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Monday, February 28, 2011

150km to Ming de and Back

On Monday I got a late invite for a long ride up to the Ming-de Reservoir and back. I would be joining Michael Turton and riding for the first time with Philip Brooks, a long time reader of this blog.

Things started to go awry from the get-go with Michael losing his new Canon S95 somewhere along Jun Gong Rd. (If anyone finds it please contact me ASAP). Not exactly the best thing to happen, but Michael didn't let that get in the way of a good ride.

The ride would also be Philip's longest.

Philip is a strong rider and phenomenal athlete. He rides a stealth bike devoid of logos. The thing weighs in at an anemic 5.9kg. I've had_____s that have weighed more than that.

With a few stops we kept an even speed up the Highway 3 into the foothills of Miaoli County. I love the scenery and the rolling hills with wide banking turns and long, speedy descents.

Michael was in fine form. He has lost a lot of weight and his endurance level has gotten to the point where he can just plug away all day at a nice, even cadence.

We decided to stop for a little fuel in the small town of Shitan, just before the turn up to the reservoir. We soon met another group of cyclists who were eagerly checking out our bikes, and especially Philip's black beauty. They were just friendly and curious about the bikes and our routes, so it didn't turn into the well rehearsed, "Welcome to Taiwan... where do you come from?" routine.

Just after Shitan, at the base of a high speed descent, we hit the Miaoli Route 26 to the Ming-de Reservoir. The road starts as an immediate climb and then quickly evens out to wind along the top of a river valley. The roads are excellent and there are a couple of opportunities to bomb down the hills. It can almost feel like a downhill ski slalom.

The water was looking a bit low, but the scenery was pleasant as we sped along the dry, clay banks of the reservoir. It was about at this point I started to feel an ache in my knee.

About a year ago after 5 centuries in two weeks, I felt a bit of pain in the same place. After some rest and a slow build-up the problem went away. Sometimes bending the leg could be slow after extending for long periods, but not bad.

The pain got worse as we chose the hills of Sanyi for our return on Highway 13. We bombed out of Sanyi down the big hill into the Houli valley.

By Houli I was in agony. With every pedal stroke a shot of pain reverberated through my leg from the soles of my feet to my hip. Not good at all.

Michael soon peeled off for home and Philip and I fought traffic back into Taichung city.

When I reached home I could barely carry the bike up the stairs.

Things are a little bit better today, but it looks like I will have an appointment with the doctor. I hope to get some good news, like it is just a muscle imbalance or something less serious.

Short Sunday Ride to Feng Yuan

After a very busy Saturday in Taipei, it was nice to unwind with a short afternoon ride to Feng Yuan and back.

My wife had been asking to go for a ride with me all week, and when we finally had a chance it was tough to get out of the house. The motivation wasn't there. It happens to me a lot. It is the same pattern. I always feel a little trepidation before going for a ride and it could be so easy to blow it off. It could be....

I know this about myself and I also know, just like jumping into a swimming pool, it will quickly be the most enjoyable thing as soon as I get going.

Wouldn't you know it, as soon as we were on the bikes my wife was pedaling away with a big smile on her face. We simply cut through Taichung and out to Beitun for some lunch before going to Fengyuan.

It was a pretty hot afternoon and few people were on the roads despite the three day weekend.

Upon arriving in Feng Yuan we stopped for a refreshment before heading back to Taichung for a little bike business in the afternoon.

As we sat down to cool off, we noticed we were at a strange little intersection with lots of bike traffic. It was just a lot of fun to watch the bikes go by.

We came home on the Highway 3, and I stopped to take some pictures at the site of the old Ali Sai Village. Interesting area to say the least.

What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Taiwan Cycling Travel Association Plans To Conquer The World

The Taiwan Cycling Travel Association, in conjunction with the Taiwan Asia Cycling Association, have developed a comprehensive plan to promote world cycling travel. According to a report from the Taipei Times, the plan aims to offer limited support to riders who wish to travel around the world by bicycle.

In plans drawn up by these groups, a trip will be planned every year for four years to limit the strain on participants family and financial resources. They also hope this strategy will entice younger riders to participate.

“There are a lot of people wanting to go around the world, but they can’t find the time or lack the ability and partners to do so,” said TACA deputy director Chen Shou-chung , who went around the world in 400 days in 1998.

It was the reason why TACA was dividing the round-the-world trip up into sections, with 20 people to a group, hoping to ride around the world in four years.

Those cyclists who couldn’t cycle the entire length may choose which parts of the journeys to join, he said.

The first leg of the Grand Tour, scheduled to begin in July, will cross the Silk Road, from Beijing to the Hassock borders. The second year will take riders from Central Asia to the Europe-Asia borders in Turkey.

The third year crosses the European stretch and the fourth year goes across North America, Chang said.

According to the report, the group plans to use the slogan:

“Experience the vastness of the world with your own body!”

I feel this is an apt description of any form of bicycle travel. When you remove the framing of a window, the world becomes an entirely different place.

The first leg of the journey kicks off in July when riders will be expected to pedal the Silk Road.

This type of activity is an excellent opportunity for Taiwanese to experience the world. If you have the time and money... it could be a great time.

In related news: Check out the Silk Road adventures of Kate Harris and Mel Yule. Here

"IT" Has Arrived!!!


My Last Sneak Peek

I just received the call that my new frame has arrived and is currently relaxing in Taipei taking in the scenery. I have suggested a few restaurants, sights and hostess bars to visit before I bring it home Saturday to begin a being built up into my new bike.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Craig's List: Taiwan Beer Bike Goes To Highest Bidder

How Could Any Patriotic Taiwanese Pass This Up?

Craig's List Ad:

Taiwan beer limited edition folding bike - $450 (Downtown Bk )

Date: 2011-02-23, 2:23PM EST
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]

Ok so while I was on a trip to Taiwan I came across a amazing folding bike. A mint green bike with the Taiwan beer logo in Chinese and english. Turns out only ten were ever made and yes I lugged it back to the states. It is giant brand bicycle most simmilar to this model
but a slightly older design. This bike is one of a kind and a collectors item. Will only sell to somebody who will take care of it and not leave it on the street.

I can text or email you pics I'm posting from my phone. Price is firm Moving shortly and sadly need to sell quick.

  • Location: Downtown Bk
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
PostingID: 2230536304

Biking In Green Gold: Riding For Taiwan Tea

"Hey, I know that guy! "-- Jeff Spicoli

My good friend Jeannie from Miro Tea in Seattle has just posted a little expose on biking through Taiwan's tea country. I guess to engage in a little act of shameless self promotion, I must point out that the article focuses on my work with Jeannie in sourcing premium teas from Taiwan for her Seattle tea business.

I have been interested in tea for... geez... well over 15 years... and have never stopped learning more about it. Well before Miro Tea was conceived I was busy sampling Taiwan's teas and developing relationships with tea farmers, buying tea mainly for personal consumption. Now Jeannie has access to the world's best teas. For me it is a way to do something I enjoy in biking, finding great teas, and supporting Taiwan.

Through cycling I have been able to really get out and enjoy many of these out of the way places where tea is grown. These areas are some of the most exciting and awesome a person could ever ride. Alishan, Lishan, Lugu, Pinglin, San Hsia... they are all great places to ride.

Next in our series on Taiwanese winter oolongs at Miro Tea, we are going to introduce you to the man behind the teas, my good friend Drew. It is Drew who helps me locate the best oolongs of each season and makes sure we are always well-stocked with the highest quality Taiwanese oolongs that are most representative of each category. I met Drew on my first day in college and to this day, he's the friend who doesn't let me live down certain events in my life that he had the fortune/misfortune to witness. We should all be so lucky to have such a good friend. Since our college days, Drew left Seattle for warmer climates and settled down in Taiwan with his lovely wife Joyce, where they've established an envious life of teaching, exploring, and writing, as well as lots and lots of biking across the Taiwanese countryside.

I really appreciate our working relationship and our friendship over these years. It is always a pleasure to find an excuse to bike 100 miles to find some tea for a good friend.

If you are ever in Seattle, or know someone in Seattle, be sure you check out Miro Tea for their excellent supply of Taiwan teas.

Thanks Jeannie!!

5405 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle, Wa 98107

206 782 6832


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Taiwan Bike Plan B: A New Direction?

After a bit of confusion over the warrantee on my old bike, it appears all systems are go for a replacement frame. Once everything is finalized, I will surely blog on the bikes, the process and some of the help I have received.

As far as my NEW BIKE is concerned, the frame and fork were shipped via Fed-Ex on February 18, and it should arrive at any time. I officially submitted my order on January 24th and a new, fully custom frame was shipped by February 18th. Not bad!

Shimano Ultegra 6700

I am now confronted with some tough decisions as far as my components are concerned. I was offered a great deal on Shimano Ultegra 6700, but to paraphrase Zira from Planet of the Apes... "but it's so damned ugly!" The whole futurama look of the crank and clunky grips just doesn't feel right.

Campagnolo Athena

Campagnolo Chorus

Campagnolo Centaur

There is Campagnolo, which provides a whole new set of problems as the top tier groups are all 11 Speed. No, they couldn't just make 10 better... they had to turn it up to 11. These groups are all covered in carbon fiber. Black. Elegant, but black. The Athena group was downgraded to a 10spd last year and back to 11 this year, and comes in silver alloy, which looks ok, but seems less refined and 100g heavier than the Ultegra. They have Centaur, but Centaur is limited in cassette choice. Not a lot for mixing climbing with flats. It looks nice though. It is Campy's 105.


SRAM Force

I could always think about SRAM. Red is supposed to be really great, but is the wrong look. Force and Rival look ok, but has a lot of painted black.

None of the groups that would make a great Ultegra replacement seem to work with the build I am going for.

Shimano is reliable, Camagnolo has the crisp mechanical shifting and you know which cog you are on by touch. SRAM is inexpensive with Double Tap.


Comfort is the first priority and thus I need to be sure whichever system I use works with my hands. Function is next. Last, but not least would be looks. You can always say it is about the function of the parts, but something has to be said about feeling good about the way your bike looks.

What I do love is the fact that each gruppo reflects the aesthetics and values of the companies and their home countries.

Tour de Taiwan Schedule (English)

David Reed has done an excellent job translating the schedule for the upcoming Tour of Taiwan, which kicks off this March, and I am grateful for David allowing me to post the info.

It is always fun to welcome the pros in this UCI sanctioned race, and by the looks of things it is similar to other TdT events in the past. I would love to be in charge of the route mapping, but I understand there are seasonal and political considerations that take precedent over amazingly awesome routes.

So if you have a chance to catch some of the action going through you area, be sure to don the El Diablo suit and put on the antlers.

The Chinese language page is here.

Here is the Translation (Sorry, I can't make it fit on the page).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

My First Road Bike: The Daily Bubble Tea Is All Grownsed Up!

I would normally rather spend a sunny Sunday afternoon riding through Taiwan's hills, dropping through valleys and beating my legs unto useless appendage of throbbing pain.


Unless I have the opportunity to shop for bicycles vicariously through others.

This time it was my friend Todd from the Daily Bubble Tea. If you ever have the chance to browse his website, you will see some work by one of the most gifted photographers I have ever met.

Buying bikes can be intimidating and it can be very difficult to transition from the Schwinn Pixie of your youth, to the full-on trappings of a modern road bike. Everything from the drop bars, gear ratios and braking systems can be confusing. Throw in the deliberate marketing nonsense companies propagate to sell bikes, and it can be impossible to feel confident in making the right purchase.

Some simple questions to ask:

  • What is my budget? (It is good to be willing to be flexible as to avoid buyer's remorse).
  • What kind of rider am I... really?
  • What kind of riding do I do now and how is that likely to change in the next few years as I improve?
  • How will my bike be used? (utility, commuting, racing, touring, fitness)
  • What do I like and what don't I like about my current bike? If you don't have a current bike then take your time to test how bikes feel.
  • How long and how often do I expect to use my bike?
  • What are my goals for riding?
I recently saw a post on a cycling forum where a guy was asking about ditching his relaxed entry level road bike (triple crank) for another relaxed entry level road bike (triple crank) for use in Time Trials, Criterium Racing and Triathlons. (Wrong tool for the job)

Too often bike shops are too eager to move merchandise and do not listen to the customer. They will dictate to the customer what the customer wants. In many Giant retailers where the sales staff is often relatively new to the sport, I have seen some serious lapses in trying to provide the customer with the bike they are looking for.

Neophytes are also struck by the sticker shock of what a bike costs these days. For a road bike the price can range from NT 18,000 to NT 400,000. A solid, lower budget, lower-end bike for casual fitness and riding should be between NT 25,000 to NT 60,000. That is not to rule out an old iron "ama" bike for really cheap, if it fits your purpose. The level of engineering that goes into modern bicycles is astounding.

Todd went in with a budget of around NT 50,000.

Todd Tries A Small Climb

For Todd, he was coming off a bohemoth of a mountain bike that weighed a ton. The mountain gearing was great for his steep climbs around Wufeng, but the whole set-up was pretty inefficient for longer fitness rides and road touring. Another one of Todd's problems was that he is 193cm tall. Most of the larger bicycles are sent overseas and Taiwan maintains stocks of road frames between 45-54cm. I find this surprising as there are plenty of tall Taiwanese guys out there. I have been told by several retailers that ordering a larger frame from abroad can often take 6 months.


Michael Turton and I joined Todd on a shopping expedition around Taichung. After starting our day with coffee at Terry's, where we ran into Matthew, an accomplished cyclist in Taichung, we made our way to visit Rocky at T-Mosaic. Rocky properly sized Todd and found a solid set of Kinesis bikes that would fit Todd's size, needs and budget. At the same time Michael tried out the buttery smooth ride and fit of Mosaic's steel TYA branded bikes for shorter people.

We then checked out a few other stores that were closed before checking in with Specialized. Specialized came up with an off-year Tricross and off-year carbon Roubaix Pro within Todd's budget.

After Specialized we hopped in the van and went to Warehouse 185 to visit James Murray and see what he could do. James is also tall and understands the difficulty in finding a bike.

At Warehouse 185, both Michael and I had the pleasure of meeting Philip, a loyal reader of both our blogs. Philip is busy building up a project with the theme of having no logos-- A Stealth Bike weighing 5.9kg.

James introduced Todd to the house brand bike, which is sold abroad under a well-known brand name. It is an alloy frame with carbon stays. It is designed as a good all-rounder. The selling point was that Todd could pick up the bike fully outfitted with SRAM Apex.

Apex has recently swept onto the scene as a viable alternative to the road triple. Apex offers a compact crank (50/34 front chain rings) with a rear cassette offering cogs that range from 11-34 teeth. Although the jumps between cogs are greater, they provide an excellent option for neophytes who wish to climb without the mechanical complexity of having three chainrings. Apex also offers SRAM's patented double tap shifting system, which has received raves.

We took the bike out on a tester, which was a bit small, and had no problems. James explained everything clearly, which gave Todd enough confidence in the ride and the after sale service.

Todd was sold. He even managed to go under budget to save some cash for clipless pedals, cycling shoes and other accessories.

The components are exactly what Todd was looking for and suit his riding. If he ever wants to upgrade, he can easily do so. Apex is an excellent system for all types of bikes and the frame should put Todd in a better position to take advantage of his strengths.

I am happy to see someone get a bike they are happy with. It is always good when someone gets a new bike.

Special thanks to Rocky and especially James for his help.

James at 185 did a fantastic job of working with Todd on getting all set up for a new ride.

James, Michael and Philip watch Todd discover road bikes

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Janet Hsieh Wants You To Go East

If Janet of Fun Taiwan wants you to ride the East Coast, you better just do it.

From the CNA:
Cyclists visiting eastern Taiwan to get certificates

02/18/2011 (CNA)

The Tourism Bureau said Friday that it will hold a series of events on the country's east coast to promote eco-friendly traveling and community awareness by presenting certificates to those who visit the area by bicycle.

The campaign will kick off March 26 with two biking tours of 100 km and 200 km, respectively. The routes, starting from Taitung County's Jialulan Recreation Area famous for its driftwood art, the bureau said, will allow cyclists to visit scenic spots such as Sansiantai and the Basian Caves.

Other events to be held April 30, May 14, 21 and 28 will feature travel on Green Island, which lies off the Taitung County coast. The bureau will also hand out certificates to participants who visit the island with their bicycles.

Janet Hsieh, ambassador of the campaign and presenter of Discovery Channel's "Fun Taiwan" program, said the tours appeal to her as they offer both mountain and ocean scenery at the same time "without too much physical exertion."

"It's like you've gone to an island paradise," she said. "And if you think about it, Taiwan is an island and Taitung is a paradise."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Australian Man Bikes Taiwan To Raise Funds For Charity

Andrew Bonello of Melbourne, Australia will embark on a bicycle journey around Taiwan to raise money for The Garden of Hope Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of all kinds of physical and sexual abuse. Sexual and domestic abuse/battery is often under reported in Taiwan in cultural deference to the family, and thus it is even more important to raise awareness for the types of services that are available to victims.

Cycling Taiwan for charity is an excellent way to raise support, awareness and funds for any cause. The Clatterbridge Foundation had a very successful trip earlier in the year to raise money for cancer research. I hope Mr. Bonello can see the same level of outreach.

If anyone is interested in supporting Mr. Bonello or would like to follow him on his ride, you can contact him at his website here.


...I will embark on a 2 week journey cycling around this AMAZING country, in the name of a great cause, AND a great adventure!
Saturday FEBRUARY 19th, AT 9am, starting AT Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall - My ride around the island begins.
I hope you will join me if you can, if you feel fit enough, if you feel like having a lot of fun, for an hour, a whole day, a whole week, or even two!

If not, please try to support my chosen charity: The GARDEN OF HOPE foundation; supporting the woman and children of our wonderful world, sadly affected by sexual abuse, trafficking, and domestic violence..


  • 19 FEB: 09am Taipei [Chiang Kai Shek Mem. Hall main gate] >>> Hsinchu City
  • 台北 [中正紀念堂大門] >>> 新竹市
  • 20 FEB: 09am Hsinchu Train Station >>> Miaoli City
  • 新竹 [火車站] >>> 苗栗市
  • 21 FEB: 09am Miaoli Train Station >>> Changhua City
  • 苗栗 [火車站] >>> 彰化市
  • 22 FEB: 08am Changhua Train Station >>> Chiayi City
  • 彰化 [火車站] >>> 嘉義市
  • 23 FEB: 09am Chiayi Train Station >>> Tainan City
  • 嘉義 [火車站] >>> 台南市
  • 25 FEB: 09am Tainan Train Station >>> Kaohsiung City
  • 台南 [火車站] >>> 高雄市
  • 26 FEB: 08am Kaohsiung Train Station >>> Fonggang Town
  • 高雄 [火車站] >>> 風港
  • 27 FEB: 08am Fonggang Station >>> Taitung City
  • 風港站 >>> 台東市
  • 01 MAR: 09am Taitung City >>> Changbin Town
  • 台東 [火車站] >>> 長濱
  • 02 MAR: 08am Changbin Station >>> Hualien City
  • 長濱站 >>> 花蓮市
  • 04 MAR: 09am Hualien City >>> Su-Ao Town
  • 花蓮 [火車站] >>> 蘇澳
  • 05 MAR: 08am Su-Ao Station >>> Rueifang City
  • 蘇澳站 >>> 瑞芳市
  • 06 MAR: 09am Rueifang City >>> Taipei [Chiang Kai Shek Mem. Hall main gate]
  • 瑞芳 [火車站] >>> 台北 [中正紀念堂大門]

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bike For Taiwan: Taiwanese Exercise Bicycle Diplomacy in Japan

A group of Taiwanese have just embarked on a diplomatic mission to Japan in the hopes of encouraging the Japanese Diet to draft and pass a Japanese Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), similar to the one which was signed into law in the United States following the United States aptly extending full diplomatic recognition to the People's Republic of China in 1979.

The TRA outlines the position of the United States in regard to Taiwan's security in the face of Chinese aggression.

In the wake of the Chinese military build-up and several provocative moves by China to challenge Japanese claims to sovereignty over the Senkaku Islets and other territorial waters, a Japanese TRA would create a legal link between Japanese security interests and a non-Chinese Taiwan.

The group calling itself, Bike For Taiwan, aims to use cycling to spread their message around Japan.

I will let the group speak for themselves below:


Website and information here.

Cheer us on, ride for a independent and free Taiwan. Bike for Taiwan takes place in Japan this year!

The First purpose of Bike for Taiwan this year is to support the normalization of Japan – Taiwan relations. Furthermore we support the creation of a Japanese version of the “US Taiwan Relations Act”. The Taiwan side will be composed of the a Taiwanese cycling team taking it to the streets petitioning the Japanese people support stronger friendship and to push for the normalization of relations between the two nations.The cycling team members will be introduced on Valentines day, February 14th at new Taipei 101 (exact location to be announced) at Lin iHong’s office along with announcements of activities and schedules. For the next two weeks the cycling team will bike all over Japan spreading the message of peace and friendship.

First, we welcome and support members of the Japanese diet that are considering the establishment of a Japanese version of the United States’ Taiwan Relations Act. We hope to express the strong support from the Taiwanese people for this bill and have signatures of support from prominent Taiwanese.

Secondly, we hope that this act would result in closer Japan – Taiwan ties and the eventual normalization of relations considering the long peaceful historical and geopolitical ties.

Third, we also hope to bring it to the attention of the Ma administration. The Ma Administrations’ “Flexible Diplomacy” strategy entails flexibly kow-towing China’s demands but seems designed to neglect relations with other nations, thus placing Taiwan’s democratic future solely in China’s hands. We believe actual flexible diplomacy should entail developing relations with everyone especially our neighbors, not just the Chinese government, giving Taiwan the most options for it’s future.

Press Contact:
Chen Shaoting 0935-211012 (If calling from abroad please dial 011-886-935-211-012)

How can you help?

Support and join the ride for Taiwan by buying a commemorative T-shirt.

We need your support, get a special long-sleeved sw

So far the amount fundraised is not enough to cover the entire 14 day trip.

Order the Bike for Taiwan commemorative T-shirt

1) Single commemorative T-shirt is 1,500 NT + 70 NT, available in four sizes; XL, L, M, S.
2) Transfer money to E. Sun Bank, Zhongshan Branch (Branch Code 808), 0417-968-036-281) made out to the Lin party.
3) Transfer by remittance account and fax it to 02-2758-6285 as a check, also e-mail
4) Please email or fax your full name, phone number, shipping address, and appropriate delivery time.
5) We’ll send out the t-shirts as soon as we get them.

You can follow their progress on Facebook