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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Frozen Fates of the Far East: Cycling The Rift Valley

The Frozen Fate blog has a wonderful write up of biking Taiwan's East Coast. Lots of valuable information regarding renting bikes and riding in Taiwan from a visitor.

There are multiple cross-mountain roads connecting the two highways at various places along the length, so one can either do one or combinations of both. Also of note is that, Route 193 that runs parallel to Highway 9 from Yuli into Hualien City is highly recommended over Highway 9 at that stretch due to much less traffic, and the rolling terrains combined with the countryside sceneries makes for a more exciting ride, compared to Highway 9 which has many big trucks passing through.

This is a favorite route for cycling tourism and it has been heavily promoted by the tourism industry for the level of infrastructure available for cyclists.

  • Taichung Bike Week is well underway and several of the big players are in town to show their wares. Campagnolo has been keen to demonstrate their electronic shifting. ProLite and Token are looking to raise brand awareness with booth presence as well.
  • The 2012 edition of the Tour de Taiwan is looking for qualified English/Chinese interpreters to assist riders, teams and journalists during the event. Qualified interpreters must hold a TOEIC certification. Details HERE.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Taichung-Alishan-Taichung: A Little Day Ride (250km)

This was a big weekend for me in so many ways. My birthday was Sunday and we also selected a date for a cesarian as my daughter has decided she likes sitting upright in the breech position.

At 37 with a baby on the way, I really needed a big ride to remind myself why I love the long rides before I enter the unknowns of parenthood and long rides become a luxury. Youth's last stand.

For this day I chose to match the fearsome duo of distance and altitude for a blockbuster of a single-day ride.

I decided to ride from Taichung over Alishan's lesser used southern route (149甲), and then back to Taichung in a day.

The logistics of a ride like this are never easy. Several factors need to be taken into consideration including food, hydration, speed, endurance, emergency supplies, alternate routes, mechanical issues and a whole range of scenarios that can keep a rider up all night.

I had not done a significant ride in twenty days as I took a week off to recover and then got rained out. Carbo-loading for these rides can get expensive, so when they fail you are stuck paying for a meal larger and more expensive than you really needed.

I packed in pizza and pasta the night before, with a fruit smoothie before bed. I really couldn't afford to eat like that for another weekend without doing something with it.

The weather checked out for the day, so I packed my yellow distance backpack with:

  • Arm/Leg Warmers
  • Warm Base Layer
  • Tubes x2
  • Tire (700x25c) x1
  • Asthma Inhaler
  • Antihistamine x4
  • Tylenol x4
  • Mini Pump
  • Gels 150cal (small)x3
  • Gel 180cal (large) x2
  • Apples x2
  • Pizza slice x2
  • Waterproof bag x1
  • Toolkit x1
  • Phone
  • I.D. Card
  • Money (NT 2300)

The chances of something going wrong in an area far from a bike shop warrants the extra weight penalty. You just never know.... Especially on a solo ride.

After feeling as ready as I was going to be, I dozed off Friday night around 9:30pm to get some rest before the big day... until... a well-wisher, who shall remain anonymous, woke me up with a text to my phone at 11:30pm. I never got back to sleep. I rolled around in bed running through all the "what if" scenarios, worrying about my knee and getting pissed off about work.

I finally gave up on sleep and got suited up for battle, adjusted my tire pressure for a day in the saddle, slathered on another layer of chamois cream, and slipped out the door around 3:00am.

In the cool night air I was feeling it. It was game on and I was passing quickly through the pothole-lined intersections of the Highway 3. In the early morning many intersections are marked with flashing yellow lights and I took full advantage to duck on through in the absence of the usual snarl.

After reaching Zhushan in an hour and a half, I stopped for coffee to give the sun a bit more time to come out before heading into the mountains.

I could see dawn was close as work gangs from the tea farms were gathering and milling about the 7-11 parking lot to hitch a ride up into the hills. They all wore rubber boots, hoods and had their fingers wrapped for protection.

I continued at a slower pace up the Route 149-A toward Caoling. I had ridden these roads before, so I could rate my progress and make adjustments in my level of effort. I was a little disappointed to be passing some spectacular scenery in the dark.

Any regrets over the scenery were soon put to rest at dawn, when I realized the entire area was covered in a haze from the moist air rising up out of the ground. It was one of those days that seemed to be perpetually morning. (For better pictures of this route see this earlier report)

The first climb was right where I'd left it, but this time I made real quick work of each hairpin and switchback.

I occasionally had to yield to large construction vehicles that were having a harder time than I was chipping into the mountain.

At several points the road folds back upon itself to reveal the river valley below with its speckles of rooftops and a built environment that is quickly dwarfed by the masses of nature.

By the time I crossed into Yunlin County I was feeling absolutely committed to finishing this ride.

I could look out in the distance at the rocky peak I needed to blast through before diving back down for the second ascent over Alishan. This was just the appetizer.

I edged up to the cliffside and could just make out the scarred roadways leading to the Caoling Tunnel. It just looked nasty. The whole hillside looked like it could lose grip on the bedrock entirely and slip off into the rubble pit below.

Everything in the village at the top told of a futile battle against the ravages of climate and weather. The construction from last year was the construction of this year. A fine, yellow dust was settled on just about every surface that hadn't crumbled into a showcase of roadside decay.

I finally found the even spot in the road and went for broke through the tunnel to Caoling.

Wham! The hilltops and manicured hostels are a welcome sight from the blight on just the other side of the ridge. It is like punching a hole into the center of the Central Mountain Range.

Yes, it is a pleasant sight for about five minutes until the moment of truth where you dive into Caoling and commit to finishing over Alishan. It was at this point I felt a little discomfort in my knee... the kind that has been dogging me for so many months. I kept stretching to push it out of my thoughts. Then I bombed into Caoling for a little breakfast of apples and gels.

Caoling is a little tourist haven tucked behind Alishan. There are waterfalls and hikes galore. I was able to swing by and replenish my water at one of the shops before sneaking out under the noses of a hundred gawking tourists.

Caoling's police station offers a bicycle rest station with a pump, restroom and supplies. Sadly, it is at the top of a long flight of stairs, so I gave it a miss at the risk of renal failure.

At the bottom of a screaming descent I found myself at the gates of Alishan National Scenic Area. There is just something incredible about crossing the threshold into one of Taiwan's great wilderness regions.

I ambled along the river past hostels and farms. The gravel business is booming along the Chingshui River. I was still waiting for a lick of sunshine that never arrived. Instead the clouds spit occasional droplets at be from behind foggy ridge lines.

At last I was on the 149甲 on my way up Alishan. The road work is never finished, and it will never finish in my lifetime, so I just took it as part of the experience. The bridge has been rebuilt, but there is always something to make things dirty.

I also never put on my daylight glasses. It just seemed too dark... all day.

I heaved and pressed my way up the squiggle to Taiho Village. Just past the scene pictured above, there is the Taiho Restaurant and Hostel where you can buy refreshments if you need a little more to finish the climb. This part is all torn up and requires walking the bike around the construction mess. After about 50m it is all clear to the top.

From Taiho the rugged green tea farms open up and engulf the highest points of the mountain. Elephant Mountain sits off in the distance and plays on your imagination of exactly how rough Taiwan's wilderness can get.

There are still a few vestiges of Taiwan's Japanese colonial past when Alishan was both a logging, agricultural and tourist center. Push-car railways once meandered through these very mountains.

It was only 10:00am and I was closing quickly on the summit. I could easily map out my route as the white roadways slithered across the ripples below. Amazing!

My knee was far from happy, but still within finishing the ride. I was at 73 miles and I still had an entire trip back-- against the wind.

The drop into the tourist trap at Fenci Hu is quick, and the sight of shops, roast sausage and lovers looking lost on the roadside is actually quite warming after a long climb up the desolate back of Alishan.

I stopped for a coffee and a celebratory rest to eat my pizza. The fog was sticking to the mountains, so I didn't stay long. The last thing I needed was rain or any more cold.

A few other cyclists were making their way up the mountain from Chiayi. I passed a dozen or more on my way down the 159甲. I took few pictures on the way down as there was nothing to see in the haze and I just wanted to drop elevation and get on the road home.

What makes Alishan such a tricky mountain, is that it isn't what you'd normally expect. Usually an ascent is hard, but the descent is just the reverse. With Alishan, the descents all include a degree of climbing. This is especially rough if you've already humped up the thing... any incline is heartbreaking.

I bit down and made my final climbs on Alishan before screaming into Chiayi.

With nearly 100 miles under my belt for the day, I headed toward Taichung on the Highway 3.

The Highway 3 is pretty even around Taichung, but in the southern parts it undulates in a series of punchy climbs and steep dips.

For each climb I would leap out of the saddle and pull my ass to the top. My energy dipped a little, which was remedied with some sugar.

I finally made it to the area around Mingjian in Nantou County and made the fateful decision to follow the Changhua Route 137 home rather than simply going up the Highway 3 again. The difference was a trade of stop-and-go traffic for undulating hills and a little more distance with one final climb.

I just punched it up the 137 with some good speed and mighty bursts out of the saddle. I finally hit the Highway 74 and just ate it up. The adrenal gland is some powerful magic.

Then, just about 4km from home, all I could think about was chocolate. I couldn't ignore it. I stopped and downed a Kit Kat and a coke to fuel my push home. I had dropped 2-3mph from my usual sprint up the same road, but by the time I turned onto my street I was going full steam.

After a full day in the saddle, I was home for supper. My knee had remembered to get sore again and I was still feeling better than one might expect.

An awesome day of riding!


Distance: 250km/155mi
Altitude Gain: 3749m/12,303ft

Bike route 1344229 - powered by Bikemap

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lack Of Bike Infrastructure Builds Frustration: China Post Commentary

In today's China Post, Ian Gilchrist calls out Taipei for the city's failure to integrate cycling into the transportation grid.

Gilchrist adroitly spots some of the problems in this section of his commentary:

Politicians can point with some pride to the riverside rides which work well on weekends, but if a survey could be carried out for weekday commuting, they would almost certainly be deemed greatly under-used. And they're still far from being a sanctuary. While riding on a riverside cyclepath I was hit by a woman riding a motor-scooter who then screamed that it was my fault. The attending police officer was rather non-committal.
This blog has not been shy of highlighting many of the problems Gilchrist describes. What it really boils down to are the politics and economics of Taiwan's bicycle infrastructure.

For cities like Taipei and Taichung, the emphasis of bicycle infrastructure (or the lack thereof) is purely a profit motivated initiative. Government funds are being spent to ensure a select number of businesses can profit from bicycle infrastructure. This includes connected contractors, retailers and service providers. If bicycles were used freely around the city it would be harder to corral cyclists and direct them to those who will profit most from their presence. Leisure bike trails which have become so popular in Taipei, Taichung and Miaoli can be constructed to control and direct flows of customers to political patrons.

Some very powerful interests see more profit in this model than one that encourages making every street into a bike trail. Ever wonder why Taiwan's big bike retailers do not promote steel commuting bikes? They are not as profitable as aluminum or carbon fiber leisure and racing bikes.

The politicians are simply feeding their backers and giving the public a token symbol of "progress".

The other side of Gilchrist's frustration is that there is no political will to transform Taiwan's roadways into shared spaces for cars, scooters, bikes and pedestrians. This is not impossible, but it would take a commitment from both the central and local governments to carry out.

The cynic in me says Taiwanese drivers will not change. Then I remember when the law went into effect to mandate all scooter and motorcycle riders wear helmets. The law was first met with resistance as regular enforcement was brought to bear against violators. I recall seeing an old man with a cooking pot on his head in an attempt to both comply with... and circumvent the law. Helmet theft was rampant. You couldn't leave your helmet unattended outside without the risk of having it stolen by a rider in a pinch. Now, everyone (at least in the cities) rides with a certified helmet.

The same could be done for traffic. But it takes the political will to make it happen. So far, of the major cities in Taiwan, only the southern city of Kaohsiung has started taking the difficult steps toward crafting shared roadways. Of course, the police need to complete their transformation from a mediation force to a full police force committed to the rule of law.

Taiwan's road to becoming a bicycle paradise will be long and hard, but with a commitment to transforming Taiwan into a real bicycle island, it is not impossible. What the public doesn't need are more tourist trails that go nowhere.


In Other News: Frontier Sports put together this great video from the Taiwan Cup.

Sun Moon Lake Tour

Here is a fine report from a couple of teachers who set out from Taichung to explore Puli and Sun Moon Lake by bike. The full report and several other picture and travel posts can be found HERE at the Taiwhat blog.
In other, slightly less nerdy, news… I have just returned from a WONDERFUL weekend bike trip to Sun Moon Lake! Another teacher, Amanda, and I hit the road Saturday morning around 10. We would have departed earlier, but a week of rain in Taichung had made us a bit worried that maybe this weekend wouldn’t be the best for a bike trip; so, instead of renting Amanda’s bike Friday night we waited until Saturday morning to judge the weather and when we deemed it acceptable (in fact, pretty ideal) riding weather we had to wait for the Giant store to open at 10 so we could get her a bike and be on our way.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Wuling's King of the Mountain and Other Links

Forever Bicycle on display in Taipei by China's dissident artist Ai Weiwei who offers plenty of opinions in regard to his hosts.

  • Fan Yong-yi shows he is King of the Mountain in this weekend's Maxxis Taroko Hill Climb. The word is the weather was rough and the brutal final few kilometers cracked some really tough climbers. A few friends who attended have complained that a lot of the riders simply tossed their feeding bags and energy pouches on the road, which is an insult to one of Taiwan's most beautiful and delicate eco zones. A lot of it may be an effort to look "pro", but when I see this behavior demonstrated by non racers out on the backroads, I am overcome with a sense that it is the result of an education system backed by a government that has spent precious little time teaching Taiwan's citizens to identify with their place.
Other Links:

  • Why does Amsterdam work so well for cycling?

Failure IS An Option: When Good Rides Go Bad

This past Sunday I had been planning an ambitious ride from Taichung, over Alishan, and back in a day. I know it is gruelingly possible to do and I tried to lay the foundations for a successful ride.

I bought new batteries for my lights. I packed a bag with extra clothing for the colder temps at high altitudes. I brought an extra tire. I packed some fruit and energy gels. I spent three days eating and hydrating for a 7000 calorie day. The mental preparations were there.

I woke up at 2:00am to dress, slather on some chamois cream, down a fruit smoothie and hit the road by 3:00am.

I nervously checked the weather from my deck and it was cold with a lick of rain in the air.

The weather seemed to be improving, so I launched into the darkness and hit about every red light out of town. The lights were annoying enough, but the light drizzle made things even worse. I hoped things would improve, but the just devolved into a general feeling that the day was crapping on my head.

In Taiwan, the hostess bars seem to let out at about 3:00am so the roads are filled with drunks racing for the red lights in more ways than one so pre-dawn traffic can be deadly. I rumbled through puddles as taxies hydroplaned between lanes ferrying girls from the clubs to... wherever they may be heading. I had three close calls with the drunks before rolling up to a police roadblock. Just as I approached, a speeding taxi blasted through the cones at full speed sending the officers running for their cars. The roadblock was for a huge industrial fire that was in progress along the Highway 3, so I was diverted out to another road.

With puddles of water sloshing from my toes to my heels, I decided to swallow my pride and head back home. I really didn't see the fun in riding up a mountain in the rain and spending 250km soaked to the bone. I also did not want to encounter Nantou drunk traffic in the rain. Too many signs that this wasn't the right day.

Sometimes as a rider you need to rely on your intuition to help you make the calls. Although it can be tough, when you start feeling bad about a ride, you don't have to go through with it. Rides are just not fun when you lose the motivation. Rider intuition should not be ignored as it comes from experience. It is always better to live to ride another day.

Just as I neared Taichung city, the rain stopped and the clear morning sky emerged from behind the clouds. I had been following a band of rain toward the mountains. Those are the breaks.

Better luck next weekend.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Taroko Race Weekend: Maxxis Taroko International Hill Climb

This weekend marks the second Maxxis Taroko International Hill Climb on the racing calendar. Several of the guys from my team will be there to compete and I wish them the best of luck.

The Taroko climb is a 90 kilometer mash from sea level, up to the finish at 3275 meters. It is a shame the Taiwan Cup was devoid of this type of climb, which really typifies what makes Taiwanese riding and racing so special.

Sadly, I am opting out of this event as it would mean two days on the road and too much distance from my wife. We are expecting a baby at any time, so I need to be within a speedy cab ride home. All for the better. I will be there in spirit.

The route averages about 4% for most of the way with about three steeper sections before the finale just after Dayuling.

A few hundred meters from the fruit stands in Dayuling, the road pitches up saving the worst for last. It is a seriously demoralizing set of stairs, a dip and another final puker of a climb to the finish.

Of the 250 climbers, about 30 riders will be representing Japan and especially the victims of the earthquake and tsunami which struck Taiwan's northern neighbor last March. The Japanese cyclists would like to use the event to thank the Taiwanese people for their generosity in providing the largest amount of aid to Japan. Each Japanese rider will ride wearing a T-shirt, which reads, "Thank You Taiwan" as a token of appreciation.

Best of luck to all competitors and may the rainy forecast be in error. Jia you!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Phil Gaimon Blogs Taiwan for VeloNews... and gets a little lost.

You can't control how people are going to interpret their experiences... no matter how hard the Taiwan Tourism Bureau tries... and in his blog piece at VeloNews, Phil Gaimon attempts to win an invite back to next year's Taiwan Cup.

We also had some unbelievable training rides. I would never have considered Taiwan as a spot for tourism or cycling until this trip, but the rides there were some of the best I’ve ever done, no joke. Since they actually use bikes for transportation in Taiwan, there are bike lanes everywhere, and out in the country, bike-specific roads connect all the small towns, sometimes through really tight, barely-paved paths, which were fun to rip with tubulars, although Isaac was always scared of cobras on the smaller roads, which is no way to go through life, and not a bad way to die, if you ask me. We didn’t see any snakes (insert dirty joke here), or pandas or monkeys for that matter.

What Gaimon really gets right is the fact that Taiwan is a real cycling treat for the experienced cyclist or cycling adventurer. I try to bear testament to this fact in my weekend blog posts.

Aside from trying to reward his hosts for their largesse, I am bewildered by his comments regarding an infrastructure for bicycle transportation.

For leisure cycling Taiwan has made some great strides. There are great routes for riders of any level of experience and fitness. This is a check in the plus column if my friends at the Tourism Bureau are keeping track. Where Taiwan is really lacking is in its infrastructure for cycling as transportation or utility. The government has failed by and large to think of cycling beyond tourism dollars and weekend entertainment.

  • There are few direct and effective bike paths for regular transportation like commuting.
  • There are few busses equipped to carry bicycles.
  • There are few safe places to store bicycles in or around busy urban hubs, such as shopping centers.
  • The rules for bicycle trains are a labyrinth of official jargon and nonsense.
  • There is no commitment or political will to transform the transportation system into a safe and civil environment for cyclists.

Sadly, with his comments about Taiwanese using bikes for transportation and pandas, I think Mr. Gaimon mistakenly thought he was in China.

Don't miss this lovely and lively discussion on Taiwanese vs. Chinese bikes at The Lovely Bike.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Biking Eastern Taiwan: The Beauty of the Route 193

I receive a lot of requests for information regarding the best routes for traveling Taiwan's Rift Valley. The biggest mistake riders make is in sticking to the Highway 9 and Highway 11. The real secret to biking eastern Taiwan may be the Routes 193 and 197. I had to decline the invitation to ride the route this weekend. Our baby is at 35 weeks and it is just a bridge too far for a ride like that.

So, here is the beautiful picture post and ride report from Michael Turton at The View From Taiwan. Lots of great and useful information here. I am sure he took many of these pictures to hit me in my jealously nerve.



The Honeymoon Is Over: Taiwanese pair finish their two-year world tour.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Velo-City Looking For A Taiwanese Perspective

Here is a little info sent over from Jean at Velo-City.

They are putting out a call for papers on international cycling perspectives and I think there are several readers out there who would be ideal to submit some work for this event.

Taiwan can really be a wonderful case study in how countries are grappling with the bicycle in the interests of the private citizen, enterprise, the environment and globalization.

If anyone has an ideas for a paper, please submit an abstract to Velo-City at the link below.

Abstracts are due November 15th

Here's how they do it in Seoul

200k of Central Taiwan: Our Best Cycling Routes in a Day

This past Sunday was another tour through some familiar riding territory. It is not that I have never ridden or blogged these routes before, I have. And I have even set up some of the same shots before, with the same angles and frames...but this day belonged to itself. It was different. Actually, they're all different. Each ride is a sketch of the same scenes with often widely different interpretations. Each trip feels unique.

For my Sunday ride I hoped to hit some of my favorite "local" roads, all in a single day. In one massive 200km loop I hoped to connect one vista to the next in a rolling essay devoted to some of what makes central Taiwan such an awesome spectacle for road cycling.

Although 200km may be out of reach for many riders, most of these places can be accessed in a day ride or strung together in a weekend. It makes some of the best, and most accessible cycling adventure in Taiwan.

I started my day with a climb up out of the city on Taichung Route 129 to Hsin She. The 129 can be daunting for a beginner, but after a few miles in the legs it becomes an appetizer to some great sights not far beyond.

This leg of the trip from the Route 129 to the Route 93 has become so routine I forgot to take pictures. I just took in the scenery and enjoyed the feel of the road.

I hooked on to the gorgeously underused Highway 21 over Baimao Shan to Guoxing. This is such a secluded road that seems to see most of its weekend traffic in the form of cycling clubs and large motorcycles. As I started my climb I could hear the buzz saw rumble of the big bikes in the background and I could see a pack of hard climbing cyclists were making good time just down the hill.

I put a little oomph into it to make some distance between myself and the trouble brewing below. I hoped to enjoy a little more solitude before vaulting over the peak for the swooping plunge into Guoxing.

From the guardrail at the top of Baimao Shan, the Central Mountain Range ripples like waves out in an ocean of morning fog. The treat is yours if you can get up there before 10:00am.

The big bikes had caught up to barnstorm past me as I stood by the roadside. One after the other flew by like a train of Tomahawk missiles. I really hate those guys. It is best to just pull over and let them pass.

I started to see a few riders making the ascent up the other side of the mountain. First a trickle of riders followed by larger groups. The Highway 21 is perfect for hill training or a slow weekend outing.

The Highway 21 makes an abrupt left at Guoxing and empties out into a tight river valley. Stunning!

Unfortunately, the only way out is to claw up to a high plateau over Puli. It seems as if they are always growing something new whenever I pass. On this day it was passion fruit. They had bags of passion fruit lining the roadway. I could see the high mountains rising above the red clay fields on the horizon.

It was just enough of a respite to let the legs recover for the second act of the ride.

I broke (70kph) 43mph on the ride into the Puli basin. The sugarcane and onion fields were in full glory, but the sun beat down hard.

I really don't remember much of Puli. I was in and out of the area so quickly, it seemed I was almost immediately climbing to Sun Moon Lake.

For riders contemplating a ride to Sun Moon Lake, I would recommend entering on the 131 out of Shuili and exiting on the Nantou Route 63 to the Highway 16. The Highway 21 is a hot, nasty, filthy plank of traffic and road hazards. There is no real shoulder and no place to go as cards race F-1 style to be the first to get caught in line behind a traffic jam of tour busses and gawking tourists.

Cars will seriously jockey for pole position to be first to get stuck in an lakeside tourist merry-go-round. They will skim their mirrors just past your knuckles as you play tightrope-walker on the fog line. Insane!

The pale blue water is attractive and refreshingly cool. It seems to get more attractive the further you get from it.

But first you must navigate the crap stalls and roast wieners to find some solitude.

The Nantou Route 63 is really the nicest way for a cyclist to exit Sun Moon Lake. It is hidden in a corner behind the Ita Thao village; a tourist village lorded over by a couple well connected families from one of the indigenous villages.

If the Sun Moon Lake circus is the ill... the Route 63 is the cure.

I steadily climbed beneath the shady boughs of the tall trees amid the humming white noise of insects and wind through the leaves. As far as hill climbs go, this is one of the least difficult for the maximum payoff.

No sooner than you bank through the shadowy corners do yo find you are facing a drop to the feet of some seriously high mountains. I didn't even begin to take pictures until halfway down as I enjoyed the inertia filled baking and yawing through betel forests and villages.

The descent can be pretty technical, but just as the road appears to smash headlong into one megalith looming above the grey river, it makes an abrupt right turn up onto the Highway 16, which remains flat until a rolling climb and drop to Shuili.

No sooner had I landed in Xinyi Township, that the weather took an abrupt change. Boom, the sunny skies were clouded over. Boom, the wind started slugging me in the face. I could feel grains of dust cut past my cheeks. Bad news for being so deep into a long ride with so much distance left to go. My only consolation was the gradual false flat out of the mountains.

I got into a tuck and went for broke. I was spinning at 37kph (23mph) into a frontal crosswind that wouldn't let up. I still had some energy in reserve and I had managed to hit every green traffic light between Shuili and Mingjian. Then a pilgrimage complete with bloodied dang-gi or spirit mediums brought all traffic to a halt. This was the end of my amazing end run as I entered the world of traffic lights, fits and stops.

I finally dragged myself home in seven and a half hours, but I was feeling each kilometer. My legs felt fresh, but I had burned my remaining energy and swallowed enough dust for a sandcastle.

This is one of those rides that brought a smile to my face around every corner... between each grimace of pain.

If you ever have the chance to bike central Taiwan... be sure you bike these roads. This is what makes Taiwan a cycling paradise. These are some of the special roads that leave you inspired to do it again and see more.


Distance: 200km
Climbing: 7402ft
Calories Burned: 6292cal
Time: 7:33:03