Saturday, March 26, 2011
Dom Climbs To Hsin-she
Saturday morning I made arrangements with Dom, a fellow knee pain sufferer, to do "Rehab Assignment #2".
The plan was to make it out to Feng-yuan and then head back over the Route 129 through Hsin-she... if my leg would allow me the opportunity to do so.
We met around 8:00am and cut through town to Taichung's northern edge. A coffee made things a little bit better and I was feeling ten times better from the prior weekend, when that coffee stop was mainly for pain relief.
For the first time I was able to begin to really appreciate the tube tuning I had requested in my frame with a tight enough drivetrain for a little more oomph!. Wonderful... but I was still being cautious. Near Feng-yuan I let my mind get away from me to entertain thoughts that I had somehow been miraculously healed like one of the many converts to be subjected to a sport coat flogging on Benny Hinn's stage.
I wasn't so fortunate.
As soon as I started to go off on flights of fancy involving unicorns, pegasuses and equally mythic long, pain-free rides, the soreness started flaring up in the shin and knee area.
We stopped and had another stretch session, which worked for a while, but the pain returned... and in greater numbers.
A history and anthropology stop in Tu-niu for a future post allowed me the extra time to cool the knee off before the hill climb up to the Hsin-she plateau. We chatted with an elderly couple who were busy taking their own cultural tour of the area as well.
I was dreading the hill climb and was not about to take the climb the way I would normally attack it, but it was my first chance to test my new frame's climbing skills and compare with my old bike.
Oddly, there was little sensation of pain. I made a steady, seated climb up to the top that I could only describe as "easy".
Looking down at the Dongshi valley I am always brought back to September 23, 1999, when I stopped at the same spot to see the aftermath of a massive earthquake. With all the pictures from the news of Japan, the scene was especially poignant.
Finally, it was time for the descent. My knee was really getting sore in the flats and I was about ready for some speed without having to work for it.
The twisting drop back to Taichung on the Route 129 was thrilling as always, but this time I was feeling like I was riding IN the bike and not ON the bike.
Each corner was smooth and deliberate, fast, but predictable. Fantastic!
By the time I hit the long, straight rollers at the base of the hill, the pain in my leg was more than I could endure for a mad sprint out to Dakeng, and so I had to settle for a speedy coast back to the outskirts of Taichung. Dom blew bast me on a rail. It looked like fun.
I had one more stretching session to make it back home satisfied with my rate of recovery, but still very far away from being 100%.
Let's see what happens next week if I can get Rehab Assignment #3.
Not the sexiest route, but the best I could do within retreat range.
Taipei Urban Bike Path (Green)
The Taipei Times is reporting that Taipei has just completed the Jingmei section of bike trails to finally connect 111km of trails around the city. This is an admirable achievement by any measure as it works to create and expand the available space allocated for cycling, but I would temper my enthusiasm in light of how other global metropoles have better allocated their financial resources to integrate cycling into the urban environment.
With the completion of the 1km bike trail on the right bank of the Jingmei River in front of Shih Hsin University, cyclists can take a ride along the Tamsui, Keelung, Xindian and Jingmei rivers that connect the Muzha (木柵), Neihu (內湖) and Beitou (北投) areas.
It is clear that, despite the "green" label, the concept behind the NT 1.86 billion dollars spent on bicycle transportation grids is almost completely fixated on sports and leisure, and divorced from the idea of the bicycle as an alternative form of urban transportation. Taipei's bicycle infrastructure is entirely focused on traversing Taipei's different outlying tourism areas.
I have previously drawn comparisons to other major metropoles and their bicycle plans, and I have speculated on who benefits from the drive for more tourism and tourism infrastructure.
Michael Turton from The View From Taiwan provides an excellent and timely commentary on ECFA and the recent importance of tourism to offset Taiwan's choice to forfeit its most competitive industries. The bicycle is set to play a major role in expanding Taiwan's future as a tourism and entertainment provider.
With so many of these projects funded by the taxpayer; projects which will eventually benefit big business, politicians and those who feed off politicians (someone's big brother), there is surely a need for cyclists to take a closer, and more critical look at these projects, their aims and also their liabilities. Bike are fun, but they are also big business and big politics. I hope Taiwan's riders are paying close attention.
Can there be better, more effective ways to spend tax dollars that can benefit more people and actually contribute to reducing pollution? Is big business too involved in driving these projects that use public funding? Who are the biggest beneficiaries of these projects?
Food for thought.