Cycling in Taiwan

I have to admit, since I arrived on 6th December, I’ve not ridden my bike anywhere near as often as I had hoped.  One decent ride out of Kaohsiung with four others on the 29th December, memorable for a pretty grim trek to get out of the filthy air of the city followed by about 1000 feet of uninterrupted climbing, fixing two chains (Shimano, obv’) and a total distance of 50 miles in three and a half hours (but 5.25 hours door to door – i.e. a fair bit of waiting around.)  One of the lads took a few photographs:

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Well, I say lads.  The two Taiwanese chaps here are both recently retired naval officers; both are 51 years old but neither have been riding very long.  I reckon they did pretty well to get up the climb as quickly as they did.  I appear to have swapped my own legs with those of a stork.

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This is my wife’s cousin’s husband – also a naval officer, but still serving.  I told him it was sacrilege to have Shimano on a Bianchi; I should have stressed that the chains are made of chocolate.  I’m also trying to persuade him to stop smoking.

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We stopped here for a breather and repairs; I didn’t feel the need to offer any prayers.  It is a MASSIVE temple.  What you see here is probably about the equivalent of a garden shed when compared with the full size of the site.  We (me and the Chens) visited it a few years ago – it is so large that you wouldn’t believe me if I tried to describe it properly.

Anyway, here’s the ride profile, courtesy of my Garmin Edge 800:

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Here in Zhubei, the weather has been so grim for much of the time and I didn’t bring any winter cycling gear, I have hardly had any opportunities to ride in comfort.  I did manage a nice ride on Saturday.  The profile was not dissimilar to the one above:

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According to my GPS, I climbed for over 12 miles on leaving my front door.  I can’t think of anywhere in the UK where I’ve done that.  To be fair, the incline was hardly noticeable for the first 10 miles as I simply followed the river, but on the climb proper, up through a rather lovely orange-growing area, I could have done with a smaller gear at times.  A compact chainset may be a worthwhile investment if I’m going to be out here for a while.  The descent was pretty hairy in places – lovely smooth tarmac, but not always still clinging to the hillside.  Mental note: landslides appear to be an issue.

The good news is that my local bike shop (LBS in cycling parlance) is much better than I could have expected.  It’s a Giant store, but it is not exclusively Giant.  The proprietor, Erick, has some interesting stuff in there and he seems to know his way around the spanners.  Best of all, Campagnolo kit can be seen on frames in his store.  All is well with the world.

As a final point, here is my new daily ride:

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Me and the boy get around this city on two wheels now, whenever we need to go more than a block or two.  It ain’t big enough, but we manage.  The sharp-eyed among you will have noted that it’s none other than the Dianar-X, City Sprinter.  Just remember, envy is not an attractive personal characteristic.

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