We make holes in teeth!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Taiwan Day 28 - On to Taipei

The morning started out like any other morning (except yesterday) - wake up early, get coffee, eat half a bun, look around for more food, wish I had gotten myself 2 coffees, eat some more, and so on. The rain wasn't actually going when I went out this morning, it was just wet. As far as these things go, it was about as good as you can expect.

After getting things ready and packing for a few days up at the BIL's, I set sail at 10:00 with the idea that I'd be up there by 3:30. Figure close to 5 hours plus whatever stops. It sounded like a reasonable time. I set out with no issues, and took a short detour on route 191 to avoid the poor drivers of Ilan based on a suggestion from one of the guys on an English-speaking Taiwan forum.

The start of the ride was uneventful. Flat & fast, I hit the base of the first climb with an 18.3 average, which certainly wasn't going to last. I hit the hill and kept pressing, for no real good reason other than I wanted to. While it was a good climb, it was a middle ring climb, so it really wasn't the leg-burner that a lot of these climbs have been. It's also a well-traveled road, so the mystery that you see on some of the rides (like yesterday's quarry ride) just isn't there. Lush, green, and wet. Every time I go into the hills its raining up there, and today was no exception.

The trucks weren't so much of an issue going up either big climbs. You go slow, the trucks go slow, there's really no conflict. On the down side of the first climb though, I had a rare opportunity to actually get some speed. I still rode my brakes more than if I were at home. But it was certainly the fastest I've gone downhill since coming here. Of course the trucks want to pass you, and on this downhill I quickly learned that they will force you off the road. It's not like in the states where you can take over the road until it's safe. They will take it back, sometimes coming just feet from you if you're in a bad spot in a turn.

Aside from a few annoying drivers, there really wasn't much issue with the trucks though. The downhill lasted quite a while and as much as I like the free miles, I was getting cold and looking forward to going up again. Eventually I hit Pinglin, and recognized the downtown area, even though I had only been there once, 10 years ago. I shot Nat a text and said I was 34 miles in.

Up was more or less the same, though I pressed maybe a little less with this one. The first climb hurt a bit, and the water from the camelbak was tasting pretty bad, so I was having a tough time putting too much of that down. But it was up, since the hills go up, so I went up. Top came sooner than I expected, right around the planned (foreshadowing) midpoint of the ride at 40 miles. From there it was almost all down or flat.

Going down was more of the same, but the trucks sucked a bit more than the first hill, especially when I got buzzed by 5 in a row. The problem when you get 1 slow driver (ie, safe driver) is that the trucks stack up behind them and the betel nut-chewing stormtroopers get psychotic. So they tailgate, and pass when the road is clearly not fit for a pass. By the end of it, I was yelling expletives at any truck that came too close, or more frequently the ones that blasted up the road in the wrong lane.

I dumped out into Xindian, which was a huge town, maybe a city, much bigger than I expected. I found the bike paths and soon was out of the traffic, no cars, no trucks, no scooters, just a few walkers and a handful of other bikers. From insanity comes peace.

The bike paths were solid, much better than I would have expected. At one point, I was on a road looking to see where the path went and realized that the road I was on was the bike path:

Shortly after, I looked to the right and saw a white guy sitting under some concrete retaining wall with an overhang playing a trumpet. Seriously, of all the odd things I've seen in this country that one may very well take the cake. When I got on the path, it looked like I had about 27 miles to go, and I texted Nat saying I was done with the tough part. She texted me back saying I might beat her there.

Of course I pressed on, thinking that it would be neat if I could get there before her. The paths down here were really solid and relatively free of traffic. There were a few baseball games and some people hanging out doing whatever. But more or less it was pretty quiet and fast, save for the occasional bit of construction in the parks.

Before long, I realized I had missed my bridge and I had to "eat the duck", which means I had to go around the penninsula which is described as a duck head, and take a slightly alternate route to get there. This was all well & good, since the paths are on both sides of every river. But I probably ended up adding almost 7 miles to the total. On the bright side, I got a good look at this:

Imagine my surprise shortly after when I saw a pump track:

And a white horse:

And even a boat:

Eventually I found the bridge and crossed over, and then the people started, and the headwind picked up, and more people found their way to the bike path, and then there were cobblestones, and boardwalks which jackhammered my back, and so on. By the end of the bike path, when I jumped out to hit the road up to Linkou, I was thrilled to be back out with the trucks and scooters again. The people on the bikes were starting to pose a serious threat to my safety, especially the tandems with the girls on the back trying their best to lay completely vertically and fall asleep.

The end of the ride was a small but brutal 800 foot climb. Normally it really wouldn't register here but after 84 miles this one hurt. I had pretty much used everything up keeping the 16 average to the base of the hill, and when I hit it, I just slogged up at turtle speed. My average went from 16 to 15.4 in the last 2 miles or so.

I rolled up to the apartment and shortly after Nat let me in. I showered up, washed my clothes, ate, drank, ate again, drank again, then had dinner, which was Dominos. Normally I'd never agree to eat pizza, but after this ride I was in the mood for damn near anything, up to and including animal genitalia. So pizza was just fine.

The rest of the day was spent in the apartment, eating and drinking some more. Have to say, it's pretty swank here, and makes me realize the place in Luodong is a bit of a dump. Oh, and the bedroom has heat, which is like super awesome. I may never leave if this bed is comfortable.

Terren's people pic of the day is yours truly, since I saw no people out today really. Here I'm reading to Melissa, who is apparently trying to fly away:

Full picture set of the day here: Flickr set or slideshow.



  • At 6:11 PM, Blogger terren said…

    Cool pics, once again... and at the risk of sounding repetitive, couldn't you have shown a little more skin?


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