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Friday, December 30, 2011

Update: One Bike One: Under Pressure Ma Distances Himself From Event

Under increasing pressure to distance himself from the growing number of allegations that Ma Ying-jiu's campaign has made improper and illegal use of taxpayers money for campaign related activities, the president and the highest ranking members of his campaign decided to skip the One Bike One event, which had been hyped for over a year.

Instead, the embattled incumbent visited a convention of doctors.


Despite initial estimates of one million riders, which had been lowered to 110,000 riders. The event only managed to attract just under 73,000 participants, shy of the government's goals.

Although the event probably succeeded in providing cover for spreading largesse to vital KMT patronage networks all over Taiwan, it failed to captivate the public's imagination in the same vein as the 2004 Hand in Hand rally, which catapulted DPP candidate, Chun Shui-bian to victory on a groundswell of Taiwanese national pride against Chinese hegemony.

The failure to captivate the Taiwanese imagination with such an event, political or not, demonstrates, in part, the cleavage between Ma Ying-jiu's push for Taiwanese national ambiguity, and the Taiwanese desire for more meaningful expressions of their national and ethnic identities.

Who knew a bike rally could be so loaded... ?

Update II:

A report on how Ma used the cultural commitee for his own campaing- copying DPP's 228 牽手護台灣

Here is a report from 自由時報:


The red part says the Ma and Wu are usually very keen at joining 100 Year activities but they intentionally skipped One Bike One event, instead the activity was lauched by vice president Siew, the head of culture commitee, and the head of Physical Education, and the chairman of Giant- King Liu (劉金標). Although the cultural commitee emphasized this is not a political event, Siew (蕭) still made a "V" hand gesture ( their campaign number 2) when he was talking about "讚".

Apparently, I am not the only one who saw this as having political implications.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Straight Story On Bent Forks

A few days ago I gave a little link to Dave Moulton's Bike Blog in relation to that crazy fork I spotted on that custom bike in Taichung.

Dave does a great job explaining what happened.

Check out the whole post on Dave's blog HERE.

Dave says...

Over the years I straightened many steel forks like this one, with complete safety and often not even damaging the paint. When you consider that a fork blade starts out as a straight tube; it is then rolled in a machine between rollers to make it tapered. This process is done cold.

The top end is pressed to an oval shape; this is also done cold. Finally the framebuilder cold bends the fork blade to the desired curve. So if the fork blade is bent once more in an accident, it can be re-straightened cold with complete safety as long as the tube is not kinked or rippled.

One Bike One: Political Tools

The One Bike One Rally, which I have blogged on extensively, has been getting lots of press this week as the government pushes to maximize exposure for incumbent Ma Ying-jiu.

Ma, who has vowed to drop out of the race if he or his party uses the state apparatus to promote his election campaign, has already been accused of leveraging state power against his opponents during this election and this event appears to raise more questions about the intentions behind such a rally.

Organized to mark the centennial of the Republic of China, the "One Bike One" tour has so far attracted the registration of more than 110,000 cyclists, organizers said at a press conference in Taipei to promote the tour.

"This event heralds the arrival of the next century in Taiwan as an energy-saving one with a focus on healthy lifestyle options,"said Ovid Tzeng, minister for the Council for Cultural Affairs.
Despite the motives listed above, the event leans heavily on images and symbolism often regarded to be emblematic of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). Yes, even the ROC flag is regarded by a large number of Taiwanese to be a partisan KMT symbol.

OneBikeOne 轉動臺灣向前行 not only conflates Taiwan's experience into the construct of the Chinese Nationalist belief in a Greater Chinese epoch centering around the foundation of the Republic of China in 1911 when Taiwan was a Japanese colony, but the clever use of the bicycle also plays on the name of the incumbent candidate Ma Ying-jiu for the shared character for "horse" (馬)

More than 7,000 riders have registered to set off from Taipei's Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, which will be the largest departure point, said organizers, calling on interested bikers who have not registered to still join in the event.
It is also interesting to see that Chiang Kai-sheck Memorial Hall was chosen as the centerpiece of this event. The CKS hall was commissioned a year after the late dictator's death. For many in the KMT, the Chiang cult of personality is still a binding force despite his opposition to democratic rule and his notoriously bloody rule in both China and Taiwan. Chiang is a recognized symbol of authoritarianism in most parts of Taiwan, but worshipped by many KMT party heads who owe their wealth and careers to the Chiang family.
Bikers with smartphones can check in by downloading an app from the event's website and activating their app to start a GPS track, which will be recorded on the website's homepage.

Those without smartphones can send text messages to a designated number, after which their signals will be tracked.
With the latest allegations of security agents spying on the opposition, I simply found the idea of tracking riders apropos for signaling the lengths this government will go to influence the coming election.

If you decide to attend One Bike One, understand that your attendance will likely be politicized.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Forking Funny: Rake and Trail

Here is a gem I saw on Xitun Rd. yesterday.

As I was busy fighting traffic on my way home, I saw this gentleman crossing the street. If you look carefully, you will notice a little something odd about this guy's bike.

A little lesson on fork rake and trail.

Maybe to improve comfort he can turn the handlebars up-side-down (something I have seen numerous times).

Luckily, the bike looks like a one-off custom job.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bike Clothing for Taiwanese Winters II

Here is a re-post of a post I wrote last year. I figured it might be about time to dust it off for another cold snap.

The weather over the past couple days has reminded me that you can freeze your ass off, even in Taiwan. No matter how often I get to rub in our great biking weather to my friends in North America, or Taipei for that matter, I still have to face the fact that we do get some cold spells from time to time. Fortunately, it doesn't stop me from riding.

When I ride in the mountains or on colder days in Taiwan, I found the best strategy is to use layers. Sometimes the temps fluctuate enough on a ride to strip down to short sleeves, or wrap up for warmth. Packability is key to choosing the right gear. You should be able to stuff everything in a jersey pocket.

The single most important factor for Taiwan's cold temperatures is wind. The winter wind really makes all the difference. Therefore, I use a really great Castelli windbreaker. It is amazing what a thin layer of windproofing can do to keep you warm. Often, that is all I need over a jersey. My wife likes her Pearl Izumi windbreaker as well. Hers is florescent yellow for visibility.

Both jackets keep a low profile to prevent unnecessarily creating drag. The last thing anyone needs when cycling head into the wind is any more resistance.

For really cold days I use a Craft base layer that is amazing. It is thin enough to see skin through the fabric, but it traps warmth. Totally recommended. It hugs the body, so it will not bunch up or rub. I just wear it right under my jersey.

Some other weapons against cold are my arm and leg warmers.

The Adidas arm warmers are cheap and work well. The Assos leg warmers stay in lace and really haven't warped since I bought them a couple years ago. For the coldest days I just slip the arm warmers over the sleeves of the base layer.

The rule for helmets is you always pay more for less helmet. I guess I paid a lot because I have quite a breeze that blows over my head when I ride. Therefore, I picked up a couple hats of different thickness. The thickest hat is my Nike thermal skull cap, but I have another one I got at an outdoor store that is really nice too. The important thing is to make sure they'll fit inside a helmet. Your helmet may fit fine as-is, but put too much hat in there and it can be uncomfortable.

The last adjustment I make for the cold is a pair of long-finger gloves. I got these Assos gloves that are actually summer gloves, but they work fine on Taiwan's coldest days. They are great for those in between days where it is freezing in the morning and then warm in the afternoon.

That's about it. You don't need much, but just enough.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cart...Horse: Giant Promotes Bicycle Touring Without Touring Bikes

Giant Global has just formally launched a new division dedicated to promoting bicycle tourism in Taiwan and around the globe. According to the press release:

Giant Global has formally launched its bike touring division, called Giant Adventure. The Taiwan-based travel agency will help individuals and groups plan bicycle tours in Taiwan and overseas, according to a newsletter circulated by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council, the same group that organizes Taipei Cycle.

Giant expects the new business to enhance brand image and grow its customer base. Its target revenue for 2012 is $3.3 million, the report said.

Giant has had plans to be a player in tourism for several years; in 2009, the company told the Taipei Times it would launch a travel agency to promote bike tourism in the island nation among residents and foreigners. Plans were to start trips to some of Taiwan’s most picturesque mountainous and eastern cycling routes including Hualien sto Sincheng and Alishan to Sun Moon Lake, as well as Kenting—the southernmost tip of the island—Yilan and Kinmen, a Taiwan-held islet off China’s southeast coast.

One of my major peeves with Giant is the lack of any true touring bike in their line. Giant is very keen to promote leisure cycling with very little interest in bikes for touring or commuting--bikes with typically lower margins. Instead, the company seems intent on making tourers make an unnecessary choice between road racing bikes, flat-bar mountain bikes/XC bikes, or city hybrids. None of these bikes are optimal for touring. So when I first saw this headline for Giant Adventure, I was interested. I thought they had discovered what I had been seeing all along. (I'll never forget the frustration in asking a Giant retailer to show me a touring bike... priceless)

Now, let me just clarify my thoughts. I know many readers tour on all kinds of bikes. A purpose-built tourer should be a drop-bar road frame (preferably steel) with rack and fender mounts. It should have a longer wheelbase for stability, long chainstays for comfort and foot clearance, and be more upright for comfort over long distance in the saddle. These features are optimized for touring... not forcing the rider to make sacrifices. The Surly Long Haul Trucker is an excellent example of this type of bike-- a bike that is completely missing from the Giant road catalogue.

How can they hope to properly promote touring, when they don't offer a touring bike...WTF?

Bike To Work: Infographic on Bikes As Transportation

This infographic from Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast helps show us why biking to work is vital for future sustainability.

Again I am reminded of Taiwan's two competing bike plans, which I outlined HERE and why the leisure model favored by the Ma government may be the wrong direction.

Biking And Health
Created by: Healthcare Management Degree

Sunday, December 18, 2011

From Taiwan Prison Camp to Olympic Glory: Cycling Star Honors Relative's Sacrifice on Formosa

Remains of the Kinkaseki Mining Complex

Several UK news outlets are reporting on Chris Hoy, the cycling star from Scotland, who nominated his 94 year-old great-uncle for the honor of carrying the Olympic torch during the opening of the Olympic Games, which are to be held in London during the summer of 2012.

Hoy's great-uncle, Andy Coogan, was regarded as a major Olympic contender during the 1930's, until his training was sidelined by war and he was subsequently captured during the fall of Singapore and shipped out to toil under brutal conditions in the Kinkaseki copper mines as a POW.

From STV:

Andy Coogan was a top Scottish runner until he was captured by the Japanese and almost died as a prisoner of war.
Now 94, he endured terrible beatings as a slave in a copper mine in Taiwan and survived appalling journeys on Japanese hellships that took him to a prisoner of war camp near Nagasaki, where the Atom bomb was dropped.
After nearly four years of starvation, torture and disease he returned to Scotland after the war weighing just 6st.
He never regained his pre-war form as one of Scotland's most promising athletes and missed out on his dream of selection for the 1948 Great Britain Olympic team.
The mines in the hills above present-day Jinguashi on Taiwan's northern coast were part of one of the largest pre-war industrial complexes in East Asia. Miners dug for copper, iron and even gold inside the bright green hillsides. For allied POWs the conditions were harsh with frequent beatings, backbreaking labor, and, as the war for Japan soured, even less food.

The treatment of the POWs in Taiwan does not just highlight the savage brutality of the Japanese imperial machine, it also brings into focus the role and responsibility Taiwanese played in the complex negotiations between the colonized and the colonizer; a relationship many Taiwanese have been unable to reconcile as the Taiwanese identity and experience was subsumed by the political needs of the allies and the ROC during the Cold War.

Taiwan historian, Patrick Cowsill shows the role Taiwanese guards played at POW camps around Taiwan, much like the one Mr. Coogan was assigned to.

"We christened [the Taiwanese guards] the 'Runabouts' or 'Goons.' They seemed to be the lowest type in the army. Very young, they jumped at the commands of the lowliest [of] Japanese privates, who did not hesitate to slap them in the face. Face slapping seemed to be allowed from officer down through NCOs to privates in the Japanese Army. The Formosans were below privates and as we soon learnt, we were at the end of the line . . . These young 'Runabouts' reveled in their power, and they loved to rush into the hut, trying to catch prisoners too slow in bowing and coming to attention." - Jack Edwards, British POW at the Kinkaseki (金瓜石) and Hsintien (新店) camps

Mr. Cowsill shows how many Taiwanese were complicit in human rights abuses during WWII as colonial subjects of Japan. The actions taken by the Taiwanese guards demonstrate the ambivalence between the colonizer and colonized and a Taiwanese ambivalence in remembering its colonial past. It also demonstrates how the political ideology and coloniality of the ROC on Taiwan has prevented Taiwanese from fully coming to terms with the experience as a Japanese colony.

Following Japan's defeat, Taiwanese were suddenly regarded by their new rulers as victims, slaves, fallen or "backward" Chinese and ethnic traitors. At the same time they were reassigned an ROC identity, complete with a new history and ideological lineage to Dr. Sun Yat-sen--a virtual alien in Taiwan.

Overnight "we" had become "they". The Japanese colonials who had just lost a war with the Americans had suddenly become the victors while bearing the weight of another colonial project. The deeds, moods and feelings of the ROC were to anachronously represent the deeds, moods and feelings of the Taiwanese. The Japanese past was to be forgotten and replaced.

It is through this deliberate and forced act of forgetting that the Taiwanese experience as Japanese colonials became reified and reconstructed by locals in a deliberate contrast to the ROC. This problematic post-coloniality has created a selective memory of victimhood that interferes in allowing all Taiwanese to more objectively come to terms with Taiwan's culture, history and experience.

Many of those guards may have turned right around and worked at American bases after the war without inquiry into their wartime activities.

Only through realigning Taiwan's history and experience with the island of Taiwan as the central feature, and moving away from the ROC's China centered model, can Taiwanese begin to look at their image in the mirror to accept and understand their role as regional actors with rights and responsibilities that need to be upheld. The actions of the prison guards have been largely swept away and forgotten-- except by the survivors in men like Mr. Coogan.

*For more on the POW camps in Taiwan: Never Forgotten

Brad J. Nakatani RIP: 1975-2011

I don't really remember much about Brad. I have flashes of memory of what he looked like as a teenager, but that is about it. These kinds of things fade in the adult memory and usually only come back in times of celebration, recognition or tragedy.

Brad was a year behind me at Newport High. We really didn't share too many friends. Our paths hardly ever brushed.

We grew up in a similar area. We knew the same lame hangouts and probably even shrugged at the same lame teenage gossip. That was about it.

What I didn't know is that Brad would go on to become an avid cyclist like myself. I am sure if we had had the chance to meet again we would have instantly bridged the gulf of old cliques and circles... to our common love of cycles.

This could be any one of us, on any given day. Brad's family could be my family.

My deepest condolences.

Ride Safe. Drive Safer.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

OzSoapbox Reviews The Surly Long Haul Trucker

It seems bike and equipment reviews are all the rage here at Taiwan in Cycles. So, I guess I'll piggyback on top of OzSoapbox and link to his extensive review of his Surly Long Haul Trucker.

The Long Haul Trucker is a stablemate of the Surly Cross Check reviewed a couple weeks ago. Both are excellent bikes, but the LHT is really ideal if you have long, unsupported touring and camping on your mind.

Taiwan is pretty small and therefore, in most cases, I would recommend the Cross Check over the LHT.Still, the LHT has developed a bit of a cult following.

Here's Oz with his opinion:

Looking forward I have no plans to get rid of my Long Haul Trucker so I’ll do another review like this after the next 15,000 kms rolls around. I’m looking forward to seeing which parts are still original and which have been swapped out. And also if any of the swapped out parts have failed too.

Either way, unless you find tediously selecting each and every component for your bicycle I can highly recommend Surly’s choice of components in their Long Haul Trucker Complete build as a great starting point. And value for money wise, even building one up yourself you’re not going to do much better than the complete model anyway.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Taiwan in Cycles: Introducing Our Newest Team Member

Kit and some ugly dude

Taiwan in Cycles is proud to introduce a new member to the team.

Ms. Kit Dot Kerslake arrived December 13th at 1:20pm. She has 10 fingers and 10 toes. She weighs more than a good set of wheels an over twice what my frame weighs.

She is 48cm long and has long legs. A born climber like Pantani.

Please welcome her to the peloton and remember to occasionally fall back to help her catch up to the pack after a mechanical.

Happy days!

Kit models the new team colors