Monthly Archives: May 2009

Hixton D16 Harescrambles

I bugged out of the house this morning at 6am.  By myself today, no Scott.  I didn’t even have Candi with me, so the drive was really an alone drive.

The morning was perfect.  The sun was out, it was nice and cool and not a cloud in the sky.  It rained just a few days ago, so I was anticipating epic conditions, and I was right.

The turnout was not huge at this D16 race, but there were enough people to call it a race.  There were 11 people on the +40 line.

The Hixton course was really good.  It was probably 80% singletrack and the other 20% was ATV trail width connecting the singletrack.  The laps were about 12 minutes long for me.  Brian Terry had added about a mile and a half of virgin singletrack.  The new singletrack was tough.  Alot of it was on a sidehill, and I knew when I previewed the course that the sidehill stuff was going to be tough, specially for the C class doing 2 hours.

The + 40 group was on the 4th row at the start.  There were only 2 AA riders, Mat Herrington and John Strangefeld.  I started way to the outside of the line so that I could radius the first turn without really shutting off. When the gun went off for my row, my RM250 started right up and I rocketed towards the first left turn.  The guy to my left, got an even better start than I though.  He led me into the woods, but was really in way over his head leading the group.

I had previewed the course on my mountain bike, and knew that I did not really want to lead the first lap.  But, the guy in front of me was struggling and I could not watch it.  I took the inside around him on a turn and slipped by.  I put my head down and went hard, even though I did not know the course.  Unfortunately, that meant that I made about 3 wrong turns in the first lap.  I still managed to hold onto the lead though through that lap.  Once I knew the loop, I was able to focus and put my head down and make time.

I had a methodical day.  I jumped from one rider to the next and made up a lot of time.  I had maybe the best day I have had on a bike in a long time.  I never lost focus and never had a lap where I lost the plot.  It all came to me really well.  I felt great.

In the end, I was 1st in my class and 3rd overall.  There were only 2 AA riders, and they both beat me.  But, I beat all the A riders all the B riders and all the C riders.

Rob Houts was not there, as he was racing at the WIXC race in Crystal Falls.  It would have been better to have this day in a race where he was there as well as John Buechner and Jim Blau.  But, I am feeling pretty good and ready to face those guys at the next race.

Woohoo!!!!

Joe

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Link to Dirt Bike Magazine results for Rhinelander National Harescrambles

http://blogs.dirtrider.com/6544212/industry-buzz/raines-3-peats-in-wisconsin/index.html

Check out Scott in 5th overall!

AMA National Harescrambles – Rhinelander

Once a year, we get to race on what is the best course in the state. Rhinelander – Sugar Camp. The only bad thing about Rhinelander is that it is just on the edge of being too far to drive for the day. We can do it, but just barely. It is 4ish hours away, and if it was 30 minutes farther, I would say that it is too far to drive for the day. It requires that we get out of my driveway at about 5am.

Candi making the first of her many mistakes on the day.

Candi making the first of her many mistakes on the day.

If you have read my blog before, then you know that I own the one and only navigation unit with a voice stolen from a stripper named Candi. Candi normally speaks with you in a voice that makes you think you are the best driver in the world. She speaks slowly, precisely and accurately. She can direct you to things that are close and things that are many days drive away. She just needs to know where you need to go, and a few seconds to calculate a route and presto. She also can be told up front if you want to stick to main highways, avoid main highways, avoid tollways, avoid ferries etc…

But lately, I have been noticing more and more attitude from Candi. She seems to get upset when you make detours or wrong turns. She does not like it when you stop to go to the bathroom. She does not like it if you get hungry and have to get off the route she has chosen. I have also noticed that she has decided to try different routes to the same places we have been together. I don’t always need the navigation to get somewhere, especially if I have been there before. But, I like to use her even still, because she can tell me what time I will most probably arrive. But is it possible that she is bored with our relationship and needs to spice it up a bit with different routes? Think about it.

So you are probably wanting to hear a bit about the race. The race was good. I was 4th in the +40A class and 19th overall. If that was all you wanted to know, you would stop now and go back to reading about Swine Flu, or following Lance Armstrong’s Twitter or seeing what goofy photos your friends have put up on Facebook. But of course if you decide to stay, there is much more to this story than that.

It is a weird spring. The weather patterns have been interesting this year. The spring started off with a bunch of rain. We looked to be on par with one of the wettest springs in memory. But, crazy patterns have emerged. It seems that spring has let up for a few days in advance of a race and then started up again the day after the race. In other words, races have been dry and even cool. Then it either warms up in between races or it rains for 4 days straight in between.

Rhinelander was dusty. Can you believe it? Dusty! Not just the little bit of dust that you get on a windy day. I am talking black air filter after the race, cannot see the trail dusty.

Dust during the morning race!  Nothing campared to the afternoon dust fest!

Dust during the morning race! Nothing campared to the afternoon dust fest!

We parked along the course, just before the start finish area. Nice little stretch of straight trail that allowed us to set up our pit area and take on gas etc… without worry about wasting time that you did not have before the finish of the race.

I had what turned out to be the perfect bike set up for the race.

– 06 RM250, super soft suspension from my Enduro bike, big tank etc…

I think that is going to be my set up for the year on the race bike.

Last year I discovered some stuff called Brave Soldier. You put it on your hands before you put them into your gloves. It is magic. I used to get huge blisters on my hands, and now nothing. Even at at super rough race like this, it works wonders. Try it.

Applying the magic stuff.

Applying the magic stuff.

That will do it.

That will do it.

There were 13 people on my line. I got a good start in the race, 4th off the MX track. But, even that proved to be too far back – the dust was so bad. You could not see a thing going down the open straights. It was much better in the woods, but even there it was tough. Especially tough were the transitions from the open areas to the woods. It took a couple of seconds for your eyes to adjust when you made that transition. But during those seconds when your eyes were adjusting, you just hoped that it was not too rough.

Decent start.

Decent start.

Speaking of rough. We have had a race on this course for a few years now. The course is getting pretty beat. It has huge holes in it and square edge bumps and rocks and tons of roots. Good thing I had the soft suspension on the bike.

Rick Anschutz came by me right away, going much faster than I was comfortable going in that limited visibility. He was pretty fearless in the dust. There was also some AA guy from Minnesota there, racing in our class. He checked out right away, and we never saw him again. Rob and I battled for the first 2/3 of the race. He had me at the first half of that, and I caught him and passed him for the 2nd half of that. But, then he managed to get ahead of me for the last 2 laps and put 2 minutes into me. Damn.

It was fun to do a 3 hour race again. My fitness is much better than last year, as I am writing this the next morning and do not have any of the fatigue that I experienced from the GNCC races last year. This course was just as hard as those, I am just not nearly as beat up feeling.

I learned I cannot do a 2 hour race on a stock size tank. At the rate that I burned fuel at this race, I can only make 114 minutes on a small tank. That ends that debate.

Next weekend, Hixton D16 race.

Out

Our pits, right by the start finish.

Our pits, right by the start finish.

Artsy photo!

Artsy photo!

Rhinelander National bike set up

Ok. Here is the dealeo. I am trying to decide which bike set up I should ride for the National HS race in Rhinelander this weekend.

I know I want to ride the 06 motor and frame. That one starts the easiest and the frame seems to feel the best. Don’t ask me why, the 2 bikes are exactly the same.

1.  I am thinking that I will want to use the softer suspension from the 07. That stuff feels like magic over chop and roots and rocks. It also gives the bike amazing traction.  But, at higher speeds and on an MX track the firmer HS suspension feels better.  But, the race is 3 hours long, so preserving yourself is a big deal.

2.  I like the feel of the power with the Qmuffler. It tones it all down and makes the bike super easy to ride. Sometimes less power is faster than more power. Plus, it is super quiet. I like that.  the only problem is that it is harder to lift the bike if you get it stuck.  the Q sticks out the back a bit and you loose your grab spot on the fender.

Need to mount up some new grips, and I think I will just go with the tires and wheels that I have set up already.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions.

See you up there on Sunday.  It is going to be great fun.

God I love the race season.

Out.

Joe

Glaciers

A long time ago, the earth was covered with glaciers. Huge slabs of ice, many many meters thick. They stretched from what is the North Pole today all the way down past Canada and into Wisconsin. They moved really slowly. I mean really slowly, hence the term “glacial”.

The glaciers weighed tons and tons. They pressed down on the earth, and scraped the top layer of rocks and topsoil off and carried them south as they progressed. They progressed south for centuries. They marched south without stopping, continuously. All the while, they were picking up rocks and earth. They loaded up on tons and tons of rocks and dirt.

Then, the weather patterns changed, and the glaciers began to recede. The Earth climate warmed, it was the end of the ice age, and if you have seen the movie you know that the little squirrel guy will get his prize nut. But, the glaciers didn’t really just recede. They melted. And when they did melt, they left all the rocks and dirt they had picked up for centuries right where they were. In actuality, the rocks and dirt were all left specifically in north central Wisconsin. I guess that explains why I like Canada and Northern Wisconsin so much, they are actually the same place. They probably don’t like us so much though, we have all their rocks and soil. There are so many rocks there, that there cannot be any rocks left in Canada, they are all in central Wisconsin.

So why the history of the earth lesson? Why do you need to know all of this? You need to know, because DAMN – IT IS ROCKY UP THERE!

I think I saw all the Canada rocks myself. They are all on the HS and Enduro trail at Pearson.

Sunday was the D16 Pearson Enduro. There were 3 loops for the B and C group. I rode +40 B, because I am still trying to figure out this Enduro thing. This one was a “no-timekeeping” event. That means that it was a bit like a bunch of short HS races.

I rode my soft suspension bike. It was spectacular. The trail was tough for the first section. It is hard to jump right into a technical section, from a standstill.

John Buechner is the fast man these days. I held my own, but John is the class of our group right now.

I got lost on the trail. I fell over a few times. I rode like a pud in the first section. I rode really well in the 3rd section. I ended up 4th.

Out.

Pearson D16 HS race

If you look up in a dictionary what the definition of rocks is, it shows a picture of the woods in Pearson. Specifically, the area near the quarry is littered with rocks. There are so many rocks, that there sometimes is just a bit of dirt between the rocks. Rocks, rocks rocks. I am talking lots of rocks. I cannot believe how many rocks there are.

This is what most of the trails looked like before our race.  Epic!

This is what most of the trails looked like before our race. Epic!

I used to think the definition of Rocky was Snowshoe WV. Now I know what the real definition of rocky is. Pearson, Wi. Rocks everywhere.

I drove up today in Scotts van. That felt right. I mean, I was in the van, pulling the trailer, listening to music, heading to a race at a distance. But, unfortunately Scott was not there. Feels weird. Scott and I have been racing together for so long, that it just doesn’t really feel right without him there also. We have a routine. We are an old married couple. We know who is responsible for what. We know who is going to set up the tents, we know who is going to unload the bikes. We trust that when the other one loads the bikes it will be done right. So, to go to a race without him, but being in the van is a bit odd.

Remember that last year we drove the trusty Ford Econoline all around the country to races. Florida to North Carolina to New York state, to Ohio, to Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Tennessee… The van can tell many many stories of races and being stuck in a field somewhere. There is no vehicle that can be stuck like the van can.

Through all of that Candi the stripper navigation unit was with us. She is right there on the dashboard barking out commands. She was with me on the drive north.

The Pearson D16 HS race is an epic event. The loop is more than 15 miles around. Brian Terry, D16 HS rep, billed it to us all as about a 30 minute lap. Because of all the rocks that I mentioned earlier, it turned out to be 45 minutes plus for the 1st place AA riders. Most people in later waves were struggling to be under 1 hour. It was really really technical and really really rocky.

Alot of the tails were virgin trails that were just suggestions through the woods.

Alot of the tails were virgin trails that were just suggestions through the woods.

Yep!

Yep!

Did I mention it was rocky?

So, the start area was just a short little stretch with a 180 degree turn and a short stretch back to the woods and in. That was it, and then the abuse started. John Buechner took the holeshot. He starts really well. I muscled my way to 2nd before we hit the woods. I followed John, and we had a good pace going. John rides tight technical stuff really well. We had our heads down, and we put a gap into everyone else pretty quickly.

Typical grass track area at the finish point.

Typical grass track area at the finish point.

Fun!

Fun!

But, then about 15 minutes into the lap, I ricochet of a tree and into another tree. I had my bell rung and ended up on the ground. But, more importantly, my bike was upside down on a rock and the banjo bolt that holds the hose onto the master cylinder was bent down and was letting fluid out underneath it. I jumped up, started my bike and took off. As I went into the first turn after that and grabbed the front brake the line split and I spugged out all of the fluid. That was it, my race was over. No front brake.

Now, I would rather ride a bike that doesn’t even have a rear brake lever than to ride even for one race without a front brake. I believe that I rely on the front brake for about 80% of my braking. So, I went from 80% to zero front brake. It was tough for me just to ride. With how technical things were there at Pearson, I was effectively just trail riding for the rest of the day.

I faded back from fighting for the lead. That wasn’t going to happen. I ended up 5th, which wasn’t too bad for no front brake, I am happy with that.

Tomorrow, we are doing an Enduro on many of the same trails. It should be fun. 4+ hours of riding is always a good thing.

I will let you know how that goes tomorrow.

Race day – it’s finally here!

May 10.  Arkansaw Cycle Park. The first D16 race.

Wow.  It seemed like winter would never end.  But then I went on a long business trip, and when I returned it is spring.  The leaves are coming out on the trees, the grass is green and more importantly – we are racing!

Scott picked me up at an oh so early o’clock – 5 minutes before 5am to be exact.  Scott and I have a thing about, when you say we are leaving at 5am, that means driving off at 5am.  It was dark in the driveway, we both had to be up at about 4am to get going, but we were both giddy.  I mean there is always something special about the first spring race day.  The air is crisp, there was a forecast for rain, it is dark out when you drive out of the driveway… yowza!

You can see that Candi is having a hard time figuring out where we are going today!

You can see that Candi is having a hard time figuring out where we are going at this hour!

Arkansaw Cycle park is way over on the west side of the state.  The event is a shared event with the D23(Minnesota) crowd.  They have a big district over there and this will promise to be a big event.  Arkansaw Cycle park is a big piece of property with fantastic dirt, lots of rocks in the soil and big hills.  The loop is a great mix of MX track, tight woods, big hills and GP type course on the fields.  The loop is about 8.5 miles around and is about 20 minutes long.

That is what I am talking about.  Loading up the van and going racing!

That is what I am talking about. Loading up the van and going racing!

We had a 3rd person with us in the van today.  Our friend Roger Bird is back racing with us again.  Roger has had a series of injuries, and is now healthy again and looking to finish out a season with us in the van.  It will be fun to have him along.  He races the same class that I do, but we have been friends a long time.  In fact, Roger is the one that got me into all of this in the first place.  Good to have him back with us, too bad he rides the wrong brand of bike.

On the way to Arkansaw, the skies opened up on us.  I was thinking, “ugh… a mud race!”  But, as we got closer the rain stopped and the fields on that side of the state are not underwater like they are on our side of the state.  It was going to be a good race.

We set up our pits, sort of an abbreviated version of what we did at all the GNCC races last year.  We did not have the camper, and we did not need the full set up for just a day race.  But, I think as usual we look to represent.

Flying the colors for one of our sponsors!

Flying the colors for one of our sponsors!

There were at least 140 people on the start.  The +40 wave was 20 people deep.  That is a big field.  Almost the size of the afternoon race at a GNCC.  Pretty much the same size of the+40 line.

The gun went off for the AA line, and Scott actually took the holeshot.  I watched him zoom off up the hill into the woods with JD in hot pursuit.  But, I will let him tell that story elsewhere.

For our start, things were interesting.  JD’s dad had warned me that there was a huge puddle in the 2nd turn.  Stay to the outside.    John Buechner got the start, I came out of the first turn 4th.  Not bad, but in that 2nd turn I went outside as I was advised, but the guy in front of me went right into the lake of water and coated me all across the front with mud.  I pulled a tear off and got my vision back and was pleased to see that I had not lost any places.  We tore off up the hill and into the first woods section in that order.

In that first woods section, the guy in front of me tagged a tree and went down fast in front of me.  Too fast for me to avoid his bike.  I wedged my front wheel between his rear fender and his tire and was stuck there.  At least 5 riders dodged around us before I could get going again.  So, the chase was on.

I chased hard for most of the race, but for the first 2 laps it was basically just follow the leader.  One line in the woods and 150ish riders equals single file and difficulty passing.  Eventually it opened up and I could ride hard.  The middle part of the race I put on a charge.  At one point at about the 1.5 hour point, I was in site of John Buechner, but my body ran out of gas.  I fizzled and did not make it all the way up to John.  I made it back up to 4th, but could not get any higher.  Turned out that I was only 1.5 minutes out of 1st, but I could not get there.  John was actually 2nd on the day.  Don’t know the guy who won, and it turns out there was actually someone in between John and I that I did not see.  Roger was a very credible 6th.  Not bad for his 1st race back in a few years.

Some facts.

– The course turned into one big long rut in the woods.  The dirt was soft, and a lot of the trail was virgin singletrack on a side hill.  That makes for one big long rut.

– That rut killed my clutch. (Actually, the rut is just a trail condition, I killed the clutch because I was dragging it so much while paddling through that rut)  I need new plates, new basket, new clevis arm, new push rod, new springs…  Hopefully our big parts order is in at Vesrah.

– I was jetted a little on the lean side.  It was only 55 degrees, and I was jetted for 65-70.  That was what it was all week, so that is what I assumed we would have for race day. The bike was a bit challenging to ride when I was tired.  I am better with a bit richer jetting, especially when I am knackered.

– The grip in the fields was incredible.  I was pulling 3rd and 4th gear long wheelies out of turns.  The berm around the outside of the turn was crazy fast.  You could just hook into the berm, roll on the throttle and sit back.  The bike would just grab a ton of traction and rocket towards the next turn.  wow.

Looks a little bit like last year.  New graphics for the team on our RM250's, underneath Suzuki tents.

Looks a little bit like last year. New graphics for the team on our RM250's, underneath Suzuki tents.

So now, I move onto next weekend.  The Pearson Harescrambles on Saturday and the Pearson Enduro on Sunday.  A big weekend.

You can only have 1 first race of the year.

Out.

Joe

5 days till race day – china mussings

Ok.  Just 5 days to go!  5 days, and the curtain goes up on another race season.  This is about my 6th now, and I can never get enough of it.  I wait and wait and wait, and then it finally gets here.  Then we race a ton, and travel and race some more.  The beginning of the year always starts off cold and wet.  Then, one day it is hero dirt.  Then, it is dusty for what feels like forever.  Then, you show up at a race somewhere and it is cold and wet again.  Then, you are back at Crawfordsville in the mud at a GNCC race.  Then, on the way home from Crawfordsville it is starting to spit snow.  And, all of a sudden it is winter again and the long season of waiting starts over again.

But enough of that.  Before that happens, there will be racing to be done on many many weekends.

But, before that happens, I have to go home from China.  I am in Shanghai now, and will be making my way toward home tomorrow.  Getting home takes 2 days from here.  There is the flight to Taipei, then the flight to Los Angeles.  That combination takes about 22 hours.  Unfortunately, I arrive in LA too late to get home that same day.  So, I stay over night in LA and then have to fly home early the next day.  In the end, the travel home takes about 40 hours all together.  Ugh…

So, I am going to end this trip with a bunch of photos that I took today in China.

Sign in my hotel elevator.

Sign in my hotel elevator. "Man is that Dental Institute Ever Good".

Bob Dog, could be related to Cat Dog!

Bob Dog, could be related to Cat Dog!

How high can you stack up containers?

How high can you stack up containers?

Be quiet back there.  Just pay attention to where we have been!

Be quiet back there. Just pay attention to where we have been!

The corner bike shop.  Literally, ON the corner!

The corner bike shop. Literally, ON the corner!

Containers at a factory, sometimes are stacked as high as you can stack them!

Containers at a factory, sometimes are stacked as high as you can stack them!

That is pretty much it for this trip.  Next update – Race day!

Out,

Joe

Taiwan bike rides

Been in Taiwan all week.  Heading to China next week.  Big work weeks.  Lots of stress, loads of work time, loads of hotel time etc…  Never a lot of fun.  People ask me all the time what it is like to be in Taiwan.  I usually say, drive by the dump in your part of the world and smell the air, that is what it is like most of the time.  Not always pleasant.  But, the people are really nice and it is not a bad place to do business.  Not sure I could live there, but I don’t really mind so much  going there for work – other than the week or 2 that it takes out of your life.

I also know that I could not live there as there is zero possibility for riding an offroad motorcycle.  Couldn’t tolerate that.

But, I have figured out a way to get out for a bike ride while I am there.  In fact, the island is really mountainous and there are little roads into the mountains all over the place.  There are also a bunch of bike industry expats there, and they want to get out and ride.  So, after working our tails off for 3 days, we had a couple of bike rides planned.  One for early morning before work on Friday and a long one for Saturday morning.  This the story of those.

Fridays ride consisted of battling our way out of Taichung city center, to the edge of town where the riding gets much better.  When I say battling, I really mean it.  You have to fight for your space among all the scooters and crazy drivers and small delivery trucks, cars going the wrong way on one way streets etc…

This is actually one of the quiter moments getting out of town.  It is a national holiday after all.

This is actually one of the quieter moments getting out of town. It is a national holiday after all.

Friday is a national holiday here (May day weekend), so we figured that the streets would be much lighter traffic than normal, and we were going out at 7am.  The traffic was lighter than normal, but in 100 miles of ride at home I am certain that you see fewer cars there than you do in 2-3 miles here, even on a holiday.

At every intersection, you are sure to be way outnumbered by scooters.

At every intersection, you are sure to be way outnumbered by scooters.

We made our way on this ride out of town, and then the riding gets much better.  We rode along a closed road by a river heading towards the mountains for 10 or so miles.  It was nice, more like riding at home, no cars, no scooters etc…  Then, we bumped back onto the normal roads in a small village outside of Taichung and turned right, and faced a wall of a climb.  The climbs are not super long here (you can see the tops of the mountains from the bottom), but they can be really steep.  This climb pitched up pretty quick.  It went on for 3-4 miles then tops out with a nice view.

That is me and Mark Pippin, at the top of the biggest climb on Friday.

That is me and Mark Pippin, at the top of the biggest climb on Friday.

We then came down the other side, and it was just as steep.  I am talking both brakes on, crummy pavement, tight and twisty, blind corner type descending.  I always like descending, but I must say that on a road I have never been on, on a borrowed bike with the brakes set up wrong way around for me (being an admitted motohead, I ride with my right hand running the front brake), I am not as fearless as I would normally be.  Preservation gene kicking in and all.

We got to the bottom of that valley and turned up another climb.  At the top of that we descended back down to the same little village and then we were back on the closed river road pounding along in our big chainrings.  It was good fun.  We stopped at a Starbucks (I know, corporate coffee) on the way down, and I know we make a scene there with our cycling gear.  It is pretty funny hearing the Chinese barrista say “Grande Latte”with her Chinese accent.

The round trip on that Friday ride was about 50kilometers.  Not too bad for a morning ride before being in the office for the rest of the day.

Saturday’s ride will be twice as long and with even more climbing.

When you get out early on Saturday, it is actually pretty quiet on the streets.

When you get out early on Saturday, it is actually pretty quiet on the streets.

My friends there have a morning text message system that alerts everyone to the ride time and the start location.  So, the bike bell sound on my phone went off in the middle of the night, confirming a 7am start at a spot 2 blocks from the hotel I stay at.  Sweet!  That means I can roll out at 7am, and still be within the international standard 5 minute rule to the start of a ride.  I rolled up with a banana in my mouth and no coffee in me.  That is ok, because it is also an international standard that a weekend morning ride ends at the Starbucks.

The corner meeting spot.  Right in front of Love World.

The corner meeting spot. Right in front of Love World.

We headed out the same basic direction from the city center that we did the previous day.  From Taichung, the China straight is one way, and the mountains inland the other way.  That means that all rides pretty much take the same road out of town, and the road home for the last couple of miles is also the same.  The island of Taiwan has gone cycling crazy it seems, as we saw at least 200 cyclists heading out in that direction as we were heading out.  It goes slightly uphill from the center of town, so it gives you a great warmup on the way out and a whip it up section on the way back in.

We headed up the first climb, and the temperature was already getting up to around 75.  The sun was beating down on us, and the humidity was up so you could feel the sweat starting to come out of your pores already.  We all settled into a climbing rhythm and it was not long until we were all silent and spread out up and down the climb.  One of the things that is really weird is how much clothes the locals wear when they are riding.  They seem to want to stay out of the sun completely.  They will even have a bandanna over their face that isn’t covered by their sunglasses.  It is a little bit strange, makes them all look like they are going to rob a bank or head across a desert or something.

This guy didn't have his face covered, but he is covering the rest of himself up in spite of the heat.

This guy didn't have his face covered, but he is covering the rest of himself up in spite of the heat.

They also ride these little wheel bikes and folding bikes.  You do want to tell them that they would go a ton faster if they would ride a real road bike.  But, it isn’t just a few of them on bikes like the one above.  A LOT of them are on those.  hmmm.

So we headed up a 2nd long climb and then a 3rd climb and finally the 4th climb was the biggest.  It went on for a good 10-12k, had a bunch of really tough sections, the pavement quality varied and there were a ton of blind corners.  All of that is not so bad going up, but the same conditions exist on the descents as well.  Makes the riding exciting.

Sometimes the road is like this, but not always.

Sometimes the road is like this, but not always.

More often than not, the road is more like this.  Narrow, and blind.  Pretty cool scenery though.

More often than not, the road is more like this. Narrow, and blind. Pretty cool scenery though.

There is another weird thing that is true in Taiwan.  Dogs are street savvy on the one hand, and on the other hand really really casual about the road.  They get out of the way of traffic, they seem to understand that the road is dangerous.  You do see lots of dogs with just one leg etc…  I guess they either learn, or they are not around.  But, at the same time they seem really not worried at all about the traffic.

This dog has decided that the side of the road is his.  He didn't even move when we rode by.

This dog has decided that the side of the road is his. He didn't even move when we rode by.

This dog is just sitting in the road and not concerned.  I guess he just figures the trucks will go around him.  Or not.

This dog is just sitting in the road and not concerned. I guess he just figures the trucks will go around him. Or not.

We made our way down one last descent back into the village outside of Taichung, and then rode the big ring all the way back to the meeting place and then around the corner to the Starbucks.  100km ride, 4 climbs, one of them really respectable.  I feel pretty good.

Gotta end the ride at Starbucks.  Doesn't matter where you are in the world, some things are just accepted as the way it is done.

Gotta end the ride at Starbucks. Doesn't matter where you are in the world, some things are just accepted as the way it is done.

Artsy riding shot.

Artsy riding shot.

The local collector, and his trailer of "goods".

The local collector, and his trailer of "goods". You cannot forget you are in Taiwan, after all!

Tomorrow is Sunday, heading to China, no more riding on this trip.

Out.

Joe