Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Jaunty Angle has a really interesting report on the Yoho Bike hotel in Kenting. They now make it possible to take the mistress to Kenting in style. It amazes me how much the infrastructure for recreational cycling has outpaced utility cycling in Taiwan.
For the final week of our American adventure, we drove my father and his friend to Palm Desert, California. Now that I am blogging, I am trying to pay more attention to the various forms of cycling going on in these exotic and far away places. I was looking forward to seeing what the cycling scene in the Coachella Valley has to offer. The place is ideal for cyclocross bikes and mountain bikes. The bills are covered in trails that duck through canyons and over desert. Lots of dirt roads and singletrack. For road bikes there are some nice roads, but it seems a little limited for a dedicated roadie. I WOULD love to ride Joshua Tree some day.
The daytime temperatures varied between 106F. and 117F. Still, I saw several people out on city bikes, flat bars, and BMX bikes. It is a dry heat, so I can easily imagine how those temps could be tolerated during the summer months. Still, the majority of the population receives a pension and prefer golf carts to Campy.
I was pleasantly surprised to find an extensive system of marked bike routes and marked shoulder space for cycling. I saw a few men in their 60's riding some expensive road bikes in the heat. The TREK Madone is a big seller.
I thought I would look for something to buy at one of the local bike stores. Velo Bum is one of my favorites as it is run by a diehard and he doesn't carry much. He sells mainly Look, Time and Felt bikes. He had a real nice Calfee in there as well. He just didn't have much of anything. He told me to drive to Laguna on the coast if I wanted more of a selection.
I then went to Palm Desert Cycles, which is a novice-friendly shop where they assume you don't know much about cycling and charge an arm and a leg. I asked if they had any small jerseys, but they didn't and told me to go to Laguna.
Bikeman was great. I stopped by 15 min. after the posted opening time and it was closed. I stopped by again an hour later, but it was still closed. Finally, I returned again and it was another one-man operation with the owner/wrench busy working on a bike. He gave me a hello, and resumed his work. The owner, Kevin, seems to be an old racer with a great supply of new and used Italian bikes. I looked around, but nothing I could use.
The last place I went to was Tri A Bike. They are the big Giant dealer. There was a sign on the door advertising the "Composite Challenge", a Pepsi Challenge for bikes, and a silly gimmick to get the novice to part with their money on a scam as the "feel and comfort" of a bike can easily be manipulated with a quick adjustment in air pressure or wheel choice.
Next time I'll try Laguna.
On a quiet evening in Seattle, we thought we would take a leisurely stroll around Greenlake; Seattle's urban oasis, where Seattlites go to run, walk, yoga-cize, bike and show off on disco-rollerskates.
There is a 3 mile path that goes around the lake and it makes a nice route for urban athletes to train. Most of the cyclists are families and recreational riders who just want to do a few loops around the lake on a summer's evening.
As we rounded the southern end of the lake, a commotion of bicycles bounced down the path like tsunami of gears and chains. The pack of cycles enveloped the entire trail.
Seeing so many bikes at one time, I naturally took out my phone to capture the event.
It was only then that I noticed that several of the riders were riding in the buff. They were buck naked. Even the jaybirds were blushing.
In an earlier post I made the connection between counter-culture and cycling in America, where, in opposition to the auto-centric lifestyle adopted by most Americans, and in response to a built environment originally conceived exclusively for cars, many urban riders make a point to thumb their noses and give the finger to the automobile lifestyle.
Since before Lady Godiva, nudity and protest have been linked in a long passionate embrace. I think this is especially so in America where there is the historical friction between puritanical ideals and radical liberalism; a conflict that has dogged the USA since the days of Thomas Jefferson.
Where else would the human body, an instrument possessed by every person on earth and limited to two basic configurations of varying similarity, be used so overwhelmingly for its ability to invoke the intense reactions of shock and awe? Still, it is a lot like religion... it doesn't work unless you choose to buy into the program and seek to be motivated by the actors. It is not going to shock and offend unless people wish to be shocked and offended by it.
It reminds me a little bit of immature art students in college who would resort to explicit nudity as a short-cut to imagined poignancy, in which case it is not the viewer who is shocked by the display, but rather the imagination of the artist who harbors those feelings and projects them onto an imagined audience in a similar vein as Marcel Duchamp's deconstructionist joke, The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even, a piece in which the actors depicted in the work are physically separated on different panes of glass and therefore the masturbating bachelors are not being turned on by the bride, but rather by their own imaginations as they can not possibly occupy the same space as their object and thus Duchamp expresses that the emotion we feel for others is actually our own subjectivity projected outward, thus turning ourselves on rather than being turned on by others. It shows the actor's own perceptions [and insecurities]. I remember very clearly in college when a group of lesbians decided to go down to the mall and grope, kiss and flash senior citizens in an attempt to be normalized by society. Riiiiiight..... huh!
In this case at Greenlake, nudity was somehow being used to draw attention to cycling, but in fact it may detract from the message. I found it odd that a few months ago there was an attempt to do the same type of protest in Taiwan. I have no idea how the event went off.
I wonder how many hits this post will get. Everyone is a total perv whether they'll admit it or not.
I am safely home and ready to ride after eating and drinking my way from Washington State to California. I knew I'd pay a price for it, but a vacation is a vacation and I guess I will have a lot of motivation to ride hard and ride often.
- Most bikes in Taipei shelters go unclaimed and after a short stay must be put to sleep.
- Miracle image of a bike appears in Taiwan road. Pilgrims arrive by the scooterload to take a look.
- Taiwanese bike companies attempt to innovate their way out of a future of mediocrity and obsolescence as the government pursues the industrial status quo and tourism economy.
- OzSoapbox with dogs on bikes.
- The China Daily reports on cycling in its Taiwan area. David Reid is oddly quoted in the article which seeks to better incorporate Taiwan into the Chinese imagination of the local (No, David is probably not party to this).