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Monday, October 1, 2012

Taking The Typhoon's Tail to Dongqi Rd.


Saturday morning started off a little slower than normal. I had made up my mind to ride, but even as I rolled along Gongyi Rd. I still hadn't decided where I was going exactly. This is a bad. You should never set out for a ride without knowing what you would like to accomplish. This is the road to heartache.

The only thing I really wanted to accomplish was to get on my bike and ride it.

I finally settled on the foothills between Taichung and Jhuolan Township in Miaoli County.


With a passing typhoon still lurking nearby, the winds were mixing it up every which way. The only real plan I had on the day was to go into the headwind on the way out and coast on a tailwind for the return. No more than three blocks from my door, I determined there was no possible way to tell which way the wind was blowing and so I figured the safe bet might be to head for the hills. At least with a hill you have the satisfaction of climbing something as opposed to just battling the wind to a draw between gusts.

As I lurched along, my face pummeled by a barrage of cold licks to the chops, I bore down on my crank to make it to the edge of town. My lips were already in a noticeable snarl. Funny how close the grimace of anger and pain looks to a full smile. I am sure I looked like the happiest cyclist in town.


I figured a climb up to Hsinshe would be fun and steadily made my way over the top as I watched in half amusement as other riders gingerly negotiated the crosswinds on the way down.


I took a coffee break in Dongshih. Alone on a windy day, my coffee break meandered from being a short rest, into a full vacation. It is too easy to enjoy a hot cup of coffee and watch life pass by a decorated window. Compared to the alternative of chopping my way through a thicket of crosswind, a 7-11 counter wasn't at all half bad.


Eventually the fighting spirit returned and I threw myself into the hills on Dongqi Rd. behind Dongshih.  The Route 47 meanders through orchards and along deep gullies on a little used road to Da An River.


Made pretty good time and started to lose myself in my thoughts and in my headphones.
The sudden and unexpected arrival of a city bus brought me back to the road.



Dongqi Rd. eventually empties out in on of the Atayal villages the Japanese used to keep a closer eye on the populace. The first mark that I had entered the village was a brand new rainbow gate. No, it is not an LGBT event. The rainbow symbolizes the Rainbow Bridge in Atayal folklore. Atayal tradition holds that when an Atayal dies, he must walk across the Rainbow Bridge to his ancestors. Of course, to show the utux, or spirit, that he has lived a fulfilling life as an Atayal man, he must raise his hand and it will be dyed black from the blood of those whose heads he has taken. A woman must also show her hand that has been blackened by the dyes of weaving. The old symbols have become a major tourist attraction in Taiwan.

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I finally spilled out into the riverbed and hammered for home with a healthy tailwind.


The ride was only 100km, but it felt like 160km. Dongqi Rd. is still a wonderful ride despite the wind.