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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Training Wheels: My Route Back To Fitness

Riding Taichung Baimao Shan

I spent the past four or five weeks trying to build back into shape for Sanlinxi. Riding one or two times per week is not the recipe for making great gains, but I tried to build on what I already had in my legs to multiply my gains.

I tried to take a few pictures on my training rides, but was usually too busy to think much about blog fodder.

Here are some of the routes I used to whip myself back into some form of shape.

The weather was perfect for too many days in a row and I hardly took advantage of the dry February days.

Riding Baimao Shan

After a couple rides to check my knee, I threw myself at the three climbs of the loop over the fence. The ride was aimed at testing my endurance over repeated climbs and distance.

With an initial climb to Zhong-xing Ling, near Hsin-she, I took the Route 95-1 to the Highway 21 and Baimao Shan.
Bike route 2021579 - powered by Bikemap 


This is a regular training route for central Taiwan's competitive cyclists. It offers some great views, smooth roads, and thrilling descents. The climbs are steady and, if done with a bit of urgency, can really stress the system.


After emptying out of Guoxing Township onto the Highway 14, I took the bold step to climb back to Taichung over the Route 136. The 136 from the Puli side is the hardest climb at the day and that is why it is served last.

I found this great sign to promote skiing, snowmobiling and other wintery activities that are so popular in Taiwan.

Bike route 2021575 - powered by Bikemap 

Snow Sports


I didn't feel so great after the ride over the Route 136, and decided to take a step back and stay closer to home. I dashed up the Route 88 from Fengyuan to keep the legs awake. I felt much better on the climbs. The Route 88 is actually higher than the more commonly used Route 129, but without the traffic.


By the next ride Ole' Dom had come back from vacation and we could do some training together as we were both registered to ride the Sanlinxi race.

I needed to stay close to home and monitor my knee for any more soreness.

Therefore, I plotted a great set of climbs lacing over Dadu Shan; the 10km berm that separates Taichung City from the Taiwan Strait.

It was an interesting ride so close to home. I was able to push the legs to the red zone and repeat. That day I was feeling good. I recommend the route as a great option for climbing without really leaving the city.

Bike route 2021568 - powered by Bikemap 


We had the February 28 memorial day off, so Dom, James, Cam, Steven and myself took to the foothills for a bit of an added day of riding.


We took the Pinglin Rd. from Zhuolan after a climb over the Route 129 to Dongshih. The Pinglin Rd. offers a degree of hills and false flats that make for great riding away from traffic. We kept the pace above friendly and I tried to slightly over-gear the climbs.


By the time we had looped back to the Highway 3 my legs were rubber. My body wanted to rest. My mind wanted to keep training, but my legs wanted to go home. We were all hurting a little bit, so I split from the group and climbed the Miaoli Route 130.

Foolishly satisfying. With weather that great and too many wasted days behind me, I was happy to get out and put in a little more than I could match with my legs.



Family obligations took me to Sanxia and Tucheng in New Taipei City. I decided to take my bike and tackle a hill climb I had been eying for a while.

As I left the house I noticed my rear tire, which was designated as a purely competition tire, was severely frayed and missing a lot of rubber. I quickly grabbed a bag of new tires and tubes before leaving and planned to install them when I arrived in Taipei. I also hoped to tighten my rear hub.

I left the hex wrench at home and decided to take my bike to the local bike shop to tighten my hub and throw the tires on while the bike was there. I figured it would be easier as I really had no place to work on my bike other than out in the rainy street.

That was a costly mistake.

The Giant shop charged me NT500 for the job.

I imagine the owner, a small shop owner who bought into the franchise, is feeling the pinch from the company and passes the screw down to the customer.


The climb is right behind the Tucheng MRT station. It starts as a gradual climb into the hills before it becomes a screaming wall of pain.


The picture does not properly illustrate the severity of the ramp, but it was a serious exercise in pain.
I hung my body far out over the head tube; my knees hitting the bars on every stroke.


I bit down and trudged up to where the grade eased up a bit. My family was waiting at the top for lunch at A-Sali. A hillside restaurant that specializes in local fare like free range chicken as well as wild game food. Most of the fare is grown locally on the mountain where there are several hiking trails.


The ride took only about a half-hour, but it took a lot out of me.

IMG_2539 Asali

I returned to Sanxia mostly satisfied, but worried that it wouldn't be enough to build on my gains.

Biking Hills of Taipei

Time was running out and I needed to really put my legs to the test to simulate the cycles of stress and recovery on a long, competitive climb.

Above Sanxia

Aside from a Tuesday night warm-up ride, my last chance to make improvements and adjustments came on a climb up Daxue Shan above Dongshih Township.

Bike route 2021571 - powered by Bikemap 


The weather was the best I have ever experienced up there. Several other riders seemed to be using the mountain as a facsimile of the Sanlinxi race. The climbs are similar in grade, length and altitude, but Daxue Shan was much closer to home.

IMG_2588 IMG_2591

The views were stunningly clear that day.

The only obstacles for the descent were the birds and bird watchers. I almost ran over this Swinhoe's Pheasant as I let gravity take over.

Bike route 2021573 - powered by Bikemap 

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