProTeam Lampre a both likeable and successfully established team has agreed to be supplied with MERIDA’s high-end equipment for the next three seasons and to compete under the official name “Team Lampre-MERIDA”. With the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM, Taiwan’s second-largest bicycle manufacturer has been supporting one of the world’s most successful mountain bike racing teams since 2004; entering the UCI WorldTour thus was a long-awaited and logical next step in order to get the best showcase possible for the brand’s premium road products as well.

As per 2013, the new Team Lampre-MERIDA will be competing on state-of-the-art equipment: The SCULTURA SL is setting benchmarks in terms of stiffness, agility and vertical compliance, thus making sure that the Team Lampre-MERIDA can participate not only at the big races such as the Giro d’Italia, the Vuelta a Espana and the Tour de France with legitimate aspirations. On top of that, early in 2013 a time trial bike that has been developed from scratch to meet the demands of time trialling with the world’s elite is going to be presented. More team bikes tailor-made to suit the needs for cobble-stone classics such as Paris-Roubaix or particularly aerodynamic models for long escapes and building a lead-out train for a sprinter are going to be presented throughout the next year.

MERIDA is the private brand of Merida Industry Co., Ltd, Taiwan’s second-largest bicycle manufacturer. The company had been founded in 1972 by Ike D.H. Tseng in Yuanlin, Taiwan. After the founder’s death in January 2012, his son Michael Tseng took over. At its three production facilities in Yuanlin, Shenzen and Shandong (the latter two based in the People’s Republic of China), about 3500 employees produce about 2.5 million bicycles per year that are being distributed in 70 countries around the world. MERIDA’s world-wide workforce sums up to about 52.000 people. Ever since 2004, MERIDA has been participating in international competitions with great success with the “MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM”, a team that has Olympic and World champions in its line-up with riders such as Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja, Ralph Näf and José Hermida.

A Bicycle Homecoming and Other Links


The Taiwanese couple that set out 30 months ago for a well sponsored cycling trip around the world is set to return. It is still to be seen if a couple that bikes together stays together, but it has obviously been quite a trip.
Lin Xiao-kai and his girlfriend Yan Yi-hui told Taipei City-based Central News Agency Sept. 17 in Los Angeles that the journey has been a bittersweet but once-in-a-lifetime experience. 
“This faded cycling jersey is a proof of what we have been through over the past 900 days,” Lin said. “We have taken more than 400,000 pictures and 1,000 video clips to keep track of every place visited.” 
According to Lin, he has kept a blog of the couple’s trip and is planning to publish a book on their odyssey at some point in the future.

Apparently, this is the longest cycling adventure undertaken by a Taiwanese team.


Giant toots its own horn for forging close ties with the government. This past week the really, super big bike maker hosted John Kuan, head of the Examination Yuan in an effort to promote Giant and to make it look as if the government might be concerned about reforming the civil service.

Taipei, Sept. 18 (CNA) Examination Yuan President John Kuan visited bicycle maker Giant Manufacturing Co.'s production plant in Taichung, central Taiwan Tuesday with the goal of learning from the company's recruitment and training experience. 
Kuan said that in addition to the company's recruitment process and training mechanism, Giant's corporate philosophy and global competitiveness also have a lot to teach the country's civil service 
Of course, a long time observer might note that the civil service has been a valuable tool for the ruling KMT to maintain its power base within the middle class, while using the civil service's access to state benefits as a lever for maintaining loyalty to the KMT/ROC and its ideology.

Ma Ying-jiu actually had to work hard during the last campaign to woo back some disaffected stalwarts in the civil service after finally instituting the final phase of a series of tax reforms that finally covered every branch of the civil service requiring every citizen to pay income tax.

I doubt Ma, who is reported to be disliked by many in his own party, is in any hurry to take the reins off  such a reliable voting bloc.

Moreover, the idea that government should be run like a business is one of the most idiotic concepts to gain popularity over the past 20 years. Sometimes a government needs to simply serve the people and not the bottom line.


A Japanese delegation was recently hosted by Giant to discuss mutual dreams of bicycle tourism.

Wheel Giant's Bike Market Update reports:

On the first day of the visit, the Hiroshima and Ehime governments organized a
joint tourism presentation showcasing Japan's Inland Sea. Many media and travel agency representatives were on hand to learn about the rich tourism possibilities of Hiroshima and Ehime. Giant President King Liu and CEO Tony Lo also shared their personal cycling experiences riding the Shimanami Kaido and the Inland Sea. 
On the second morning, the official delegation visited Giant's global headquarters in Dajia, Taichung. Giant officials led their Japanese visitors on a planned a factory tour, and exchanged opinions about bicycle culture. Cycling activities were arranged for the afternoon of the second day and the morning of the third. Routes included the Hou Feng railway path, Dong-fong green corridor, and the Sun Moon Lake bike path. 
After their two-day cycling tour, Hiroshima governor Yuzaki and Ehime governor
Nakamura noted that Taiwan bike lanes showcase Taiwan's exceptionally beautiful landscape, especially the world-renowned Sun Moon Lake path

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Clash of the Taiwan Titans: Merida Sitting Pretty in Pink With Lampre


According to several sources, including Bike Europe, Merida Bikes, the bike maker more famous for being the OEM behind several other top brands, is poised to reveal a sponsorship agreement between Merida and Team Lampre.

The news on the Merida sponsorship is denied nor confirmed by Merida spokesman Peter Koperdraad, general manager of Merida Benelux. “We will issue an official press release on 21 September. Until then we will deny everything”, said Peter Koperdraad. “Merida is talking with several teams and perhaps arrangements have been made. However we will not give any comment on this issue until existing contracts with current sponsors are terminated.”
If this is the pairing that will be announced this Friday, it would see Taiwan's largest bike makers go head to head in Pro Tour competition. Giant, the industry's largest bike maker, has been a major sponsor of Team Rabobank since 2009. Lampre will be switching from Willier bike frames to the Merida Scultura.

Team Lampre is still reeling from serious doping accusations directed at several current and former riders in the Mantova investigation. Perhaps a little positive attention can boost morale for next year.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Way of Biking: Bicycle Lifestyle Lectures and Photo Exhibition


This weekend the Splendor Hotel will kick off a bicycle exhibition series in the lead up to Taichung Bike Week coming this November. 

The Way of Biking exhibition will feature bicycle and bike-photo exhibitions, as well as guest lecturers who will be discussing various aspects of the cycling community in Taiwan. 

Sat. 9/15 (14:00-15:00) B1 Open Space -- Terry Lin from Caffe Terry will give a lecture on the current state of our cycling community.  


9/14--11/11, 3F Exhibition Hall-- Dorcus Bikes will have a bicycle exhibit.

9/14--11/11, 3F Gallery-- Caffe TERRY will sponsor a photo exhibition.

9/14--11/11, 4F Exhibition Hall-- ibike will host a design exhibit. 

Show your support for the cycling community and take a look. It should be better than spending the weekend circling the malls. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Taiwan Clipped In to Pedaling Influence: How Taiwan's Government Is Writing Its Own Cycling Narrative Through Paid Media


 Not too long ago I began raising questions regarding the placement of Taiwan's Sun Moon Lake on a list of world's best cycling paths assembled by CNN. The whole report seemed as if the writer had never been to Taiwan and knew nothing of the history of Sun Moon Lake or its environs.

I wrote Here   :
I would welcome the author to please provide some "ancient Chinese" literature and/or artwork regarding the lake and its surrounding scenery. Qing literati were quite clear in casting the mountain areas as mysterious, savage, degraded places that were filled with evil, ugly, degraded people and things. 
I would suggest the author leave poetics at the door and stick with the facts.

And then as the article made its way through the digestive tract of the Taiwanese media I commented again Here  :

My questions are:
  • How can the Tourism Bureau possibly have amassed enough definitive data to draw the conclusion that there had been an increase in cycling traffic due to the CNN article... especially in a few short weeks?
  • Which methods are they using to collect data?
  • How is the Tourism Bureau defining "foreigner"? I would assume they mean caucasians, but they may be including other foreign visitors.

My feeling on the matter is that the Tourism Bureau is paying for press and they are determined to show results of their marketing efforts.
I have emailed CNNGo for clarification and I have yet to receive a reply. I have also emailed the Taiwan Tourism Bureau for clarification.
...and later:
Taiwan Today had a recent article detailing the Merida cycling event at Sun Moon Lake. I made the observation that this event seemed suspiciously linked to a CNN-GO article and the Taiwan Tourism Bureau's desire to promote it. The Taiwan Today article actually and suspiciously mirrors and even quotes the CNN article's most erroneous statements, which I devoured in an earlier postHERE   .
The TT Article begins to look more like an attempt by Tourism Bureau underlings to toady up to their superiors.
Sun Moon Lake, a natural alpine lake located in central Taiwan’s Nantou County, is surrounded by high forest mountains with stunning landscapes. The lake—named because its eastern part is round like the sun and its western part is narrow and long like a crescent moon—has been voted year after year by local and foreign visitors, including those from mainland China, as one of Taiwan’s must-see tourist spots.
Statistics from the Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area Administration show that the number of visitors skyrocketed from 2.6 million in 2009 to 6.3 million in 2010, after the launch of a cable car service Dec. 28, 2009. The service became an instant hit as it offers a bird’s-eye view of the lake’s beauty in a relaxing 1.87-kilometer ride between the lake and the nearby Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village.
In 2011, the number of visitors declined slightly to 5.3 million. But the administrative office is confident that its efforts over the past few years in building a round-the-lake bikeway will soon spark another tourism boom, as hundreds and thousands of bicycle enthusiasts from around the world come flocking to the lake to indulge their passion for bicycling and soak in the beautiful local scenery.
I was then sent a link to a wonderful article that delves into the seedy relationships CNN has forged with governments around the world to promote tourism... if the price is right. Yes, CNN is using its status as a news source to pitch ad copy for foreign governments on its website. These fanciful turns of phrase are not being parsed by some dreamy-eyed Orientalist looking to squeeze fantasies of the exotic from slabs of concrete, but rather, they were cobbled together in the boardrooms and corridors of a propaganda office. In Taiwan's case, the Government Information Office (GIO).

Although the particulars may vary, the story may well be the same for Taiwan's encounter with CNN.

CNNi's pursuit of and reliance on revenue from Middle East regimes increased significantly after the 2008 financial crisis, which caused the network to suffer significant losses in corporate sponsorships. It thus pursued all-new, journalistically dubious ways to earn revenue from governments around the world. Bahrain has been one of the most aggressive government exploiters of the opportunities presented by CNNi. 
These arrangements extend far beyond standard sponsorship agreements for advertising of the type most major media outlets feature. CNNi produces those programs in an arrangement it describes as "in association with" the government of a country, and offers regimes the ability to pay for specific programs about their country. These programs are then featured as part of CNNi's so-called "Eye on" series ("Eye on Georgia", "Eye on the Phillipines", "Eye on Poland"), or "Marketplace Middle East", all of which is designed to tout the positive economic, social and political features of that country. 
The disclosure for such arrangements is often barely visible. This year, for instance, CNNi produced an "Eye on Lebanon" series, which that nation's tourist minister boasted was intended "to market Lebanon as a tourism destination". He said "his ministry was planning a large promotional campaign dubbed 'Eye on Lebanon' to feature on CNN network."
Yet one strains to find the faded, small disclosure print on this "Eye on Lebanon" page, even if one is specifically searching for it. To the average viewer unaware of these government sponsorships, it appears to be standard "reporting" from the network.

Seeing as this was a government promotion it is no wonder it quickly entered Taiwan's media feed through Taiwan's CNA, the official government news agency.

What is even more unsettling is how the CNN/GIO report on Sun Moon Lake echoes of some of the similar copy propagated during Taiwan's period of Martial Law during the Cold War (1949-1988).

During the era when Taiwan was governed as a single-party authoritarian state, much of the information available to the world regarding Taiwan was crafted by propaganda men with the goal of transforming Taiwan, in the international collective imagination, from Japanese Formosa to an inseparable Province of China that was the bastion of Free China and Chinese culture. Publications such as the Free China Journal and Sinorama published countless essays that were carefully constructed to provide foreign readers with the "appropriate" terms and narratives chosen by the Chinese Nationalist (KMT) government. Terms such as "mainland" and "Free China" were used in rapid succession to become the accepted terms where there had once been lack. If Taiwan was not viewed as Chinese after WWII, the Chinese Nationalist government hoped to write the union into existence. This extensive effort was semi-successful abroad, but failed to resonate where it mattered-- in Taiwan.

This effort by Taiwan's government is especially interesting in how they have started to re-write the story back to a China-centered narrative. This is not simply about cycling or tourism, but it is also about culture.

The activist role of government in Taiwanese culture is brought to the fore in this revealing interview from the Huffington Post with Taiwan's Minister of Culture.

The need for a Culture Ministry is already a warning sign. Culture is like shit... it happens. Culture is not crafted or dictated. It can be shaped by the state, but in essence it is simply something shared.

In looking at her comments it seems she is attempting to localize Taiwan in a Greater China. I would love to rip it apart line by line, but maybe it can be fodder for someone at another blog.

I guess in the type of relationship forged between CNN and the GIO, neither party rolls over and asks the question, "Was it good for you?"

Sunday On Route 130


On Sunday I slipped into the stinkiest pair of unwashed bibs that I had forgotten to wash after Wednesday's night ride. I stunk. The more the heat from my body warmed up the lycra, the more rank I became. It was awful. 

I was also hoping to try out a new cleat position to eliminate knee soreness that has held me back for so long. 

The goal was to test my speed and endurance over 140km with a climb over the Miaoli Route 130; a hill that serves as a pretty good mark of climbing health. 

I reluctantly slipped onto the streets of Taichung and headed for the hills half expecting an early rain squall to send me home. The weather was blustery, but not precipitation. 


I felt I had more power in the new position. My hips were a bit tired, but I hoped to work that out with this ride. 


Before long, I was hacking it up over the hill to Jhuolan for my morning coffee before starting the real climb. The hill on the Highway 3 between Dongshih and Jhuolan is not hard... just an annoyance. I big-ringed it all the way up to my own relief and landed with a bunch of other cyclists who were also looking to add some fuel to the reserves. 




The climbing was stiff, and I proceeded with caution. No knee trouble at all. This was the best I had felt in a long time. 


I passed the Hamburger Helpers (Ginger) that dot the Route 130 and made the Mile High Cafe with decent effort. I could do better, but not on this day. 

IMG_9347 IMG_9357

There was hardly any weekend traffic to speak of, so the ride out of the hills was sublime. I cranked out the kilometers over smooth, deserted country lanes and kept up a good clip home. 

Nothing too special, but this little ride has given me a huge boost in confidence to start puching myself back into climbing shape.  


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fight Cancer And Rest Your Tired Junk On A Pile Of Trash

In a continuing trend, more people in Taiwan have chosen the bicycle as an important weapon in the fight against cancer. For this type of fight the bicycle is ideal as a medium that both promotes health and fitness, while providing a fun activity that is accessible to the entire spectrum of Taiwanese residents.

November 2nd will mark another battle in the long, protracted entanglement many of our friends and family members find themselves involuntarily engaged as a round-island charity ride is planned to celebrate those who have gained the upper hand against the enemy within, as well as to raise funds and awareness for those who continue to fight or in memory of those who could not wait for a cure.

The Taipei Times reports:
The riders plan to begin the 1,100km cycling trip at Liberty Square in Taipei’s National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall on Nov. 2 and pedal their way around the country in a clockwise direction. Electric bicycles will be made available for participants who have only recently completed chemotherapy and have yet to fully regain their strength.
Daily routes and schedules will be announced in advance so that locals can join the cycling team when it passes through their cities and towns, the organizers said.
Most of us know someone who has had cancer or is currently trying to beat the disease. Right now I have a close relative with a small child who is currently doing her best to beat an aggressive form of cancer as every new form of treatment is delivered by a different specialist carrying the same bad news.

This is why I have the Livestrong Link at the bottom of my sidebar. I really don't care much either way about Lance Armstrong. I liked Marco Pantani more as an exciting racer to watch. Still, I have to give Armstrong credit for generating interest in the fight against cancer and giving cancer fighters hope that they may also be able to beat cancer and move on to living a full life.


After a full day in the saddle, Taiwan's cyclists are being encouraged to rest their junk on a mountain of garbage.

According to a report in the Taipei Times, bicycle tourists passing through the Bali DIstrict of New Taipei City are being encouraged to bed down on a campground located on the site of the area's former landfill.
Located between Linkou district (林口) and Bali, the original landfill site faces onto Provincial Highway No. 61, also known as the West Coast Expressway, and there are no lodgings or restaurant amenities located nearby, Lin said. 
To address cyclists’ needs, the park area set up a bicycle rest area so that cyclists can access tires-inflation facilities, water supplies and to re-charge — both electronically and biologically, Lin said. 
Four wooden platforms have been erected on the lawns that now cover the site of the original landfill, with each being able to accommodate up to six to eight people, Lin said, adding that the platforms also included facilities for green-power re-charging.
The article does not detail if the area was cleaned of potential contaminants or properly ventilated to account for the higher concentrations of methane gas associated with landfills.

So, if you are biking through Bali and you need a place to stay and can't find a hotel, hostel, love motel or any other form of lodging, there is a lovely ex-landfill waiting for you.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pedaling To The Beat of a Different Drummer

Although this is not directly related to Taiwan, but who cares, this is my blog and I'll write what I want.

Maybe I should start with a little explanation.

I was listening to my ipod during a ride (officially not recommended) and the playlist shuffled to the song "Fishing" by Public Image Limited. I was instantly transported back to 1986, when I first heard became acquainted with several of the punk and post punk bands that were popular on the outer fringes of the music scene. I wasn't a popular kid. Actually, I was the Tatooine of popular with matted hair, plastc 80's glasses and a bit short. We didn't have a cabin on a lake. We didn't have a video game machine. We really had nothing my peers at school could exploit me for like they did with each other. This isolation from the "cool kids", though painful at the time, allowed me to discover some really cool shit. Public Image Limited was one of those things I was exposed to through an older brother. It was freaky. It was weird. It was a big middle finger in the face of pop music.

The idea of early Public Image Limited was that it was NOT a band. It was a collection of alternating musicians with John Lydon a.k.a. Johnny Rotton of Sex Pistols fame as the glue. Fishing was the third song on the generically packaged Album... album. It was a major departure from the dub centered work  featured on First Issue and Second Edition, where Jah Wobble's bass lines provided the pillar of each song.

Bill Laswell was picked to produce the album and brought in his own musicians. Laswell creates the "Wall of Sound" with fusion, dub, world, jazz and electronica, often relying on mad guitarists like Buckethead, and members or quasi-members of Parliament-Funkadelic.

For Album Laswell assembled a musical Dream Team:

When I was a teenager, allI could hear was the guitar and the lyrics. When I listened to the songs in my iPod the thunderous sound of the drumming smacked me over the head. Maybe it was the pop-pop-pop of the pedals, but I was fascinated. I usually don't like drummers because they feel a constant compulsion to beat on everything with their fingers and it is usually really annoying.

What I was hearing was no session drummer, but the thunderous smashing of a sledgehammer. It was the great Ginger Baker formerly of Cream. If Clapton was God.... Baker was surely the Devil.

I picked up a few more albums that featured Ginger Baker and it was clear that his style is not simply raw drumming, but it had the finesse of a jazz drummer. Still, no matter how soft, it was clear drumming was a physical endeavor for Baker. The mashing and spinning; a balance of power, technique, strategy and endurance. It could be said that Ginger Baker plays drums like he is trying to win a grand tour.

Then I read this:
Peter Edward Baker was born on August 19, 1939, in a working-class neighbourhood of London. The son of a bricklayer, Baker was four years old when his father was killed in World War Two. As a kid, Baker had a single dream: to compete in the Tour de France. He rode his bike for mile after mile, pushing himself to prepare for the gruelling marathon. "I was a good fucking cyclist because of my build -- tall and thin," Baker recalls. But on a rainy day in 1956, as he raced across town, a taxi threw the 16-year-old, crushing his bicycle. Not long after, at a party, Baker's friends dared him to sit at the drums. He was a natural. "The high-hat, the bass drum, the cymbals -- I don't know how, but I could do it all," he says. At that moment, Baker forgot all about a new bicycle -- he wanted drums. He also discovered that he could outlast every other musician in the room. "Long-distance cycling conditioned me for playing the drums," Baker says today.
Finally an explanation!