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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.