As I suggested I was going to from now on, I made time to go for a ride while I was here in Taiwan for work.
There is a group of people from the office that ride every Saturday morning. I joined them this morning and here is how it went.
I brought a helmet and pedals and clothing along with me on the trip. They have extra bikes in the office, so I rode a 56cm 1.5 Trek aluminum bike. A nice bike, that fits me reasonably well.
We were to meet at 8am this morning in front of the hotel for a 2 hour loop up in the mountains. I started off by not being able to find my helmet. I must have put it down somewhere in the hotel lobby and it never made it up to my room. Damn. It was not a completely new helmet, but it was new last summer. So, after rooting around in their apartments, someone finally found an old helmet at their house for me to use. Undeterred, we headed off about 30 minutes late this morning.
The first part of the ride is really urban. It is Saturday morning, so the traffic is light, compared to a weekday morning. But, we are starting out right in the middle of Taichung city. There are scooters , and cars and buses and trucks and people everywhere. Dogs are roaming around the street, and because the traffic is low you might have old people just strolling down the street. It is kind of fun, to fight your way through all of that to the outskirts of town.
Eventually, you do make it to the outskirts of town though. Once you do, you are rewarded with really quite riding. The roads go up pretty steeply though. Taiwan is an island, so you pretty much start the ride at Sea level. When the road pitches upward, it can be pretty abrupt. The first climb that we did wound its way along the side of a mountain. Many times at the edge of the road the ground will slope away quickly and you don’t want to be too close to that. Of course, there is no guard rail to give you a boundary.
The pavement is narrow, and the road switches back and forth at times, impossibly steep. It is warm today. Probably about 65 degrees. It has been a long time since I rode in the mountains at 65 degrees. It will be a long time till we are riding in that weather at home.
On the second climb we see a lot of cyclists. Foreigners are not the most common cyclists we see these days. In fact today, we did not see any others. There are a lot of Taiwanese that have taken to cycling. They ride all manor of bicycle though. Everything from Carbon road bikes to full suspension mountain bikes to folding bikes. It is great to see them all out riding. I do not think that would have been true 10 years ago.
At the top of the 2nd climb, there is a gathering spot. There are hiking trails going into the mountains and when we get there, a large bus of kids is unloading and they are heading into the hills. It was pretty cool.
We bombed down off that climb and back into Taichung. By now, the city is awake and the famous Taiwan city traffic is flowing. Scooters by the thousands, jetting around everywhere. People on bikes, cars buses just chaos.
We end back up in town at a Starbucks (the modern symbol of american fast food decadence), and a cup of coffee. As everywhere in the world, after a ride people gather and talk about riding. Wow, this is great.
I have decided that seeing a place is best done on a bicycle. You see things that you would never see from a vehicle, and your circle of travel is much larger than can be by foot.
Back home tomorrow. I love riding my bike, but it is always good to go home.