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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Taiwan's Booze Hounds Embrace The EBike

Last year a middle aged Taiwanese man that I know was given a brand new EBike, or electricity assisted bicycle, for New Year. It was thought that this would be an ideal gift for a man who, according to his family, isn't an alcoholic, but just loves to drink.

His love of drink had gotten him a couple of large tickets and his family felt that an EBike would be a perfect way to skirt the current laws, which outlaw driving under the influence of alcohol. An EBike would allow him to freely drink and drive.

I thought this might have been an isolated case of one family's pluck and determination in shielding a family member from embarrassment and trouble. I was wrong.

The Liberty Times reports on one Taichung resident who has been stopped multiple times for Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

When the police finally followed the fumes and caught up with Mr. Li, who had run numerous stop lights and reeked of skunky Japanese whiskey, the man refused the officer's request to conduct a field sobriety test. Mr. Li was given a compulsory NT$60,000 fine for refusing the sobriety test and released.

With no laws covering Ebikes and other electric vehicles that are unregistered, Mr. Li was able to fight the ticked and have his fine reduced to NT$500.

The police complain that the use of Ebikes by alcoholics has rapidly increased as a method to evade sobriety checkpoints while continuing to put themselves and others at risk on the road.

In Taiwan the bike is not always for leisure and recreation, but it is also a further evolution in the public's long, passive aggressive history of flouting the laws designed to promote public safety.

I guess when you see an EBike coming, it might be best to give him a wide berth.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Taiwan's Future In Cycles: China Post Calls For Government To Get Serious About Cycling

Gaomei Wetlands

Today's China Post has done a brave and commendable job in using its editorial page to focus on some of the core issues at stake in the development of Taiwan's bicycle policy. 

I use the word "brave" because it certainly can not be easy for a major publication to run against the grain of the government's steady flow of cheerleading over its own cycling policies that emphasize keeping the bicycle exiled to the Peach Blossom Spring of leisure and recreation. It is also brave of the editorial staff to question these policies that are tailor made to most benefit the bottom lines of some of Taiwan's largest companies. 
If you believe what the government says, this has been a brilliant year for cycling in Taiwan. Sun Moon Lake's biking path “won” some publicity on the CNN GO travel website, and there was another successful Tour de Taiwan. More bikes and locations were added to Taipei's YouBike rental system, and the Taipei Cycle trade show was just as big as ever. But these achievements — just like the doping scandal — are distractions. If our country is to take cycling up a gear from just a leisure-time activity to an integral part of our culture, we need to give serious thought about making commuting by bike safe, convenient and most of all popular.
The China Post rightly identifies that the future of Taiwan as a cycling success story will, at least in the short term, be invisible on the positive side of the balance sheet. It will require some tough choices, long term strategies, and some serious investment without a corporate sponsor. 
Let's face the biggest problem straight off the bat — the central and local governments like cycling because of cash and self-promotion.
The China Post is right on the money. Cycling infrastructure projects provide plenty of political capital for politicians who are eager to ride on the coattails of cycling's popularity while handing out inflated government contracts to other local and regional powers. For these politicians the beauty of these leisure projects is that they do not actually have to upset any apple carts.

If Taiwan's central and local governments actually took cycling's integration into the transportation grid seriously, it would involve deeper, result oriented investment in reorganizing the modern Taiwanese city and risk having to make some unpopular choices that might alienate some of the political actors that enjoy the fruits of the current state of roadway chaos. What I am coyly implying is that there is a lot of money and power at stake in the enterprise of routing of people through the urban landscape. Cycling decentralizes a lot of the transportation infrastructure that has already been negotiated. Embracing urban cycling would provide some opportunities, but it would also upset a lot of apple carts.
Again the constant feeling that local governments are far too focused on the meager profits of tourism and recreation is present here. Indeed, every level of government has failed to truly capitalize on the popularity of riding.
The disparity between Taiwan's leisure and utility cycling was made embarrassingly clear in the faint praise Taiwan's cycling investment received from Jack Becker, a Canadian bicycle advocate who was brought to Taiwan to, presumably, be feted into writing a gushing assessment of some cherry picked selections of the northern bike trail network. Becker rightly ignored the pressures of patronage to write a bit of reality for the government to think about. 

Becker noted:
While the Mayor is a former cycling racer, his past enthusiasm for cycling has not been reflected in cycling infrastructure on the street. The city is very proud of its 17 kilometres bike path along the seashore. The bike path attracts recreational cyclists from cities two and three hours away. They rent a motor coach and come in droves. This very expensive bike path winds its way on stilts over wetlands and along sand dunes. On streets, there are very few separated lanes that could be mistaken for bike lanes, since droves of motorcyclists ride in these lanes.
The China Post echoes this sentiment and what others, including myself, have been saying for a very long time. 
The biggest obstacle is getting bike paths constructed to make commuting safe. Dedicated bicycle lanes are not and will never be sufficient, given the local driving habits and amount of traffic. Taipei's YouBike system is admirable but is not built for commuting and the capital needs a systematic overhaul of its roadways and road rules. Unfortunately other attempts at cycling paths are not encouraging, like ones in which motorists unflinchingly dive in and out of the lane and others with uncomfortable, tiled surfaces.
If Taiwan is to realize its self-declared title as a "Bicycle Paradise", it will take long-term investment that will probably not show dividends until an election cycle far beyond the current political horizon. The government will have to resist playing to large corporate interests and their advisors. 

Not every government project needs to serve a partner in business. Some projects should just be completed to serve the citizen. 

I commend the China Post for their willingness to advocate a balanced investment in Taiwanese cycling. 

Read the entire editorial HERE

The View from Taiwan adds to the discussion HERE

EVENT INVITE: Help Me Celebrate My Birthday Over Alishan (Nov. 24-25)

Seven Axiom SL, Alishan in Taiwan

This November I'll be celebrating another middle age birthday on the bike and I'd like to put the call out to invite my friends and TiC readers to join me in a two day ride over Alishan

Instead of doing the ride in a 250km 4000m single day effort, we hope to make this a more manageable, friendly ride by breaking it up into two days. Two days leaves time for a little beer somewhere along the route. 

This ride should be suitable for most regular riders. The route is incredible and unforgettable.  It is challenging, but not devastating. 

Info: Nov 24-25th, Alishan. First day from Taichung to Tsaoling on the 149, then second day leave early and head up to Fenchihu on the 169 or 149. Reaching Fenchihu in the early afternoon, we'll take the 159A out of Shijhuo, one of Taiwan's loveliest roads, down to Chiayi city and catch the train or ride back home. Come one, come all!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Action Speaks Louder Than Words: Kaohsiung's Cycling To Success Away From The Spotlight


This past weekend I was unable to ride. I had other commitments that took me to Taiwan's southern metropolis in the port city of Kaohsiung.

Despite being off the bike, I used part of my trip to look deeper into Kaohsiung's bicycle culture, which has received international recognition outside the usual channels of CNN-Pay-For-Play articles.

I find it surprising that almost every internationally syndicated article of Taiwanese cycling fails to mention Kaohsiung while piling the plaudits on Taipei's leisure bike trails and Sun Moon Lake.

It may be that in Taiwan's politico-economic climate, the leadership in Kaohsiung and Taipei remain poles apart in their vision of Taiwan as a center or a periphery, and therefore Kaohsiung will not receive any government help in raising her profile as a model for other cities in Taiwan or around the world for promoting the bicycle as a form of urban transport.

 Kaohsiung is a very different city than any other in Taiwan. It has wide boulevards and less traffic. The  slow lane is large enough for scooters and bikes, while the crosswalks separate cyclists from pedestrians.

I saw many casual riders out enjoying the day.

Although Kaohsiung is not perfect, I thought riders had plenty of options for roads and rides within the city. There were regular bike racks located around town and near gathering places for city residents. I particularly enjoyed seeing bikes parked near Kaohsiung's thriving cafe scene. Kaohsiung cafes seem to be filled with retirees who can barely hear each other as they shout in lively banter over the din. A very different vibe. It feels a bit like Tainan's food culture... in a cafe.

What really stood out were the bike rental stations located at various hubs around the city. I was surprised to see how many green and white rental bikes could be seen floating about the city.

Residents were actually using these bikes beyond simple recreation.

I saw numerous people approach the bike station, rent a bike, and take off into the city. It wasn't just at purely tourist oriented areas, but all over.

The bike rental program in Kaohsiung has actually provided a viable way to cleanly navigate the city.

The biggest problem I see is the lack of helmets, which increases the risk of serious injury... even on a slow city bike.

I have to admit, seeing all those bikes rented out made me feel the excitement of possibility.

Taipei and Taichung still have a long way to go to better organize the city infrastructure to accommodate the bicycle.

Let's hope other cities in Taiwan look to Kaohsiung for leadership in integrating the bike into our daily lives.


 Be sure to check out another one of Michael Turton's Northern Cross Island bike trips . Like a pilgrimage to Mecca, Taiwan riders must do this journey with michael at least once in their lives.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Rabobank Leaves Giant At The Altar: Rabobank Pulls Sponsorship

Days after announcing an agreement in which Giant would hold exclusive rights to marketing Rabobank branded cycling gear as well as picking up the apparel tab for the Rabobank team, Rabobank has announced it will pull its sponsorship from professional cycling in the wake of the doping revelation uncovered in the Lance Armstrong investigation. 

“Great partners”The extension of the existing sponsor contract includes all Rabobank pro cycling teams. These consists of the Rabobank men’s road and cyclocross team, the Rabobank-Giant Off-Road team and, with its Liv/giant women’s brand, the Rabobank women’s team led by Olympic and World Champion Marianne Vos. 
“Rabobank and Giant have been great partners since 2009,” said Giant CEO Tony Lo. “We build bikes that help them win world championships, and their feedback pushes us to develop world-leading technologies. We’re excited to now extend that partnership into apparel.”
Taiwan's largest bicycle maker may be scrambling to fill the void left by one of the peloton's oldest sponsors and one of Giant's best marketing streams for high-end bikes. 

With great partners like these, who needs enemies?

It appears Giant may be stepping up as the title sponsor. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

October 20-21: Another Expedition on the Northern Cross Island Highway


Michael is organizing another of his great Northern Cross Island rides. These rides are becoming legendary as Michael is becoming known as Mr. Northern Cross. 

I will be unable to attend. But if you have time this weekend, you should really take the opportunity for a fun two days on the bike. 

This is by no means a hardcore race. Rather, it is an accessible ramble into the mountains that most regular riders can enjoy.


October 20th-21st. Northern Cross-Island Highway ride. Leaving Yongning Metro 7-11 around 8 to ride up the 7A to the 7. Overnight in Lower Baling. Day 2 leave around 7, arrive in I-lan midafternoon. Taipei people should be home for dinner.

The Second Taiwan International Bike Festival and Links


 To coincide with Taichung Bike Week, Taiwan's second (actially third, but the first one got a do-over) annual International Bike Festival will kick off on November 10th. Taiwan's Tourism Bureau has been busy stoking international interest in the event with press releases and inviting bike bloggers to fly in and write favorable pieces about leisure bike trails, Giant Bicycles, Sun Moon Lake and eastern Taiwan. While I can't fault anyone for accepting the opportunity to be feted on the government's dime, I have to wonder if the patronage pays off for Taiwan. There has been an obvious thrust under the Ma administration to ease Taiwan's economy into one based on tourism. The bicycle is a major part of that equation. Check out this predictable press release from New Zealand or this gag-worthy brochure copy from the Canberra Times. The lucky bloggers had plenty to see as Taiwan again tries to lionize individuals to become industry icons. I hope in the future more cycling publications will send their own staff to see Taiwan's cycling culture away from a government minder or industry patron who is footing the bill.

The best part of the bike festival is the Maxxis KOM Challenge, a sadistic race from sea level to 3275m. This year's Giro d'Italia King of the Mountains winner, Matteo Rabottini, will be here to learn a thing or two about the misery Taiwan's topography can throw at the world's best.


Monday, October 15, 2012

One Killed and 26 Injured in Tour of Changhua Bike Event


As riders were still filtering in to the finish line at the Tour of Changhua, word around the reception area spread that several riders had been injured, and some critically, somewhere along the course. 

This morning it was confirmed that there had been 26 injuries and, sadly, one fatality

This seems to be an awfully high price for an event that is organized in the name of "fun". Immediately questions arose as to who or what was to blame. 

The Merida sponsored Tour of Changhua has become one of the largest biking events in Taiwan. Over its three-year run, the ToC has annually drawn in excess of 7000 cyclists as participants or non-registered followers. This is both a testament to the event's popularity as an open event, as well as a testament to the growth of road cycling as an activity for sport and leisure in Taiwan.

Cycling is a dangerous sport. There are certain risks involved in propelling oneself at high speeds down public roadways. Lots of things can happen. The risk is acknowledged as soon as we clip the chinstraps of our helmets. Automobiles often pose the greatest threat to cyclists, but even in the guarded confines of a professional race there is still room for tragedy to strike. 

This was by no means a professional race by any stretch of the imagination. 

What's Wrong with the Tour of Changhua:

1: Numbers

Unlike professional cycling, few of the 7000 participants in the Tour of Changhua are generating the watts that put them on the razor's edge between life and death. 

For Tour of Changhua organizers, but I have seen this for other races as well, the number of participants signifies the success of the race. With more entry fees paid there are more eyes on the sponsors. With any large gathering in Taiwan there seems to be a lot of weight placed on the numbers and 7000 makes for an impressive figure to show the public. 

The sheer number of riders is the race plays the greatest role in increasing the chances for injury. With 7000 riders all trying to snake through the same stretches of roadway, it becomes a problem of fluid dynamics. It may be wise to curtail the number of riders.

2: Organization

The second problem is in the disparity between skilled and unskilled riders. 

The Tour of Changhua starts all riders on a first come, first serve basis. Fast and slow, skill and unskilled riders are all packed cheek by jowl in the starting area leaving the faster riders to pick through the unstable group to advance up the road in decent time. Many of the novice riders lack the strength and basic skills to safely ride a bicycle in close proximity to other riders. On Sunday I had a few riders steer into me while muscling up the initial climbs. 

Anyone can go to the store and pick up the latest, highest tech racing bike on the market in exchange for cash. There are no skill tests to pass. Therefore, there are lots of riders out there with twitchy race bikes and not a clue how to handle them safely in a group. 

Group riding takes practice and some training. I can't begin to tell how many times I dropped onto someone's wheel, only to have them constantly oscillating their speed. Dangerous. 

The Tour of Changhua organizers might consider dividing the field into a competitive group and a recreation group. This might smooth out the action and keep it a bit safer on the course. 

3: Route

One of the key factors was the route. After announcing the official route, the organizers reversed the route in the name of safety. They did not want novice riders to face a hill climb 50km from the start. They feared riders would collapse from exhaustion. 

Instead, riders were making high speed descents into sections of poorly patched blacktop from a recent construction project. The bumps and seams in the road surface would have ruled it out of any professional event. It was at that spot I saw my first ambulance of the day. 

The route was also not closed to cars. On Bagua Shan I was surprised to see oncoming traffic with no separation between cars and riders. Occasionally the call, "che!" or , "car"  came echoing down the pack. 

The section that had the fatality and another serious injury was along the creek near the finish. It was narrow, with one low barrier between the rider and a deep creek bed. Several riders lost control and crashed there. 

It may be that the Tour of Changhua needs more experienced cyclists to plot the route with time for the government to ensure it will be safe by the time riders leave the starting gate. In many cases the choice to send riders on those roads was a simple act of negligence. 


The Tour of Changhua is still a relatively safe race. Still, the organizers failed to learn from prior mistakes and, in the name of spectacle, put a lot of lives at risk. There are still several things the Changhua government and race organizers can do to make this a better and safer race for everyone. It is something Taiwan's race organizers can all learn from. 

It is sad when it takes a death to force change. 

環化屎!:My Crappy Day on the Tour of Changhua

 Mugging for the Pre Race

When Rocky Huang of T-Mosaic can running over in to my idling car in the early morning darkness with the remains of my front wheel in his hands, I was more than ready, even eager, to take it as a bad omen and simply show up in Changhua as press and support.

Somewhere in the droopy-eyed haze of pre-dawn departure, I had left my wheel resting against my car and blindly pressed it into the curb. The remnants of the wheel resembled my impression of what would happen if Pete Townsend looked crossways at a banjo. The spokes popped and twisted under the release from immense pressures.

Before I had even been given a chance to forfeit an inch of parcours out of self pity, Rocky had already presented me with a working spare.

I shrugged my shoulders, thanked him and followed a weaving train of riders through the blackness of morning to the gate at the Changhua Athletic Center.

This would be my third Tour of Changhua, and I would be riding for T-Mosaic again. This time I was joined by my buddy Dom, who was looking forward to completing The one holy mission of the riding season and the focal point of his training. We had been doing a fair bit of ridding, but Dom really buckled down with an organized training plan. The results were evident. He was just coming into fitness and form before the race. I was interested to see how he'd do.

As for myself, I have had a rough year. After a speedy finish last year I had really spent too much time off the bike between weather, injuries, illness and an infant at home. Every week became the week I was going to get back into my regular training. Put a few of those together and be in serious riding shape.

I had had to miss every other race this year and I was looking to reprise my performance and tactical prowess of last year.

Always fighting the last war.


The Tour of Changhua is an open Fondo style race, where anyone with a bike may participate. The event attracts serious amateur (and some professional) athletes, as well as children and oldsters with full stereo gear modded to the frame.

This year the crowd was estimated to be around 7000 riders. The draw becomes both part of the fun and part of the danger. It is great to see so many enthusiastic riders out on the road with their gear. Everyone is in the same world of hurt, just some hurt more than others.

Of course, everyone says the whole this is just for fun, but everyone tries their best to put up some good numbers.


The crowd nervously milled about cracking jokes to shake off the pre-race jitters. I don't care what kind of race it is or what your prior experience is as a racer, there is always a bit of nervousness regarding the unexpected.


Several minutes after the official start was sounded, the mass of rolling humanity lurched forward like a heaving slug. This is one of the most dangerous parts of the race as slower and faster riders are riding on top of each other to equalize the field.

The race opened with a climb, which suited me just fine. I made good time up the first incline and felt good as I successfully picked my way through the bunch and made ground in the corners. Climbing is my strong suit, and I hoped to gain my time in the hills and then catch a fast train through the flats to the finish. My legs burned as I clamored up the inclines. I kept expecting the soreness to fade into a smooth, measured cadence as I shook off the cobwebs.

It was about at the third little climb that I saw my first puker. The noise bellowing from his gut as he wretched himself green on the side of the road was unworldly. It reminded me of my freshmen year in college.

I felt I was ticking a kph or so slower than when I had done the ride last week, but I really wasn't worried. I was still making pretty good time where I thought I could make it. I accelerated into the descent as I dive-bombed Songboling and Tian Zhong.

Last week I had put out a warning over the road conditions coming off of that hill. Sadly, I was proven correct and I was rattled by the sight of an ambulance hauling a fallen rider off to the hospital. The uneven patches in the tarmac can quickly pop your hands off the grips leading to a crash. There is also less available braking surface. Not a well planned route by any standard.

As we got into the flats, I started to feel tightness and discomfort in my butt and hips. I wondered if the new front wheel was causing a heightened level of discomfort, or if I had stupidly overworked the week before and was paying the price when it mattered. Every pedal stroke felt like a kick in the ass.

I figured I could ignore it for the remaining 80km of race.

Over the past week I had put in a very good day over a large section of the route with a very strong, fast outing. That ride gave me the misaligned confidence that I could do the same in the Tour of Changhua.

Then on Wednesday, I did a hilly 160km. Maybe that wasn't the best idea on the planet. I felt pretty good that day with pretty good speeds and climbs, until about the 150km mark. That was still plenty for the 120km of the Tour of Changhua.

I beat a pretty good cadence through the flats and was quickly asked to join a train of independent or lost riders. I took them up on the offer and gave them some fantastic pulls.

And then my race really started to fall apart.

After one particularly long, hard pull I dropped to the back of the paceline to rest. As I fell back to recover, another rider slipped in to the line. I gave him space to hold to the line, and adjusted my speed.

It was a few seconds later that I realized he was fading from the back and the other guys in the group were quickly pulling away. After a long pull and in the face of the most spiteful headwind on the planet, I realized I didn't have the gas to bridge back onto the group. It was at that moment the panic set in.

I tried to maintain a good speed to catch the next train of riders passing by, but after a few minutes of pugilistic riding against low barometric pressure, I turned my head to see only a scattering of a few individual riders stretching into the distance. My heart sank as if I had missed the last lifeboat off the Titanic.


I am not sure how long I battled out there against the two fisted headwind by myself, but it had been long enough to wear me down to the point of being unable to grab any other groups that came by with any momentum.

Finally, Dom came up behind on the tail of a good group of riders. As the group fell apart in the middle, I again failed to make the jump.

For the next hour or so I would find myself amid one disintegrating group after another as the headwinds ground us to our knees.

Finally, around Fuxing and Lukang, a large group came rumbling up the tarmac like the Great Khan and his bannered horde of raiders from the steppe. A few of my teammates were snugly nestled into that group and we rode together for some way. At that point one of my teammates recounted how he was the first one to give up. It gave me a great idea. I realized I was not going to set any records and I pulled off to stretch my back and legs. I have not been this uncomfortable on a bike in a very long time. I felt like I hadn't ridden in months.

It felt amazing.


I fought on through the wind with a couple more stretch stops to the foot of Bagua Shan in Changhua. I had run out of water and gels at the 3km mark.

We heaved through a dangerously narrow part of the route along a steep creek.

By that time I had caught up with Team Bright, a team I had marked earlier as a potential express train to the finish. They were receiving some unsportsmanlike help from their man on the scooter who was giving lifts and motorized pulls to the team riders.

I was finally reenergized by the hill climb to the finish line. I switched into climbing mode and passed a number of riders. I felt like a bucket of curb-stomped misery.

As I crossed the finish line I had no illusions of a great performance or spectacular numbers. Still, I exaggeratedly raised both hands to my lips and gave the lonely photographers a victory salute with a kiss in the air and arms raised in a trumpeting celebration of mediocrity.

Time: a disappointing 4h:10min. Bah!

From then on, it was just about enjoying the shade and recovering a little bit. I felt like absolute crap.


The best part of my day was in seeing my daughter's face light up when daddy crossed the finish line. I give up a lot of training hours for her. And that is one reason my performance had dipped. It is also one reason I suffered so greatly on the roads of Changhua.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Taichung Cyclists Double Down on Double Ten

Wednesday was the mid-week Double Ten holiday, and nothing makes for a better excuse for a fantastic ride than a day you don't have to be at work. 

Last week, Dom, my friend and riding buddy, announced on FB Taichung Cycle Page, that he'd like to put an all inclusive ride together for the holiday. It was a general cattle call to all local riders to see if he'd get any takers. 

The results were phenomenal. Not only did he get over a dozen local riders to participate, but his ride also brought together several different strands of the Taichung cycling community. The group consisted of hardcore triathletes, industry insiders, weekend warriors, randonneurs, enthusiasts and even a novice. The sight was quite a spectacle. 

It was by far the largest group of foreign riders I have ever seen assembled in Taichung. 

The group was not only for expats, but there was also local Taiwanese representation in the group as well. 

Moreover, it was a circus of personalities, many keen to crack wise. 


Once everyone who had expressed interest had converged on the prearranged 7-11 in Wufeng, the mix of lycra and logos rumbled down the Highway 3. The most notable absence from the group was Michael Turton, a local cycling legend several riders had been keen to meet.  

Our rolling swarm took a prudent speed along the backroads that lead to the Highway 14. There was lots of catching up and horsing around. It was a nice rolling conversation. 

We made our turn at the bridge between Caotun and Wufeng to a noodle of a back road that served up an impressive view of rice fields and the famed Ninety-nine Peaks looming in the background.  

The weather was sunny, with a light breeze to keep things cool; the perfect riding weather. 

We all finally emptied out onto the Highway 14 and the pace quickened with the higher speed of traffic in general. The group broke up into different conversation and purposes. Some riders shot ahead to hammer the rolling hills, others held pack to simply BS with each other. 

We briefly regrouped at a convenience store along the route to wait for stragglers and for Josh Colp from Culprit Bicycles. 

Soon we were back on the road in cruise control.

At the junction between the Nantou Route 147 and the Highway 14, the group split into two groups. The group made up of triathletes took the shallow hills of the major highways to Sun Moon Lake, while my group ventured out into the foothills for a more difficult scramble to the lake. 

And then there were seven. 

My group consisted of seven riders: Dom, an excellent (and well conditioned) rider, James from Lapierre (also an excellent rider), David from BH bikes, Xiao Ding, Mike (a relative novice) and the great distance chewer.... Mr. Peter Hagen Stewart. Peter biked up from Tainan to join us for our century ride and then bike home. 

It was an interesting group with lots of great chatter along the way. 

We ambled up hills and along streams. There was hardly any traffic to speak of. It was really quite relaxing. 

We were also treated to some fantastic descents that simple bring an automatic smile to the face. 

As we met the Route 131, we waited for our group to reconstitute before heaving again into some more rolling terrain. 

Before too long the Route 131 spit us out onto the busy Highway 21 and we were again scrapping for space amid tour busses and sight seers. 

As we waited at the shore of Sun Moon Lake for everyone to make the final grind up the hill, we realized Xiao Ding was missing. We saw him spinning furiously for the lake, but nobody remembers seeing where he went. 

After waiting an adequate period of time we just had to keep rolling. It was as if he had been swallowed up by the turquoise waters and simply vanished without a trace. 

And then there were six.

We managed to successfully negotiate the amazingly bike friendly environs of Sun Moon lake. I was only boxed in by a CRV and pushed into a parking space by a Nissan. 

At Ita Thao Village we took in calories. I am not sure if we were eating food, but we knew there were some calories in there somewhere. 

Ita Thao Village is the site of our final climb for the day. It is a relatively quick ascent along a single lane road that looks like nothing but a long driveway. 

This little road provides an incredible payoff. It simply dumps you at the foot of the Central Mountain Range. 

The strip of tarmac plunges down the side of the mountain, along hairpin turns and through small indigenous villages. 

All the while you are completely aware of the massive shadow of the mountain walls looming overhead. It is well worth the price of admission. 

As each rider emerged onto the Highway 16, a smile was visibly stamped across his face... all except for Peter who had been too busy concentrating to work up a smile. 

We were eventually spit out of the river valley in Shuili, where we soon discovered that the welcoming party had sent a nasty headwind to fight all the way back to Taichung. 

We made our pace lines and went for broke. Dom took some amazing pulls at the front to his credit. 

Peter turned toward Tainan at Mingjian, we left Mike at a 7-11 in Nantou, James and David peeled off to the other side of the river in Caotun... and then it was just Dom and I.

At about Changhua I was pretty well done. I limped on back to Wuer. Thoughts of food filled my mind. It was too much. I let Dom go on ahead and stopped for one last sugar high to carry me home. it worked. I was a new man all the way home. 


This is the longest and most interesting ride I have done in a long time. It was great to be out riding with so many awesome people on a fine day off from work. 

A special hats off to Mike for completing his first century ride. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Face of Taiwan Cycling


A while back I was asked by a member of the cycling press what I thought about the narrative provided to he and some other journalists who were brought to Taiwan to cover the Taiwan International Bike Festival. 

The narrative in question surrounded the mythology that Taiwan's cycling culture was the direct result of one man, his singlehanded drive to promote cycling, and the large company he co-founded many years ago. The narrative continued to expound on how this person was the single most important figure in Taiwanese cycling culture, and both the Adam and the Eve to all cycling in Taiwan. 

To me the narrative was preposterous. 

Then I thought back at my time working with Taiwanese machine tool manufacturers as I tried to transform their marketing information in a way that might appeal to English speaking markets. 

One of my first goals was to play down the importance of the boss and founder. In most cases, company underlings (often consisting of the founder's adult children), used a disproportionate amount of copy to lionize their chairman and provide a lengthy roll of his individual achievements, patents, awards and capital investments and possibly is IQ and penis size. The chairman was like a one-man army.

Preposterous, but this is often what is fed to foreign buyers and, in this case, the foreign press. 

So to come back to the point of this post. 

What does the face of Taiwanese cycling look like, if it does not look like the face of the man mentioned above? 

This past Sunday on a morning training ride over Bagua Shan, I was more than happy to look into the faces of Taiwanese cycling. There were hundreds of riders out on all sorts of equipment enjoying the morning. Everything from snappy carbon and lycra to creaky steel and coaching shorts. 

The sheer variety was simply brilliant. 

Taiwanese cycling culture does not owe its life to one man and his company, but rather, it owes its existence to all the riders who have made the choice to spend their time enjoying life from the saddle of a bicycle. 

Below are some pictures of some of the riders from the day. 

These are the faces of Taiwanese cycling culture.


This Sunday I rode with the T-Mosaic squad on a recon tour over Bagua Shan. 


































Nothing like a good cigarette to clear the lungs