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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Superfluous Things: Taiwan's Bike Sales Reel in Europe and China.

Sunset on Lanyu

  • On the tail of a New York campaign, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau is on full offensive in San Francisco. The Tourism has laid out its familiar narrative of world class cycling routes, the CNN infomercial on Sun Moon Lake being world class, and Wuling's 105km KOM Challenge. The question remains.... Can Taiwan live up to its own hype or will Taiwan's cycling tourism suffocate before it reaches maturity?
These influences are still very strong, but the Taiwan we know today reflects the influx of the mainland Chinese in 1949, led by Chiang Kai-shek, who fled the Communist takeover and brought with him as much of China's heritage as he could organize (apparently, the treasures of the Forbidden City had already been boxed up during the 1930s because of the Sino-Japanese War, so it was relatively easy to get them out). 

Feel free to write-in and offer your own correction to this piece.

Tempest in a Tea Kettle: Typhoon Day on Wuling


With a tropical storm bordering on typhoon bearing down on Taiwan threatening to flood the weekend with boredom locked inside and nothing to do but eat Oreos (which is what is done on typhoon days) I did the math and figured Saturday would probably be the day to get a ride in.

The typhoon seemed to be behind schedule and wouldn't be arriving until late Saturday and early Sunday. I figured that would probably mean the moisture would be sucked up by the typhoon and we might have clear skies.

I figured I might just have enough time to make a run at the 3275m Wuling Pass-- the very road that utterly destroyed me a few weeks back.

As I eased into my ascent, I was nervous with fresh memories of suffering high up on the foggy ramps high above central Taichung. My pedal stroke felt easy and slick. I was loose... without the pressure of a race.


The mountains clung fast to a wall of clouds that threatened to burst through at any moment and drench the pass with rain.


I moved upward as my shades filled with misty drops of water from a passing cloud. In my mind I had a threshold for physical exhaustion or inclement weather that would preclude an immediate escape.


I passed various landmarks of recent woe buoyed by the notion that I night just make a good day of it.


I climbed higher and higher. Occasionally I would glance at the altimeter to watch my burning legs devour chunks of altitude in satisfying doses.


I was happy to pass other cyclists on my way up with the understanding that my photo stops were merely that-- opportunities to take pictures for this blog.

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As I closed on the summit, the great wall at Kunyang towered over the roadway. It is such a marvel of roadway that I had to make more of an effort to photograph it. 

Somewhere near Yuan-feng the air suddenly changed from the usual balmy summer air that has the consistency of over boiled spinach, to a crisp , coolness that shot directly into my lungs. It almost hurt to the most satisfying way. No, it actually did hurt to breathe. I could feel my lack of conditioning disturbing. I only hope I can bring my VO2 max back up. That is really the killer of one of these high altitude rides in Taiwan. If you are not getting enough oxygen into the muscles, you are going to suffer. 


Layer over layer over wiggling fold, I capped Kunyang with a clear line of sight toward the summit.

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At last my pain had come to an end and I had plenty of energy remaining...suddenly. I snapped my obligatory picture and scared a few tourists along the way as I grumpily lined up my shot while they fiddles with iPad photography. 

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Any chance to enjoy Taiwan's mountains is worth the effort.

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Meditation in Miaoli: Miaoli Route 60(苗60)

Here is a little meditation through the foothills of Miaoli on the Route 60 between Dahu and Tongluo. 

I hadn't been on this road in a while and I thought I might have another look. I felt pretty good on the bike and the ride just turned into a meditation of sorts with my thoughts keeping me company as the machinery whirled away. 

The road looks like a dead end, but a smaller road juts out to the side and immediately introduced a nasty little hill that had me gasping for air. 

I made the climb and continued on the Miaoli Route 119 and 119-4 to Sanyi. It is a quiet little road, but I was in serious need of water and food. Just at the end of the Route 119-4 I went to a closet of a store and had the coldest bottle of water I have ever tasted. 

I raided the calories stored at a convenience store in Sanyi and then trudged on home. 

Just a simple day on the bike.