body{background-attachment: fixed ! important; }

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...