I thought I would use my Sunday to train a little bit for my ride at the end of the month. I was hoping to pull in another century ride today, but I fell 10 miles short. No biggie. I just wanted to be sure of my initial route to the Highway 17 and to get a feel for my optimal sustained speed for my trip down. For these long haul days it takes a bit of planning to estimate how long I can maintain a certain speed to calculate into my overall trip. I was curious about the winds coming off the ocean as well. My last century ride I was feeling a little off. I think it was due to my dinner the night before. I usually like to load up on something bad that I can burn the next day. That night I didn't stick to my guns and was goaded into a stinky tofu dinner. Good food, but not what I needed. This time I did it right. I filled my glycogen stores beginning mid-week and my dinner was fish, beans, bread and veggies with a couple apples for dessert. Fuel to burn!
Pilgrims in Lukang
I took off from Taichung through Changhua City and made good time into Lukang, where they were having all kinds of commotion. I was hoping to take a few pictures for a couple upcoming essays I hope to post later, but it was just too busy, so I connected to Highway 17 and headed due South.
The road was wide and smooth with a bit of a breeze coming off the ocean, but it wasn't too bad. I had been keeping my speed up in the low 20's (21-24mph/33-38kph). I felt comfortable and strong as I passed the occasional old man on a scooter.
Just as everything seemed to be rolling smooth, I was snared by a tiger trap. Not one, but two long staples were embedded in my tire. I am kind of getting sick of this. It seems like every long ride I have been on in the past month has included someone getting a piece of metal lodged in in their tire. I don't know if there are than many random staples roaming the highways, or if some asshole is having a little fun in stopping cyclists.
I took out my repair kit and went to work on my tire. I quit carrying my mini-pump in exchange for emergency CO2 cartridges. I felt they would fit better in the seat bag. The tube was changed in minutes, but when I went to fill the tire with CO2, the cartridge contained only enough CO2 to seal the bead. I gingerly made it to the 7-11 that was 400 meters ahead and went looking for a pump. Many, but not all 7-11s in Taiwan carry bicycle pumps and this one did not. I would have to carry on and keep looking. Just before I hit the road again, a couple who were cycling out from Nantou, came by and I borrowed their mini-pump. It wasn't very good, but i had enough air to keep going with the possibility of finding a better pump.
Shooting The Bridge
I continued along with a badly deflated rear tire, hoping I wouldn't hit a rut or bump that would make me pinch flat. I had one more tube and no more air. Despite my soft tire, I was able to crank back up to 20mph.
Cho Shui River
I rolled on toward Mailiao (麥寮) and crossed the Chou Shui River. The Cho Shui has gained the political symbolism as the border between North and South. The power of the Kuomintang party-state had great difficulty making inroads into the areas south of the Cho Shui, where the KMT culturalization efforts were generally rejected by the locals.
The wind really started picking up on the Cho Shui and the whole landscape had long been enveloped in marine haze and fog. There was a hint of drizzle and it seemed it could actually rain. When I took off it looked like the sun was burning through the clouds... by late morning not a chance. I wished I had brought a wind breaker.
Rolling on the 17
I rolled into Mailiao and almost spaced my turn onto the Yunlin Local 154 as I was busy looking for a bike shop.
John Cougar Melon Farm
Mailiao Public Transportation?
I hadn't been on the 154 too long when I was hit by a heavy wind. I realized this wan not going to be an easy ride. As I rolled through one of those "Green Tunnels" Taiwanese like so much, the wind was ripping down the tunnel of trees.
I headed North on the Highway 19 against a rough head wind and crossed the Zi Chiang Bridge (自強大橋). By this point the wind and rear tire was beginning to take their toll. I progressed across that bridge at 12mph and it made my legs burn to push forward. It is in these moments the mind fills with doubt. "Am I out of condition? Did I burn myself out? Did I bonk?"
Riding Against The Wind
Just over the bridge I found a 7-11 and stopped to get a little more water and food. Maybe even take a break with the hope that my legs would come back with a little rest from the wind. There, in the corner, I saw a floor pump. Saved! As I connected the Presta valve to my rear tire the needle jumped to a taut 30psi. Yes... I had just ridden 30 miles on a rear tire that had only been inflated to 30psi. I filled back up to 100psi and was off.
Rolling On A River
The rolling was much better, but the wind was still beating me pretty hard. The good thing about drop bars is that I could change to a narrow grip to keep my elbows in and my body as scrunched up as possible without the unwieldy feeling of a flat bar. This seemed to work well and my speed rose to 20-21mph despite the wind.
Most Of My Trip Looked Like This
The road back was a rough ride but as I neared Changhua city the winds subsided and the weather became a little brighter. I was soon hammering away in the mid-20's again. I discovered with relief that I hadn't bonked and I wasn't out of shape. I logged a slower time than I had hoped, 17.5mph average with the wind, traffic and stops. My total riding time was 5-hours three minutes.