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Monday, December 22, 2014

Tainan By The Hillside: A Hard 200k


The day after Taiwan's big 9 in 1 elections, I decided to see what effect four complete decades in the tank could have on my legs. I felt like a longer ride with a little help from the wind. Somehow Tainan by Highway 3 seemed reasonable with enough outs along the way to avoid getting stranded with bad legs. The route would be a day of short, undulating hills that ripple along the foothills of western Taiwan. Not the kind of terrain to bank a successful day of distance on. 

I was joined by the phenomenal Rob King of Pro-Lite, who is an absolute hoss in the flats. Together we made for Tainan and Rob was going to try to sprint there. As for myself, I took a more modest approach... ahem. 

I had about cocked everything up from the get-go. I hadn't really done much stretching all week. I hadn't slept well. I hadn't eaten or drunk correctly before the ride. As Rob charged and hills, intersections and windmills, I kept waiting for the legs to warm up. I really started to fear I would have to abandon early. 


We made moderate time between coffee stops and it began to dawn on me that I was probably a little overtrained. I had simple punished my legs in the hills for four weeks in a row and now was time for some payback. Remember, listen to your body. It always knows. 


I was feeling so-so on the hills without the strength for the low grind. On the flats I was feeling off and on and Rob charged ahead on his blasted 28 year-old legs. It seemed it would take forever and my ass was hurting. We got busy jaw-jacking and missed our connection to the Highway 3, and beat it mack on course along the lovely Yunlin Route 172.  

Still, the hills were relatively bite-sized compared to some of the other stuff ahead. 


At Zhong-pu a cyclist must commit to either continuing on the Highway 3 through the Tsung-Wen Reservoir, or escaping around on the Route . We figured the climbing on the inside of the reservoir might just be a bridge too far, and opted out on the 158乙... but not before some strenuous climbing.

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Alas, with every killer climb, there is a killer descent. The Route 172 was no different. This was a high-speed-don't-blink-for-a-second parachute drop. We skinned the side of that hill with a straight razor as gravity and inertia flung us through each bend. 

We were finally spit out onto the Tainan Route 165 and eventually the Highway 1. I was about out of gas, but Rob kept the pace going into Tainan. By the time we worked our way out to the HSR station road I regained a bit of energy and we arrived at exactly Beer o' Clock. 

It was an incredible 200k of hard work all day. I took 10 days off the bike and felt much better for it. 

Still, it was a fantastic trip. Next time it will be the inner reservoir side. Rob was a great riding partner. I hope he didn't pay for this ride as badly as I did. 


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